Friday, February 15, 2008

Art connects the world to people

Valley art collector shares her passion with L.A. artist

Express Staff Writer

Jennifer Nocon installs ?More Pink than Black? at the home of Wood River Valley resident Jeanne Meyers. The piece will line the entire hallway.

Wood River Valley resident Jeanne Meyers admits to having an addiction—an addiction to art. On her yearly pilgrimage to Art Basel Miami Beach this past December, Meyers discovered artist Jennifer Nocon's felt piece "More Pink than Black."

"I had no intention of buying art, but I saw it and I knew I was in trouble," Meyers said.

Nocon is represented by the Tracy Williams Ltd. gallery in New York City. At Art Basel Miami Beach, the gallery was featured in shipping containers on the beachfront at Collins Park between 21st and 22nd streets in Miami. The containers were converted into public art spaces and special art projects sponsored by W South Beach.

"I walked past Tracy Williams and Tracy looked at my face and said, 'Just buy it,'" Meyers said.

Meyers said it took her hours to make the decision to purchase "More Pink than Black," but in the end knew she had to have it.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Nocon arrived at Meyers' home in the Wood River Valley to install "More Pink than Black" and Nocon's work became part of a collection that Meyers has been amassing for decades. Meyers' connection to Nocon's work, however was not a coincidence.

Meyers owns another felt piece by artist Gary Simmons. Nocon was a teacher's assistant for Simmons while she was completing her masters in fine art at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The Simmon's felt sculpture was an early addition to Meyers' collection, revealing not just a coincidence and connection with artists but also with felt art.

"This wall piece ("More Pink than Black") is inspired by the abstract expressionist painting of Lee Krasner," Nocon said. "I like to make free-standing sculpture and felt is so generous to work with, and I wanted to do it as a painting."

Nocon is also influenced by the work of Brice Marden and in particular his drawings. Nocon studied at the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her bachelors in fine art. The art museum was connected to the institute, where students have access to the museum's collection. Students could look through sketchbooks and prints by appointment. These original items were laid out with a set of white gloves for viewing.

"I went for my appointment to look at prints and drawings and shared the room with Brice Marden," Nocon said. "I told someone after, 'I'm obsessed.'"

Marden's influence as well as Krasner's is very evident in "More Pink than Black," especially through the curves and lines of the design as well as the configuration of all the felt pieces that were being hung on the wall.

"It reminds me of DNA on the wall," Nocon said.

When asked about the title, Nocon said it was inspired by a member from the band the Strokes.

"He looks intimidating, but accessible and really soft and non-threatening," Nocon said. "He's more pink than black."

Based in Los Angles, Nocon has just begun to do solo exhibitions. Her first solo show, in April 2007, "Elective Affinities," was based upon Wolfgang von Goethe's 1809 novel of the same name. "Elective Affinities" is a 19th-century term used to describe compounds that only form relationships with each other under select circumstances. Goethe used the concept as a metaphor to examine the conflict between responsibility and passion in dealing with chaotic human relations.

"They are all related," Nocon said about her art. "Nothing fights with each other."

Nocon's work is also influenced by the early nature films of Jean Painlevé, which present scientific imagery in an artistic way. Nocon's "More Pink than Black" is an example of examining DNA and life's building blocks in a fictitious manner.

"I cut out one sheet and cut around a shape to create the rest of it," Nocon said. "I die the felt in my tub."

Nocon has been featured in several group exhibitions including the "Local Transit," organized by Artists Space of New York and Artspace of Auckland, New Zealand. Her international exhibitions include "Small Liberties: Andrea Zittel," Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, 2006 and the "Interlopers HC" at the Frieze Art Fair, 2005 in London. Nocon was also featured in "Small Animal" at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, 2004 in Los Angeles.

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