#48: Jill Hadley Hooper
The work of artist/illlustrator Jill Hadley Hooper can be seen nationally in the pages of the New Yorker and the New York Times, but here in Denver, she's just one of us. Hard-working and community-minded, the 2007 Westword MasterMind in the fine arts category helped found the thriving River North Arts District (aka RiNo) with fellow artist and neighbor Tracy Weil in 2006 and runs the gallery and gardens at Ironton Studios. How does she manage a stellar solo career while promoting solidarity in the arts community at large? Read Hooper's 100CC questionnaire for answers.
Westword:If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jill Hadley Hooper: I'd watch these people work and stay out of the way:
--Ben Shahn --Kurt Schwitters --Matisse
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I hope we never know who Banksy is.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I don't know if this is a trend, but using art as a Trojan horse to put through other, non-arts-related agendas. Artists need to be better at saying no, or at least asking more questions.
What's your day job?
I have been self-employed for twenty years. I illustrate and paint. I work for magazines and newspapers, illustrate picture books and have a rep on the East Coast. Here in Denver, I show at Goodwin Gallery.
My last real job was at My Brother's Bar. There is a sandwich named after me there, the Hooper, about which I'd like to take the opportunity to say: should be served on a round bun, not oblong. My first illustration job was for Westword.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I'd set up the "Old Artists' Home." It would have folks who need help either financially or physically -- or both -- at any age, and of course our aging friends who have worked their whole lives and maybe don't have a ton of resources. It would be writers, playwrights, actors and drama folks, dancers, painters, sculptors, designers and photographers. It would be a huge campus with all ages, studios, performance spaces, galleries and a bar, all open to the public. People could have a creative community and creative life until they drop dead. There would be gardens and a pool and a person to pass out the meds.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
A couple things comes to mind. Make a robust film and video community that would give lots of people a viable way to make a living and have a creative career.
Building is happening, and it seems like we need some tangible incentives for developers to create reasonably priced housing. The city has to be available to everyone who wants to be a part of it and not just the affluent. I understand the sentiment behind movements like "Keep Austin Weird"; Denver's at a tipping point and is rapidly becoming homogenous.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My favorite creatives I'm fortunate to see often, or I have their work, which I can enjoy daily. A couple of folks who I don't know personally but whose work I like are Libby Barbee and her collage paintings, and it's fun to see Ravi Zupa getting recognition nationally.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I'll share the Goodwin Gallery with Mia Mulvey for a show in November. My picture book on Matisse as a little boy came out this month, and I have three other books to illustrate in the next year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local art community in 2014 and beyond
I'm really excited that Ironton Gallery is going to show the personal work of Donna Altieri for Month of Photography in March 2015. Most people know her as someone who loves art and puts her money and time where her heart is. She and her husband, Mike Thornton, have created lives full of culture and art, and I'm excited for people to see her work and discover another side of her.
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The solo exhibition Jill Hadley Hooper: Interiors opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, November 6 at Goodwin Fine Art and runs through December. The new picture book The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse, illustrated by Hooper, was released earlier this month by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, and is available in bookstores and online. Learn more about Jill Hadley Hooper at her website.
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