I Went To Los Angeles And

I went to Los Angeles and saw a lot of things and it was good and slightly strange. This is what life looks like in Venice, California, if you ever wondered.

Lo and behold, there’s wildlife. There’s also a plethora of contemporary art galleries, which is what drew me in the first place, though sighting an egret (that is what this is, right?) counts as a plus.

From LA Louver, works by Tony Bevan, Matt Wedel, and Shirazeh Houshiary.

Installation view of Tony Bevan’s work at LA Louver, from their website

Flower Tree, Matt Wedel, from ArtNet

String Quintet (detail), Shirazeh Houshiary

From L & M Arts, a range of Jenny Holzer.

From Redaction Paintings, altered images of classified documents released by the US Government

From Marine Contemporary, new pieces by Christopher Michlig.

From White Noise, Christopher Michlig, from MC’s site.

Going to a city is both heartening and saddening.

There is comfort in being with art. In sinking into some one else’s mind and vision, in letting yourself become obsessed with some one else’s obsession. Every work, every artist has their own flavor. The sinewy human-ness of Tony Bevan’s line courses through trees, architectural images, and portraits alike. Matt Wedel’s organic sculptures speak of the birth of form from abstraction, of the joyful, messy processes of coming to life. Shirazeh Houshiary gives music form and and form aspiration. Jenny Holzer takes on human foibles and failings with wrathful compassion, simultaneously mocking and memorializing our species. Christopher Michlig reformulates the detritus of city life into abstracted, playful new iterations of itself.

Seeing – feeling – all these stories come to life through other hands is knowing good company. And suddenly, I am struck by how very much I am missing. To be in good company is to become aware of its absence at other times.

Cities have a tendency to fill me with a gripping loneliness. Could there ever be enough art to fill this gap? But loneliness, I feel, is a self-made sadness. We must undo it as much from within as without. I must make my own art as well as melt into the makings of others. There lies solace, if it is to be found.

A Right Path

On Thursday night, my show opened. There are ten thousand more poetic and/or articulate things I could say, but mostly what I feel right now is “Hell yeah!”

This show is the first opportunity I have ever been given to take a space and make it mine. And I did. Although I am most frequently a painter, and occasionally a maker of three dimensional things, I am finding more and more that my (he)art lies in creating a space, in holding an experience in place for the viewer to inhabit in the time that they are present and take with them once they have gone.

To paint the walls, hang the paintings, and put the installation in place is one thing. To have people walk in, stop dead, then utter some form of “Wow,” is wholly another. People walking down the opposite side of the street told me that what they glimpsed for a mere moment diverted them from their intended course to come and see the work.

To Be Without Words (To Let Words Become Poems or Prayers, or Birds to Take Flight And Carry Our Wants and Fears Away From Us), 7’ x 6’ 4” x 8’, Wooden Dowels, Wire Mesh, String, Epoxy, Spray Paint, Fishing Line, Journal Entries 2011-2012

Yes. This is what I want. For my work to be an offering.  For it to give you something that matters to you.

It comes from me. My work is pictures of my own life: my uncertainty and doubt, aspiration and longing. After all, we each have but our own life to go on. But it is meant for anyone who wants it. The hope is that my stories, told abstractly, speak to others, that the sense of our own human life can be found in another’s.

23 Abstract Paintings

To have other humans living other lives affirm that this indeed occurs – for just a moment, I want for nothing. Gratitude completely subsumes all other emotions. Just this remains: Thanks Universe. Thanks fellow humans. This is a right path, and one I intend to follow.

To see more images of the work, including individual titled photos of the paintings, check out my website.

An Introduction, a Departure, and a Unicorn

This is the announcement for my upcoming show, my first solo show in Santa Barbara. Big news! If you are nearby, COME! If you are not nearby, hold your breath for a leetle bit here because once the show goes up, you’ll be able to see photos of it on…my website.

Yes, it’s true. I’ve become a fully-formed being of the digital age. I now exist as a domain in the world wide web in addition to my corporeal form. Hello world. Please meet…

www.jourdieross.com

The Red Bull Seeks Amalthea, 12″ x 16″, ink and acrylic on canvas

Apologies if I seem a bit, as my mother puts it, punchy. I’m running on two hours of sleep. I spent last night finishing paintings and matching lipstick colors to summer dresses. You see, I’m heading off for ten days to a wedding in New York and a short jaunt to Montreal. My show opens three days after I get back and the invitational to which this piece belongs shortly thereafter, so it’s been a bit of a time crunch and sleep (and some modicum of sanity) went by the wayside.

