Have you ever been to an exhibition in a museum or gallery? Have you ever visited the studio of a working artist? Do you remember the experience? I have opened an independent space for artists to exhibit and talk about their work. It is called The Outlook Project Gallery and is a collaboration with Turbine Flats. It is located at 2124 Y Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. The current exhibit is Thresholds: sculptures and paintings by Omaha artist, Bart Vargas.
Visiting artist studios brought me closer to an understanding of how things were created. Even better, the time spent in an artist’s studio put me in touch with the message the artist was trying to say. When I was in college at The University of Kansas, I studied performance art and painting. I went to classes hosted by visiting performance artist, Laurie Anderson. Laurie Anderson is a multi-media artist trained mainly in the violin, she became NASA’s first artist in residence and recently wrote and directed the film, “The Heart of a Dog”. The film was animated, filmed, and scored by Anderson herself and was created in honor of her late husband, musician, Lou Reed.
Meeting Laurie Anderson over the years I felt it was important to have a space where anything was possible for the artist and the audience. We have created this space for exploration in all forms of the arts.
First Friday, April 7th from 4:30-8pm you will be able to see the works of Bart Vargas, and hear the music of Ash Sharp. First Friday, May 5th the gallery will be open with live music and exhibition. There will be exhibitions scheduled throughout the year. We will post the schedule here in the blog.
In the meantime, you are invited April 7th to attend the amazing exhibit Thresholds: Bart Vargas!
Have you ever wondered what an artist’s studio looks like? This is my studio. It was built in the late 1800s and was once used as a carraige house. When I first moved here and walked out to the carraige house, there was a bridle hanging on the wall, left from when the carraige house kept horses. There is still a turntable built in the floor which could once rotate the carraiges around to face the front sliding door so the horses could be hitched on.
After all these years working out here, I finally saved enough to fix it up a little. This week we prepared for work to get underway. Many people showed up to help move my collection of paintings to a safe location while the carpenters get to work.
In the meantime I am selling a collection of works from the studio.
I need to find homes for every single painting I’ve created over the years.
I am excited to see where the future will take us with this new space and I want to share the process of this! I will be offering classes, inviting artists for an open series on creativity, and I will be offering workshops on developing stories through the arts. I want you to visit the studio!
I’ll be able to have visitors and students in the studio~ Plan on being invited to celebrate with me!
Please look through the pages of Featured Works to see the paintings I am seeking homes for.
My Very Best,
Wendy Jane Bantam
If you’ve never experienced the giddiness of laughing out loud in utter and ecstatic horror and disbelief at the pure hilarity that is a John Waters movie, you really haven’t lived. The man is a sultan of comedy. Mr. Waters is nothing if not interesting.
On April 23, “This Filthy World” John Waters’ one-man show, is coming to The Rococo Theatre here in Lincoln, Nebraska, and will be presented by the Ross Media Arts Center and Friends of the Ross. As a longtime John Waters fan, I’ve been asked to create a very special painting to welcome him to Nebraska. I’m in the studio as I write working on it. I’m calling it, “Dreamlanders: An Artist for the Artists…Welcome John Waters.” I’m not going to divulge any details about the progress of the work so as not to spoil the surprise, but you can (and I hope you will!) see it on April 23rd at the Mary Reipma Ross Media Arts Center.
What many don’t know about John Waters is in addition to making colorful, campy films that joyfully, and entirely without malice, break every taboo in the book, he’s also an accomplished visual artist and lifelong art collector. And since I’m going to be devoting a great deal of space on this blog to the art and science of art collecting, I thought it would be fun to kick it all off by delving into Waters’ world and taking a look at his collection and his general feelings about contemporary art.
The first piece Waters collected was a $1 Miro print he bought at the Baltimore Museum of Art gift shop when he was 8. His friends hated it, which delighted Waters, who says he wasn’t looking for compliments, but only bought it because he liked it. Happily, that one small print and the disdain it evoked from his friends made young Waters realize that “art could be yet another thing I could use against society.” In high school, a friend gave him a silver Jackie Kennedy print by Andy Warhol, and he ended up with a couple of Lichtensteins during that period as well.
