Friday, November 6, 2009

Bay Area Townie: Miz Jennybird Alcantara's Art

I've been following Jennybird's art for at least 6 years (it just keeps getting better) and over the last few it has matured, really coming into it's own. Her work is quite arresting, full of vivid, deep colors, exploding symbolic imagery and expertly rendered. Why she hasn't gotten more recognition, is beyond me, she certainly deserves to be "up there" with the bigger Newbrow names. Maybe it's because she doesn't cater to the "half-naked-adolescent-girl-with-big-breasts" stereotype (yawn) or maybe because the old boy network is too busy patting itself on the back, to notice other artists anymore. Regardless, her art cranks. Varnish Gallery recently had a nice big solo of her works and it was breathtaking.
Her images are often part animal, part human - anthropomorphic compositions of union and conflict. Her creatures are often characterized with a side profile, just one eye is revealed, much like a whale's gaze. It has reminded me of illustrator Janet Woolley's early collage work.
Jennybird's compositions call to mind a spiritual side, arranged mandala-like and symmetrical, somehow reminiscent of Tibetan Buddhist art. They have an other-worldly feel, almost underwater in the way the images are suspended, floating ethereal, submerged and dis-connected. Mix this with the influence of vintage, anatomical science text illustrations, her wonderfully saturated hues, juxtapositions of animal & human life, symbols of life & death and end result is that of an apocalyptic, yet painfully beautiful panoramic narrative.
Jennybird also creates outlandish dolls with masterful aplomb. Some are mutant hybrids with insect limbs or wings spouting forth where arms might have been. With beautiful textiles, soft cottons, fun & furry hair-dos and shiny notions; the artist lures us past the darker side of a severed limb to experience beauty. So what if she has three breasts or eyes? So what if her intestines are on the outside looking in? Sure, her veins may be erupting outside of her skin but they are intricate, lacy veins waterfalling down a broken arm with painterly grace and abandon. And maybe her feet are on backwards but they're groovy in lace-up Victorian boots. Literally wearing her heart on her sleeve, it is surrounded by "satin n' tat" and who could do better than that?

Jennybird currently has two large dolls for sale, in the "All Dolled Up" exhibit at Eclectix Gallery. Try to see them in person, they are well worth the trip. Showing thru November 29th, 2009.