“THE GANTALIST” is a documented account of fine artist Jerry Gant who has made Newark, New Jersey his home. This documentary showcases the life, work, trials and tribulations of an artist who has never surrendered his vision to please anyone other than himself.
Ashong is a on the rise – representing a new generation of young, dynamic storytellers. With a creative vision that bends all the rules, the drive and passion of Dubois and team is reflected in his latest, and admittedly, his most determined work to date.
I had the pleasure of briefly interviewing Ashong about his current work with Gant.
“Jerry has taught not only myself but our entire film crew
how to be true artists, and that is no exaggeration.”
BT: What motivated you to document the work of artists? How did it start?
DA: I’ve always been a child of the arts, my mother (an artist herself based out of Harlem) introduced me to the works of artists at a very young age, and from these initial introductions I have always been intrigued by their back stories and processes of creation. I find that artists not only divulge truths through words but also have the ability to show 2 and 3 dimensional manifestations of inward grace. I first had the opportunity to develop an artist series upon graduating from Hampton University in 2009. The series was called “ARTISANS” and focused on the works of New York based artist/craftsmen who were creating handmade works with the utmost focus on quality and detail.
BT: What brought you to Newark and why Jerry Gant?
DA: I grew up in East Orange but was educated from elementary through high school in Newark (attending high school at St. Benedicts Prep class of ’04). Naturally after shooting and telling the stories of artists in New York it dawned on me that I had to do the same for those based and from the place I call home.
I chose Jerry because I have loved his work since the age of 7 or 8, but never knew who he was. I can remember being in the back seat of my parent’s car and constantly asking them to travel down specific streets to look at his murals. Back then he was doing large dream-like portraits that would have sayings like “DETOX THE MIND”, “LAST NIGHT I KISSED AN ANGEL”, and “WILL WORK FOR LOVE”. They were unlike anything I had ever seen. Then two years ago I was doing a film project called Thelonious Hands and Jerry came to a reading. One of the actors in the film, Jamil Mangan, pulled me aside and referenced a conversation we had about Jerry’s work and informed me that he was the artist I was always talking about. What blew my mind at this point was that Jerry was not only an aerosol artist, but an accomplished fine artist. From that point I had to find out more and tell his story.
BT: What was it like to work with Jerry?
DA: To work with Jerry is first and foremost an honor. To be in the presence of an Artist of his stature who has been reviewed by the New York Times, and has done installments all over the world, has been none other than a very privileged and enlightening experience. In many ways it is a very foreshadowing experience as well, to think the same person who I revered from afar as a child, now trust me enough to tell his story is a blessing.
It is totally indescribable to sum up the amount of knowledge I have accumulated while doing this project. My entire team and I describe it like an advanced grad school course condensed in a matter of months. Jerry has taught not only myself but our entire film crew how to be true artists, and that is no exaggeration. We have laughed together, shared together and have grown together. Jerry is a very unique person, one who expresses his feelings no matter what and you totally have to respect that. So overall, the Jerry you see is exactly the Jerry you get; fun, extremely intellectual, and 100 percent real.
BT: How long have you been working on this documentary?
DA: We have been working on this doc. for aprox. 10 months.
BT: Whats next?
DA: Next… myself and Pierre M. Coleman the producer of THE GANTALIST are in the works of developing a feature film, a web series and lastly, a new series in collaboration with Jerry Gant himself. For creative purposes I can not fully divulge all the details, but all of the projects minus the feature should debut sometime this summer.
CHECK OUT THE PREVIEW HERE
For more information:
The Gantalist facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheGantalistFilm
Dubois Ashong, Director @DuboisAshong
Pierre M. Coleman, Producer @Pierre M. Coleman
The Art of Being Jerry Gant
Friday, May 18th
Doors open at 8pm
Screens at 9pm
Solo(s) Project House
972 Broad St.