Jack Balas is an artist whose work primarily includes painting, drawing, and photography, occasionally cross-pollinated with writing and other media. After earning his BFA and MFA degrees in sculpture from Northern Illinois University, Balas moved from the Chicago area to Los Angeles, where he worked as a cross-country art shipper, driving between Los Angeles and New York on a route that regularly took him through the western landscapes that have come to define much of his work. Eventually moving away from sculpture entirely, Balas began producing paintings of athletic young men annotated and layered with numbers, illustrations, personal anecdotes, and other disparate elements that offer a depiction of idealized masculinity in America through the lens of Balas’s personal experiences, as well as a contemporary counterpoint to the art-historical archetype of the female nude.
A 1995 recipient of an Individual Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts, Balas is now represented in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona; the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Iowa; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; the 21c Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico; and the Usiminas Cultural Institute, Ipatinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil; among others. Balas currently divides his time between Denver and Tucson.