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New Paper Work by Jessica Bell

September 30th, 2010 · 5 Comments

When I wrote about my crush on the lovely and very talented Jessica Bell in July I received a very strong response from readers. (Clearly I’m not the only one enamored with Jessica’s work!) Well, the Vancouver-based artist is back on Art Hound with some beautiful new work! Below, Jessica and I talk about the Vancouver art scene, the inspiring Pacific-Northwest landscape, her color choices and recent foray into blogging.


So…what are you working on these days?

Since August I have been making work pretty much exclusively on paper at the studio. Apart from making the sewing collages on linen paper, I have never made so much work on paper. It’s funny because it came about in a really random way: a group of visiting artists from the US had all sorts of left over supplies and decided to gift them to other artists in our building. I was the recipient of several gigantic rolls of paper and a big stack of printmaking paper. I’ve been making collages and paintings on the printmaking paper ever since.

The free paper seems to have turned on a tap in my brain that I’m not ready to shut off yet. Working on paper has been pretty liberating; pieces are completed so much more quickly which is really satisfying. I also find that I am more risky in the things I try because its just paper. I’ve also been plodding along on my daily photo project, onesee. As of October 1 I will officially be halfway through and I have yet to miss a day yet.


You live and work in Vancouver. What’s the indie art scene like there? Is there a strong artist community like nearby Portland?

I can’t compare Vancouver to Portland because I’ve actually never been to Portland! It’s shameful. I’m such a homebody! I can speak to my experience of Vancouver’s indie scene and it is both substantial and vibrant. There are so many artists, designers and creative types living in Vancouver; the city is delightfully saturated with festivals, markets, shows and events of varying size and emphasis. You know about some of the big ones like The Cheaper Show and there’s also The Eastside Culture Crawl and The Drift which is coming up this weekend.

Regarding my immediate community, I have been really fortunate to have a group of female artists around me who are talented and determined and constantly figuring out new ways to make and present their work. They are collectively intelligent, bold and honest and I value their insight so much in matters of my own work and career. I have a real sense of community among them.


You’ve recently started blogging about your work. What has that experience been like so far?

Blogging has been so fun for me and no one is more surprised about that than me! I had been reluctant to get on board, first because I didn’t think I could manage the logistics with everything else I do but also because I couldn’t see the benefits. For me though, the extra work has been so worth it.

Having the blog allows me to put all of my work into a stream as it is completed. It is interesting and useful for me to be able to see common threads in the things I am looking at and also how ideas lead to one another. I also feel like the presentation is very accessible for a greater number of viewers. Working relatively abstractly, I think the line or two of text that I include with a lot of my pieces can be a good point of entry.


In your artist statement you say that your work references your “memory and experience of landscape.” What is your process from inspiration to creation? Do specific pieces correlate to specific landscapes or is it more abstract?

There are times when I reference a specific place or subject. A good example would be the City Parks Series I completed earlier in the summer. I was thinking about both the parks I frequent, (# 7 in the series was definitely about Vancouver’s famous outdoor swimming pool on Kitsilano Beach!), but I was also working out the idea of public city spaces in the summer time and what they feel like. Being in a city, and in the city of Vancouver specifically, is very much the start of my inspiration process.

Vancouver has this unique quality of being rugged geography and dense urbanity simultaneously. That makes for a really unique experience of landscape as a city dweller; from many places in Vancouver you get the impression of having no horizon line as structure, mountains, inlets and dense vegetation all layer one on top of the other. I definitely attribute my collage practice to this. I was not making collage work until coming back to Vancouver but it so suits my experience of the place. In that sense, my experience of the landscape has actually dictated my medium.

The colors in your work are absolutely gorgeous! Where do they come from?

Colour is a really big deal to me. Looping back to your last question, colour most often begins a piece or series of work for me and usually determines what it is going to be about. My good friend and fellow artist Heather Craig has lived in these parts for almost her entire life and she always says I use ‘Vancouver colours’. The lines and shapes and forms could be many cities in much of my work but the colours come from here.

I use a lot of grey and, well, we in the Pacific Northwest are famous for our greys; you don’t know how many ways grey can look until you live here. It is the grey that can get to a lot of people, and the rain, but the marvelous thing about the grey is that it makes every other colour a standout. Grey is the perfect backdrop for hits of colour in foliage and structure. Those contrasts have definitely made their way into the things I make.


Do you have a favorite landscape or geography?

Yes. I think I am living in it.

Art Hound Picks from The Cheaper Show #9

June 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Everyone’s been talking about this Saturday’s The Cheaper Show #9 (correction: it’s #9 not 8. Thanks, JC!) in Vancouver, and admittedly it seems pretty damn awesome. The show, now in it’s eighth year, is a one-night extravaganza selling 400 works by 200 artists for $200 each. In an interesting twist guests are limited to 3 purchases each. Makes sense – otherwise you’d likely end up with a few people buying up a lot of the art at $200 a pop. According to the show’s website people started lining up seven hours before the opening last year!!! I only wish I could be there!

If I WERE going to The Cheaper Show, these are the artists’ booths I would hit up. Just don’t make me pick only three!

1. Anders Oinonen …..2. Collin Johanson

3. Crystal Aurora         4. Fiona Ackerman

5. Fiona Smyth ………6. Heather Braun-Dahl

7. Jaret Penner ………8. Jason Jagel

9. Jessica Bell ………10. Martin Thacker

11. Natalie Moor         12. Sara Araujo-Salas