Monday, June 18, 2012


I will, for the rest of my days, be plagued and pricked by the thorns of a particular decision I made regarding Jennifer J. Jelenski. In August of 2008, my wife and I went to the "Cream Of The Crop" show at La Luz de Jesus. My better half was drawn to the work of JAW Cooper. I was pulled toward Jennifer J. Jelenski's paintings. One, in particular, I coveted, called "Teething Ring".

We admired both women's work, but after much discussion, we ultimately brought home a few JAW Cooper pieces. Leaving "Teething Ring" on the wall, to be purchased (I would find out later) by Morgan Spurlock. As much as I love Jessica Cooper's work, I still think about "Teething Ring"...with more than just a tinge of regret.

I've kept an eye out for Jelenski ever since. Fortuitously, La Luz seems to have embraced her with open arms. She has been featured in several group shows there, and was even selected to be in the stunning La Luz de Jesus 25 retrospective (show and book).

Jelenski's art seems to exist in the clouds, which is not to say a rarefied air, but rather a fluffy white bed of comfort. Inviting, yet mysterious and distant. The titles often raise more questions then they answer: "Purple Monkey Dishwasher", "Honey & Rutting Victrola". Her creatures may be armed and wrathful, but they are also pretty damn cuddly. She seems to constantly be playing two sides against each other. Not lowbrow, and not quite pop surrealism, yet both at once. Her paintings are complex, in a simple way. Chaotic, but orderly. Cute, and menacing. Fun, yet deadly serious. This is art obsessed with BALANCE. I'm a huge fan!

Jennifer J. Jelenski is an intensely private person, so I'm thrilled and honored that she would agree to do this (infrequent) feature on my humble little blog. Here's what she had to say:

1) Your images are often assembled in the shape of a Mandala, and seem to draw a lot of inspiration from Hindu art, and I know you practice yoga.What can you tell me about the bats, bunnies, and monkeys?

Jennifer: "Tibetan Art from the 12th -17th century is a tremendous source of inspiration for me.
This art shares stories. My hope is to bring people closer to finding these stories for themselves.
The animals I work with are meant to be cute. Endearing warm fuzzies invoke a very similar feeling as compassion.
Many people believe we naturally can not be compassionate and that work must be done to enable ones self to become compassionate.
My hope is to trick folks into unlocking this super power!
Yoga is a physical expression of my creativity, prayer in motion, as well as a great way to balance such a sedentary lifestyle."

 2) One of the astounding things about your work, for me, is that you paint complex, intricate fields of color that are bordered by head-scratchingly clean, and consistent line-weights.How on Earth do you achieve that crisp line?

Jennifer: "Thank you!!
A few things I do to achieve such a look are:
Never work wet on wet.
Wear jeweler's glasses while working.
I give my paintings plenty of time to dry.
Apply many many layers of paint.
Use sandpaper to remove any offending textures.
And I use the best tools I can afford and replace worn out tools often.
(I go through 4 dozen brushes or more a year)"

3) How long do you typically work on a sketch, before you're ready to paint, and (sneaking in an extra question) are you brand loyal with paint?

Jennifer: "I may work a drawing or idea for months.
They all start out small.
As a composition develops, I'll draw it over and over.
Until I feel it's problems are resolved to the best of my ability.

I use mostly Golden acrylics.
After an image is drawn onto a canvas, I'll mix my pallet.
Then pour the mixed colors into wee plastic pots.
The colors stay fresh for a year this way.
While I'm working I put a few brushes full of the mixed color into an Ink pot.
Mix this with a bit of gel medium, GAC, and water to begin painting.
I want a lite, creamy texture that is never runny or pasty."

4) I ask everyone this.What are you listening to while you work?

Jennifer: "My tunes!!!!!
Currently I listen to:
Lots of
Biosphere. Lots of Lustmord.
Atticus Ross, Book of Eli sound track
Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sound track

My most recent fixation,
Ambient Metal!
For this genre I like:
Jakob, Subsets of Set
Jakob, Cale:DrewJakob, SolaceIsis, Panopticon (love the track 'In Fiction')
Pelican, What We All Come To Need (#1 fave tune of the moment, The Creeper)"

 5) You seem to be a big kid at heart.What's your favorite children's novel?

Jennifer: "I'm an avid reader, but I haven't read any children's books in a very long time.
Stories that I adored when I was young and still do today would be:
Benjamin Bunny, Beatrix Potter
The Hobbit, J.R.Tolkien

Keith, Thank you so much for this opportunity to share with your readers."

No...Thank You Jennifer!

Jennifer J. Jelenski is primarily self-taught. She is a former doll-maker, tattoo and make-up artist. While she steadfastly refuses to dwell on the past, she has begrudgingly permitted me to say that she has shown her art at Rosemary's Billy Goat Odditorium, Blue Rooster, The Hive, and Cannibal Flower, in addition to La Luz de Jesus Gallery. She has exhibited alongside such luminaries as Gary Baseman, Matjames Metson, Clayton Brothers, Nathan Ota, Chris Mars, Isabel Samaras and others...and fiercely held her own !

I will keep you all posted on any future Jelenski shows.


All images courtesy of Jennifer J. Jelenski