A&E » Art

Jennifer Davis’ “Spree” at First Amendment Arts

Artist Jennifer Davis lets audiences into her whimsical world of anthropomorphized animals and pastel plants.
Davis' "upside down" exhibits her contrasting themes of curiosity and caution. PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER DAVIS
March 24, 2010

WHERE: First Amendment Gallery, 1101 Stinson Blvd.
WHEN: March 27

Enter the world of artist Jennifer Davis , a darkly whimsical land wrought with two-headed brothers playing pastel pianos and sad-looking hot air balloon manatees. Davis is displaying her world this weekend at Stinson Boulevard’s First Amendment Gallery.
Davis, a visual arts graduate from the University of Minnesota, has grown both in painting size and prominence since her first solo show in 2002 .at Gallery 360. Her life has become a whirlwind of exhibition planning and travel as she’s been able to hold her own without a dreaded day job. A solo show featuring Davis just closed in Ontario and Boston’s Walker Contemporary i s also showing her work.
“I try to keep a lot of irons in the fire,” she said.
Davis explained that her illustrations contain “childhood story-book imagery … but they deal with more adult, darker themes.”
Even though the surfaces of her paintings appear calm, the facial expressions of her blushing cat-people and wandering deer are often distressed or frantic.
The work exists in the Tim Burton paradigm, where glossy stylization and bright colors mask heavier, darker themes of damaging relationships and communication problems.
“I’ve invented my own language of symbols that I use over and over again,” said Davis, and these symbols are well hidden among the flowers and grazing kittens.
Her illustrations don’t spout from any concrete, formulaic process. Instead, Davis works organically through an intuitive method of playing with characters and imagery to work out anxiety and emotion.
With anthropomorphized cats reaching for pale-colored flowers and a lonely seal with a tree sprouting from his head, Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll would have a heyday with Davis’ work.

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