Thursday, July 27, 2017

How I set that crazy World's Record!

In July 2017 I set a World's Record for the Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist. I have painted 20,000 paintings.  Yeah -  it's hard for me to wrap my head around too - that's a whole lot of paintings!  But I did do this thing - I painted every single one of them over a period of eight years.  The paintings are 4x4" acrylic on canvas and are mostly images of my beloved hometown of New Orleans.


Here's the story of how this came about.  It started when I moved away from New Orleans years ago to study, work and live in other cities and countries.  I loved traveling and the adventures I had but as any New Orleanian can tell you, this city is in your soul and never leaves you.  So sometimes I just plain got homesick.  In those moments I used to do little sketches of things that reminded me of home - restaurants, gumbo, pelicans, beignets, schools, parades, parks and people.  They weren't in any particular format - sometimes they would be on napkins and sometimes on scrap paper or in the margins of notebooks.  I wasn't painting back then so they are all little drawings.  The images became somewhat of a doodle habit with me.

Then one day I knew it was time to stop moving around so much and I came back home to my city.  After living here awhile I ran across some of the little drawings I'd done and decided to try painting some of them.  I hadn't had any formal training in painting so this was stretch for me.  But it was one of those things I always wanted to learn.  So after a lot(!) of experimentation with paint I made up a technique that gave me the effect I wanted on the little paintings.  I sculpted the images with palette knives on canvas, then inked them, glazed them, painted and finally, varnished them.  There are quite a few steps to my mini paintings but I like the results from this technique and refuse to take shortcuts.  I liked how those first paintings came out and hung a few up in my house.

Then after some friends and family told me how much they liked the paintings too I wondered if other people would feel the same way.  So I painted up a bunch of them, entered my first little art show in 2009 and the mini paintings just took off.  From there I entered bigger shows and then approached my first store.  After that other stores and galleries started to find me.

I kept careful sales records over the years and one day I realized that the quantity of paintings was really mounting up.  At that point I had reached about 5,000 paintings.  From then on I kept an ongoing count.  When I hit around 19,000 painting I got curious about the World's Records on paintings.  I didn't find a lot of records in the field and the ones I found I realized I could beat.  I decided that I would go for a record when I hit 20,000 paintings because it sounded like a nice round number.  It wasn't easy to get that record.  I didn't just call up people and say, "Hey send over that certificate OK?  Ok then, bye."  I had to take photos and do pages of descriptions and make videos and hire an attorney and an accountant.  Each round of requirements met was followed by another round.  I jumped through many hoops.  But this was as it should be.  It shouldn't be easy - records needs to be provable or else everyone would be doing this, right?  So the hoops I was jumping through were comforting in a way, although time-consuming.

Then one day it just happened very suddenly.  The record was announced and put up on the website and announcements were made before I even knew it was happening.  A large framed certificate showed up at my door the next day and a whirlwind followed.  A slew of fun if not slightly embarrassing interviews ensued.  Truth be told it was a bit of a relief when it all mostly died down. (it's actually still going on but it's under control now - thank God)   It was a hoot while it lasted though.


The best part of about setting the World's Record was the day I got to tell my four kids that their mom set a World's Record. They were convinced at first that I was playing a joke on them.  Then slowly their convictions turned to realizations and then pure celebration!  They actually bragged to their friends about their mom (c'mon how often does that happen?! lol)   That was truly priceless and for that alone - I'd do it all over again!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Crazy Interviews - Part 1


As an artist I've done a lot of interviews over the years and a few of them have been pretty unusual.  But this last one in July 2017 probably took some sort of cake.  The interview was in the form of a podcast for the Happy Hour show on  www.itsneworleans.com. Grant Morris is the host and it took place at the Wayfare restaurant on Freret St.  The format is that 3-4 complete strangers with little in common are invited to sit at a table with Morris for an hour, partake in cocktails and talk about topics generated by Morris and the guests.  With a naughty twinkle in his blue eyes, Morris revels in in outrageous comments and uncomfortable questions all while wearing an engaging smile, hair down past his shoulders and sporting a New Zealand accent.  He has an interesting background as a TV and screenplay writer, radio DJ and web-broadcast interviewer.  

The total strangers or guests in this instance included a local criminal attorney, Dave Capasso, two twenty-something-year old members (Carly and Adam) of local band Roar and myself.  We got to hear two cuts from Roar's CD and they sounded fantastic - fresh & engaging.  They will be playing at One Eyed Jacks in August and you should definitely go hear them.

When is a blow job not anal sex or pot smoking?
Morris started off his teasing questions right away.  And yes they were entertaining but also the kind that could make you squirm.  The questions coming my way started out easily enough and concerned my artwork and my new world record.  But they quickly degenerated.  I had heard of his penchant for calling people on the phone during the interview that were mentioned in conversation by the guests in order to give the guest a hard time.  When he found out I was single he pressured  me about old boyfriends' names I made sure to give him a fake name and thank God I did.  Morris immediately had his assistant start to search for the old boyfriend to get him on the phone!  Wouldn't that have been fun?  Well no.  I never did tell him that is was a phony name - till now I guess.  Other topics Morris tried to cover with me were how much money I made and whether or not I was a real artist.  I laughed, deflected and sometimes even answered!  

Morris was relatively kind to the young Roar members, teasing and joking with them about their music and their relationship.  I felt like they got off easy and actually was relieved for them.

