Jennybird Alcantara, Eclectix Interview 38

eclectix interview jennybird alcantara

As any of you regular Eclectix readers know, we’ve been gushing over Jennybird Alcantara’s art for years and years and now we have some of her very own words to share. Jennybird was born in New York City and grew up here in Northern California, in Napa. She was exposed to the arts through her mother’s side of the family – they were musicians, performers and one was even a Vaudevillian. She currently lives in an old Victorian house in the SF Bay Area hills, with her hubby and their two wonderfully named dogs, Sailor and Vegas.

Jennybird’s art is full of universal themes and symbols – life, death and rebirth, transformations, love, extraordinary girls and anthropomorphic creatures. When asked about her subject matter she confessed to not liking to dissect her images to much. She feels it limits the meaning – that people should be free to place their own interpretations into the art – thereby giving each piece more meaning than just the singular artists’ vision. We wholeheartedly agree. So gaze away if you will and let her works become your own.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


My favorite art memory from my childhood is…

When my parent bought me my first art/drafting table… it gave me a real sense of validation and excitement at the possibilities of what I could create, given the tools and the support.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


My interest in art/painting started….

When I was a kid I liked to draw Snoopy and Woodstock. My mom was a crafty lady and she had a little wooden, cradle-making home business, so I started painting little hobby holly-esqe characters on the sides of the cradles. When I got into junior high I realized that art was something that I was good at and wanted to ‘do’. First, I was first interested in fashion and liked to draw clothing designs. But I soon realized that the paintings of the ladies in these magazines and my imagination were more compelling then the clothes they were wearing. Also around the time I was 13 or 14, my mom gave me her old wooden paint box from when she was younger and used to copy Keene paintings, and that was it – I was hooked.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


I am often inspired and motivated by….

Visions that come floating in during that middle state between being awake and being asleep, that tiny sliver of daydreaming magical goodness.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


 If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be…

Salvador Dali

And we would….

I would dress like a rabbit and he would dress like a devil bellhop. We would bring elephants to a mid-century seashore, teach them to make sand angels and then be served high tea with cakes while sitting atop their backs.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is ….

The piece of advice that has been the most helpful to me is – to work on multiple paintings at a time. I don’t always do this but it is my preferred way to work; it not only decreases wasted time but is helpful if I’m stuck or frustrated with a particular piece. Often, while I’m working on another work, the ideas for the set-aside piece become crystal clear.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

Ahh, this question is brutal, it’s so hard to pick just one! If I cant have more then one, then I guess it would be Botticelli’s “Primavera”. I’m tempted to go for Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Theresa” because that was the one work of art I saw in Italy that actually brought me to tears – I love that sculpture sooo much!  Being a painter and loving so many paintings it’s nearly impossible to call just one a favorite….


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


My favorite piece of my own art is …

Favorites are always changing, typically my most recent large work is the favorite. So now I guess that would be Creatures of Saintly Disguise. (below)  When I work on a major piece I spend months with it, this particular one was 6. I work in a semi-intuitive way in that I don’t have the entire picture conceived when I begin. So the development of the work takes time, time between me directing the paintings path and the painting deciding which way it wants to go. This process is full of both love and frustration along the way – so at the end the connection I have to the piece is typically quite strong.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


  My ultimate project or fantasy is …

I love working on large paintings where I can really go deep and explore. I’d love to have the time and ability to do a major series of all large scale works and not have to worry about all the practical things. But my ultimate fantasies are secret…


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


When I start work on a painting, I see …

 I see each painting as a puzzle piece, or just a fraction of a larger picture, I like to think of them as portals into another world. A place to get a glimpse into a fantastical landscape fraught with excitement, danger and mystery. But you can only see a sliver from your vantage point. It’s like when you are a kid and you are walking past that long fence bordering the yard of the mysterious neighbor. And you peep through the knots in the wood of the fence, not knowing what you’ll see on the other side but expecting something fantastic or terrifying.

Another important aspect of my work… every element, object, symbol, andd creature is in the work for a reason or it carries specific symbolism. I don’t include a thing unless it has a reason to be there.

jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


The last song I choose to listen to was…

Katzenjammer – Virginia Clemm

The last book I couldn’t put down was …

Breath and Bones by Susan Cokal


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


One of my favorite words is …

My favorites are in a constant state of transition… but let’s say this moment my favorite word is serendipity.  I love the sound of it, as well as the positive occurrence it implies.

One of my favorite smells is … 

The hypnotic aroma at night of the beautiful Datura flowering in our yard.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


I can’t live without …

Paint, sun, animals, and love.

It’s not hip, but I really love …

 Playing dress up.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


My favorite motto (or quote) is …

Artists are fishermen in the sea of the collective unconscious.

 I like the idea that it’s my job to dunk my ladle down into those murky waters and just bring up a spoonful at a time….


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

Not sure where – but a castle near a stream amongst rolling hills and black oaks, someplace spacious and lovely with fruit trees and lots of land.


jennybird alcantara interview- eclectix


Link to Jennybird’s website


Link – For a great progress, step-by-step of Jennybird’s piece Reviving Ophelia 

 Upcoming Solo Exhibition:

Opens October 19th, 2013 at AFA Gallery, New York City

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