Or more correctly, "the one that didn't get to the show."
I'm a binge painter. I'm thinking about making art all the time, but only seem to do it in bursts. The way my brain works seems to require a concerted effort at concentration, which, given the constraints of time and having to make a living, I cannot seem to muster every day. I envy those artists who can head out to the studio and work every day for an hour or two, and then get on with the other parts of life. I just seems to take me a solid week to corral my thoughts and energy enough to get started on something, and then a couple more weeks before I make anything worth looking at, and by the time I'm turning out satisfactory work, I've built up a head of steam that I can't just turn off. Usually the only time I have for this amount of effort is winter. But the way I've arrange my life I usually have 3 or 4 months to just work in the studio. Oh, and also get up firewood. [frowning.]
ANYWAY, once I get to working, I try to just let myself make whatever comes to mind, without judgement. I've been known to talk myself out of many paintings ahead of time, and I'm trying to stop that. Just make it, and decide later whether it's any good.
This new-to-me plan is very freeing, but also results in the occasional "orphan." By that I mean something that doesn't really "fit" with the rest of the paintings in the group, either conceptually or visually. Sometimes I just paint a landscape or a still life to "loosen up." Sometimes I just have a weird idea and go with it, to see where it goes. And then it's kind of a dead end. [Or maybe a preview of coming attactions??!]
So, with that unnecessary amount of introduction, here's a little orphan I call "Enfant Terrible."
"What?" you say? "nothing fruits in the Virginia winter!" Especially not this past one. The one that never seems to end. It's April 9 and there are 6 inches of sticky heavy snow outside. The daffodils are covered up.
The fruit I refer to is the fruit of my efforts in the studio. Winter is a good time to get some solid concentrating done, since it's too dreadful to be outside and everyone else is hunkered down too, just waiting it out. I'm not very social any time of the year, and even less so in the winter. In winter I spend much more time in the studio, and can follow a train of thought for longer without interruption. In summer I'm outside.
So I just updated the website, with some examples of this fruit, and if you're in Richmond or nearby, you can see some of it in person. Which of course I highly recommend, because a photo on a screen is just NOT THE SAME as the piece in person. IMHO.
Back in February, through absolutely no effort of my own, I scheduled a show at the Richmond Public Library, main branch. Thanks to Sebastian Jackson, by the way, who hooked me up with Lynn Vandenesse, who curates the shows there. Now that show is up, and you can see it until April 30. It's in the second-floor mezzanine space, a lovely space filled with light from the huge front windows of the library.
The main branch of the Richmond Public Library is a dear old haunt for me. I cannot say how many hours I spent in the art book stacks when I lived downtown, and then much later in the children's book section when Lilly was a kid. And in an interesting circle of fate thing, the Gellman Room was the location of my first show ever, way back in 1981. I was showing with the "Women's Caucus for Art", and it's a good thing I've had it on my CV for all these years, because I retain no memories of the actual event or what I showed. (To all young people out there: better write it down. You think you're going to remember it, but it's all much more slippery than you think.)
This one won't be in the upcoming show. My daughter needed something to replace the one I repossessed to put in the show. But we both like it, and want to keep it for awhile. . .
Cabinet of Curiosities oil on panel 2017 11" x 14"
I have a show coming up, at Larkin Arts in Harrisonburg. [details: www.larkinarts.com] It's a smallish space, but I'm going to cram as many works in there as I can. The opening is Friday May 5, from 5 to 8 pm. If you're in the area, please come by and relieve my social anxiety by saying hi. It's always good to see a familiar face!
So I'm inside, trying not to get too far from the woodstove. I got a new camera, since the other one went kaput; there was some excitement trying to get the right lens and the right USB cord, but now I've got it going on! There is a big pile-up of work to post, but I'm not going to overwhelm you all at once. Just let them trickle out over the next few weeks.
I’m not an over-sharer. Apparently I’m not even an average sharer. I’m an open and honest kind of person — in person, with people I know pretty well. But I don’t tell strangers in the grocery store or at a cocktail party what I had for lunch. It’s not that I am a particularly “private” person. It’s that I can’t imagine that they really give a shit about what I had for lunch. Why would they care? I don’t care what they ate either!
This unpopular and frankly curmudgeonly attitude is at odds with what might be considered half or even three-quarters of the modern artist’s job: PR. Public Relations. Publicity. Tooting your own horn. Promoting your work. Getting it “out there.” Frankly, I suck at it.
That’s why, after 3 years of having a blog, there are only about a dozen entries. My time is valuable (to me at least, maybe not to anyone else!) and when faced with the choice of “make art” or “talk about making art,” well, to me that’s not a choice at all. And I have this deep down conviction that one should not talk about oneself too much — it’s the hallmark of the boor. I have an acute sense of embarrassment and shame when I publish something on Facebook or Tumblr. Like I’m calling attention to myself. Well, I am, aren’t I? My mother taught me that was in bad taste, and I know the standards have changed, but I haven’t been able to remove my mother from my head.
Of course this is extremely inconvenient for me, because I live on a dead end road, 15 miles from the nearest small town, work at home, and have never enjoyed small talk or the bar scene. Thus my current state of isolation. Isolation is great in moderation. People don’t drop by and interrupt me very often. Ok, never. I have days/months/years on end to follow a train of thought. [Sometimes that train drops me off in a place so weird that no one can understand what I’m talking about.]
So, after several years of trying to make myself write blog posts regularly, and failing miserably, I have decided to work within the constraints of my personality type (or defect, however you want to see it) and just post pictures. And I am going to try to post them more often. How else will anyone see the work? If you want to discuss the work with me, ask questions or comment, please do! Write me an email — or if you’re on my new website [http://jcoxart.weebly.com/], you can leave a comment!
I have completed an unabashedly propagandistic triptych. (Thanks to Cindy Porter for donating the lovely gothic panels when she cleaned out her shed!) My intention is to show this work in various public places, and sell postcards and greeting cards, and maybe eventually posters, to cover the cost of schlepping them places. Then donate whatever is left over to worthy environmental organizations. I haven’t named any organizations here, because as usual I’m long on production, short on follow-up. And since I haven’t generated a red cent off of this project yet, there’s no point in getting anyone excited about donations, right? But if anyone out there has an idea about where they could hang in my effort to make people aware of the sixth great extinction we’re currently going through, get in touch.
Here’s the text that accompanies the images on the cards:
The Extinction Triptych: “To be continued…”
part 1: Hydrodamalis gigas – The Steller’s sea cow. Discovered by European explorers
in 1741, they were extinct just 27 years later. Apparently, they were delicious. Or at least filling.
part 2: Ectopistes migratorius – The passenger pigeon. Extinct now for 101 years. Once their numbers were so great their migrations blotted out the sun. The last passenger pigeon, “Martha,” died on September 1, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.
part 3: Danaus plexippus – The monarch butterfly. Not extinct yet. But headed that way fast. The painting is not finished – on purpose. Hopefully it won’t have to be.
Jennifer Cox is an artist working in Rockbridge County, VA. She shows her work regionally, sometimes nationally, but not that often. She works in virtual isolation, so if you want to leave a comment, please do! Just try to be kind.