Writings

Jennifer Wynne Reeves filled a void in the art world when she started posting on Facebook in 2008. Pairing images of her paintings with extraordinary prose, Reeves unwittingly transformed her page into a virtual salon with 5000 friends. A mentor, a provocateur, and a muse, Reeves inspired thoughtful sometimes heated debates about the state of the art world. She chided the art critics for their provincialism, paid little reverence to sacred art cows and freely shared her ideas and techniques with other artists.

Reeves mined the images she posted on Facebook from thirty prolific years of painting. Multi-layered, textural, abstract and representational, Reeves’ work invites the viewer to look beneath the surface, just as her prose challenges entrenched beliefs and opinions.

Excerpts from Facebook

April 27, 2011 old gouache copyright 2003-ish

Picasso didn’t paint his lovers. He painted his perception of his lovers, no, not quite. He painted love itself. He painted different types of love. Sex-love, Mother-love, Sad-love, Tortured-love, Peace-love, Aging-love, Penis-love but, but not divine Love. That was Matisse’s area and maybe why he was so drawn to him and vice versa. Still, I think there’s something divine about his line, anyway. Okay, I take that back. He did paint divine Love. It’s in the guitars, the love of art. I know he was a self-professed atheist. He refused to go to Matisse’s chapel but years after Matisse died he did go. The receptionist gave him an envelope. It was a letter from Matisse. It said something like, ‘I knew you believed.’ Those two men, those two artists, had a rapport. It didn’t matter what side they were on, what name they used for love, God or not. It didn’t matter. That’s what art can do. That’s why I put my love there and I suspect I’m not the only one.

February 26, 2013

When I was eight, Disney picked up my pencil to draw foxes and guns. When I was a teenager, Lennon and McCartney filled up my lungs. I learned to “take a sad song and make it better.” When I was in college, Shakespeare made me a man. I put on a jock strap and tamed a shrew. Improvisation exercises showed me the difference between acting and being. Theatre taught me to be a line, not just see a line. When I went to New York, Van Gogh’s drawings taught me to know the difference. Modern dance moved me to paint the sound of gesture. When I was 40, writing rendered shapes, painting typed an alphabet, and photography illustrated them both. When I was 49, I picked up my pencil. I was a fox, a gun, a sail, a telephone pole, a bridge, a power line. The arts are more than culture—painting, writing, music, theater, photography, dance, writing—are one, they join hands, they seek segues, they open wormholes. There’s no way to ripen without them.

September 14, 2010

A penis goes for a walk. Another penis comes along. The end.

November 17, 2012
Gouache, pencil and wire on primed paper, 2012

I start to paint. I squeeze out lumps on the palette. One little blob speaks to me. He seems to say, “I am the sun. You revolve around me.” I swipe at him with my brush and lay a piece of him on the canvas. I say, “I am the sun. You revolve around ME!” And so the conversation goes until the end of the piece when the paint is silenced and the silence is golden. I think that every successful work shows that matter is but shadow and, despite all the talk to the contrary, we do not have to kowtow to shadows. We are greater than we know. We are queens, chiefs, masters, the artists of our own destiny. I enter this great studio called life and find that I am one with Soul-fire, the central light of being. And I paint to serve Her great hush.

May 13, 2010
Place (5-3)Text 1998, acrylic, sand and pencil on pane

He died first. She died second. He was an early riser. She was a night owl. He’d slather mile high slabs of butter on his toast, would bring her breakfast in bed, called her “honey”. He wore a bag on his gut. She was infertile and wickedly sarcastic. She put lemon zest in raisin pie. He had a horse named Dan. She had four poodles. Ahab, Anthony, Anita, Allegra. She wore her glasses around her neck. She told me to watch out for those religious people even though she knew I was religious. She got pissed at me when I said someone passed away. She said, “They DIED.” She called her paintings her “uglies”. One day he fell in the tub and couldn’t get up. She pulled him out, all 90lbs of her opposing all 200 lbs of him. She didn’t like my husband. When she died she willed to me her antique mirror that my uncle wanted. I look into it today. Divorced. Semi-religious. Holding a lemon.

November 13, 2013

You have no husband? No. You have no children? No. You have no boyfriend? No. You have no partner? No. Don’t you feel alone? No, but sometimes, especially when I sponge up questions like these, I wake at 3 in the morning and start thinking I am alone. I feel awful for no reason and I have to remind myself that the same presence that is with me when I paint is with me at the dead of night. What a comfort the creative spirit yields. I’m so grateful for the sparrows chirping near my windowsill before sunrise. They send one-note songs out into the dark universe, on the shadow side of the earth, from a small town in a fracked state, where the streetlights are off and a night-light spots the top of a wobbly table next to my bed. Every time the freight train passes my whole building shakes, my cacti wobble despite the ribbons I tied around them for support. I’m fortunate to be snuggled under my feather comforter, a small landscape in itself. Yet I’m aware of the vast navy blue above the rooftop spattered with big bangs too numerous to count. A truck pulls up to Peck’s market, already ready for morning deliveries. The table lamp shines on a glass of juice and books on my bedside table. I stick out a bare arm to take a drink and read the crowded silence. Will I still like the painting I started yesterday? Regardless, painting has taken the place of my walker. I needed one temporarily. I need the other for keeps.