Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Jean Smith
Jean Smith joining clay slabs.
#89: Jean Smith
Clay artist Jean Smith Is a familiar face in the co-op community, where she's been building and exhibiting works both joyful and challenging for many years. Her creations range from colorful wall pieces and fanciful shrines to major ceramic installations, often referencing plant forms, flowers and sea life; on the side, she also makes jewelry using old beads. We invited Smith to share her thoughts about the artist's life from her very experienced vantage point; read on for her 100CC questionnaire.
Working with the slab roller.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jean Smith: Joseph Cornell would be fascinating to collaborate with because he was the master of mixed-media containers and assemblages. I have quite a stash of odds and ends I have collected through the years, and it would be exciting to join forces with somebody I consider the "Father of Assemblage." Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
George Alexander: ceramic monuments, one of my influences with clay. Isaiah Zagar, Magic Gardens, Philadelphia, who has tiled indoors and outdoors since 1972 in most interesting ways. Jose Fuster, Cuban mosaic artist, who is also tiling indoors and out and also has magical playful creations.
Staining the clay.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Giclée reproductions -- just a rip-off on real creations. What's your day job?
Artist, organizer/documenter/investigator, cheerleader, educator, jeweler, collaborator.
As an artist, I create ideas that float around in my head from things I see just living my life. Most of the time, they are created out of clay, but when the opportunity arises, I enjoy putting found and collected materials together to create a new object. As an organizer/documenter/investigator: I work with the members of the Navajo Street Art District to create a unique place for people to enjoy a co-operative collective. I also put information together in an interesting and easy-to-follow order, whether it is a how-to guide, a book commemorating an event or a group of people having a travel experience together. There is always a lot of investigating that goes on to make these things happen. As a cheerleader: For my husband, Bob, who is working on living with Parkinson's Disease, and keeping it at bay by physical, mental, and healthful ways. He is working on publishing his journal in hopes of giving others with this disease a sense of control and direction to make life fulfilling and productive as long as possible. As an educator: I work with elementary-aged kids as an Artist-in-Residence at a private school one quarter during the school year and for two weeks during the summer at the MCAA Summer Clay Camp. As a jeweler: I am in love with old African trade beads, as well as Roman glass and amber, so I search for them and then figure out how to re-purpose them into pieces for contemporary women to enjoy. As a collaborator: I enjoy working with other artists and friends to create something together. It is satisfying to brainstorm ideas and come to an understanding using mutual skills to create something new that is a combination of myself and one or more others. As the member of two co-op galleries and one national woman's group, there seem to be endless opportunities to collaborate!
Washing off the stain.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it? Live in France for a while. But before I do, I would round up a group of artists for some brainstorming and see how we could catapult the Denver art scene to national attention and support the local artists. I would also select a historic school and make it an art building with studios for artists, classrooms for art projects and a beautiful gallery. Then, of course, there are all of the world issues that could use some extra money -- to combat world hunger, water, women's issues, etc. What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Fund art teachers and artists back into the public schools. Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Susan Wick fits this description, living the life of the artist, always thinking of creative things to make, then making them and including others in her plans.
Stuffing a shape.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
-I'm showing at Zip 37 gallery April 18 though May 4, 2014. -Take some time to inhale and renew my art sense on a trip to Spain and France -Continue promoting and working with Navajo Street Art District. -Zip 37 Gallery, Ice Cube Gallery, support my husband, participate in the Ride For Parkinson's on June 7 -Garden -Enter some call for entry shows -Hang with friends -Visit the art museums and galleries in Denver and wherever I find myself. -Explore some new art ideas and expand on using the gas kiln Who do you think will get noticed in the local art community in 2014?
Cayce and Charlie Goldberg of Helikon Gallery & Studios.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
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