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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Interview with Jenny Bird

q) Introduce yourself first please?

a)My name is Jennybird Alcantara,. People call me Jenny, Jennybird or just Bird, oh ya a few call me Tweet ;) I am a painter, I went to S.F.A.I. in the early nineties and received my BFA there.

q) Where do you live and work?

a)I live and work in San Francisco, CA.

q) How did you started? How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?

a)I would say I really developed an interest in art sometime in elementary school , my parents got me my first drawing table when I was around 10 or 11. As a kid I would draw cartoons and sculpt little animals out of polymer clay. As a pre teen I drew fashion models taught myself to sew and got interested in designing. It was sometime in junior high that I remember making a concious decision that I was “going to be an artist”and started painting.

q) What materials do you use and why?

a)I use oil paint on wood primarily, occationally I paint with acrylic on wood or paper and watercolor on paper. I also make dolls and hybrids(part painting/part doll) with these I use a variety of materials from fabrics new and vintage, felted wool, paper clay, found objects, wood etc.

q) Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related…?

a)There is more of a ‘what’ then a ‘who’ in my influences. The ‘what’ being my need to define visually what I feel and think about. As long as I can remember the creative process has been the thing that has kept me sane, I love it, and even though I am my worst critic and sometimes I feel like I will never be “good enough” that base need to create is always there, it is who I am. I have always been a daydreamer and get many of my ideas during that state of semi-consciousness. My inspirations come from a wide variety of sources including fairytales and fables, mythology, the natural world and freaks of nature, melancholy and classical music, long road trips to the middle of nowhere and the surprises found along the way, oddities, Victorian fashion, old medical book illustrations, folk art, costuming, creepy religious statues and paintings, carnivals, trips down memory lane, broken dolls and objects out of place. As well as all the beautiful and sad things that could not exist one without the other, life and death and the veil in between.

q) How do you dream up with your wacky ideas? What is your creation process?

a)Humm that’s surprisingly a hard question. I think of my work as this evolutionary process and kind of this organic thing that keeps growing and it feeds off of the pieces I have done in the past and changes as I grow. But there is still always this base of my personal iconography or language. I don’t do tons of sketching before I start a piece but I do sketch throughout the process to figure out where I am going with it, especially pieces that I work on for some time. They always change from the original idea as I am working so I try not to have too rigid an idea when I start.

q) What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?

a)I love to create objects/art dolls too and I would like to find a way to integrate my painting and object making more.

q) Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

a) I see plenty of work out there that I think is totally amazing but I try not to spend too much time looking at what other people are doing, it distracts me and makes me compare myself and that is totally unhealthy and so I try to “my eyes on my own process” if you will.

q) How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a)That depends….. I do simple little pieces that are done in a few hours or paintings that I work on for several months.

q) What music, if any, do you like to have on while you're working?

a)I listen to a variety of music to kind of suit my mood or maybe enhance my mood. I love Nick Cave and Nico Case, Tom Waites…. I listen to compliations of MP3’s(hip-hop, techno, old country, 80’s music and nostalgic stuff like Annette Hanshaw and Artie Shaw from way before my time) that my husband makes for me since I get stuck in a musical rut sometimes. I also love to listen to classical music, it helps me focus and be less distracted then lyrical music.

q) Do you do many art shows?

a)I try to show as much as possible while not taking everything that comes along if it doesn’t feel right. It took me so long after art school to have the courage to start showing my work. I was really hung up on the idea that everything had to be amazing before anyone could see it. That was a horrible mantle to live under and I had to finally give up the notion of perfection and the awful pressure I put on myself that I needed to create a masterpiece.

q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.

a)This one is hard since my dreams tend to be a little fragmented and so they are hard to relate.

q) What are you doing when you are not creating?

a)I take my dog Sailor on long walks to play in the park or at the beach. Hanging with my husband John and Sailor the dog mostly. I love to go on road trips long or short, which I haven’t done for a while and I need to do soon. Once we read in the SF Chronicle that a million crows had descended upon this town a couple hours from here so we jumped in the car and drove to this middle of nowhere place searching for the crows. It was like one of those movies where the unsuspecting city folks wind up in this funky town and there is some awful secret the town folks are keeping. …anyway we searched for these crows everywhere, we would ask one person and he would say oh they are usually by the hospital so we would drive over there, not a bloody crow, ask someone else “oh no the crows are this a way, that a way” …..we were being directed all over the bloody place and not a single crow….we ended up in the middle of a citrus tree orchard and found this bar/ restaurant that someone told us made a mean Cioppino, so we go in and only the 2 owners are there eating the last bowl of what smelled like an amazing dish…..but they regaled us with a tale of a land owner from that area 40 or 50 years before that had orchards and used to take the workers to this very establishment for a meal before murdering them to avoid having to pay their wages and supposedly they were all buried out there somewhere…..don’t know if it was true but this guy was an amazing story teller and had the largest hands I have ever seen……sorry I digress.

q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?

a)Sometimes I get emotionally attached and it is hard to let certain pieces go but that always makes room for new pieces to come into being. Sometimes I am trying to replace something that I sold with another piece inspired by it and it becomes something I love so much more.

q) What new projects or exhibits are in your future?

a)I have a solo show hanging right now at that has been the most recent big project that I have been working on. I am in a few group shows coming up this year.

q) What is your favourite art related web site?

a) I don’t spend a lot of time surfing the web but I do check out the juxtapoz site every once in a while to see whats going on.

q) What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?

a) Humm….. I saw a guy riding a bike with a raging boner lost in the desert calling out “Linda….Linda….Linda”

q) What is the strangest thing you have ever done?

a)Convinced the friend of the guy with the lost Linda (who was also a stranger to us) to have sex with our camp blow up doll also named Linda, after a long day of him drinking Gin at our bar in the Desert…..he wasn’t, how shall I put this, ‘up for the task’ and said he needed a fluffer so I found a Large and Lovely porn star that happened to be camped next to us to try to help the situation(to no avail I might add) This also all happened as the sun was setting under the tower of a flaming titted (is that a word?) mannequin , during the middle of the debauchery a flatbed truck with bleachers on the back full of what looked like tourists pulled up to this surreal scene and watched in what I can only imagine delirious horror….. I felt like such a dirty pimp afterwards but it was a hilarious day.

q) any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?

a)My advise would be just keep doing what you love and don’t compromise yourself for anyones approval. And don’t be afaid to show your work, as much of a freak and outsider that you might feel yourself to be, there are people out there that will completely get what you are doing and love it.

q)your contacts….e-mail…links



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