by Deborah A. Kaufman

John Fitzsimmons’ “Current Circumstances” exhibit at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA) is a new body of work for the artist that he has been exploring over the past few years.

Fitzsimmons is native to Central New York and a graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Throughout the last 50 years, his work has been highlighted regionally, nationally, and even internationally in Bangladesh as part of the Art in Embassies international cultural exchange program. His work was also recognized a few years ago by the State of New York with a “Best in Show” at the Made in New York exhibition in Auburn.

The artist’s new direction happened several years ago when he was in his studio at the Delavan Building in Syracuse. Fitzsimmons explained that he’s always moved around a lot when it came to the types of paintings he would pursue, mainly because he had the ability to do so. “It’s easy to jump around but you get to a point when you lose your momentum. When it was new you had beginner’s luck and the fascination with new… and it’s fun, but after you’ve done it for a while that momentum wears off. So then it’s easy to start something else new, right? So, I’ve always done that, kind of jumped around. Then several years ago I’m looking at my work around the studio, at all of this accumulated work…pulled everything out…and made the decision that I needed to concentrate.”

He decided he would only do figurative work. “Now, that you pick a direction, it becomes more difficult because you’ve done the easy stuff. Anybody can ski, you go to the top of the hill and you ski down to the bottom of the hill. But to become a good skier, a good writer, or a good musician… that’s difficult. So that’s what I started doing. I concentrated on one direction.”

When asked, why figurative? He laughingly responded, “That’s really what I like doing!”

Fitzsimmons’ focus on figurative work definitely paid off with large-scale paintings that are, without a doubt, impressive. Their hyper-realistic qualities, vibrant colors, and masterful use of shadows and highlights are breathtaking at first glance. But as you get closer, you really begin to experience the narrative and the larger feeling of emotion in his new work.

According to Mary Ellen McGillan, Executive Director/Board Member at MVCA, “We’re thrilled with the exhibit and the turn out for our opening reception. This is the first professional show we’ve had since the gallery renovation.”

The John Fitzsimmons’ “Current Circumstances” exhibit will run through the end of May with the gallery open Thursdays through Saturdays from 12 pm to 4 pm. “The exhibit will also be open by appointment. People can call or contact us through our website, and we’ll be happy to open it for them,” concluded McGillan.

To learn more about the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts and upcoming exhibitions, visit online at or call (315) 823-0808.