Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge Fine Arts Center exhibit reveals the layers of Jerome Cooksey’s art

Breckenridge Fine Arts Center exhibit reveals the layers of Jerome Cooksey’s art
June 25
09:55 2020

Layers. The concept of layers plays a big part in Jerome Cooksey’s art. The layers of the artist, the layers of the community he’s in, the layers of the art itself.

“There’s lot of layers to my work, just like there’s lots of layers to me,” Cooksey said in a recent interview at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, where his current exhibit is on display. “That’s one thing I try to convey is that life is just really a bunch of layers that make up a person. These are the layers that make me.”

The exhibit features 30 pieces of mostly mixed media paintings that focus on a wide range of topics.

This mixed media painting is part of the Remnant Series and reflects artist Jerome Cooksey’s Native American heritage. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

“This is all who I am,” the artist said, looking around the gallery. “My mom loved flowers; she passed away about 10 years ago. My dad…there’s a lot of Native American in my family. Jimi Hendrix was one of my idols. He died on my birthday, on the day I was born.”

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Cooksey moved to Texas in 2011 with his family, his wife and two sons, to work. After first living in Abilene, they found themselves in Breckenridge, where, in addition to working on his art, he has also worked for the school district and as a truck driver.

“We came from a city of a million people to a city of about 5,000 people, so that was a culture shock. That took some getting used to,” he said. “I like the simplicity of Breckenridge, but yet there’s layers to Breckenridge. You can lift up a rock, and somebody’s like, ‘Yeah, I used to work on the Space Shuttle. You know the nose part? I designed that.’ Really? You never know who you’re talking to. Somebody else… ‘I used to be in the band with Buddy Holly.’ It’s very humbling. It’s actually taught me how to move as an artist. You don’t have to tell the whole world. A lot of people don’t know I’m an artist because I don’t really talk about it. It’s something special to me, that I do.”

Another thing that Cooksey likes about Breckenridge is the quality of artists who live here. “Breckenridge has been real good to me,” he said. “There are professional artists here, and a lot of the artists are here to lend a hand, information, sharing their wisdom and experiences. I couldn’t thank a lot of these people enough, for the motivation and the sharing of their knowledge.”

Although working as a truck driver can be good for his creative side – a lot of ideas come to him when he’s on the road – it also presents a challenge in leaving him enough time and energy to work on his art. Still, Cooksey, who started out his artistic career as a photographer in high school and college, said he paints frequently because he knows there’s another show coming up somewhere.

“I paint because, first of all, it’s therapeutic, but now every time I’m doing a piece, it’s usually for a show,” he said. “There’s usually a reason behind it, or I might being doing something for a client. I’ve kind of entered into that level where I don’t paint just to paint. Every now and then I’ll have some fun, like if I’m trying to come up with a different concept, I’m in there goofing off, trying different things.”

Despite the varied subjects of his paintings, one thing that is a constant throughout Cooksey’s work is color. “Definitely, I like a lot of colors. I’ve always liked a lot of colors,” he said. “I’ve tried to do monotone, but I just can’t do monotone. I just can’t do it. I’ve tried. I tried to do a monotone piece one time. It started out, it was going to be alternate shades of purple. And, by the time it was done, I had every color I could think of in it. I can do black and white, but it has to just be black and white. Because if I add gray, then I gotta have some blue, then I gotta have some orange, then I gotta have some green…”

Cooksey says his work has been influenced by many different artists. “Picasso, Matisse, Ernie Barnes, a list of graffiti artists — I used to do graffiti art — Salvador Dali.” he said. “Those are the guys that I kind of pattern myself after, as far as style and technique, but Picasso is probably my favorite artist. I just like his style, and he could change on a dime.”

While Cooksey often paints a specific subject for a client, he also paints for himself. The meaning behind much of his art has always been to promote an image of people who are somewhat forgotten, of times gone by, he says.

“That’s why these three here are part of a series called Remnant,” he said, gesturing toward the portraits of Native Americans in the local exhibit. “The pieces, the way I do them, they’re definitely kind of something where you can sit in front of and get your mind right, kind of get focused.”

Like the layers of his mixed media paintings, Jerome Cooksey’s exhibit at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center reveals the layers of the artist himself. He draws on his own heritage, the influences in his life, as well as the things he appreciates, when creating art. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Jerome Cooksey’s art work can be seen on exhibit at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, 207 N. Breckenridge Ave. The BFAC is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 254-559-6602 or visit the website

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Although many of the paintings in Jerome Cooksey’s current exhibit at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center have special meaning, this portrait of Jimi Hendrix is particularly significant to the artist who was born on the day the musician died. To see more of Cooksey’s artwork, visit the BFAC. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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