An Evolving View of a Fine Artist

….When I was at the MOMA the other weekend I got to thinking, as contemporary art makes one do, what it is about the stroke, the paint quality, the attempt to express that is so very amazing and intense for me. Some people feel the same thing for music, for writing, for math, and for me it is paint, why is that? I was at work all day doing nothing so this is a rant, I realize now, looking above. OK BYE!
– Noé Jiménez, personal correspondence, October 11, 2011

As some readers know, I met Noé in late 2006 when he was 7 1/2, and became his stepdad in January 2000. He turned 23 earlier this month, and graduated from the Paier College of Art this past Thursday, May 24 with a BFA in Fine Art.

My earliest experience of his unique view(s), ways (that I didn’t have), and inspired outcomes came when he was around eight, and we were hanging out with a variety of toys on the floor in the apartment in Norwalk. He was drawing as we played, and after an hour or so, turned the looseleaf page around to show me what he and his pencil had done: a 3-dimensional, to-scale rendering of his Star Wars All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) toy, which, shall we say, got my attention (picture this drawn in pencil):

As he moved from elementary into middle school, he drew and painted less, engaged skateboards and guitars, but began to paint privately again when he was fourteen–this time from his interior–no more-or-less realistic renderings of objects. Middle school and high school were not particularly fun experiences for him for a variety of reasons, and we often locked horns when he acted out against some some of society’s, the school district’s or our family’s structures.

Still, he had a way of reminding me that he was not tuning out entirely: he walks past me in the living room on his way out the door one high school sophomore Friday night, pauses, and says, “That guy sounds just like you.” That guy was Howard Zinn, speaking with Bill Moyers on Now. “Actually, sound like him,” I replied. “Who is he?” “Howard Zinn–remember A People’s History of the United States? He’s the author.” “Oh, yeah. See you later.”

A year later when I published This Open Eye, I looked through the paintings he had stacked in his room and photographed several that I thought might complement the book’s cover. What I finally chose was one he had completed when he was fourteen, and no longer liked.

My work uses the inexpensive and the accessible to build on itself and create a language between the more traditional and ultimately expensive media and techniques of painting, and three dimensional objects. I use mixed media to describe fundamental, or universal aspects of an individual’s impact, or lack thereof on his or her surroundings…
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

A lot more transpired in high school. The three art teachers he encountered at New Milford High School, Paula Marian, Kristi Soucie and Annette Marcus supported him in good times and bad. Annette Marcus never gave up on him in A.P. Art his senior year when a lesser teacher might have.

…The works often refer to the cycle of life, primarily the end of one, and how there is a humor in the structures of society, which we use to subdue more authentic expressions of our personalities. The work plays on the meaning of paint and surface. The paint and the object I put it on are put together in a way that strays as far from the mechanical and technical in order to show that playfulness…
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

So Marianela and I are sitting in Yale’s Battell Chapel for the Paier Graduation on Thursday, and the two words that follow, “The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art,” are “Noé Jiménez,” and several minutes later, those same two words follow “The Sante Graziani* Memorial Award.” Still sitting in the chapel, we’re also in this beautiful interior space in which some faculty and students who were strangers four years earlier have seen Noé as he is, and invited him to step forward and be seen at a time in which he’s increasingly more willing to do that. Pretty cool.

…In that same way it refers to art history and other artists who have explored similar theories on what it is that makes the process and choices made by an artist true, or sign of genius. The work is not for the inner circle, it is conceptual, but I don’t put things into it that the average person cannot perceive.
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

I realized some years ago that what moves me most deeply are seeing acts of extraordinary kindness and generosity of spirit, and seeing someone recognize, or be recognized for, their deepest gifts – their soul essence, especially, but not only, when it comes as a surprise to them. I was deeply moved this past Thursday evening, as most parents are at graduations, and as only I could be in my unique relationship with Noé, and with what I was reminded of each of the three times his name was called.

He now faces the somewhat daunting task of “commencing to continue” building his life as an artist, and at a time in which it’s challenging to build a life in any profession. My sense is that he’ll be fine, not without struggle and doubt, but fine as folks who are driven by the calling of their hearts and souls are fine.

I thought about asking his permission to include the excerpts from his artist statement draft above, and decided that I’d follow his example from those high school years, and ask for forgiveness, if necessary, instead (Ha!).

Here’s to an abundance of new views, more ways, and inspired outcomes, Noé.
__________

*Sante Graziani was Dean of Paier College of Art from 1982 until 1995. At the age of 80 he continued to teach painting and art history. He was a renaissance man who was an accomplished musican and teacher as well as a fine artist. His liist of accomplishments began when he was 22 years old, as a winner of a national prize for his murals.

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3 thoughts on “An Evolving View of a Fine Artist

  1. A nice honoring Reggie. Not sure I understand the dates though at the beginning. Congratulations to Noe, but also to you and to Marienela.

  2. Growth of the spirit over time is amazing to watch if you have the patience to pay attention. Congratulations to you all.

  3. I guess all of us who pursue creativity in life has a certain bond. This artist statement language speaks to us when it probably means nothing for most people who don’t choose this weird searching experience which is making art. A search where we’ll never know if we’re there yet

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