Different work, one soul
Friendsâ€™ disparate styles interact in â€˜Residual Memoryâ€™ at Arvada Center
By Mary Voelz Chandler, Rocky Mountain News
March 12, 2007
Marie E.v.B. Gibbons and Jimmy Sellars would seem to be unlikely art-world soul mates.
Gibbons, 51, was born and grew up on Long Island, and developed a deep and abiding love for the ocean that informs her work in clay and her interest in teaching. Sellars, 37, hails from Independence, Mo., the son of artists who fell under the sway of G.I. Joe dolls as a kid and has used them as the engine that drives his photo-based work on issues of gender and sexuality.
But friends they are, having studios about half a block apart in the Tennyson Street Cultural District, and for the past few years having shown together often despite the disparate nature of their work, as well as in individual exhibitions. Gibbons moved to Colorado in 1977, and Sellars more than a decade later. (The E.v.B., by the way, stands for Elizabeth von Bielefeld, Gibbonsâ€™ middle and birth names, and the name of her studio.)
On view now is â€œResidual Memory,â€ an umbrella title for two solos at the Arvada Center that pull from the artistsâ€™ backgrounds. Gibbons and Sellars also will show together for the third time at Pirate: contemporary art in June, and share thoughts – if not space – as participants selected for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in July.
Rocky art critic Mary Voelz Chandler caught up with the artists.
How did you two meet?
Marie: On the Internet.
Jimmy: Our paths must have crossed a thousand times, but it wasnâ€™t until we discovered we had good friends who knew each other that we got to know each other.
Marie: I thought, heâ€™s in Aurora, Iâ€™m in Arvada. We started emailing, then talking, and then we met at Starbucks.
Obviously, your work plays a big part in terms of your friendship, since you show together so often. Describe each otherâ€™s work to me.
Marie: He has found a way to depict emotional spaces. From the very first time I saw the doll photos, I said, â€˜What are you doing? You have so captured an emotional space.â€™ Itâ€™s incredible that his models are 7-inch tall dolls. Thatâ€™s the biggest thing I find that is important. Itâ€™s a situation, and itâ€™s charged with emotion. My work is based on life situations, so I connect with that.
Jimmy: Itâ€™s how she tells a story, thereâ€™s always the feeling of a story. The first pieces I fell in love with captured her total self in them. Itâ€™s how she digests them, like a storytelling aspect. And how she treats the surfaces of her work, the surface always feels alive.
You donâ€™t necessarily collaborate on the work itself, but how do you proceed after you decide to show together? Such as the Arvada show, â€œResidual Memory.â€
Marie: We decide what the title is going to be. We go through words. The thesaurus, Wikipedia. We find the perfect word, and this is the show.
Jimmy: But itâ€™s a concept. Then we go do the work, and then we come back together.
Marie: Thereâ€™s a synchronicity there. (In Arvada) I work in rust and (white) bisque, and he is working in sepia. That wasnâ€™t discussed, but that connection to the title put us both in our own direction, but with some things shared.
Jimmy: Who better to show with that someone who complements your work but is totally different.
How are you different?
Marie: Iâ€™m a girl.
Jimmy: Iâ€™m a boy. But we both like men. And we have a problem with deadlines. I donâ€™t know what the differences are.
Marie: We approach things differently, but the crux is the same. The core element is whatâ€™s solid.
What are you thinking of for the joint show at Pirate? Jimmy mentioned something instructive about the upcoming arts festival?Marie: Weâ€™re still mulling.
Jimmy: We both like the idea of education, but weâ€™re also thinking of a huge installation. Weâ€™ve always wanted to do a huge installation.
Marie: Do a big nest, and fill it with found objects.
Jimmy: It would be nice to have the opportunity to do something larger.
What: Work in clay by Marie E.v.B Gibbons and photo-based images by Jimmy Sellars (also on view: â€œBebe Alexander: Constructives,â€ in the Theater Gallery, and the Arvada Artistâ€™s Guildâ€™s 48th Annual Membership Exhibition in the upper gallery)
Where and when: Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada; thrugh April 1
Of note: Artistsâ€™ talk 7 p.m. Wednesday