Local Phoenix painter discusses his work

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Former House Speaker Rusty Bowers has spent decades as an accomplished artist. Now his paintings are part of an exhibition featuring two other well-known artists. The exhibition-auction kicks off February 2nd at the Larsen Gallery. The event also includes work from acclaimed Native American artist, Fritz Scholder, as well as our guest, local artist Ahmed J. Cannon, who is known for his hyper realism paintings.

Cannon specializes in realistic oil portraits. His series The Jazz Men includes portraits of Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Louis Armstrong, Herbie Hancock and Arizona’s Doc Jones. A large portion of the sales from Cannon’s work will benefit the Molina School of Jazz, a local charity that provides music education for children.

How do you feel being apart of an exhibition?

“First of all, sharing gallery space with Fritz Scholder and Rusty Bowers is amazing, especially my story. I took over 20 years off as an artist, and February 2nd is the opening and it’s going to be a great event. When I heard about the Molina School of Jazz, I knew I had to be a part of it,” said Cannon.

Explain your time off from art

“Life happened, but in this time I really got true to myself. I found myself again; I went from AJ to Ahmed. I went to Kenya about four months ago, so I rediscovered myself through that,” said Cannon.

He further explains that a past relationship helped him get back to art, “She wanted to show her grandmother my artwork, they saw my art and they were like, “You need to paint jazz.” I love jazz but I didn’t know that it would motivate me, but it was the best decision that I’ve ever made,” said Cannon.

Why did painting Jazz artists hit you?

“She loved jazz so much; she gave me original pictures of jazz musicians that are in the jazz hall fame that most people don’t know. I’m an artist, but I feel like I’m also a historian. It’s been an amazing ride to learn more about these jazz musicians along the road,” said Cannon.

Ahmed J. Cannon, Artist

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