Whenever I have the opportunity, I like to visit the studios of artists I represent. For those artists who live out of state this can sometimes prove difficult, but when I am traveling I do try to fit studio visits into my schedule.
How is it then that it has taken me almost two years to visit the studio of Jeanie Thorn when her studio is just ten minutes away from the gallery? This may be one of those instances where something is so easy we never get around to it. Happily, I was able to rectify the situation this morning as I visited Jeanie’s home and studio in Tempe, AZ.
Jeanie creates steel, stone and mixed media wall hangings that are both architectural and sculptural. With a background in architecture, Thorn’s work is incredibly precise and detailed. I always imagined that her work was well-designed, but until seeing the studio and workspace, I had no real idea of the extent of planning that goes into each piece.
Jeanie began our tour of the studio by showing me her welding booth behind her home/studio. We started outside because the Arizona heat has already begun to set in, and the temperature was at 96 when I arrived at 10:00 a.m. She explained that she has all of the tools at her disposal – welding torches, a plasma cutter, etc. that she needs to realize her designs. She also explained how, in spite of her extensive planning before starting a piece, she often has to adapt the work on the fly in the shop as the metal will often react differently than she expected, or pieces will come together in surprising ways.
Thorn’s back yard is zen-like – carefully designed spaces, manicured gravel and minimalist steel furniture (all designed and created by the artist).
The inside of Thorn’s home is a gallery of her work and furniture. Thorn explained to me that she doesn’t just create art, she lives it – and her home is a testament to how she carries her aesthetic into every corner of her life. Here pictures are worth thousands of words, and in the pictures below you’ll see how Jeanie has created steel furniture for her electronics, for the fireplace and even covers for her electrical outlets. She installed pegboard on the walls to facilitate the constant rotation of art through the studio.
The walls are populated with some of her most recent creations. I saw several exciting new series, including “folded” pieces and more of her pendulum works that we have begun to see in the gallery.
In her studio, which has taken over what used to be the living room of her home, I saw more evidence of her extensive planning. Thorn showed me sketchbooks filled with explorations of shapes and compositions, as well as technical details of her art.
She also showed me dozens of miniature cardboard mock-ups of her work. Jeanie agreed with me when I suggested her architectural experience in creating models to explore ideas clearly carried over into her art. I also asked her if she ever used CAD to begin designs and she said she would sometimes explore ideas in the software before moving to models and fabrication.
Thorn is currently exploring the concept of bringing other elements into her work – clay, glass (which she actually found didn’t excite her much) and other elements.
The visit to Jeanie’s studio will help me better explain her work to visitors to the gallery who are always captivated by the amazing detail and precision in her work.
I would encourage our art collectors to take the opportunity to visit artist’s studios (call us if you would like to visit one of our artists), and I encourage artists to make the effort to invite collectors, gallery owners and gallery staff to the studio so that they can better understand your work.
For more of Jeanie Thorn’s work, visit our website.