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by Alan Singer,
from American Artist magazine, February 2002.

On his cross-country painting trip, Jim Mott sought to integrate art into the lives of those he visited.

When Jim Mott, of Pittsford, New York, embarked on his Itinerant Artist Project, he revived the 19th-century job category of the wandering painter. He was concerned that American cultural life was becoming too private and disconnected from the society at large, and he was unsettled by all the time and attention people spent at their computers. Mott sought an alternative to this virtual reality, so he set out across the United States and back again to demystify the process of making paintings by bringing art, and the artist, to the people. .....On March 31, 2000, he hit the road, through the mid-Atlantic region, southwest to Texas, on to California, back through the Southwest, across the Plains and Midwest, and home to upstate New York. Along the way, his art was transformed by his need to work fast and efficiently, his desire to keep the paintings portable, and his quest to meet new people.
.....The project connected Mott with strangers who had volunteered to have him as their houseguest in exchange for a painting. He found his hosts in three ways: by sending an E-mail chain letter
to his acquaintances, requesting they forward it to others; by mailing postcards to friends around the country, asking that they route them to their friends; and by placing a classified ad in the journal The Nation. Interested parties contacted the artist, and by the time he began to plot his journey in the winter of 2000, he had received 70 invitations.
......The realities of traveling across the country required Mott to devise some rules for himself. The first was not to stay in any location so long that he became attached to the area or was a

Frenchtown, MD, No. 5: Salt Marsh and Boat, oil on panel, 8 x 5 ½. Collection the artist.

Frenchtown was the artist's second stop, and he was still settling into the travel routine. "The overcast sky and the muted tones suited the scene well, setting a meditative mood," Mott says.

Chapel Hill, NC, No. 1: Dogwood and Azalea,
oil on panel, 8 x 5 ½. Collection Viva Hardigg.

Exhausted from driving, the ever-changing locations, and lack of sleep, Mott was cheered his first morning in Chapel Hill by the sunshine and his host's friendly enthusiasm.

Knoxville, TN, No. 1: Tennessee Rain,
oil on panel, 4 x 5 ½. Private Collection.

Mott did a quick graphite sketch of this scene near the Tennessee border. He worked on the painting after arriving in Knoxville, "trying hard to remember the colors," he recalls.

Austin, Texas, No, 3: Porch With Red Flowers,
oil on panel, 5 ½ x 8. Collection the artist.

Mott made two stops in Austin. "Although Austin provided plenty of appealing subject matter," he recalls, "I didn't have the energy to venture out with my paints much farther than the front door."