Today the painting story is from a little island off the coast of Florida. Sanibel is tiny. In fact most of the people that stay there get around on bicycles instead of cars. There are trails that stretch out in all directions. Sanibel is known for two things... the seashells and the birds. In fact the "Sanibel Stoop" is what they call the look you get from bending down to pick up seashells all day long long. That trip was spent lazily soaking up the sunshine... listening to Chuck Berry and chatting with a tiny woman in her 90s that had a smile so big she might as well have been 8 feet tall. Watching the sun set on the beach in Sanibel was a little like stopping time... everything moves in slow motion there there... even the sun... or so it seemed.
Time for todays painting story: http://www.jenniferdsandquist.com/store/p113/Stardust_.html
The Stardust painting you see above is HUGE. Currently it hangs above the record player in my apartment. The one with a curled black and white photo of my grandmother inside . I did this painting a little over a year ago for an art show in Pine City. It's a little town about an hour north of Minneapolis. My mom and my sister came to that show. It was the same weekend as my birthday I believe... ok... that means it was 2 years ago... man time flies.... anyway... the memory of this painting has less to do with that and more to do with my childhood. when i was a little girl my folks would go to Vegas every year or two ... maybe a little less... but anyway. On those weekends we stayed with my grandparents. Which... was actually like one long kid fun party to be honest. My grandmother spoiled and indulged us whenever possible. I remember her often times chiming at the stroke of the hour... "only 46 more hours until mom and dad come home" ... the time that I am thinking of specifically ... she took us to get teddy bears. these were no normal teddy bears.... when you pressed their palms... they had hearts that would light up and they would play a song. we spent most of that weekend playing and shopping and going out to eat... always with dessert... even if we didn't finish our food. but the thing I recall most of all... was the night mom and dad were to come home. although we were staying with grandma and grandpa... I insisted they let us sleep at home. and not just that. i wanted to sleep in the living room so I could be there the moment they arrived. grandma thought it tragic for our tender little bodies to sleep on the floor... so grandpa was assigned the task of carrying the mattress from the basement so we could be more comfortable. jess and I spent hours fashioning streamers and signs from construction paper... and hanging it in the kitchen... there are pictures of that somewhere... but the part that takes the cake... literally... was the welcome home cake we made for them (grandma probably made it actually)... my parents were staying at the stardust hotel... so I took an empty toilet paper roll and wrote stardust on it... gobbed it in frosting and stuck it in the middle of the cake. that's my stardust memory. that beautiful sign is no longer there... but I think of all the signs I've ever seen (and trust me i've seen many many signs... I am sort of obsessed with them... ) the stardust is by far my favorite. the way it would illuminate in phases... and the stars that reach almost off the sign in every direction. a real beauty. I wonder where it is now? on a side note... I have long been interested in old neons of course... and i have a friend that is almost as crazy about them as I am. one time she and I went on a trip to las vegas... and bribed the grounds keeper of "the neon graveyard" which is actually just a junk yard for old signs... $50 to let us walk around for the afternoon and snoop and take photos. It was worth it. That whole trip was hysterical. but this is my favorite photo from that day.
On to the next painting story. http://www.jenniferdsandquist.com/store/p112/Shadow_Dancing.html
Back when I was living in Waconia... before I ever had an art show or knew how to get one... I spent a lot of time looking for other artists online. I found comfort in asking others how they got started... or what inspired them. The internet is a magical thing... it seemed more mysterious back then... before facebook and before internet networking was really a thing at all. I found people I admired and I would email them and ask about their work and show mine. I met a few great people that way. The above photograph was inspired by a photograph done by someone I met that way in fact. His name is Don. He teaches art in New York and he does these fantastic photographs by drawing with neon lights. There are others I know that do that now... but back then... he was the only person I'd ever seen do it. He also does neon sculptures that are fascinating and playful... you can see them here if you like:
He encouraged me in my painting and once he even sent me paints and cray pas. He pushed me to always keep experimenting...
That same time of my life I "met" a photographer in Philadelphia. I loved his urban snapshots. He is also a painter. And I am lucky enough to own a few of his pieces... Anyway... this was all before I knew how to show or even thought much about showing at all. I was very intimidated by the whole process... one day... I got an email from Jonathan and he told me he was opening a gallery... and he'd like nothing more than for me to be the first artist to show with him. So... I did. I told Jason I had to go to Philadelphia for an art show... my art show... so we loaded up the truck (and I grabbed my best friend Gianna) and we hit the road. That was the hottest summer I can remember in my entire life. The air conditioner broke... and we were stopping every hour or so to buy ice from gas stations to hold to our foreheads. It was the most miserable... and in the same way... amazingly fun trip I can remember. I was so nervous. But surrounded by a lot of love and encouragement. To my surprise Don (from New York) drove out for my show. Being the art teacher he is... he was the only one to critique me... and give me constructive criticism. I wore flip flops and remember the sweat making my bangs stick to my forehead. Someone walked to the 7-11 across the street and bought us Yuenglings... no air conditioning in the gallery either.
