Interview with JAW Cooper + ‘Flourish’ @ Baker + Hesseldenz


Baker + Hesseldenz Fine Art (Tucson, Arizona) presents “Flourish“: A three-person group exhibition curated by Los Angeles artist JAW Cooper, featuring a series of her personal works as well as Wesley Burt‘s and Tyler Thrasher‘s. According to Cooper, the overall theme of the show revolves around the concept of growth, development, and a range of mark-marking including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Recently, I had the pleasure of conversing with Cooper about this show, her work, and curatorial process. She also shared a number of sneak peeks and work-in-progress images to whet our appetite. If you happen to be in or near Tucson this Saturday (October 1, 2016), stop by the gallery to view their completed works. All of the participating artists are going to be in attendance.



Opening Reception:
Saturday, October 10, 2016 | 6-9PM

Exhibition Dates:
September 27 – December 3, 2016

Baker + Hesseldenz Fine Art

Tucson Warehouse & Transfer Building
100 East 6th Street
Tucson, AZ 85705

Will you tell us about the exhibition you’re curating for Baker + Hesseldenz? (How you got involved with the project, the theme, and how you approached the project)

I had worked with the lovely folks at Baker + Hesseldenz previously and when they invited me to participate in a show and gave me the option to pull in a couple other artists, I leapt at the opportunity. After solidifying the list of participants, the title of the show was easy… we all seem to draw on nature for inspiration and with our very diverse range of mark-making “Flourish” seemed like a natural pick. Pun intended.

jaw_cooper_beautifulbizarre_013(Above) A work-in-progress snapshot of some of JAW Cooper’s gouache paintings

Have you curated other art exhibitions before? What do you think about the whole process?

I have but it’s always been very casual; usually if I’m invited to put together a solo show but I don’t have time to make enough new work I’ll propose that we make it a 3-4 person show instead and of course I’m always thrilled to be tasked with inviting the other artists.

wesley_burt_beautifulbizarre_003(Above) A sneak peek of one of Wesley Burt’s sketches

Out of curiosity, why did you choose to curate a three-person show (instead of inviting a huge bunch of artists to participate in the show)? And, why these specific artists?

I wanted each person to be able to work in a series, which is why I opted for a 3-person show over a large group show of a bunch of one-off pieces. I think the narrative potential of working in a series is more exciting and gives each piece a context, and asking each artist for 6-12 pieces felt manageable on our timeline.

(Above) A work-in-progress image of Tyler Thrasher’s crystallized fish skeleton

The works you personally created for this show are very diverse in style and subject matter, and I find them mesmerizing in their own unique ways. Will you tell us the reason you are approaching this project this way?

All my pieces for this particular show have to do with the occult; that which is hidden or supernatural. The mediums used vary wildly from graphite to gouache to oils as I was consciously using this series as a testing ground for experimenting with technique.

(Above) A work-in-progress snapshot of “Furrowed“, an oil painting by JAW Cooper

Would you tell us which one of Wesley’s works speaks the most to you (and why)?

I really can’t pick a favorite; when I dropped off my work at the gallery I got to sneak a peak of all his work that had just been delivered and every piece blew me away. I love the intimate feeling of his sketchbook pages and his more finished pieces are so mind blowing in person in a way that photographs just can’t capture.

(Above) A work-in-progress image of one of Wesley Burt’s artwork

How about Tyler’s?

Once again I genuinely cannot pick a favorite. I’m already a big collector of Tyler’s work; I was astounded by the level of detail in his latest series and it’s so inspiring to watch him outdo himself with each new project.

(Above) A crystallized fish skeleton by Tyler Thrasher

I’m extremely drawn to your oil painting “Familiars”. Will you tell me about that red line that divides the painting I half?

The red line is a string holding up the turnip/radish in the foreground. I painted that line last and strategizing how best to do it was pretty stressful since the rest of the painting was so freshly completed. I ended up masking it off and crossing my fingers that the tape would come off cleanly without pulling up previous layers or leaving behind adhesive residue. It all worked out and I breathed the most thankful sigh of relief.

(Above0 “Familiars” by JAW Cooper, Oil on Cradled Wood Panel, 24″x36″ x 2″

Thanks again for speaking with us! I’ll look forward to viewing your works in person in a near future. When and where can we expect to see your works next?

Thank you for taking the time to cover “Flourish” at Baker + Hesseldenz! I plan to have a book available through Flesk Publications at the end of 2016 or early 2017 and my next solo show will be at Spoke Art in San Francisco August 2017!

(Above) A work-in-progress image of one of Wesley Burt’s artwork

(Above) A work-in-progress sneak peek of one of Tyler Thrasher’s crystallized skeletons

(Above) Details of “Familiars” by JAW Cooper

(Above) A sneak peek of one of Wesley Burt’s drawings

(Above) A work-in-progress image of one of Tyler Thrasher’s sculptures

(Above) Details of “Familiars” by JAW Cooper











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