l o c a l c u l t u r e
An Interview with Artist Jamie Zimcheck b y A n n e H u n t e r
A rtist Jamie Zimchek moved from Connecticut to Northwest Florida in 2015 and quickly advanced in the local art scene with solo exhibitions at several galleries, pop-up shows at Anthropologie, and multiple collaborations with fashion designer Nicole Paloma, not to mention her own jewelry line. Between painting and design, she manages to squeeze in time for throwing pots and creating sculptures. You might recognize her unique artistic style on a billboard somewhere in Walton County as part of the Cultural Art Alliance’s Billboard Art Project. Zimchek describes the Florida Panhandle as shockingly beautiful but “it would be better with fewer tornado warnings and hurricanes.” Nonetheless, the artist continues to pursue her craft along our beautiful beaches. Tell us about your educational background and the story of the moment you decided to pursue art. I think I always wanted to be
Who is a female artist that you respect and admire? I’m very fond of the American artist, Julie Mehretu. I appreciate her rich and varied approach to topics that range from ancient architecture through the WWII bombing of Berlin to more current themes, like the Arab Spring. Her work is a language of ideas that provides a new lens for exploring traditional topics, which I think is inspiring. I’m of a school that believes art, done well, will have some kind of message, or provoke thought, which is what I get from her work. What are your thoughts about art and New Urbanism? One of the things that most interested me in my early days here was New Urbanism, which led me to a series of paintings that drew on the movement for inspiration. This forward-thinking approach to urban design can be seen in communities here like Seaside, or Alys, but also in international locations. I spent seven years living, studying, and working around Europe, and I appreciated the live/work design concept driving New Urbanism, an echo of what you might find in any thriving European city. Describe your genres of art and what inspires you about each. Though I started as an oil painter, and studied
“Redacted: Unexpected Harangue”
Artist Jamie Zimchek
an artist, but it didn’t feel like it was a really viable option, so in- stead I spent my free time painting while pursuing a degree in History and then an MA in Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London. After that, I started a doctorate there with a focus on US foreign policy and lectured in the US and UK over the next few years, but I was always more taken with muse- ums than slogging for hours over books in the British Library (even though it’s a great place). I had my aha moment back in NYC at the Met, when I realized if I was going to put serious time into anything, it needed to be something I loved. And I love making things. I walk-
under a realist, my style is a far more abstract amal- gamation of style and objective. For me, art is a kind of analysis, or reframing of information, so it has that component secondary to the art itself. A series I did re- cently, Redacted, is a good example. On the face, the im- ages are these black and white skyscapes, punctuated with strategically placed colored strips hand-stitched to the canvas. Conceptually, the series also explores the dual ideas of overlooking and removing information that doesn’t fit our personal narratives and plays with the is- sue of censorship. It’s a concept I visited before with pho- tography but had more fun with here. Some of you might know me better from my jewelry, which hints at the lines and structure in my paintings, only in wearable form. I’ve also been working with porcelain lately, which helps keep things fresh, and my house smelling like a hot kiln.
shown in any way that’s boundary pushing or fresh, despite the number of talented artists who live here. We have a very engaged Cultural Arts Alliance, but there needs to be more. I under-stand that this is a tourist area, but it’s a shame that this fact has to preclude the presence of true artistic vitality.
ed outside and phoned a friend back in London to tell her I was quitting the PhD. She was horrified, but I’ve never regretted the decision. What concerns you about the future of the local art scene? What excites you? What has disappointed you? I know a number of us came into it here full of hope for a solid, inspiring arts movement, but the reality is, there’s a real dearth of places and spaces where art can be
What is your advice to young, aspiring female artists? My advice to aspiring artists, female or otherwise, would be to do what you really love, and if you’re going to do this, you’d better really love it. Also, though there are exceptions, I think you really need to be great at social media, which is what makes me want to pull out my hair. Please reach out if you have social media skills and want to work with someone local who is possibly missing large clumps of hair.
For more information: Visit Anne Hunter Galleries, 25 Central Square, Seaside, Florida 32459; www. annehuntergalleries.com, www.zimchek.com.
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