Contemporary art – in particular, Pop art – had a huge influence on him from the start, which is plain to see when you watch his movies. “Contemporary art’s job is to wreck whatever came before it,” Waters says, and notes that the kind of art he likes is the kind that initially angers you but ultimately lets you see things in a different way – if you’re willing to. “You have to start going to galleries, you have to read, you have to learn about art history. But once you see it, you have that power – and it is power – forever.”
Waters references one of his own art pieces, “Contemporary Art Hates You…And Your Family Too,” in an interview with Frieze Magazine. “If you have ‘contempt before investigation,’” he says, “then it does hate you and you are stupid. I like that idea: you are stupid, because you won’t think to look in a different way. Seeing and looking are different. Real life is seeing and art is looking. If you’re successful, it’s a magic trick: you take one thing, and you put it here, and it changes in one second, and then you can never look at that thing again the same way. That’s what art is to me.”
Indeed, there are some things that you will never look at the same again after watching any of John Waters’ movies, which are the ultimate tests of whether you suffer from the blight of ‘contempt before investigation.’
Waters stopped collecting art for a long time after high school, but then started back up again in the late 1980s, when he began making a little money.
Waters is a huge Cy Twombly fan and collector. He owns “Letter of Resignation XXXI,” and on his nightstand, he keeps his hardcopy of Letter of Resignation, a bound collection of all 38 drawings in the series and one of nearly 80 books he has on Twombly and his work.
Waters was recently enchanted by a very special piece by Karin Sander, whose artwork is featured in his collection. The piece consisted of a canvas Sander left outside, which had become a mold magnet. Although it was “really ugly,” Waters desperately wanted it. “The problem with buying it,” he said, “is that the mold will spread in your house, and it’s toxic. So this to me is the best art piece I’ve seen all year, and I’m still trying to figure out how I could own it without poisoning myself.”
Some of his other favorite pieces in his collection include works by Elaine Sturtevant, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Richard Artschwager, and Richard Tuttle. (When Waters’ father saw what he thought to be a rather un-artful Tuttle piece his son had purchased, he chuckled and remarked, “They saw you coming, boy!”)
A whole other level of Waters’ art collection includes a large body of work that he’s acquired from fans, sent to him care of Atomic Books in Baltimore, where he has collected his mail for over 20 years. He keeps almost everything his fans send to him, including all manner of books which he adds to his 8,000-strong collection, and portraits of him that cover an entire wall in his home (“some are great, some are hideous, and I love all of them.”) He considers all of these things “weird collectibles” and points out that he doesn’t list these items on his art insurance policies.
Waters’ collection is a highly personal statement about what he loves about being human: irreverence, wit, and the joy of seeing and of looking. You won’t find him collecting pieces only because they may someday appreciate in value, and that, my friends, is the kind of art collector that understands that the most important value of art is the emotional attachment to a piece and the way it viscerally connects with the way you perceive the world.
Please join us April 23 at The Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Nebraska for an unforgettable night of storytelling by the all-around fabulous Mr. John Waters and follow us to the reception just down the street at the Ross Media Arts Center following the performance. I hope my painting, created in honor of John Waters’s visit, will inspire the joy of seeing and looking for you! ~WJ BANTAM
LIVE~ALL~AGES SHOW. 7:30PM. Saturday, March 21st. Meadowlark Coffee. Lincoln, Nebraska
Friday, April 3rd from 7~10PM
Tugboat Gallery, 116 N 14th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska
Dreamlander: An Artist for The Artists…Welcome John Waters
A painting to welcome John Waters to Nebraska.
Mary Reipma Ross Media Arts Center
The Cinema: New Paintings
Hosted by Friends of the Ross Film Theatre.
Friday, October 2nd 6~9PM
The Outlook Project, 800 P Street, 3rd Floor, Lincoln, Nebraska
Happy~nearly~Valentine’s Day everyone!
When I think about Valentine’s Day:
The first thing I think about is love.