It was the attorney, David Capasso, who took the worst ribbing.  But you could tell it wasn't his first time around this block - he handled it beautifully.  At one point, because Capasso represented criminal cases the question came up about what sexual conduct was legal and what was not in Louisiana.  Morris decided that Capasso was  an expert on BJ's and anal sex and told the podcast world just that.  In fact he named our whole podcast - BJ and the 20K Picasso of New Orleans.  Capasso thought that was pretty funny.  I had a great time watching him banter with Morris.  They were hilarious.

There were moments that I forgot we were doing a podcast and deluded myself into thinking I was at an intimate party.  All in all I enjoyed it despite the blushing, stammering and question dodging.  It's good for this artist to get out of the studio and talk to some crazy people once in a while.

Here's the link to the podcast - have fun listening - http://www.itsneworleans.com/shows/happy-hour/b-j-and-the-20k-picasso-of-new-orleans

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Who is that Person next to you?

Who's is that person next to you?

While ordering my vanilla latte at my local coffee shop I started talking to my favorite barista - Brad. He knows my drink, yells hello to me when I walk in and makes my latte to perfection.  He's used to seeing me shamble in most mornings in yoga pants or something equally enticing haha.  But this morning I was gussied up and he noticed.

Related image
Brad -  "You look terrific, Miss Jax, why are you all dressed up?"
Me - "I just came came from doing a TV interview at WWL.  Had to get there early."
Brad - "What was the interview for?"
Me - "Well believe it or not, I set a World's Record last week"  I always feel weird saying this - like I'm talking about somebody else.
I went on to explain about the World's Record for Painting and he looked completely surprised.
Brad - "What?!  You  know we see people everyday and we have no idea of who we are talking to."
Me - "That's  right.  For instance I don't know anything about you except that you make a great latte. Now you tell me something about you."
Brad, smiling shyly,  " Well OK - I'm actually a Drag Queen.
Me - "What?  Really?"
Brad- "Yep.  I'm putting together a new act right now.  I studied piano in college and I'm putting together a piano act wherein I play and act."  He pulled out his phone and showed me his pictures.
Me -   "That's pretty amazing!  And now that you've said it  -  I can see it  - you've got a really great face, pretty eyes  and adorable dimples. Now where can I come see you?"
Brad - "I'm all over right now but when I get the act together, I'll let you know when you come in for another latte."

I was thrilled because I loved his story.  My barista has this completely wonderful other life outside of my just serving me my morning addiction.

Note to self  - you don't know who's standing next to you in this city - or what their story is.  Ask and be astounded more often.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Running through Museums

Running through Museums
People walk slowly through museums, gazing at the works and reading descriptions.  That is, of course, what the museums and artists delight in.  But that's not what I usually do at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  (I do have a story I'll tell another time about running through the Louvre but I'll save it for another time.)

Actually I do gaze and saunter at the new exhibits but for the old ones -  I usually look like I'm running to catch a bus.  No doubt I miss stuff  and catch the ire of other visitors and museum guards, but the reason I go to NOMA is for the RUSH that art gives, pun intended.  Now keep in mind that I've been in the place hundreds of times since I was about fifteen.  So I know the lay of the land.  I know the new from the ongoing and I definitely have my favorites in the latter that deserve a visit.  

Now if you see me in the museum, you'll note that I have on my museum uniform.  This consists of dark clothes that make me invisible so people won't be able to describe the 'museum runner' to annoyed guards.  I've always got some sort of shawl or pashmina with me since it's always freezing in that place - even in a New Orleans July.  I also wear rubber soled shoes - all the better for sprinting.   These same rubber shoes make an exciting squeak on the terrazzo floors when I come to a sudden stop upon finding something that delights me.  And I always find the delightful.  The provocative.  The divinely colorful.  The ingenious.  The satirical and, sometimes, the deliberately comical.  Artists can do that - stop you cold in your rubber soled shoes.  

The 3rd floor of the museum is always a  bit of a challenge.  There are African and New Guinea masks and carvings in there that I have been seeing since I was a kid.  They are obviously haunted (as any fool can see).  I have to ask myself how many times does it take for me to stand in front of an old medicine man's mask full of porcupine quills and monkey fur before its spirit settles in for a ride in this native girl's soul.  There's no telling.  So I'm usually running full tilt on the 3rd floor and I advise you to do the same.  

When I leave I always stop and say hello to El Greco's St Francis in the room by the admission desk.  I gaze into those liquid, ecstatic eyes and get the art goose bumps that come from viewing a truly fine work.  It's a never-fail delight on  my way out, well worth the squeak from my shoes.


Then I recycle my admission pin, say goodbye and, once again, consider myself lucky to live in my favorite city in the world.  
Love, 
Mama Jax


Adventures!


Adventures!   I don't know what to expect from them and I'm trying to keep plans fairly loose.  Also remember, I still have to work while I'm in New Orleans (I am definitely a Working Artist!)  but - aside from all that - I really want to have some fun!  Some of the fun will be classic New Orleans things - parades, eating at famous restaurants, museums, French Quarter, etc.  And some of it will be odd little adventures with interesting people that I find along the way.  Those are my favorite type.  Not sure what I'll run into but that will be part of the fun!  As I go through my day, I will simply ask myself - OK what can we do next?!



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This blog was written by:

Mama Jax from New Orleans, LA.
Jax Frey is an artist who creates bold, colorful, super-textured paintings of all things New Orleans. Look for Jax's line of New Orleans mini paintings, her favorite painting series of New Orleans women called the Gumbeaux Sistahs (I love those chicks!) and other favorite Jax products on her website - www.artbyjax.com I hope you enjoy your visit here and your comments make my day!

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