Featured Artist: Jed Williams

Born in Philadelphia in 1975, Jed grew up in Paris, France. A French and American citizen, he now lives in Philadelphia. Jed graduated from the University of the Arts (BFA in Painting and Drawing, 2000) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Certificate in Painting, 2005), both located in Philadelphia.

Current town: Thrilladelphia

Job description: artist/studio-gallery owner/counselor

Select links:

http://www.jedwilliams.net

http://www.jedwilliamsstudio.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/JedsFreshStillLife

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What’s been happening in your life?

My art is developing further, into more intense semi-abstract explorations of extreme/intense states of mind using imagery of faces/different symbols filtered through my imagination. Mostly oil/acrylic on canvas balanced by a lot of ink drawing on small formats (usually paper).

Just started also doing more experimental stuff using collage, sculptural materials,etc.  Stay tuned! Most recently I also just started a new part-time counselor job (on top of the one I already have). Like painting, a lot of it is about how diverse forms of communication open up different mental/psychological dimensions which lead to some kind of change and/or progress…

How are things going with your gallery?

Things are going pretty well, I’ve been getting more exposure through different types of events I’ve been doing, like trunk shows. The gallery also was featured in the Sunday “Arts” section of the Philadelphia Inquirer (“Signs and Symbols” by Edie Newhall, Sunday Apr. 15, 2012).  (The article also talked about another gallery, the Hex Factory, in Kensington—I was having a solo show at that gallery, which is run by Hunter Yoder, while Hunter and O. Henrietta Fischer were simultaneously exhibiting at my gallery).

My gallery also got into exhibiting jewelry/accessories and photography.  Most recently there was a “Holiday Cheer Trunk Show” on Dec. 22 ’12 featuring jewelry/accessories by Antoinette Karma and photography by Jim Sewastynowicz. The gallery has also started exhibiting artists with a broader following like Pamela Flynn (she is in the current show at the gallery, “Demarcation”). She has shown in various places like NYC, and South Korea, among others.

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You’re in a band? Yes, I play bass with Justice League of Adversaries, I’ve been with them for several years now.

Tell us about your music… Kind of a long dark, ambient electronic, slightly noise-rocky, rather abstract groove. You just have to hear it for yourself. The band was started by Jon Allen who is an artist too. He went to PAFA (Penn. Academy of the Fine arts) too. http://justiceleagueofadversaries.bandcamp.com/

What was the last show you attended? Well about a month ago  I saw the Charles Bukowski Blues Project, a local funk/blues band, at Connies Ric Rac in South Philly.  They’re always fun. But most recently I really enjoyed a show the JLA (Justice League of Adversaries)  was a part of at Eris Temple, in W. Philly, a couple weeks ago. It was a great time. We also had the artist Ewa Maselek doing a performance with/in front of us. Lora Bloom of the band Radio Eris was doing vocals for us.   There were several other bands, the most enjoyable one I think was a one-man band called Radar Noon.  He sung/played guitar and did keyboards and electronics.

Any amusing anecdotes regarding your shows/ performances/ fans? A comment from a member of the audience at our last show, after we finished playing –“You guys sounded really creepy. fantastic work everyone!!!”

What are you listening to these days? Lots of rather older, slightly 1990’s stuff like Ween and Belle and Sebastian, but also some new stuff like Santigold.. Also some ambient, getting back into some of my old trance/techno/ambient CD’s! I have a bunch…

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How did you first get into the art scene? I graduated from U. Arts in 2000, started applying to some galleries, then PAFA in 2005.. that helped me make a lot of connections.. in fact, I’m still making connections and trying to get in touch with galleries, and the game continues…

Describe your current state of mind. My current state of mind.. doing ok, figuring stuff out. I guess it just depends on the day! I am interested in lots of different kinds of art, more than just painting, I like researching different types of video/conceptual art now–just got into this fantastic artist Aakash Nihalani
.  Also lots of low-brow and pop surrealism, stuff such as one can see at Gallery ML in Old City and also places like Jonathan Leving Gallery  in NYC.  Music is a huge influence on me too. I also have been playing and writing more songs, with different friends or on my own.  I read and often go back to a great book on video art… I love trying to get inside that way of thinking.  I’ve gotten more into video art since I saw a show a few years ago at the Fabric Workshop, with videos by among others, Ryan Trecartin and Pete Rose.   I think great art makes a statement that leaves you wanting more.