The second thing I think about are the shoe boxes our teachers had us decorate in my small town elementary school. We decorated the shoeboxes with glitter and paper and they became our *Valentine Mailbox. Then we all made a simple card to tell everyone we loved them. Equally. The third thing I think about is all the heartbreak! You know, people can actually die from that? Of course there’s nothing complicated about love, except people. People make a lot of things complicated by thinking too much. Since we’re all people, I thought I’d make Valentine’s Day fun for me. Fun for me involves making you something.
Every year I throw a *The Twisted Valentine Show. This year is no different!
The show opens online today!!
The party opens Friday the 13th. Yep. You heard it right!
Friday, February 13th from 6~9Pm at 5022 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, Nebraska.
You’re all invited!
But I am getting ahead of myself. I was in the studio the other day, just like any other day, and there I have been working on sculptures.
I started to sculpt tiny tin hearts. They turned into tiny sculptures.
I always try to keep my supplies and life very simple. So I used what I had on hand:
Then I started thinking about my next favorite things besides Valentine Mailboxes!
So, inside each tin heart I’ve written a secret Valentine fortune poem. I made ten of them.
I will ship one Valentine Secret Fortune Heart to the first ten people who write to me.
You don’t have to say anything fancy or articulate.
Just say,”Hi”. And where you would like me to send your Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day. xo ~Wendy Jane
Hi Everyone in wonderland. I hope you are all well and happy. Happy New Year! I’m writing to you live, from the studio. My studio today, is actually located in the city hospital. Or rather, I am working from the hospital! I sit on an art committee board here, which is quite a social event for me. It’s a great committee of people from diverse backgrounds. Our goal, in this committee, is to bring art to the people here at the hospital and through art, uplift them ~whatever their circumstance may be. I enjoy these meetings a lot, but more than anything I find myself wanting to create paintings for people here. More and more my work in painting has been leading me towards helping people. This is great, because all I’ve ever wanted to do is take people into another world, to tell them a story, and to help them find their own voice by elevating a situation momentarily through humor or beauty.
Last year I gave a TEDx talk on creativity and this year I will give a lecture series in Omaha, Nebraska on the process of creating. The process of telling a story, for me, has always involved multiple layers of story lines, embedded in the paint, or creating a thread which runs through illustrations and writing. I am currently working on illustrating two children’s books. One was written by a father from the perspective of his four year old daughter. The other is written by a 6 year old little boy in England.
Last year I visited schools in England who use creative curriculum throughout all the subjects they teach. One of those students, a 6 year old named Ewan, wrote to me and asked me to illustrate a story he wrote. His parents sent me his story from England and I can’t wait to finish illustrating it. I feel Ewan will be an artist one day. In the meantime I am happy to be a part of the process as he decides what he wants to do. He is, after all, only six years old. Here is an excerpt from his story, THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD:
“Once upon a time there was a man called Max Jones. Max had very rosy cheeks, messy brown hair and big blue eyes. He had a wife called Amy. Amy was 31 and had long blond hair. Max and Amy worked at the ice cream cooling towers in the ice cream lab. In the cooling towers they had to make different things to do with ice cream. Their latest invention was the ice cream maker, this is a machine that can make any flavor of ice cream you wish. All you have to do is put on a mind cap and it detects the flavor you want. They took their invention home to their three children; Harry who was 11, Josh who was 9, and Dylan who was 6 years old. They loved the ice cream maker so much they wanted to have the only one in the world…..”
What follows after the opening paragraph is the most fantastical story from the imagination of a six year old boy. As soon as I finish it I will post a sneak peek of our collaboration! In the meantime, here is a photo of Ewan who came to visit me before I performed near the Severn River in Shropshire, England. He loves music and is now writing his own!
I hope you will enjoy my blog and the new online gallery! I love sharing with you what I’ve been creating in the studio! February 1st I will unveil the new work online for THE TWISTED VALENTINE EXHIBITION. Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. My very best to you!
Love, Wendy Jane
I will be working with kids this summer from Lincoln High School IB Theatre Project. Our design will be the set for the Tedx Youth ‘Be Change’ in August 2014. Nebraska Educational Television will be filming this event. I will be speaking and presenting on my public and urban revitalization projects at this event!
More information coming soon.