Sunday, May 31, 2009

WALKABOUT: Open Studio Weekend

by Cully Renwick

Jess Graham was among the exhibitors at River Arts in Morrisville for Open Studio weekend. Her web site,, posts lots of artwork and information about her, including some photos of her garage studio. She's been noticed by VT Journal and Seven Days in 2006 and then featured in Eastcoast Snowboarding Magazine in 2008.

Here are some excerpts from her “mission” statement:

I paint to build a reference for gestures and movements. I reference split second sparks and lifetimes of ruminations. I want my scrawlings & scratchings to coax a little glimmer of a smile, a hope in the mundane, a joy for hot pink, a moment of pause to pick out individual cricket's songs. I believe in art that makes you happy. Not happy in a saccharine "have a nice day" sense, but the sort of happy that reaches-your-soul-makes-you-love-waking-up-in-the-morning. Because I believe that everybody yearns for art, needs art, sleeps better if they breathe art, I offer my art in a variety of forms. You can get it on a card for your grandma's mantle, an iron-on for your favorite hoodie, a colorlicious oil painting to keep you company in your mountain shack.

Painting, making, playing makes me feel peaceful because when I'm making art I'm communicating in energy and color and I'm making a mess and I'm acting on those, "oh what a pretty shiny object, what a crazy lit-from-within crabapple tree" impulses. Sometimes painting feels like singing really loud from my belly. Sometimes making art feels as content and quiet as waking up on a rainy day off with the one I love.

My art probably conveys layers of meaning, but generally I leave that up to you to decipher (you know, like a good story that gives you just enough clues to put the pieces together but not so many that your intelligence is insulted). When it comes to analyzing my art, I prefer not to confuse it with a lot of words. To me, making art is non-verbal, and so in trying to analyze its meaning and purpose I always come to the conclusion that I'm simply lucky to find a peace in the process of making it, and I hope some of that peace and energy and spontaneity and irreverence and downright joy translates to you. I hope you find my art satisfying like the crust of wood-fired bread, fun like dancing, silly like riding bikes in the dark, fluffy like snow. I hope it helps shake out the dust in your bodymindsoul like good beer and a long hard laugh.