Any exhibits coming up/ Any recent exhibits you’d like to mention? I had a solo show last year at the Hex Factory; that was great. I’m going to be participating in the Philadelphia Community Exhibition 2013, at the 3rd St. Gallery in Old City. (www.3rdstreetgallery.com)-Jan. 30-Feb.24

Has the meaning of your work changed over time? Yes—it’s become more complex, especially as I write more about it (I write more about art these days).  I can’t really pinpoint what’s changed exactly but I do know that now I am definitely seeking to make my work have more “meaning” or “conceptual punch”…without its losing its visual music, as it were. (I have different thematics like different types of faces with different expressions—signifying different intense states of mind… also I try to make the abstract shapes look like they have form and dimension.. sort of like “real-looking” dimensional elements from a dream—I always come back to the human form, in  more or less loose, whimsical configurations).  So I ask myself — what do the different symbols mean? How can I make my choice of colors point to something specific. It’s a very interesting challenge, or perhaps, rather an adventure and an exploration.

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Are you involved with any organizations? I am involved/a member of Da Vinci Art Alliance. They’re a good group of people, I show in their group shows sometimes. Also, I am a member of the local Philly arts/culture non-profit Community Cultural Exchange.

What are you reading? I’ve been reading different things, some history, and a lot of novels, in the past few months some highlights were “Absurdistan,” “The time-traveler’s wife,” and I’m really enjoying the current one, “the Human Stain.”  A while back too I bought an illustrated “History of Science” at this cool store on South St.  I go back to that every so often.  It’s enjoyable to get outside the “art” way of thinking/groove sometimes.  I would recommend to any artist that’s “stuck” with their work process to just read random stuff that doesn’t necessarily have to do with art.  It nourishes you, gets those ideas flowing and can often act as a kind of creative “jump-start.”

What are a few of your favorite spots in Philly/ France? In Philly: Some of them include the Tiberino art museum in W. Philly,  some Old City galleries like 3rd St. Gallery and Artist House, also L. G. Tripp gallery, a gallery called Pageant right next to my studio-gallery, different coffee shops that often have art by emerging artists like the Bean on South St., the Hex Factory in Kensington, a very interesting gallery run by Hunter Yoder, an artist who does paintings/art based on his take on different symbols and Germanic/Hex mythology… not to forget Bridgette Mayer gallery, places like Connie’s Ric Rac and Eris Temple (they have great concerts/arts events), (and of course Jed Williams Studio—had to mention that one!) In France: Honestly I don’t go back there that much but last time I was there, a couple years ago I really enjoyed the Quartier Saint-Germain, in Paris, lots of neat cafes and good galleries there—also in a part of Paris called le Marais, there are many more offbeat, “hip” galleries with fresh, inspired and adventurous conceptual work.  Also being in Normandie, my parents have the coolest spot literally off a country road.  It’s always refreshing to go there.  One place that’s really cool is the Pompidou Center (“Centre Georges Pompidou”), a Museum that has a great mix of modernist art and cutting-edge contemporary conceptual art exhibits.. and there is a great, pretty chill pedestrian zone around there.  Nice to walk around there, and so on.

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Favorite artists and why?

Some favorite artists (there are so many I can only mention a few): Thomas Scheibitz, Marc Tuymans, Picasso, Chagall, David Hockney, Lari Pittman, Francis Bacon, Ryan Trecartin, Eo Omwake, Roland Becerra, Ryan McGinness, also more local Philly people (some of which are friends of mine): Reese Juel,  Billy and Steven Dufala, Rebecca Saylor-Sack, Ben Will, Robert Goodman, Dennis Flynn… the list goes on. And you know, sometimes my favorite artists are artists whose work I have never seen before.  And then they become my favorite artists.  Then there is another one I see, and they in turn become my next “favorite” artists.  It’s like any relationship. The artists I mentioned, my favorite artists, they make artwork that makes me feel a certain way and enjoy feeling it.. There is a statement, and there is the expression of the statement.  Where they connect is, I think, where the magic, and appreciation of the work, truly happens. As well as many others, the artists I mentioned, they really work at what they do and you can tell.  Maybe the hardest thing about any kind of art is making something really developed and crafted, as well as thought out, while at the same time not make it look overworked… that razor-thin line, so to speak.

What was the first piece of artwork you bought/do you buy a lot of artwork?

I don’t buy a lot of artwork, honestly.  I do remember buying a small mixed-media work by Crockett Bodelson, a long time ago. I put it in my studio, it is very inspiring and has some kind of borderline “street-arty”/collage aesthetic.

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If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

I’m not sure really… but one thing that’s certain is: I probably would be really bored.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Honestly I’m still working on that one.. perhaps a kind of balance and serenity mixed with good feelings about different stuff in one’s life, this mixed in with the ability to create one’s own confidence and inner calm.. I actually have lately been thinking that having a certain idea or “mental construct” of happiness, and focusing on it especially, often tends to make you feel LESS happy.   Sort of like, the more you try to focus on being happy, the less likely, or often, it is to happen.  I hope that makes at least even a little sense. Maybe that’s the counselor in me that’s talking! Good cheers, good art.

Jed Williams---Drive my car-

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