Looking back, I can't believe the first show I ever did was in a gallery across the country. But why not. What an adventure this life is.
Sometimes I wonder what drives me to keep doing new things and meeting new people. Why I feel this insatiable desire to see it all and to know the world. To understand it. Some people think I am crazy. But when I spend time like this... remembering the things I have already done and the people I have met along the way... I could literally start crying to think of how beautiful a life I have already been so lucky to have. That was me... back then... brave and too excited to be daunted by the unknown. I hope I never forget how to be that way. I hope the adventure always seems more fun than the work to get there. Also, thanks Jason, for never ever telling me I couldn't do something. But looking me square in the face and saying... LETS GO!
As promised this is today's edition of painting conception stories... The above painting of The Rainbow Bar sign has started more conversations that I ever imagined it could. Just yesterday, as I took down my show from Palmer's Bar right here in Minneapolis... I was approached by a man that said... "Rainbow Bar... now that was a great place." He went on to tell me all about the Rainbow Bar in Uptown that was an amazing place in his words "Before Minneapolis figured out that it was cool" he said it was like some cool underground club "you're grandpa might've gone to"... he said that it was really chill and mysterious and dark... and that you could still smoke in the bars back then... so "that's all you could see... were the red burning ends of the cigarettes as people would take a puff"... I almost felt bad telling him the real story behind this painting. In fact this colorful neon sign is from a photograph I took while wandering the historic western downtown of Billings Montana several years ago. Downtown Billings hasn't changed much in the last 50 years... and I was delighted that day to photograph many great old neon signs all on that same little street. Several of them have since turned into paintings. One that sold to a couple that moved to Monte Carlo and bought my painting of that little mexican restaurant ... that was one of my favorites from that day. That was a fun day. Jason and I spent the day wandering Montana Avenue and dipping into antique shops. I bought a deck of naked lady cards from the 1950s that were still in the plastic. Actually... I was too embarrassed to buy them from the Pawn Shop owner... so I made Jason buy them.
Many of my neon signs have a story like that behind them. I love to travel... and I have long been fascinated by the old neons that dot the country... and are often found in the least expected places. Like Billings, Montana for example. One of my dreams is to travel Route 66 from start to finish... photograph what'ts left and then come back and sit with those images and turn them into a show. I had a chance to travel part of the old route last year when I went to Arizona with my parents... pretty amazing...
It's been a lot of fun photographing and cataloging all of these paintings and finding ones I forgot about... if you'd like to see what I've got up so far... you can do so here: http://www.jenniferdsandquist.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
I hope to have quite a few more up by the end of the week. Also in a strange twist of fate... I had purposely decided not to show at Art-A-Whirl this year because I have so much going on with work and then getting ready for Spain... but in the last few hours not one but two different venues have made it too easy for me to say no. So I will be showing at Grumpy's and Vesper College this year. Last year I sold all but one of my pieces at Grumpy's! Guess it's time to get painting.
Glory and gore go hand in hand...
you can try and take us... but victory's contagious... " ~lorde
I had a window of time tonight... unexpectedly... and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered... it seems to be something I have less of these days than I ever thought possible. I have always been a busy person... not by accident but by design. I thrive on chaos. I've been told more than once to slow down... this is neither an option or a viable plan of attack for me. I don't have the luxury of idle time and I would wither and die if I did. Multi-tasking in my personal and professional life is what fuels my fire.
In 27 days I will get on an airplane. Alone. And touch down in Barcelona, Spain. The goal of this forced solitude is to find time and inspiration... I have zero of the first and plenty of the second... but no way to put paint to paper. Tonight I took 2 hours to myself. I have had several people ask me for a venue online to view and or purchase my art. The timing couldn't be more perfect... I haven't created many new things this year. My day job has ramped up to a magnitude I had only dreamed of and my painting has taken a back burner. If there is one thing that might set me apart from other artists... it's that I have been insanely prolific... I blame most of this on insomnia... and a restless spirit. So... that being said... although I've been too busy to sit in my studio this year... I have a plethora of paintings from past shows that I would love to share with you. So... this month's project is a blog a day... featuring one of said works... with the story of how it was conceived... this serves more than one purpose. I hope to not only sell some of these pieces to help pay for my art adventure in Spain... I am also devoting that time blogging about things I have created in the past few years... to reminding myself why I created them at all. I need to remember why I fell in love with being an artist in the beginning... because it's a part of me that I love... that has gone totally dormant. I photographed and cataloged as many paintings as humanly possible in the past couple of hours... but there will be more tomorrow and then next day and the next... hopefully by the time I leave town I will have fully remembered who I was back when I had time to do this thing I love.
