Smile Politely

Art and the energy of spring at Error Records

Patience is a virtue. For Jess Beyler, it’s a method. It usually takes months, sometimes years for her to fully feel as if her art has completely embodied what she feels is powerful, insightful, and what she truly wants it to be.

This time around, having received an Urbana Arts Grant Award, Beyler has completed 12 seven-foot-long paintings that truly embody her method and her talent.

Welcome to the Flying Tiger and Escape Velocity Dragons exhibit, featuring works of art ready to be viewed at Error Records during this year’s Boneyard Festival.


Smile Politely: Can you start off by telling readers how you got the idea for the project?

Jess Beyler: Actually I’ve been working on these paintings — you know they’re seven feet tall and about a foot wide, and I did the first one maybe years ago. My paintings take a long time to do. They look like they come out really fast, but they don’t. This group of work was exceptionally fast because it took a year to do. The fact that the first one came out maybe three years ago, that’s not unusual, that’s my working method. It had to do with the energy it takes to transform. You get in a certain state, and your patterns are there, and your identity, and you question how do you get past that. “Escape velocity” refers to the energy it takes for a rocket to get out of the earth’s atmosphere. It was about getting out of growing and that thrust of energy that gets you somewhere else from where you already are. Another incident in there, too, is a couple years ago there was a big flood in the city of Montreal, and the pressure built up where there were actually geysers coming out of the storm drains.They were so strong that they were lifting cars that were parked over them. So this image of energy that accumulates all underground, maybe you don’t see it, but suddenly the pressure is there and just shoots of the air, and that was something powerful.

SP: Did the paintings originally start out with the dimensions they are now?

Beyler: I started with [the paintings] being eight feet tall. I wanted a presence that was overwhelming. There’s another source for this. I wanted to make a room full of guardian spirits — very strong, energetic guardian spirits. I wanted them to be taller than me so I would be surrounded by these paintings that were protective. I wanted them really big, but eight feet was just too much.

SP: You said you enjoy constructing art that comes from things people consider empty. What specifically about the season of spring placed it in that category?

Beyler: Every year I do one painting for spring. I just love the energy of things after they’ve been through all of winter. It’s this thing about energy accumulating, and this bursting force of life it entices me. Each season has its own feeling. What I like about spring that is particularly special to me is that it is fragile and powerful all at the same time. These little buds that are blossoming and tender, and you can’t stop it. Things are going to grow; they are going to bloom; you can’t stop this energy. So, I enjoy this combination of fragile and strong.

SP: Will this be the first time your art will be displayed at Error Records?

Beyler: I’ve had shows in Urbana, but not [at Error Records]. This grant I got had to deal with fixing up the lobby space and making it a place to exhibit art, so mine will be the first show.

SP: How exactly did you get involved with the Urbana Arts Grants Awards?

Beyler: The Urbana Arts Grants are twice a year, and they’re posted in the library and all around. They’re something I’ve known about. I’ve known people that have received them. So, I researched what they were looking for and different categories, and they wanted something that would enhance the community. So, I actually had it in the back of my mind for several years that I wanted to try this. I was just waiting for the right project to come.

SP: What are you looking forward to the most for the show?

Beyler: It’s always a thrill to get work out of my studio and into the world.

SP: What would you say to future artists that are also hoping to create something they feel is powerful?

Beyler: They should create what they like to do and what’s in them to do. Maybe something quiet is what their heart wants to do. They should do what their heart feels is powerful.

SP: What are you hoping viewers will leave thinking after viewing your work?

Beyler: A work of art isn’t done until it’s found a home. I would love it if people loved these things enough that they would want to live with them. I would really like if they had a experience after seeing them that touches them.

SP: Do you have any last words for readers or those planning to go to your exhibit?

Beyler: My work is abstract, and sometimes people find that a little intimidating. They find abstract in general intimidating. Mostly I’ve had really nice experiences with people being able to connect to them, but I would say let the art happen to you. It’s not like taking a test. People are afraid they won’t have the right thing to say, but you don’t have to know anything about art. You just have to let it touch you however it chooses to touch you. Come and see the work!


Beyler’s exhibit will be in display at Error Records from April 10th through May 16th. For more information about Jess Beyler and her work, visit her website.

Painting images courtesy of Jess Beyler.

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