Denver Artist Jess Webb Honored as One of the 100 Colorado Creatives | Westword

100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Jess Webb

Interdisciplinary and in touch with nature and her surroundings, Jess Webb segues between music, performance and installation easily, while searching for ways to connect artists with audiences in a community-minded way.
An installation by Jess Webb at Cluster Studios.
An installation by Jess Webb at Cluster Studios. Photo by Michael Vargas
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#30: Jess Webb

Interdisciplinary and in touch with nature and her surroundings, Jess Webb segues between music, performance and installation easily while searching for ways to connect artists with audiences in a community-minded way. Her projects include Cedarbox, a traveling artist incubator in a trailer; Art Church, a monthly hands-on creative playground where artists can loosen up and let ideas flow; performing with Paul DeHaven in the musical duo Saskatoon; and mentoring youth for RedLine's Epic Arts school outreach program. We invited Webb to cast her all-inclusive spell over our readers by answering the 100CC questionnaire.

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Jess Webb in her element.
Photo by Paul DeHaven
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Jess Webb: The ocean. The woods. Music, musicians. Alone time. Traveling to new places.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?

A quantum physicist, a philosopher, a marine biologist, a therapist and an anthropologist. I can’t name-drop these potential party-goers, but I would say they are all at the top of their fields. Maybe we could literally talk about nothing, which inevitably will turn into a conversation about everything.

What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

There are a lot of creative people in Colorado, and there is a lot of interest from the city to support the arts because it makes it an attractive place to live.

How about globally?

When I think about the global art world, I think about the big names in art and how art is just a commodity where name brands are a necessity. I don't think my work will reach this level, because I don't have an agent, and I don't actively seek fame or fortune, just a living wage. I feel that at some level of recognition, you are silently asked to produce work that is predictable, consistent and collectible. I recognize that I still have a lot to learn about the global art world.

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An installation by Jess Webb.
Photo by Amanda Tipton
What's your creative philosophy?

For me, that’s a loaded answer. The discourse of what is said is always subject to change. As I learn and grow, my philosophy changes and grows with me, I battle my current existential crises and seek to reconcile my life in the context of the world as I perceive and interpret it. Fundamentally, I feel that an active creative practice helps me connect to something bigger than myself. I also feel that art and music are the core of what creates meaning in our complex existence. The language of art often can provide more understanding and perspective then aural language can allow. I'm not always great with words, and I am interesting in engaging in dialogues of expression, sound, movement and picture rather than language.

In my practice, I see three different modes: one is meditative/methodical, another is inventive/conceptual, but my favorite is explosive/intuitive.

I have been exploring interactive events as a creative platform for getting an audience involved in interactive dialogue. In the studio I have been exploring painting, photography and collage. I am really inspired by using natural dyes and materials, which has led me to explore fiber arts on a deeper level.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

My favorite accomplishment is launching Cedarbox, because it created a platform to teach, collaborate, curate, host and support artists. Cedarbox has also pushed me to focus on collaborative performance, which is a very exciting exploration. It’s like a petri dish of ideas, art and people.

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

I’d like to travel every continent, collecting sound samples and textiles. I am so curious about other cultural perspectives on how to live life and finding meaning in it.

Colorado, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I grew up in Colorado. The music and art community keeps me here. I love the accessibility to the mountains and the natural world. I fear that Colorado's new population will make the mountain areas more regulated.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I think Jordan Knecht is really killing it right now. We often share similar ideas and concepts with different approaches. I always love hearing what he is up to. I am excited to join him for Untitled at the Denver Art Museum in July.

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Inside the Cedarbox trailer.
Courtesy of Jess Webb
What's on your agenda in the coming year?

Art Church every month at Leon Gallery. Art installation scavenger hunt on May 19. Artful Pop-Up Dinner in August. Paul DeHaven/Lake Mary tour in July. Saskatoon shows. Sound-art exhibition for DAM in June for Untitled.

Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

I think musician Paul DeHaven from retired band Paper Bird is someone you should watch out for. He is releasing a self-produced, performed and recorded solo album titled King of Gold under Paul DeHaven, and it is certainly his best work yet. He is also in a band called Eye & the Arrow.

Cedarbox will host the Scavenged Explorer, a BYO-food cookout and a scavenger hunt for al fresco installations by ten artists, on Saturday, May 19, from 3 to 7 p.m. in a location near Evergreen; the event includes live music by Paul DeHaven and Anthony Ruptak. Admission is $25 in advance at Brown Paper Tickets.

The next Art Church event is on Sunday, June 3, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue; admission is free, but donations are welcome. Find the 2018 Art Church schedule at the Cedarbox website or on Facebook.

Learn more about Jess Webb and her work online.

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