So here is the first story...
I fell in love with New Orleans a few years ago... It seems like a place that I should have always been. Or somewhere that I belong. The city is dirty and beautiful. It is steeped in history and scandal. The food is amazing and the music is omni-present. If you know me... these things are pretty much all I live for.
I was in New Orleans for the Satchmo Summerfest two years ago... I had a room with a giant balcony that faced a side street. It was hot... like 90 and 100 % humidity... so just after setting my suitcase and the trumpets I had hauled half way across the country... on my giant antique bed... I opened up the windows with tricky latches to let in some air. As I did a woman strolled past on the street below. She was clad in red from head to toe... she was a beacon on a dirty street and I scrambled to the bed to snatch up my camera... and I shot a photo of her just before she passed behind a tree. I did this rather impressionistic painting of that moment about a year later... it feels rushed just as that moment was... and I can't help but always hear the above song every time I look at this...
Incidentally... my room (that I later found out used to be a hospital during the civil war) was totally haunted. If you'd like the details I can tell you about them sometime. I am not much for ghost stories... but some strange things happened in that room in the light of day that I can't explain.
So there you have it... the first story behind the first painting to be featured here in the coming month. If you'd like to see all of them you can here: http://www.jenniferdsandquist.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
It's a truncated list at this hour... but I Hope to complete it this week and do a little tid bit about each as I go. I continue to make my way to New Orleans about once a year for work... someone once told me that the third time you go to New Orleans you decide to stay... I did leave a part of my heart there... and I can't wait to return. Maybe one day for good.
if you know me... even a little... you know i love to dance. something about dancing makes me feel so free... and ridiculously happy... i think it's because when you are dancing you get to physically enjoy something that already makes me feel so good... music.
dancing is a way of connecting your whole body to a song. and when you are dancing... you can't think all that much. i think too much most of the time... so it's this freedom to stop thinking... and start moving... that releases me (and likely those of you out there that like to dance too) from reality for a spell. what an awesome feeling.
i have been plotting an art adventure now for about a year... i want to go to spain for a month to escape. and by escape i mean... dance in my own skin. i have been so busy the last couple of years... i feel my art slipping away from me... my day to day life is so full that when i do have a moment to collect my thoughts... the last thing i feel like doing is painting. i remember a time... when spending a night with some paint and some music... felt just as beautiful as dancing. so... i am going.
when i was a little girl... i loved to dance just as much as i do now. i was the little girl at the wedding... doing the hokey pokey and spinning around for hours until i fell down from exhaustion. that's pretty much how i am now. i went to a wedding dance a couple of years ago... two old friends were married and i had friends fly in from as far away as stockholm... people i love dearly... and have known for a lifetime... that all love to dance as much as i do... about halfway through the wedding dance... (in red patent leather high heels).... i twisted my ankle and came down weird on my foot... it hurt terribly... but nothing... and i mean nothing... was going to stop me from having that night of dancing with those people... and so i danced all night anyway... only to find out i had a broken foot in the morning... i don't regret it... at all.
i went home to visit my parents this weekend... and my mom said that when i was a little kid i was always trying to escape. i would just go out wandering around at all hours of the day or night. i ran away from home a lot... they installed a lock on the front door... that was taller than i was... so i used to bring a kitchen chair to the door and pop the latch... and run free anyway. i am guessing i was maybe 4 years old.... i remember this... and the feeling that i always wanted to go just a little further than i was allowed. i could never sleep well... i just kept imagining all of the things i was missing out on. i was and still am a terrible napper.
i guess what i am trying to say is... i think that for some people (and by some people i mean... i hope it's not just me).. really need to get lost to be found. sometimes the world around you is so loud... that the only way to quiet it down... is to dance... or in this case... go to a foreign country alone to get out of your comfort zone... mute your reality and give yourself the gift of time. i can't imagine what i would be like today... if whenever i wanted to spin around for an hour at a wedding when i was 5... someone told me to stop... instead everyone would cheer and smile... and marvel at my ability to dance all night long and not throw up.
