Boxers 2014

Back in 2009, I made a series that included a "boxers" triptych, where the three famous boxing matches between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were summed up by their moments of clinching - which Google describes as "[to] grapple at close quarters, esp. (of boxers) so as to be too closely engaged for full-arm blows."

This, I feel, is the most interesting intersection in boxing, because it consists of opponents bringing each other into close proximity. By appearance, it looks like an affectionate gesture, like a hug; but it is a defensive move, a moment used to strategize and catch a breath. To get ready for the next uppercut!

In Ali's and Frazier's case, it was particularly interesting... because of how zealous their rivalry was! There was such a violence to their rivalry, an ingredient that juxtaposed the feminity of threadwork wonderfully, to me.

This winter, I had the chance to revisit the boxers, when my friend Calvin asked me if I would make one for our friend (and his wife), Maureen. How wonderful!

Although I feel as though I'd tied up the Ali/Frazier fights nicely (ha, that's a little thread work joke for you), I enjoyed the opportunity to think about the well-known match between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. You know, the one where Tyson bit Holyfield's ear?

Anyway, here is my handiwork!

Astronaut Family

Family portraits are always so fun, especially when the family is as creative as the Waldruff family! I was recently commissioned by them to illustrated their family as astronauts - have a look!


My photo of the marionettes involved in last week's performance, 69' S, by Erik Sanko and Jessica Grindstaff.

Hello, spring time. Well, almost. Today is rainy, but we had six full days of sun here in North Adams. Chad visited last weekend, which was FANTASTIC! Hanging out in Albany, Bennington, and North Adams itself, it was really good to see him.

In other news... with Maggie's help, I managed to design and silkscreen a new crop of usher scarves, and they turned out lovely! It was exciting to get some ink on my hands - I've been so busy doing that I haven't been making lately...

tonight joy and i made tee shirts with the following phrases:

is spelled



honorable mention:

and a good time was had by all

in other news, there will be a showing on 712 nalle st of zardoz tomorrow night, projected lovingly on a white cloth in the backyard by the garden... come if you are prepared to see sean connery in an entirely new way

i would kind of love to watch Stromboli on a cloth by the garden some time...

The Garage

This Friday, Kristin and I are hosting our Opening Reception at The Garage space near the downtown mall. Featured are works on paper, embroidery, and sculpture. Yay!

New Work by Jesse Wells and Kristin Smith

June 5 - June 26


"Fault Zones"
by Jesse Wells

New work focused on the physical chasm between individuals exemplified during ambivalent and complex moments. With stunt doubles on fire and boxers embracing, this work seeks to highlight the quiet caught within the chaos, and people trying to come to grips with themselves and others.

Drawings and Sculpture by Kristin Smith

A collection of work about animals investigating the world that they live in. The pieces show a variety of creatures exploring strange habitats and forms, trying to make sense of their surroundings.

The Garage
N. 1st Street
Charlottesville, VA

Opening Reception June 5, 5:30-8pm

Please come for refreshments, friends, and art!
Gallery Hours: During scheduled events, or by appointment.

Contact (for additional information):
Jesse: jesskawells at gmail dot com
Kristin: thekristinsmith at gmail dot com

Information regarding the images:
Kristin Smith, "Nest" gesso, watercolor, walnut ink on paper. 8" x 10". 2009
Jesse Wells, "Thrilla in Manila" thread on canvas. 5"x7" oval. 2009

Kristin Smith, "Moss Mass " watercolor, gesso, and walnut ink on paper. 8"x10". 2009
Jesse Wells, "Man on Fire #1" pen on paper. 7"x9". 2009

I'm getting lost in your curls

I got the chance to stop by the Hirshhorn Museum today with my mom, during a short trip to the northernmost part of Virginia. Right now on exhibition are many of Louise Bourgeois' sculptural pieces, with Guido Van Der Werve in the Black Box theater, and a grouping of figurative pieces curated from the Museum's collection.

I was first introduced to Bourgeois' work from a feminist standpoint, but her work draws out a lot of other connotations, especially in the realms of surrealism and conceptualism. Her sculptural forms lend themselves to anatomy, and she seems to explore the body in the context of memory. She uses the images of spiders, hands, enclosed spaces and obscuration, mounds, etc., to work and re-work through her dreams and rememberings. The museum displayed much of the expanse of her work, showing off the many media she has worked with, from small sketches with quasi-enigmatic phrases to immense cast-bronze spiders. To my delight, they also had her Art:21 episode looping on a monitor in the main stairwell, with her chatting romantically about some of her work.

"Strange Bodies" was the name of the exhibition downstairs, consisting of figural work. Varied works from Magritte, Freud, Giacometti, and Guston (to name a few) sprinkled the gallery. Ron Mueck's "Untitled (Big Man)" cowered in the corner as Andy Warhol posed for a painting by Julien Schnabel. What hits me as so interesting about figural work is the way that artists are able to produce a kind of human that is innately that artist's brand of human. The human form becomes at once representational and abstract, as if they were somehow that artist's vision of a different creature. I'd like to see artists stand side-by-side with their work, in the hope that perhaps the figures will look like distant cousins to them, no matter how outlandish. Perhaps if John Curren happened to possess the curves of his coquettish figures. This a point which hits home with Gillian Wearing's photographic "Album", where she transforms herself into family members, distorting her own image, using wigs and make-up (above).
I came upon an duo, who called themselves cabinet de fumisterie appliquee, which I colored clever to say the least, with cheeky, child-like, or possibly romantic photographs of themselves in invented images. That is to say, many of the photographs depicted the two in different scenarios, with a playfully simplistic aesthetic. I imagine two little girl-soulmates who grow up and still play dress-up on the weekend:***
I had a weird dream about boxers today. The athlete, not the garment.


when i got back from europe (with chad), i had the opportunity to go to the hirshhorn museum with drew and his dad. Realisms was one part of the installation there, which had film, video and digital works, which played with the distinction between fiction and reality.

One of the highlights was one called Lonely Planet, which followed a distinctly stereotypical tourist (think bandana on the head and che guevera tee) through India, only to reveal that he is traveling through a movie set - which in itself is represented quite theatrically, with choreography and compositionally sound camera angles.

Another sweet one was a two-parter by Candice Breitz called Mother Father. The "mother" part was 5 television screens with visually isolated actresses (one per screen) in motherly roles. Playing simultaneously, the characters seemed to dialogue with each other, despite being from different movies, mostly. The statements proved to be of the typical mother-archetype variety, further pushing this persona in a farcical and repetitive way. The presentation was successful, and the "father" installation was similar in its strength and absorbing qualities.

Overall, the installations were intriguing and I wish that we had had more time to peruse them more thoroughly. Although I wouldn't trade having gone to a wonderful Indian buffet, which is always a highlight for me. It didn't hurt, either, that I was with a pretty boy who makes my heart go puh-thumpathump-thump.