We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Newman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, alright, so let’s kick it off with a deep question: what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Many artists dream of quitting their day job to devote themselves to their art fulltime. Some feel this is the only way to authentically be an artist. I find that the opposite is true for me. Keeping my source of income seperate from my art is actually freeing for me. I am free to create whatever I want, and never have to worry about what sells. I don’t have to take comissions if I don’t want to, and I am free to experiment with new media and ideas as I choose. I am also lucky to have a career that I love, that pays the bills, so that my art is something I do out of love and never out of need.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I go through phases of what I’m interested in. Usually, my work is focused on environments rather than people. I have spent the last twenty years working and teaching in architecture and design. But last year I wanted to paint fabric flowing in the wind. So I hired a dancer, and we went down to the beach with yards of translucent fabric and I took photos that I used for my paintings. Most recently I’ve been interested in nighttime cityscapes. Subtle black silhouettes of cars, trees, and buildings on dark-gray skies, with twinkling lights of downtown in the distance. I ami nterested in how the minimal information of lights and darks create a recognizable cityscape. The current quarantine has inspired me to start a series of interiors. Because the art stores are closed, I’ve even been doing some small still life paintings. I try not to censor my ideas, or worry about creating a body of work that would appeal to a gallery. I just paint whatever I am interested in at the moment. I’ve even been making pottery the last few years, which was totally new to me. I just love creating and making things.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego is full of beauty. There are the obvious spots, like Balboa Park (especially the Sculpture Garden when they have live music at Panama 66) or any of our gorgeous beaches. My favorite man-made place in San Diego is the Salk Institute in La Jolla. It’s an incredible building, by Louis Kahn, and it’s the perfect place for onsite sketching. It’s an extremely peaceful spot, and the hand glider launch is just down the road, so you sometimes see hand gliders float by. It’s incredible. I also love to walk through our neighborhoods. The Spruce Street Bridge is a favorite hidden spot. Mt Helix Park is a high point to view all of San Diego County. Chicano Park is a must-see for anyone visting from out of town. The largest concentration of Chicano murals in the world, with a fascinating and inspiring story. And if we are in Barrior Logan, La Bodega Gallery is a great place to see local artwork. Their events are always a good time, and they do so much to support local artists. My favorite restaurant is Thanh Tinh Chay, a Vietnamese Restaurant in City Heights, and my favorite place to get a drink is probably The Rose Wine Bar in South Park. Speaking of South Park, Plum Pottery is a pottery studio that has original, amazing work at affordable prices.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Samar Sepehri, owner and curator of Sepehri Gallery (4410 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116) has been an amazing supporter of my work! She does so much for the local art scene in San Diego. Her gallery in University Heights is a gem.