I’m not sure what internet and free time will be like while I’m gallivanting, so you may have radio silence for the next week and a half or so. Consider the above painting my offering. Here’s the context (less punchy as I wrote it earlier); I hope you enjoy musing over it for the next little while here:

The Red Bull Seeks Amalthea is based on a fantasy story I grew up with called The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (spoiler alert!). Unicorns have mysteriously vanished from the world. The last remaining one sets out to find her fellows and discovers that they have been kidnapped by an avaricious king, driven into the ocean by a powerful beast called the Red Bull, an animal made of fire. A blundering but compassionate magician transforms the unicorn into a woman, Amalthea, in an attempt to hide her from the bull. When the bull realizes that the woman is the unicorn, Amalthea must face her pursuer and choose between her own kind and her love for a human prince. In the end she rescues the unicorns and returns to her original form, the only unicorn to ever feel love and regret. The tale is a beautiful allegory of fear and identity; it can be interpreted as a metaphor for the way our true nature pursues us and the lessons we learn through that venery. The essence of that pursuit is what I aimed for in the painting.

What Art Reveals

Oy vay, 8 1/2″ x 12″, ink on paper

Oy vay. That’s how I feel right now. I’m facing one of the biggest opportunities to appear thus far in my life, and I have to fess up: there’s a part of me that keeps having the thought…I wish it would just go away.

I wish I didn’t have to somehow finish a dozen paintings in three weeks. I wish I didn’t have to create this installation piece entirely from scratch. I wish I didn’t have to figure out exactly what I’m trying to say with all this stuff I’m making. I wish I could just make the work and that it would speak for itself.

Therein lies the catch I am discovering about being an artist. The creative life encompasses more than just making things. You have to be aware of and, to some degree, understand the questions and foci that make up your vision. I suppose one could just make something aesthetically appealing and hope that people are drawn in. Often times they will be (the magical mystery that is Thomas Kinkade?). But I want to make work that goes deeper, that knows itself, that has something to say and says it clearly. After all, when I make art and put images in the world, I am demanding that people take time out of their lives to pay attention to what I have to say. I guess the feeling I have right now is, “It better be good, girl.”

Gasp, 8 1/2″ x 12″, ink on paper

I have a lot of ideas about what my art is about: synesthetic experience, memory, emotional discomfort, the desire to allay that. I also have this fear: what if, above all else, my art reveals that I am young, and confused, and doubtful that I will ever be anything else?

Maybe that is my vision. Maybe all I really want to create is a space for that to be okay. For myself, and for everyone else too.

Raspberry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake and Gallery Wooing

On Wednesday, I had a meeting with the folks over at Gallery Acero, a local art gallery run in tandem with an iron forge. It is a wicked cool place. There’s heavy metal music (not sure if they intend the pun) playing over the sound of hammering and torches. The three brothers who run the place and their cohort create everything from custom furniture to fine art.

I am fantastically lucky enough to be friends with one of their production assistants, who  also helps out with running the gallery. She encouraged me to send images of my work to Dan, the owner, and propose a show, which I did. He liked my work, so we set up a meeting. And then suddenly I needed, like, a portfolio, a really spiffy up-to-date artist statement and exhibition history, some kind of plan for how I envision my current work being shown, and a face that says, “I’m a grown-up and a serious artist.” Gulp.

I decided to cheat a little and bake Dan a cake, in hopes that the instant affinity created by sugar and butter would help him overlook whatever fears and faults of mine peek through. Turns out berries are a straight route to his affections, so that went well. But funny thing, while showing up with baked goods always makes me feel more at ease in new situations, I was amazed to find that despite my nerves, I’m plenty capable of having a business meeting about art. When I take a deep breath and trust my own ideas and intentions for my paintings, I really enjoy discussing them with like-minded people. Having a dialogue with some one who is as passionate about art as I am and who responds to my ideas with interest, respect, and even a bit of challenge is seriously fun.

If that’s how to conduct business in the art world, I might just be able to make this work. And when I have doubts, there’s always cake. This particular one comes with high commendation from the gents and lady over at Santa Barbara Forge and Iron.

Recipe after the jump… Continue reading