Jamie Q. and A | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Jamie Q. and A

Jamie Q.’s energizing, playful artwork is on display at Parentheses Gallery this month, also available in book form for a dose of happiness whenever you need it.

Jamie Q. and A
Jamie Q.’s shapes will make your eyes smile.

Ask any jazz musician---improvisation can lead to something beautiful. Jamie Q.'s art is another testament to the power of not knowing the outcome. Launching an art book, The Possibilities are Endless, in conjunction with an exhibit at ( ( ( Parentheses ) ) ) Gallery opening Thursday, November 15, Jamie Q.'s work (be it in sculpture, paper, fabric or book form) ends up unified with a strong graphic style---colourful dots, squiggles and other playful shapes often with cartoon-style black outlines---but for the new exhibit, the work began in a very experimental way.

"The process I've been working with in my recent work is that I don't plan what's going to happen, I start with some materials and acrylic wash and just start doing it and see what happens," says Q. "It's a different way of working."

Q. finds the rewards of this method far outweigh the difficulties. "In a way I find it more challenging, you're taking more of a risk and there's a chance that you'll end up with something and not really liking it, but the chance of ending up with something better is greater too.

 "Some images that are total experiments in the book, but I don't think I could get away from certain aesthetic things if I tried, they just come back," says Q. "There's just some logic that makes sense---that just looks like I made it."

The exhibit will feature large scale pieces reprinted in the book, as well as fabric pieces and sculpture. Jamie Q.'s book, published by McIntosh Gallery Curatorial Study Centre, came about in a similarly organic way, with a simple studio visit leading to a book offer from the director of the gallery. However as both a zinemaker and fan, Jamie Q. is no stranger to publishing. In fact, in response to a recent article in Broken Pencil magazine ("Zine vs. Art" Issue 54) that examined the chasm between "high" and "low" art in the zine community, Q. drew upon considerable knowledge of the subject.

"I wrote my graduate thesis about that and I had my own ideas about high art and low art and inside and outside. The more I thought about it the more I broke down that there is not an inside and outside," says Q. "If you're producing something it's already part of something. If...you don't feel what you're doing is represented it doesn't mean you're outside, it just means you're creating a different space for those things to exist.

"If you think of the people who make zines as a community first, then within that community there are artists, there are writers, there are dishwashers. Everyone is going to make a zine about what they do and what interests them and art is just one of those things."

Multiple production---whether of zines or art books---means more accessibility.

"Multiples can exist in the world in a different way than other art objects and part of that is cost. Most people can't afford to buy a painting but most people can afford to buy a zine of paintings, not that it's about just purchasing stuff but I think it's important to have art around you in your life and if it's in book form I think that's sometimes just as good as having the original piece," says Q.

"I compare it to music---a musician can make albums of their music and an artist can make books of their work. You wouldn't be able to afford to have a band come and play a live show for you in your living room but you can buy the album."

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