i'll be honest... the endeavor of being all alone... in a strange place kinda does make me want to vomit. i think that's a good thing. i can't remember the last time i was so thrilled and afraid like this... and so... i believe it can only be good. in the long run.
also... on a side note... if you see someone doing something brave... wild... maybe think twice about telling them to stop. those people are only trying to be as much as they can... and do as much as they can... and they might feel just as scared or awkward as you about it... just tell them to keep on dancing!!!
one more thing... that i haven't been able to shake from my brain since saturday night (at my parents house)...
when i was a little girl... my parents were also just babies... the fact that my mom and dad raised my sister and i... without injury and managed to teach us right from wrong... and how to love and be good human beings... is an amazing thing to me... my parents got married when they were so young... but they love eachother so much. more so today than ever before... it's inspiring. i feel very blessed to have two such amazing souls to come back home to... whenever i can carve out time for them... that i wish i had more of.
so... my parents are so cool. they met in highschool... different highschools... my dad used to have a hot rod car (actually he still has it)... when i was a little girl ... our "family car" wasn't a mini van... it was ... at different times... a plymouth duster (with racing stripes) and a firebird with a souped up stereo system that my mom used to listen to " The Cars" and my dad used to listen to "Hank Williams" on... i doubt they believe me when i say that i can remember being 3 or 4 or 5... but i really can... and the one thing i remember is how good that time was... the reason i am reminded of all of this now... is that i have been going on and on about dancing... and in the back of that firebird... when i was 4... i remember singing too loudly to this song... and thinking how happy i was that my parents loved eachother so much. i thought the song could've been written about me... dancing around like crazy... and about my parents (who were already married of course.... but when you are 4 you don't care about the details of a song).... two people i loved... that were in love.
also... before i sign off... i just want to say thank you to my mom... for recognizing a dream when she sees it... and helping me get there. even if it scares her. don't worry... i'll just be smiling and dancing...
Some of the most extraordinary people "in my life" i have met quite by accident. total strangers that have somehow come into my life in the most happenstance ways. although i have had zero time to pontificate about my art in forever... tonight is a great example of such a coincidental meeting. years ago... long before I had ever done an art show of my own... i stumbled upon the paintings of Todd Holingsworth online... i thought then... as I do now... that his paintings captured something unexplainable... that I hoped to capture in the portrait/people paintings i was doing at the time. the moments in life that no one really talks about much... but that we can all remember... Todd paints moments of AHA... moments when you and a total stranger share a secret... or a thought... without speaking. this secret moment was the driving force in all of the art i did back then.
fast forward many years... and todd has asked me to share some space with him at palmers for his latest show. i am beyond flattered... to be chosen by someone that inspired me (quite by accident) long ago... to keep creating.
I am showing some of my sign paintings alongside Todd's lovely ladies. .. and the combination somehow works splendidly... it's as if you've met these women in the establishments that lurk over their heads. (or that's how I see it)...
Todd and I both share a love of the mystique that is Palmers... and we have a mutual appreciate for the art that each of us creates... so... if you stop out tonight for the opening party (it's Todd;'s birthday too ... so don't forget to buy him a stiff drink)... know that you are witnessing an sort of accidental union of two artists that admire one another. Hopefully that feeling will permeate the exhibit... and the evening. I heard a rumor there will be a ham.... and music by the Rank Strangers and Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs... it's sure to be an evening that won't disappoint even the mildest art, music or alcohol appreciator... come say hi. i have to work all day tomorrow for a brass symposium... so i have to be good and leave by around 11/12... but the party will go all night long. it is palmers afterall...
