Jennifer Davis doesn't like to talk about her work.

[caption id="attachment_441" align="alignright" width="191" caption="Black Sheep"][/caption]

Jennifer Davis does not like to talk about her art... and I don't blame her. Her work is not meant to incite cerebral acrobatics that make some literal point and give us an ”a-ha moment”.  It also is not just design fluff that exists only to make our eyes happy. Instead, Jennifer Davis' work is a very real expression of an artist's exploration of her materials and herself. (But the fact that it makes our eyes happy is a plus).

Davis' work is charming and funny and suggestive of Fairy Tales that never were told. Her surfaces are occupied by animal/human hybrids playing in sparse but heavily textured landscapes. These figures walk a strange line between cute and worrisome. While at first sight Davis' scenes may seem airy and fun, (and maybe kind of silly), at a closer look it is hard not find a sense of sadness and longing. The feelings of something lost or not quite obtained is always lurking in her character's eyes and in the openness of the landscapes they inhabit.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="146" caption="Pivot"][/caption]

I recently had a telephone chat with Jennifer Davis to discuss her work in the group show Flourish currently on exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

While very pleasant, Jennifer Davis made it very clear that talking about her art was not her favorite thing to do. “I'm really terrible at this”, is how she started our conversation. Davis is very quiet and careful to put words to her work. However, once we got the conversation going, she was well spoken in describing her process. (Then she would apologize about how badly the interview was going).

All of Davis' pieces in Flourish are a uniform 24”x30” in size, and painted on panel. The surfaces are heavily worked with layers of paint which are then partially subtracted and repainted. These works were conceived in the hand and in the gut. Davis doesn't plan anything before starting.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="175" caption="Magical Thinker"][/caption]

“I would just put down several layers of color and do sanding and scraping” Davis told me.  “... this sounds really weird, but I would start seeing faces in there. I look for the eyes, I always start with the eyes. Then I would just build the face”. “I'm making up a story as I go along, without intending to make any certain type of narrative. It's free-association, I have to just figure it out as I go along”.

When asked, Davis agrees that the characters in her work do seem melancholy, lonesome or, at times, anxious. She adds, “I don't feel sad or lonely, but I like that play against the cutesy, and pastel and the childish fantasy-land stuff with the undercurrent of the more adult feelings”. She went on, “I was holed up in my studio by myself doing this, I spent tons of time alone. I see these all as being self portraits. But I never feel lonely. I'm a real loner, I like being alone”.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="Reverence"][/caption]

At times, the work in this show has a spiritual quality. The piece called “Reverence” is an obvious example. A dog/woman creature stands alone in a barren landscape in front of a distant house. The dog/woman holds a golden leafy sprig in front of her forehead that rises up. A pinkish circle floats in the center of it while lines from the figures back rise up blossoming yellow and red sprouts. Does this sense of rising and gold emerging from the head suggest a soul?

“You got it”, Davis told me. “She's the artist and she's protecting her artist spirit”. Then Davis quickly followed with, “It sounds so cheesy, I hate talking like that.”

Davis is right. Words can't fully express visual art, or even come close. They always fall flat. That's why visual art exists as visual instead of as written word. Words can't stick to the subtleties painting can afford.

Jennifer Davis' work in Flourish is a journey. It is an exploration into the subconscious and the crazy characters that cause mischief there. These pieces are a series of narratives that are cute and sad. Child-like and complex. Each is separate but each dwelling in the same unlikely universe.

Go see the work...  and I'll stop chasing these images, trying to trap them in text.

- John Megas

//////////////////////////////

Flourish

On View: Friday, October 22, 2010—Sunday, January 2, 2011

Where: MIA, Minnesota Artists Exhibition Gallery

Address: 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis

Gallery Phone: 1-888-642-2787

Hours: See Museum Site

This article has been archived from the original MPLSART.COM site. It may contain dead links, broken images, and formatting issues. We are working to fix these as much as possible. Thank you for your patience.

