Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Art Space Talk: Jesse McCloskey

I recently interviewed artist Jesse McCloskey. I observed Mr. McCloskey's work at Scope (New York). Jesse has appeared in many group and solo exhibitions, and is an alum of Yaddo artists' residency in Saratoga Springs, New York. His work has been reviewed and reproduced by the New York Times. Jesse lives and works in New York City. He is represented by the Christopher Henry Gallery, New York, NY.

Q. Your work was represented by the Christopher Henry Gallery at Scope 2007 ( booth 9). The fair was very exciting. Do you have any experiences to share? How did it feel to have your work exhibited at Scope?

A. "Acually this is the second time I've shown with Christopher Henry At Scope. We were at Miami in December 2006 as well. Frankly, it was amazing to be a part of Scope Miami and New York. To be able to just stand in one spot and see people from all over the world enjoying all different kinds of art was such a turn on. In Miami it was late nights and early mornings on the beach. And in NY it was running back and forth from my studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the Scope tent at Lincoln Center."

Q. You are an alum of the Yaddo artist's residency in Saratoga Springs, New York. Care to share any of your experiences with the residency? What can you tell us about Yaddo?

A. "I don't know how to express just how amazing Yaddo is. It truly is an artist's paradise. Three meals a day and nothing to do but make and talk art. A group of us ran in the woods at night. There was deer at my studio door step in the morning. Really, it was about being an artist, working without interruption and complete focus. Plus, there were plenty of carrots."

Q. Your work has been reviewed and reproduced by the New York Times. Have you been published elsewhere?

A. "Yes, in ANIMAL NY magazine, 2006."

Q. You have done record covers for the band, The Geraldine Fibbers- including the cover for their "Butch" cd, released by Virgin Records. How did you meet the band and how does your work mix with their sound?

A. "Carla and my girlfriend, Nicca Ray, grew up together in L.A. Carla and I have been close from the first time I met her. I love her music. With Carla and I, the window is open and we can look into each other's souls and rummage around and borrow stuff. I have to return her love of vulnerability. "

Q. Your paintings also appear in filmmaker, Douglas Buck's cult favorite, Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America. How did you meet Mr. Buck?

A. "Nicca Ray, my girlfriend, is a writer and filmmaker and she and Doug were in film school together. She was in the Cutting Moments segment of Family Portraits. I've actually done quite a few storyboards for Doug and other directors."

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "My mother bought me a coloring book when I was four. It was the "Christmas Mouse" and was colored to great acclaim!"

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Painter Paul Georges used to say to me, scratch a moralist and you'll find a Fascist."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Right now, 5-6 months, depending."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "It's the only thing that relieves an aching sense of guilt and anxiety. When I'm working, I feel ok, even if I'm lying on the floor, freaking out, I still feel worth something. As far as creation, I just make a controlled mess and then loosen and tighten the form until it feels right. For me, I don't think about why, that dilutes the message. The most important and hardest part of being an artist is just doing it, making art when no one cares."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "Certainly my first Chelsea show with Christopher Henry was the most important. A teacher of mine once said that to really judge your work, you have to get it up on a wall, out of the studio. You see it for the first time, and it's scary! But it's invaluable. I saw the clogs in the drain as it were, messages I wanted to get out, and where they got muddled. I learned a great deal about editing and focus. But you have to be honest and brave with yourself or your wasting your time."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Rolling stones 65'-73', Aerosmith 71'-77', NPR, a bag of potato chips, diet soda, and a full length poster of MIck Jagger circa 1971. That thing travels with me always, art school, old girlfriends, Yaddo, I'm never without it. It helps me focus through the dark times."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "People who can look at art for what it is, not what they want it to be."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. ""Betty Parish" (image above) ummm... A hint, 1692, winter, fear of pussy. maybe a little DeKoooning and the sexuality of doubt."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I change my picture radically in minutes. With vinyl paint and paper I can make fast revisions. Some of the work I'm doing now I find so thrilling, layers and layers of paper and paint. I often leave little cuts so as to see 7,8, or 9 cuts down. I color sheets of paper then cut out shapes and paint on top as needed. I do not collect collage materials, I make them in the studio."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "At the Christopher Henry gallery. And at http://jessemccloskey.com/"

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I think it's at it's best right now in that you can do anything you want and find a gallery to show your work. Everything is appreciated in the right niche."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "I've been told the Fibbers cover was derided for promoting smoking on something called the Jenny Jones show, but I don't remember it ever being censored. As to how I would deal with it? I don't need need anyone to hold my hand if they don't like it, they can turn around."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "No, I have my demons, (and I like them, they keep me up at night), but I can honestly say that I do my art for me. As in each picture suggests the next and the next. I don't see my career as a goal but as a relief from panic."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I love the hyper rush and that deep pit."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Come to NYC, to Chelsea, and three or four nights a week you can look at all kinds of art, sip wine and talk about it. Your opinion matters. The art scene gets eviscerated in the press but still they come in droves to see. Kojak, the bald ficitonal television detective from the 1970's, once said to a perp that he liked art, all art, good and bad. It is exactly what it appears to be and that's so disarming."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Yes, in this latest series. Before they turn off the lights."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Yes, religion and the ignorance it's so proud of. Please reference the names of the work on my site."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "Happy to be here, thank you for having me and oh!, by the way, Have you seen this new picture?"
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Jesse McCloskey. Feel free to critique or discuss his work. You can observe more of Mr. McCloskey's art at: http://jessemccloskey.com/
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of Jesse McCloskey.
Navigating the line between good and evil that exists in all of us, the work jars and then gnaws at the edge of consciousness until we acknowledge and understand.
A rising star in the art scene and genuine to boot.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jesse! Awesome work. And exciting that it's getting out to a big audience.


Anonymous said...

I wondered if you could alter the comment I posted yesterday. I added a few points...

I'm a huge fan of Jesse McCloskey.
Navigating the line between good and evil, male and female, innocence and avarice that exists in all of us, the work jars and then gnaws at the edge of consciousness until we acknowledge and understand.
A rising star in the art scene and genuine to boot.

Anonymous said...

I've followed Jesse's work since the mid 1990s and watching the scope of his work grow has been an amazing experience. I'm blessed to have one of his paintings in my bedroom to help relieve my guilt and anxiety ...