Artists’ Studios | Cody DeLong

Interview by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Christopher Marchetti

Describe your studio. My studio is a great old space in the heart of Jerome. It has high ceilings and a rustic flavor that suits me. I designed and built most of the interior walls. It was just a concrete shell when I first took over the space. It’s a real working studio, where I can be found painting four days a week, usually Wednesday through Saturday.

What do you keep in your studio? My studio also serves as a gallery for my work. Besides my paintings and one bronze sculpture of an angel that I just completed, I also carry the work of Duane Ewing, who does unique ceramic art and pen-and-ink designs. The gallery is open seven days a week.

How old is the building that houses the studio and gallery? It was built in 1905, during the early mining days of Jerome. It was originally a Studebaker dealership. It’s made of 12-inch-thick poured concrete, including the roof. In the early days, there was a dirt lot behind the building with a mechanic’s pit that was basically a hole in the ground. These big mining trucks were driven over the hole, and mechanics would stand below and do their work. In those days, they just drained the oil into the ground. One day, after the business was closed, the oil-soaked pit collapsed into a mine shaft underneath—there are 88 miles of tunnels under Jerome from the mining days. They eventually put 47 crushed cars and several tons of compacted dirt in the hole to fill it and capped it with a concrete pad.

Describe the town of Jerome. Anyone who has visited Jerome knows it’s a special place. It has an authenticity and charm from the old days that few places can still claim. It’s also become an artists’ enclave. So, in addition to being a ghost town with an interesting copper-mining history, Jerome is also a great arts destination with many local artists working and selling directly to the public. I’ve been selling my work in Jerome for 15 years now, and it feels like home. I volunteer on several committees, and I do what I can to help preserve and maintain the town.

How do your surroundings influence your work? I grew up in the rural Midwest and spent a lot of time on my grandfather’s farm with all the old rusty machinery, barns, and animals. Jerome is a lot like that with all the old mining equipment, decaying buildings, chickens, dogs, and crusty old characters walking around. The view of Sedona in the distance isn’t half bad either. It all comes out in my work.

Why are you attracted to landscape painting? I do a few still-life paintings and figures now and then, but my main focus is the landscape. I love the land, light, mood, and atmosphere. I can paint outdoors almost all year, and, after all these years, I’m still discovering new areas to explore and paint. There’s no shortage of inspiration for me here.

How do you describe your style? I have a hard time describing my style because I still experiment widely. But quality of workmanship, a variety of textural effects and edges, good drawing, dramatic design, exciting color, and powerful light and shadow are recurring elements that I’m always trying to improve on. I really try not to be a formulaic painter, but, instead, I let the idea for each new painting dictate my approach to some degree. This is how I keep my passion alive for life and art.

What impresses you about other artists’ works? The artists who impress me most are the ones who care about all areas of their work. A lot of artists today push color and slap on thick paint indiscriminately. They neglect drawing and value control or have little variety in their approach. It’s the ones who are constantly striving to be the best in all areas, not just the fun parts, that I respect the most. It’s a workmanlike dedication to quality that comes from deep searching; it’s also inspiration coupled with skill that’s developed over time.

Describe yourself in one word. I am an explorer.

What is the one place people will never find you? Working at a 9-to-5 job.

Where do you like to take people when they visit? I take them to Jerome, of course. My studio contains my life’s work up to this point. It’s a large part of my identity. Besides, you never need much of an excuse to spend a day in Jerome. Just ask anyone who has been here.

Cody DeLong Studio, Jerome, AZ.

Featured in the June 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase a copy:
Southwest Art magazine June 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine June 2012 print edition





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