Saturday, March 13, 2010

Recurrent

Wednesday night I went and hung art with Jody and J at the N E X T Gallery. Jody needed to get everything up on the walls before her art opening, Recurrent, this weekend. It was fun to go and be behind the scenes in an artist's world. When I showed up, Jody and J were waiting for me with a giant pizza and hugs as I came in the door.

We sat and talked and ate pizza while looking around the room. All of Jody’s paintings were leaning against the walls, like people waiting in a train depot to leave on a journey. They were all positioned in the spots where they were to be hung. Jody talked about her considerations when it came to figuring out where the paintings would go. She ultimately felt that her biggest piece would hang at the the front of the room to greet people when they came in the door and to invite traffic in from the street. Thinking back now, I wish I would have asked her for the names of more of her artwork (I am a heal for not remembering the names of any of her pieces). J knew them all; she was assistant number one.

Since it was just Jody, J and I , I felt like I had the chance to ask her more questions about herself; like why she ended up getting her MFA and how she was feeling about the show. She did mention the underlying sense of baring her soul a bit. Her body of work would hang all around her while friends moved through the room. I thought about how intense that must feel: standing in a room full of good friends and strangers while they interact with your art. None of it is bad, but all of it can be a little risky. One thing I admire about Jody though, is her ability to wear her heart on her sleeve. She seems to just live her emotions and let the experiences affect her.

She talked about being a graphic designer in an earlier life; at that time she believed she wasn’t an artist. She had her dream job as an art director and when the Internet boom ended, she found herself working in a technical world just doing work entirely different from what made it a dream job. For the first time since she was a teenager, she took six months off and then found a job at an art organization until she could figure out what she wanted to do next. One day she saw a bunch of kids running around and playing and decided she liked that. She went back to school and started teaching. In school she learned about all the different types of art. She sculpted, painted, learned to draw, made jewelery, and ultimately she found she was more of an artist than she realized. She finished three years ago. She said sometimes it takes a while to get to [one of] the places you should visit in a lifetime. I admired that she had finally arrived. It's funny to learn those facts since the Jody I know is 100% an artist. It makes me think about the lifetimes people live and how we do change and morph and grow into new versions of ourselves.
I had not anticipated having to do Math when I signed on for the ride, but I got kung-fu'd by the Math gods in this experience. I'm more of an eyeballer myself but the goal was to make the center of each painting consistently at the same height. It's a very technical process I won't go in to here but it does require sheer mental strength, a measuring tape, and a pencil. J was quick to the draw with division. We all joked about it how simple it seemed in theory but it took a few times to get familiar with the concept that 60 inches from the floor is the center of the painting (all around the room, any painting size). We measured each painting and did the math... and remeasured... and pounded in the nail and hung the art... and then sometimes kind of eyeballed it... and readjusted. All around the room we went, and slowly the pieces came in to their space. Jody adjusted the lights, creating an even more vibrant look to the paintings.

We went outside to look at the show through the windows of the Gallery. Some men walking by stopped to comment on how cool it was that "they" were changing the art. The guys looked through the window as well and talked to each other for a few minutes (probably until the noticed some random woman taking their photo). I was trying to catch Jody and J together inside. It was nice to watch them relate. There was a painting of her underwater, huge smile and her hair disheveled from the lack of gravity. At the end of the night, her and Jody stood next to it as I took their photo in the finished process. She stood alone to so I could get the resemblance of her to her painted self. It was a great comparison.

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