I remember the first time I painted anything. I was 16 years old. I told my grandma I wanted to paint. And, like she always did... she told me she thought that was a wonderful idea... and marched me down to the local 5 & dime store (Duebers)... and bought me paint... canvas... and brushes. I used to spend a lot of time in my bedroom back then. To quiet my head. To listen to my Beatles records... and to try to figure out who I was. I used to journal a lot back then... on paper... those were filled with the meandering thoughts of a teenage girl... photographs pulled from magazines... pressed flowers... quotes and poems. My dad would sit in the family room (adjacent to my bedroom) and I still remember how he would knock on the wall... one, two, three times... then wait a moment... the one, two, three times again... then wait... then again... and again... and again... until I would come out of my room and scream something like... "WHAT"... he would say... "what are you doing" ... I would say I was listening to music or I was painting... or "nothing".... and he would ask me to sit by him for a while to watch TV. now I know that he just missed me... and probably thought that he was sad his little kid was turning into an anti-social independent teenager... I would refuse most often but sometimes I would sit with him for half an hour or so... then go back to my brain. much like i am doing this very moment... in order for me to delve into my own head... i need a magic recipe of time, mood, music, quiet... and space... to think. I realize now... that I am such a feeling and receptive person... that when I am around other people I have a very very hard time thinking about myself at all. I think about you. All of you. friends, family, strangers... I want to be in your head. Which I think I do an ok job of... but all that putting myself in your shoes... means I forget about myself. completely... to know you. I am sure there is a way to do both... but i kinda prefer it this way. I find that when I devote my full attention to you... you get a lot more out of it... as do I... and I find when I have a moment of genuine solitude... I can really truly concentrate on my own thoughts... that's when the magic of creating can happen. it really is magic. it's something I can even put my finger on. All I know is that I get into a dream -like head space that can only happen when I am ALONE. being alone is so sobering and awesome. tuning out the droning sound of everyone and everything. I am sitting at my desk at work. ALONE. and I realized I haven't been truly alone... except for while sleeping... in forever. when was the last time. I can't recall. no wonder it's been months since my last blog entry. when was I supposed to think?
i haven't thought much at all about the way i started to paint... or why... in a very long time... but tonight... after everyone else left the shop... and I could hear nothing more than this:
the music i was listening to and still am... that first painting I ever did came rushing back to my brain... totally subconsciously... and by accident... which is how each and every brilliant (and by that i mean... personally rewarding) thing I have ever done... has ever started... and all the guilt I have been feeling lately about not painting... was washed away by the realization I have devoted zero hours to solitude for as long as I can remember.
for your information... and for visual reference... which I appreciate more than words personally... this is that painting. that started everything. it was done with zero knowledge of painting. with canvas my grandma bought me. from a mom and pop store in the middle of nowhere... and honestly... it's possibly my favorite painting i have ever done. it does justice to how I was feeling when it was created... my heart was screaming to escape and explore the world. the visions I had of myself... the photos and poems and questioning journal entries... culminating into this. a scream. and one thing i have realized... all of a sudden and quite by accident... is that although I am too fucking busy to pay attention anymore... and give due diligence to my own head... and my own life... i am the person i wanted to be back then... i have grown up to be a really interesting and worldly artist... i travel the world. i have a hundreds of interesting stories that i someday hope to tell. i have just as many pictures in my head of the people and places i have already been. some days I feel guilty... like I have taken up more beauty than some people ever get in a lifetime... by the very unsophisticated age of 35. but i am reminded of something a very like soul told me once... about music... he said, "jen... if you're a person that loves good music... good music will find you..." ... I feel like that about life. now... not just music... i am a person that loves good living... and good living has certainly found me.
all of this chitter chatter springs of no more than a pent up creative soul... having a few minutes alone. clearly i need to spend more time alone... but it's not in the cards right now. i have been devoting my days to a business I love... that has been loving me back... and I am oh so excited about it... I have other secret creative endeavors in the works... but that will have to wait for a later blog. rest assured faithful blog readers... all shall be revealed soon enough... and i will once again... take back my solitude... even if i have to hide behind the family room wall and crank up my revolver album. because it is impossible to quiet a scream like this.
Stay tuned: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=371156492984089
The Northeast CDC Calendar just came out... and I am ms. august... and ms. January! you can get yours for free at any of these Northeast businesses...
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on a side note... my sister and I made a music video to the song calendar girl when we were really little... I wonder what ever happened to that...
This afternoon I dropped off my paintings for the Vesper College $99 sale happening Friday & Saturday... the space seems to be filling up quickly with lots of exciting stuff to choose from! Vesper College is located in the Casket Arts Building, on the first floor... studio #101... The hours for the sale are listed on the flier below...
I kinda miss that building... I used to participate in their guest artist series on the first Thursday of the month... I love the big old doors and the way things haven't changed all that much since it used to be a casket factory... on a side note... I met a woman once that worked there for many years... she said sometimes people would send things along to have them sewn into the lining of the coffin... momentos/photos... that stuck with me.
Anyway... I made this little video... one of those thursdays back in 2010
And! Tonight... is the 2nd Annual Group Art Sale @ Covet Consign & Design (3730 Chicago Ave S) 6pm-9pm ... I am really looking forward to it... my last show there was so much fun... and I've had a chance to sneak peak the other artist's work... and there's so much variety... color... and talent! See you there! EVERYTHING IS $99 or less! Get your holiday shop on and give back to the local arts community. You can't use the cold as an excuse anymore... to me it's feeling balmy today... I didn't even wear a hat.