Joshua Jenkins is a Louisville based painter and a recipient Great Meadows Foundation grant. He currently has work on display at several locations tonight including at the re-opening of the Butchertown Social (formally known as Louis’s The Ton). He will also have works on display in the group exhibit Queer Voices at OPEN Community Arts Center and he will also be apart of a group pop up show at 209 S. 5th Street, Louisville, KY 40202 along with fellow artists, Sunny Ra & Anne Austin. He is on the staff of Louisville Visual Art.
When did you first think you would be an artist?
I think I've known I would be an artist to some degree since I was a pre-adolescent. I've always had an interest in art, but more particularly with drawing and in cartoons. I remember when I was around twelve years of age that I wanted to become a great comic artist like Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) and during early high school years become a creature concept artist. I didn't really get into "fine art" until my senior year of high school and didn't really think about being an actual artist until my mid college years—where I quickly built up the confidence to start calling myself one.
If you could do anything else but make art, what would it be?
If I had ANY musical talent I would quite easily pursue a life as a musician, but unfortunately for me I lack that skill to a great degree. I couldn't sing if my life depended on it and I have horrible rhythm. In high school I tried just about every rock instrument, but sucked miserably at each one.
What challenges you more than anything?
Coming from a dysfunctional and low-income family my life has always been challenging. I've always had a bit of a big ego and for some reason have always had high standards for myself. So I think what challenges me is ultimately myself—to always do and be better than where I came from. I've also always had this drive in me to prove everyone wrong that ever told me I couldn't do this or couldn't have that.
In particular to art itself: when I see other artists succeed in life or in their work I immediately think to myself - if they can do it then so can I. This mind set constantly pushes me to do better as an artist. As soon as I feel comfortable in my art process I immediately want to push myself back into the uncomfortable zone, because I think that is where true challenge lives.
You just returned from a trip to Los Angeles funded by A Great Meadows Foundation grant What were your impressions of L.A. as a city and/or arts community?
I never imagined L.A. to be so big and spread out like it is. It's definitely different than most North Eastern cities that I'm used to and the complete opposite of the "Big Apple". This was my first trip to the West Coast in general let alone to L.A. For some reason I thought it would be a little more laid back, more glamorized and way more artsy than what I found it out to actually be (thank you movies & television for letting me down again!) Traffic was miserable and a lot of the people seemed to give off this "judgy" or competitive vibe. Granted, I only visited for a week and had my own agenda and schedule to keep up with. So, it's probably not fair of me to judge so quickly. I will attest that the weather was absolutely perfect though—and the plant life was out of this world. (I really enjoy plants.)
In regards to the city's art community; There were definitely plenty of public murals scattered around the city, along with street art, but for some reason or another I didn't get any sense of an "arts community". Clearly the city is home to some amazing museums and galleries, but I felt like there was a great disconnect between them all. Maybe it was the distance? Maybe I didn't spend enough time in the city? I'm not sure, but all I do know is that, having visited other big cities, I really didn't seem to get the vibe of a "scene" there. But then again I was only in L.A. for a week, so who am I to say?
Did you encounter any celebrities? If you could meet any celebrity who would it be and what would you ask them?
I walked past a person that looked like a hipster-girl who I may have seen on an indie film or that could have appeared on HBO's Girls, but then again most hipsters these days all look alike. Overall, no celebrity encounters for me. I'm not one to be in awe over a celebrity anyways and I didn't really keep an eye out for any. If I did come in contact with one though I would probably want to ask them if they liked art and if so, would they be interested in buying some of mine—like a true hustler.
How important is the community you live and work in? Do you think about relocating?
I moved to Louisville in 2011 and never planned on staying, but this city grew on me very quickly. Over the more recent years I have set permanent roots here. A community is important to have if you want to thrive and want to pursue your dreams. Louisville has just that. It has the small town feel that is comforting and missed when living in bigger cities. I've found it so easy to connect with people here. More importantly I have seen such an impressive growth and evolution in just the past five years that it excites me to be apart of Louisville. The sky is the limit for this city!
How do you feel about the local art scene in Louisville? Would you change anything about it?
The local art scene here has definitely grown since I first moved here. I'm excited about the advancement in the Portland area and think it has the potential of becoming a great arts district. There does seem to still be a bit of disconnect amongst the arts community as a whole, but I have hope it will all come together soon.
If there was anything I would change about the local art scene is with its consumers. Everyone wants pretty pictures of the Kentucky cityscapes/landscapes, of horses, and/or of bourbon memorabilia. I love all of those things too (minus the horses), but there is so much talent in this city and it's being washed over with the constant demand for lackluster art. I think it's up to the galleries & businesses that showcase local art to be the ones to change the consumers mines by showcasing art that isn't just pretty to look at. I think it would then encourage a lot of artists to work on the pieces that they really want to work on. Every artist has their own voice and they should have the opportunities to showcase it prominently.
What is your favorite music to listen to when making art?
If I really want to get inspired I usually need something with a heavy bass, but generally when I'm creating art I listen to everything and anything; from Indie/Folk to New Orleans inspired Jazz to Electronic to Oldies to 90's Rock/Alternative to Classic Blues to Hip-Hop/Pop music. Needless to say all music inspires me.
What advice would you give a young artist just out of college? Tell us about an important moment of transition for you as an artist?
Despite the pressures from family, work, and society just don't let your art practices get away from you. I think it's very easy for artists to quickly "give up" on their art after college, because of the lack of opportunities and the pressures of "getting their career started". Life is to short to be spent behind a desk the rest of your life. I believe the twenties are key years for inspiration, exploration, and for living life to it's fullest. Take advantage of your youth while you have it. You can sit in a chair at a "real job" when your back starts hurting because your age caught up to you.
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.