Artist Statement 2019
It Started with a Crocofish
Humor in Art has been around for centuries and so has sentimentality. However, unlike the humor of the Dadaists and later the surrealists--which provided a relief from war and delved into the subconscious in the context of psychoanalysis-- sentimentality has had a harder time being taken seriously as a motive for art making. The sentimental has largely been considered a private pursuit, derided as Kitsch, and meant as a pejorative term. Yet we now know that humor is good for us and that the laughter it elicits has a medically proven benefit to our mental and physical health. But what is Humor if not a means of spreading joy-- a gift to share with others --and as a gift isn’t it inherently sentimental? And what’s wrong with that?!
My current series of small drawings couldn’t be further from my previous ‘serious’ body of large abstract paintings. Though pleasure has also been one of the goals in my past work this was different in a key way. These surreal drawings began when I was visiting my family home on the Isle of man (a small island between England and Ireland). To entertain Daisy, my six-year-old grand-niece, I would draw silly monsters and hybrid animals like a crocofish or bananamouse for her. One day, while sitting quietly with my father-- who was on chemotherapy at the time--he looked over and let out a loud belly laugh at what I was doing. He thought they were fabulous. Seeing how they lifted his spirits I asked him for suggestions for more. “A man with wheels for legs” he’d say, or “a woman with an elephant’s body”. I would then embellish them further, like a game of exquisite corpse, and watch as his face would light up.
As the series multiplied my whole family began chipping in with more challenging suggestions like: a moose, a skateboard and avocados. It was a lot of fun (another undervalued basis for art-making). Then, when I returned home to Santa Barbara, I decided to continue. Over a glass of wine in the evenings I’d ask my husband (Phil) for a word, an object or animal to start me off. After many evenings, and several worn-down pencil tips, six months later I had a stack of them. Art or not I hope you enjoy!
Jane Callister was born on the Isle of Man, UK in 1963 and is now a Southern California based artist who works across the mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing and installation. Over the past 20 years Callister has exhibited in many notable exhibits including The 1st Prague Biennale at the Veletrizni Palace Prague, Czech Republic in 2003; Extreme Abstraction at the Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York in 2005; Step into Liquid which (was curated by Dave Hickey for the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design in Santa Monica, California) in 2005; and the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA as well as more recent exhibitions such as Stationary Realms, Museum of Art, University of Arkansas, 2014; Pictures of everything 2014 at the Harris Gallery, University of La Verne, CA; “British Invasion” at MOAH (Museum of Art and History), Lancaster, CA 2016; “REBOO”T, Jay Jay Gallery, Sacramento, CA 2017. And had a recent solo exhibition at Royale Projects, Los Angeles ( where she is currently represented).
Callister’s work has also been featured in notable publications including: Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting with essay by David Pagel and published by Phaidon Press, 2002; Abstract Painting: Concepts and Techniques by Vicky Perry published by Watson & Guptil, 2005; LA Artland by Chris Krauss published by Blackdog Press, London, 2006; and Acrylic Illuminations, by Nancy Reyner published by North Light Books, 2014. Her work is in numerous private collections as well as The New Museum, New York and The Albright Knox Museum Buffalo, NY.