UI alum Alex Jesko hosts first solo art exhibition at Medici Museum of Art

Alex Jesko, a 2019 University of Iowa MFA graduate, opened his first solo exhibition “Alex Jesko: Particle Displacement” at the Medici Museum of Art in Ohio. He has spent the last few years in connection with the director with the hopes of finally hosting a gallery exhibition.


Contributed from Alex Jesko

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

There were times when Alex Jesko thought being an artist wouldn’t work out, that his hopes were too high. After his debut solo exhibition “Alex Jesko: Particle Displacement” at the Medici Museum of Art, he proved himself wrong. 

Jesko graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with an MFA in painting and a double minor in art history and sculpture, where he also helped teach. Now, Jesko just wants to create. 

“I loved every minute of exploring ways to teach others, but I found myself so inspired by seeing everybody creating that I was constantly creating every day too,” Jesko said.

“Alex Jesko: Particle Displacement” contains 12 works of art spaced out in a contemporary style. The show opened on Sept. 9 at the Medici Museum of Art in Warren, Ohio, and will be on display through February. 

In the back of his mind, Jesko knew that he wanted to have gallery representation or hang his work in a museum. Even throughout college, he was exploring opportunities locally to show his art. Going to shows and conversing with like-minded people, Jesko was able to build a network among fellow art creators and collectors. 

In combination with receiving an honorable mention at an art competition for the Butler Museum of Art and following up with his old art teacher from Canfield High School in Ohio, who wanted to represent him and get his work into the public eye, he dived further into the gallery system. 

“I knew I wanted to go back to Ohio because it’s where all my relationships with the art community were, and I had a strong support system in my family and my friends,” Jesko said. 

Holding on to his art as long as he could to try to build a collection, Jesko was hurting for ways to support himself. When the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020, he said he was “freaking out,” knowing that all the museums and galleries he wanted to be a part of were closing. 

He was trading his old paintings to his friend in return for a space to live and a studio to work out of. At the very end of 2021, Jesko was introduced to the director of the Medici Museum of Art, Katelyn Amendolara-Russo, who was short-staffed at the time.

After talking back and forth, giving each other insight into the art world, and building their relationship, Jesko landed a deal for a 35-painting exhibition show. 

With the demands of running a museum, the exhibition kept getting put off, but a new opportunity arose. There was an opening in one of the museum’s spaces for a preliminary smaller exhibition before the feature show. 

At first, Jesko said no. He wanted to hold off and wait for the larger show he agreed to, though he said it was the greatest opportunity he has ever had. 

They settled on displaying one of his paintings at the front of the museum, and after it was hung, Jesko was taken on a tour of the empty space. The experience changed Jesko’s mind and, appreciating the chance with the knowledge of eventually growing into something bigger, he finally said yes. 

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“Everything was a great success; I couldn’t see any possible way that could have been better — over 200 people came in and enjoyed the space,” Jesko said. “It was real, as professional as you can experience for your first solo exhibition. Honestly, it was a dream come true.”

Jesko describes his art as an exploration of work, trying to create color progressions and illusions of form. His paintings have a geometric and symmetrical approach, a visualization of his thoughts on shape and color, and connections between depth and space. 

One of the most incredible parts of having a gallery exhibition at the Medici Museum of Art for Jesko is having his work hung 10 feet away from a Henri Matisse painting and in the gallery space next to Norman Rockwell’s. 

“It’s a really great honor to be among artists that I studied in school,” Jesko said.

Jesko continues to work at the museum hanging and switching exhibits, creating pedestals, and doing maintenance. While working, he often hears visitors commenting on the show, sometimes even coming up to him to ask questions without knowing that he is the artist. 

“I try to remain a mystery, so to speak — I think it allows for more conversation,” Jesko said. “It’s just silly to see people’s reactions.”