Jennybird Alcantara creates a universe in her rich, delicate, masterfully crafted oil paintings in which nature itself is the dominant order. Lush, fertile, florid and just dripping with beauty, life and pleasure, her compositions proceed with a classical still life precision from art history, with a modern taste for the hyper-real and a dreamlike narrative symbolism. She’s been devoted to making a new body of work (currently on view by appointment at KP Projects) for the last year and half, but in her quiet, steady, prolifically detailed process and its energy of solitary meditation, there is definitely a resonance with how we’ve been living since March. As well, there’s an appreciation for the “nature is healing” phenomena we’ve all witnessed during this same time. “From our current collective vantage point,” she writes, “Nature is enjoying a tiny respite from the heavy footprint of mankind. Lullaby of The Bounty in Repose is a love letter to all of this.”
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
JENNYBIRD ALCANTARA: I think I first had an awareness that I was an artist around the time I was 11 or 12. Around that time my mom had a home wooden cradle-making business and paid me to paint little cute flower and teddy bear scenes on them. When I was 15 she gave me her old box of oil paints from when she was younger and dabbled with painting; I was hooked on oil since then.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
The short answer would be my work is an expression of the interconnectedness of all living things on this planet. It’s an exploration of the complex, often dueling nature of the self, in relation to the world it inhabits, viewed through the prism of mysticism, fantasy, symbolism and fable while illustrating the beauty and fragility of life.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Hmm, I don’t really think about this one often, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. But if it couldn’t be in another creative field, it would have to be something to do with the study and care of animals.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes I went to the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA, 1995). I know that a lot of people nowadays don’t think art school is necessary, but for me I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. Being immersed in art making and discussion about art, experimentation and support from teachers was a valuable experience for me.
When was your first show?
I was sort of late to start showing after I graduated art school in 1995. I didn’t have a proper show until 2001. I’m a perfectionist and was working on growing my style but it really took a push of encouragement from my then boyfriend (now husband) to help me gain the confidence to begin showing my work publicly.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I have a show currently hanging in Los Angeles at KP Projects Gallery, through July 11.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
When I work I like to listen to a range of musical genres depending on where I’m at in the painting process. Classical for when I’m conceptualizing, folk or blues when I’m moody and feeling a deep connection with what I’m working on, and rock or electronic for when things are moving along in a painting and I want to work a little faster and just have a good time. When I’m tired of being in my own head, true crime podcast My Favorite Murder and audio books are a go-to as well.