Joseph Love: Paint Your Passion
February 2, 2024–March 29, 2024
“Paint your passion, and don’t worry about it.” –Love
By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design –
Since childhood, Nashville artist Joseph Love has been passionate about high-speed cars, motorcycles, and bikes. He always wanted to be a race car driver, but it was a cost-prohibitive hobby. That didn’t stop his interest in the sport, as he would attend races, often sharing his knowledge and thrill of the events with his four sons. As a spectator, Love would bring his camera along to capture the exciting moments on film. Recognizing his talent, Love has had press credentials as a reporter and photographer for the last nine years to cover Formula 1 and Indy races courtesy of the Tennessee Tribune. He even traveled once to Canada in the early 1980s to watch a Formula 1 race.
Taking his passion for automobiles to the next level, he also began collecting, restoring, and painting cars, including 55 and 59 convertible Mercedes-Benz models from his garage. Jokingly, Love commented that a car engine is an art piece of its own, and when he had one in his house, visitors thought it was a sculpture.
Love didn’t start his career as an artist; that came years later when he worked as a real estate broker. Always close to his parents, as an adult, Love remained in touch with his mother even after death. Nightly, she would visit in his dreams, and in one, she encouraged her son to use his artistic gift from God. That began Love’s journey into painting with oil.
Growing up with only a smattering of art classes and drawing lessons from his father, Love was mainly self-taught. An equal rights activist, Love recognized that African American racers were often left out of Formula 1 and Indy race histories; he knew his talent for painting could be used to give historical and current racers a chance to have their stories spotlighted and shared with new audiences. Notable racers featured in his paintings include American Charles “Charlie” Wiggins, who won the Colored Speedway Association’s Gold and Glory Sweepstakes four times during the 1920s and 30s. Love also painted racer Sir Lewis Hamilton, a British Formula 1 driver who has won seven World Drivers’ Championship titles and holds the record for the most race wins of any driver in the history of the sport and the most pole positions. View the exhibition here.
Transitioning mediums from painting car exteriors to painting cars on canvas, Love’s paintings often initially come across as drawings due in part to the immense attention to detail, shading, and the illusion of movement he creates. Love’s knowledge of cars inside and out is noticeable in his paintings through the details he brings to the forefront that a passerby may overlook. The race car series, Black Speed, which is still growing, alternates between Grisaille (grayscale) and color oil paintings inspired by many of the photographs and historical images he took over the years. Why would a painter paint in grayscale to capture moments when race cars are typically splashed with colorful logos, bright numbers, and eye-catching colors? Love explained that he deliberately chose grayscale on some paintings as an homage to historical races, where any photos taken would have been produced in black and white.
When asked what advice Love would give to aspiring painters, he replied, “Paint your passion and don’t worry about it…Pay attention to detail, and creativity will flow.”
His work has been written about in newspaper articles from the Tennessee Tribune and Tennessee State University to Sports Illustrated. Additionally, he has received international attention from Indy and Formula 1 fans purchasing his work.
Today, Love can finally dedicate himself to working full-time on paintings that inspire him as well as private commissions. Don’t think Love only paints cars; his portfolio is quite diverse. Click here to see more of his paintings. If you want to visit Love at his studio, you may set up an appointment using this email firstname.lastname@example.org.