Jennifer Wynne Reeves, an artist, died today. This being the 21st century, I knew her mostly as an online presence. She was friends, really friends, with some of my Facebook friends. I loved her art work. Her paintings seem entirely original to me, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to bestow upon anyone trying to be an artist. She also incorporated words with images, long before it was a Thing.
I could tell from what she wrote, her little commentaries and replies, that she was super smart. I could tell she had a sense of humor, an edge, and a heart.
Before I knew she was so ill, but after I knew she knew who I was, I sent her a private message asking for some advice on getting a Guggenheim. She was as close as I got to knowing someone who had received one. I asked her if I could ask her. And she said yes.
When I found out she was sick, but still unaware of how sick, I asked her if I could send her a home made card. And she said yes. She gave me a p.o. Box number. I made a sort of strange collage card for her with a little note and sent it off. And later, she thanked me.
I asked the price of a painting of hers I loved. It was $4,000.00. I wanted it very badly and if I did not have a son soon heading to college I would have figured out a way to get it. I still think about it.
Eventually I realized that she was very sick, and that probably she would not beat the kind of cancer she had.
She was mad. She wrote fiery furious funny posts about her time in the hospital, her time in rehab. About patients, bad and good nurses, bodily fluids, mess, degradation. Life and death stuff. She was not shy. She wanted to live to be at the opening for her upcoming solo show.
I did not meet her, but I know all of this from her words and the words of her friends.
Not that it matters, but she happened to be beautiful.
I am so sad about her death and at the same time angry that most people, even people who are sort of in the art world have no idea who she was, or what her work was like. I am angry at Art in America, MoMA, the NY Times, and the gutless writers, curators, collectors who give so much space, ink, and energy to the likes of Jeff Koons, but never took a chance on a real artist.
She had money worries. She should not have had those worries piled on top of her worries about time running out and on top of not having energy to paint all the paintings in her head.
Look her up. Read her words. Watch her interviews. She is worth the time, the energy. If you can afford it, buy one of her paintings. She is getting a show. Kudos to her gallery, Bravin Lee, for giving her the space she deserves.
I am sorry I never knew you well Jennifer Wynne Reeves. But I am thinking of you and you have become a big part of my memory bank.