Me and Jean’s Gallery
by Terry Durst
If I liked sports I would use the “if you build it, they will come” analogy, but I hate sports – I absolutely detest sports, and religion too – all kinds of sports and all religion – I detest them all!
But enough about me.
In 1990 Jean had an idea to use her law office space as an art gallery, and I was pleased as punch to be asked to do the first show.
I hung sort of a retrospective, 22 pieces, I think – time sure fades away and memory sure fails – and called the show “Old Stuff.” It was wall-hung found object sculpture from the previous ten years, mostly, and there might’ve been a floor piece too. I hung it salon style in the small room.
We even made little table tents to put at Miracle’s Restaurant to advertise the show.
At the time there were a few fledging galleries in Tremont: Ron Naso’s Studio Gallery, Jim McCall’s. But Jean has a vision of creating a real gallery, with regular shows, regular hours, announcements, and listings. And openings with cheese, wine, beer, and, well, just whatever anybody brought.
The basement was always fun.
In 1995 I did an installation there, in the basement, which involved over four hundred men’s socks hung on clotheslines, by one clothespin each.
I believe, ahem, that it was the longest running show? We left it up for months.
Dan came into town from Chicago, just happened to stop at Jean’s gallery, just happened to see my work, my socks hung there all forlorn and lonely, and later Jean said to me you gotta meet this guy, Jean told Dan you gotta meet this guy (me), I called Dan for a blind date, and Dan and I have been together since that blind date night. Eight years in December.
And until the end.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of using the gallery space as my own. Whatever I wanted to do, whatever I wanted to show. I’ve always loved the small single room on the main floor, perfect for an intimate show of wall-hung work, or a small installation.
Even a big window at the front sidewalk with a little “stage” area behind it. Once I made this window area into a gym locker room, just because I detest sports so much I guess – it was kinda homo, ya know?
This gallery has always been perfect for me.
Jean has never placed any restrictions on what I’ve wanted to do. She’s fearless that way, as all good gallery directors – needless to say artists themselves – have to be.
Once when showing at Busta’s with Michael Loderstedt, we were not permitted to display blurred naked photographic images of ourselves in the window where we wanted to put them. Fuck that, I say. Later Michael and I showed much of that same work at Jean’s, and she offered us nothing but encouragement to do whatever the hell we wanted. (That was the “Jesus H. Christ” show).
Artists accepting less than complete freedom to do whatever the hell they want are just spineless fucking sell-outs. I don’t have time or tolerance for this shit. I’d rather not show.
I’ve done many shows at Jean’s – how many? Do I hold the record? Who cares? I loved doing all of them, and Jean facilitated my growth as an artist in a way that’s not often found – it’s been a gift. it’s very hard to find.
One of my favorite shows was in 1997 because I had the main space and Jeesun Park did a beautiful installation in the basement. (Oh yeah, that was the show with the locker room….)
And the time I filled the gallery with thirty-five angel food cakes on little beds having a sleepover, an installation I recently re-created at Lake Erie College.
We hung a show of my dad’s work right after he died.
My last show at Jean’s was in 1999. I called it “New Work” and it consisted of four black wall-hung sculptures, all pretty much about the death of my dad.
So what have you and I and everyone else you’ve shown wrought upon our community, Jean Brandt?
Just kidding. But now we have committees (!) and stupid fucking painted guitars and even dumber fucking painted fire hydrants, and Tom Mulready telling everyone what’s fucking cool.
Real artists stay home and work, dammit!
dead Horse is the only new gallery I trust.
And Angle Magazine is a great thing, although they did print that full-page picture of the motherfucking Cleveland Indian. What did that have to do with art, anyway?
Goddamn sports and religion are everywhere! Jesus people in Lincoln Park now!
Oh screw it.
Jean, you got the real thing baby. Ineffable thanks for your impossible dreams.
(But just one thing – where is my DIAMOND DOGS album?)
September 28, 1990 – December 21, 1990