Jessica Hess’s paintings of time-worn structures feel patched together like memories, carrying signs of past stages and residents. The artist’s ongoing dialogue with “survey of derelict spaces void of human presence,” as described in one statement, takes a more vibrant turn in how these buildings evolve. Though none of these paintings features humans, all take on a ghostly personality, as rendered by Hess. She was last featured on HiFructose.com here.
Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco is currently showing a wide variety of new works from international artists with their “Summer Group Show”. As with FWMOA’s “Invisible College” exhibition, previewed earlier, the show packs in countless styles and mediums from familiar rising stars in New Contemporary. This includes artists appearing in our current issue like Erin M. Riley, Erik Jones (HF Vol. 27 cover artist), Brett Amory (HF Vol. 20), Jessica Hess (HF Vol. 21), Nychos (HF Vol. 28), Shawn Huckins (HF Vol. 32), Tracey Snelling (HF Vol. 35), and more.
Jessica Hess considers herself a landscape painter, but rather than capturing vistas of waterfalls or forests, her paintings document the ephemeral graffiti she observes in Oakland, San Francisco, and in her travels (see some of her paintings here). Adding another layer to the images-within-images she has going on in her work, Hess teamed with sculptor Christa Assad to create a collaborative series of hand-painted ceramic sculptures. Assad created wheel-thrown, constructed stoneware pieces that take inspiration from Hess’s subject matter — spray cans, paint buckets, fire hydrants, pigeons, and other markers of urban detritus. Hess then hand-painted them with acrylic, filling them with images of tagged-up cityscapes. Hess has an exhibition coming up at Art Works Downtown in San Rafael, CA on March 6 and some of these collaborative ceramic pieces will be in the show.
Jessica Hess often tells people she paints landscapes, but “landscape” doesn’t quite sum up the documentary function of her work. Her oil paintings are not about the buildings and the trees, but rather an ephemeral, fragile moment: when graffiti gets put up on city walls. The future of a piece of graffiti is unstable — it could be buffed or tagged the next day. Its longevity is unpredictable. Hess memorializes these ephemeral artistic expressions, choosing broken-down, tagged-up locales that inspire her in her daily surroundings in Oakland and San Francisco. Curator Ken Harman shared a story about how a group of people were moved by Hess’s work when they saw the tag of their deceased friend in one of her paintings — an insignia that had heretofore been eradicated from the walls on which it was painted. His presence lives on in her work.