What: An exhibit exploring the space between life & death from artist Jess Webb
Where: Leon Gallery 1112 E 17th Ave, Denver
When: February 6- March 6, Wednesday-Friday 12-7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 12-5 p.m., or by appointment.
Walking into an art gallery for the first time can be filled with uncertainty. And in the case of the special In-Between Life & Death multi-media exhibit at Leon Gallery by Colorado-native artist Jess Webb, uncertainty is the star of the show. There is not a sense that she is unsure of her work, but rather that the very essence of her installation is to explore “the place between life and death, a place between wakefulness and dream.” With this exhibit she encapsulates this vagueness in a very specific way.
The gallery is minimalist and quaint, with a wall of brick and natural light spilling through the windows. Small square pen designs hang closely together, inviting you to step close and investigate the simplistic images, like silhouettes and feathers. There are gaps, both on the paper and in the ideas conveyed, negative space which signifies grief or longing or love or anger.
Hanging from the ceiling are small swings made with rustic wood, suspended with white ropes and placed on each swing is a different artifact: a brilliant yellow butterfly lying on its side, the shed skin of a snake, a dead bird, a rodent skull, the jawbone of an animal marked with little black lines of ink. There is the unmistakable hint of death, but it is presented in a playful way, in a challenging way that asks us to let go of living and dying and be in that moment.
“You settle into a moment, you forget where you are… my art lives here.”
In the middle of the room Webb has constructed a large boat made of willow branches, a flood of creamy wool falling into it from the ceiling and spilling onto the floor, animal bones littered inside. It’s large enough to take your attention from everything else for a few moments as you stroll around it, inspecting the angles and materials. The beauty is accentuated by the fact that the whole installment appears fleeting, transitory, as if it will move of its own accord at any moment and yet everything it is made of no longer grows or moves itself. Webb explains in her artist statement, “you settle into a moment, you forget where you are… my art lives here.”
There are several more pieces in the gallery better experienced than explained. The entry wall, a mosaic of mirrors and wood, defies logic with its ability to convey curves and fluidity by using only sharp edges and straight lines. Webb’s collaboration of textile and 2D engages the senses and in many ways forces you to become present. Take the time to appreciate the pieces from different angles because she has created them to be viewed at different vantage points.
Ultimately the little Leon Gallery is the perfect setting for an exhibit like this, tucked away between two stores, an escape from the reality bustling on the street. Allow yourself at least a half an hour to explore Webb’s realm, Wednesday-Friday 12-7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 12-5 p.m., or by appointment.
And, before you leave, be sure to check out the wall of humble moments written by other guests of the gallery. Webb has left a note by the pens and paper which reads, “Dearest darlings, dearest friends and strangers alike. Please share a humble moment from this very day and hang it above.” Don’t be surprised if you see a few others have written their visit to the exhibit as the humble moment of their day.
Visit this site for more from the artist.