LaVon Eugene Calhoun’s creative expression started with music, playing bass and then studying music composition at a number of universities. He progressed to playing what became his chosen instrument, upright bass, professionally in various forms; jazz, rock, classical and musical theatre. Perhaps inevitably though, as the great-great nephew of the Irish American Ashcan artist Eugene Higgins, at around the age of 20 LaVon started to paint.
Throughout his childhood, LaVon was surrounded by his famous ancestor’s morbid depictions of the ‘unfortunate’ and homeless, whose plight was grimly and darkly captured on canvas, and whose suffering profoundly imprinted itself on his young sensibilities. As a result, LaVon’s paintings and etchings also tell some social stories, as well as his own emotional soul-searching journey. However, in stark contrast, his self-taught abstract/surrealist work communicates his deep compassion for the subjects with a vibrancy and movement that speaks to multiple senses and depicts a more joyful and bright aspect to Life.
By his mid-20s he began to feel increasingly uncomfortable with, and dissociated from, the greed and ignorant, prejudiced dogmas of the world he was born into, so he left it behind, starting with a short trip to Honduras, where he had taken only his upright bass and a bag of art supplies. He chose to stay in Central and South America, for the most part in Guatemala, where he predominantly lived in abject poverty, losing himself in art and music, composing and performing musical pieces for the solo bass to accompany his paintings; combined with the corresponding music, each painting evokes emotions that bring a story to ‘Life’.
After 7 years of this bohemian and hedonistic life, the birth of his daughter triggered a pivotal shift in focus from simple, personal survival and self-reflection, to the responsibility of nurturing a new life, and at the same time, it gave meaning to his own. This prompted a move back to the U.S.A. where he was no longer free to shun integration into any ‘system’, and he began his 9-5 existence. As this new routine consumed most of his time and energy he began searching for balance through esoteric teachings and travel to spiritual lands, including a pilgrimage to Northern India. For peace of mind, he continued to paint in his spare time, inspired by the experience of his ever-changing circumstances.
He describes his art as “The metamorphosis of composition and colour placement, spiritually flowing through geometric shapes representing the Past, Present, and Future of LaVon’s life” which he communicates through the harmonized colours and sounds of his pictures and music.