Jennifer Wynne Reeves


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.



11 Responses to “Jennifer Wynne Reeves”

  1. roberta Says:

    A beautiful and thoughtful post. I too only knew her from her facebook page but she lived in the same small town I once lived in and that is how I found her originally. Her posts about her illness really floored me and her artwork speaks for itself. Too young. Too sad.

  2. Robert Says:

    Nice, Jess.

  3. EM Says:

    It’s truly uplifting and depressing how we know each other, watch each other and lose each other. Jennifer Wynne Reeves became that artist and friend to so many people over these past few years who completely understood our processes and her own and yet plunged into and through the world with a passion that was unafraid. Thank you for your words Jessica.

    • jessica does things Says:

      The virtual friend world is indeed strange. In the case of JWR, she was clearly someone who impacted so many of us. I just wish I had known her better. Selfish of me…it would not have helped her.

  4. jeffrey keough Says:

    The best of the best.

  5. Zach Says:

    A person worth knowing (however tangentially), and artwork worth seeing. Thanks for this, Jess.

  6. jessica does things Says:

    She was just amazing. I barely knew her, but you have to trust me…she was something rare, someone rare.

  7. MG Says:

    Jennifer & I lived together for a number of years, moved our own way briefly and then became the best soul mate /friends we could have of each other. Barely a day went by where we didnt speak or meet & during the last 3 years after her dianosis I was fortunate enough to be able to help her get to Doctors appointments, hospitals etc .Our conversations in the car journey to the hospital would always be intereresting , fun and we would laugh many times for the most part.There are few words to fully describe the person that Jennifer was but she was beyond beautiful in so many ways other than external. I think about Jennifer every day and really don’t feel that will change .How she gave people hope and made them smile is something I will not forget either.Just as Jessica said very aptly…”She was something rare, Someone rare.

  8. Bernard Klevickas Says:

    Thank you. A great tribute.

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