October 18, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Jackson Anderson (center), seen here with parents Chris and Lisa, attended the opening reception for his exhibit at Tsunami.
    Photo by Leslie Dolsak
    Jackson Anderson (center), seen here with parents Chris and Lisa, attended the opening reception for his exhibit at Tsunami.
  • Jackson Anderson's digital palette installation will be on display at Tsunami until May 9.
    Photo by Leslie Dolsak
    Jackson Anderson's digital palette installation will be on display at Tsunami until May 9.

Teen Artist Exhibits Work At Hip Sushi Spot

Leslie Dolsak
Leslie Dolsak's picture
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May 2, 2018

You could call him an overachiever, a boy beyond his years, a teen with an old soul, a musician, an actor or an artist. He’s all those things, or as Scott Herbst, co-owner of Tsunami, the hit sushi pad in Annapolis said, “He’s got real swagger.”

“I call myself ‘the Jackson of all trades,’” said Jackson Anderson in a self-deprecating way. The 14-year-old Arnold native is the youngest exhibiting artist the restaurant has ever had.

Herbst recalled, “I approached Jeff Huntington and asked, ‘Do you have anyone to hang?” Huntington, an Annapolis painter, recommended Anderson. The installation hit the walls of Tsunami for a display that will be featured through May 9.

It was elbow-to-elbow at Tsunami’s opening night reception on April 19 for Anderson’s work, a digital rendering of fruit morphing into living creatures, like a lemon into a lizard, blueberries into a bird and a watermelon into a ladybug. Anderson, unlike most eighth-grade boys, stood at the exhibition self-assured, calm and jovial, mixing and mingling with patrons. Anderson’s father, Chris, attributes his son’s comfortable, sophisticated demeanor to his upbringing. “We’ve always tried to put him in these social environments,” Chris said.

His mother, Lisa, first saw his love for drawing during car rides as a child without electronics. “He would draw in the car all the time,” she said. “He was really good at pulling stuff from memory that he saw in a movie or cartoon and draw it.”

But the impetus for this original series of fruits transforming into the wild stems simply from Anderson’s two great loves: food and nature. “I think we’re getting further away from nature with technology. We’re always in our houses and we are constantly staring at our phones,” said Anderson, hoping to teach something through his multifaceted artistic endeavors.

At age of 7, Anderson picked up guitar; at age 10, he started a band, Fast As Lightening, which has performed in more than 115 shows; and, acting at age 11, he appeared in short films, onstage at Anne Arundel Community College and in minor roles on TV shows like “Blindspot” and “Law and Order.”

In all his artistic pursuits, one thing keeps this teen going: the sense of completion. “When I look over something and it’s good, that’s satisfying. Like with the band, if it sounds good, that’s satisfying. With film, when it’s complete, it’s a beautiful thing,” explained Anderson.

It’s the satisfaction in all his pursuits that Anderson would like to continue for a lifetime. “You can make a profession out of it,” assured Hillary Murphy, Anderson’s art teacher for the past two years at Magothy River Middle School in Arnold. “This is the most surreal I’ve ever seen his work. He’s very clever. He’s always willing to go the extra step.”

Going that extra step is exactly what landed Anderson’s work on the walls of Annapolis’ trendiest sushi spot. “When he showed me his first piece [‘The Lizard’] last fall, I said, ‘That’s good! Why don’t you do more,’” prompted his mom, wearing a gold lightening pendant, a little reminder of her son’s band.

With his mother’s reassurance that he was on the right path, Jackson headed to the Annapolis Collection Gallery and consulted with Katherine Burke. “She helped me come up with what would go together, like the orange and the clown fish,” he said.

It’s exactly that kind of hutzpah that landed Jackson on the board of Future History Now, Huntington’s Annapolis-based nonprofit that creates collaborative art projects with kids and adults facing adversity all over the world.

You can see Anderson’s work at Tsunami, which features artists’ work on rotation, giving exposure without taking a cut. His artwork ranges in price from $10 to $105. For custom work, contact fastaslightningband@gmail.com. You can catch Fast As Lightning’s upcoming shows: May 10 at Walk the Walk in Gambrills; May 25 at The Office Bar & Grill in Pasadena; and June 9 at Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge in Annapolis.

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