#mplsart
If you are making art or looking at art in the Twin Cities, use the hashtag to show it off.
OPENINGS & EVENTS
Thu Jun 29th 6PM CST Night 1
White Page Gallery
3400 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis
Thu Jun 29th 6PM - 9PM CST
Sabes Jewish Community Center
4330 S Cedar Lake Rd, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 1st 12PM - 4PM CST
The Soap Factory
514 2nd St. SE, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 1st 7PM - 9PM CST
Public Functionary
1400 12th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Fri Jul 7th 5PM - 9PM CST
AZ Gallery
308 Prince Street, St. Paul
Fri Jul 7th 6:30PM - 9PM CST
Highpoint Center for Printmaking
912 West Lake Street, Minneapolis
Fri Jul 7th 7PM - 10PM CST
Red Garage Studio
3640 Garfield Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 8th 2PM CST Artist Talk
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 8th 4PM - 10PM CST
Fulton Brewery
2540 2nd St NE, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 8th 5PM - 8PM CST
Showroom
615 W Lake St, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 8th 6PM - 8PM CST
Form + Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 1st 7PM - 9PM CST
Public Functionary
1400 12th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 15th 6PM - 11PM CST
Midway Contemporary Art
527 Second Avenue SE, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 15th 7PM - 11PM CST
Gamut Gallery
717 S 10th St, Minneapolis
Thu Jul 20th 5PM - 8PM CST
Groveland Gallery
25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis
Fri Jul 21st 6PM - 9PM CST
Hair And Nails Gallery
2222 1/2 E 35th ST, Minneapolis
Jul 22nd - Jul 23rd
Stevens Square Park
1801 Stevens Ave, Minneapolis
Jul 29th - Jul 30th
Loring Park
1382 Willow St, Minneapolis
Aug 4th - Aug 6th
Uptown
Hennepin Ave and Lake St, Minneapolis
Sat Jul 15th 7PM - 11PM CST
Gamut Gallery
717 S 10th St, Minneapolis
Aug 5th - Aug 6th
Powderhorn Park
3400 15th AVE E, Minneapolis
Thu Sep 7th 6PM - 7:30PM CST
Textile Center
3000 University Ave SE, Minneapolis
Sat Sep 9th 6PM - 9PM CST
Form + Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St, Minneapolis
Sat Sep 9th 6PM - 9PM CST
Traffic Zone
250 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 6th 6PM - 8PM CST
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis
NOW SHOWING
May 12th - Jun 30th
Rogue Buddha Gallery
357 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Feb 25th - Jun 30th
801 Washington Lofts
801 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Apr 20th - Jun 30th
Ditch Gallery
400 1st Ave N #535, Minneapolis
May 20th - Jul 1st
Circa Gallery
210 N First St, Minneapolis
Apr 29th - Jul 1st
Midway Contemporary Art
527 Second Avenue SE, Minneapolis
May 25th - Jul 1st
Form + Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St, Minneapolis
Jun 9th - Jul 2nd
Southern Theater
1420 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Jun 2nd - Jul 2nd
AZ Gallery
308 Prince Street, St. Paul
Jun 21st - Jul 6th
Showroom
615 W Lake St, Minneapolis
Jun 12th - Jul 8th
Space 369
2242 University Ave, St. Paul
Jun 10th - Jul 8th
The Porch Gallery
3306 Park Avenue, Minneapolis
Jun 3rd - Jul 9th
Flanders + Associates
818 West Lake St, Minneapolis
May 26th - Jul 14th
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
Jun 3rd - Jul 15th
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Jun 2nd - Jul 15th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Jun 10th - Jul 15th
Groveland Gallery
25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis
Jun 10th - Jul 15th
Groveland Annex
25 Groveland Tr, Minneapolis
Jun 2nd - Jul 15th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Jun 10th - Jul 15th
Groveland Gallery
25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis
Jun 2nd - Jul 15th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Jun 9th - Jul 16th
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis
Jun 22nd - Jul 23rd
Isles Studios
1311 W. 25th Street, Minneapolis
May 6th - Jul 28th
Independent Filmmaker Project MN
550 Vandalia ST, St. Paul
May 25th - Jul 31st
Minnesota Museum of American Art
141 E 4th Street, St. Paul
May 20th - Jul 31st
Two Rivers Gallery
1530 E Franklin AVE, Minneapolis
Jun 9th - Aug 4th
Christensen Center, Augsburg College
2211 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis
Jun 9th - Aug 4th
Gage Family Gallery (Augsburg)
2211 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis
May 11th - Aug 12th
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Jun 15th - Aug 24th
Sabes Jewish Community Center
4330 S Cedar Lake Rd, Minneapolis
Jun 24th - Sep 1st
801 Washington Lofts
801 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Jun 17th - Sep 10th
Weisman Art Museum
333 E River Pkwy, Minneapolis
Jun 1st - Sep 30th
Track 29 City Apartments
2841 Bryant AVE S, Minneapolis
Jun 10th - Apr 17th
The Soap Factory
514 2nd St. SE, Minneapolis