Space4Art’s Jessica Rose focuses on aging, history
By Will Bowen | Downtown News
Jessica Rose said she has an affinity for what most people are afraid of seeing on their faces. “I like wrinkles. I can’t wait until I have some,” she said. The 24-year-old artist currently works at Space4Art, an art collective and gallery located at 325 15th St. in downtown San Diego’s East Village.
Rose’s current series of work includes large, colorful paintings of the faces of the older adults she came to know when she worked at the Remington Club, an independent living center for seniors in Rancho Bernardo.
Instead of doing the usual portrait, full face or profiles, Rose, who has been painting for just three years, focuses on the lower side of the face, the mouth or the nose of her subjects. The result is startling, striking and almost macabre. Signs of aging, such as wrinkles and recessed gum lines, are boldly and colorfully depicted.
Rose, who went through six majors at San Diego State University, starting with nursing and ending with Fine Art, said she paints the part of the face or the body that most depicts the “essence” of the person.
Rose said she is fond of the people she paints. “Everyone is perfectly imperfect,” she said. Sees the signs of aging as beautiful, she said, “Wrinkles are beautiful. They are like the landscape of history, all that the person has gone through…. They tell a story; all of the person’s experiences are there to see.”
Though not overtly intended, Rose’s paintings are a poignant social commentary on how our culture views aging. Her work challenges our normal perceptions of looks and points out our ageism, or our discrimination, evaluation, critique and categorization of people based on their age. Instead of seeing people as people, we sometimes see age, with youth as beautiful and old as not.
Rose is one of 40 artists who work at Space4Art, a community-based art collective built and maintained by volunteers. At Space4Art there are 30 art studios, several galleries and five artists who live on the premises full time.
Space4Art is the brainchild of Robert Leathers, his wife Sheryl Nichol and Chris Warr. Their purpose in creating Space4Art was to build an art center that would reach out to the City and schools and have a positive and transformative influence.
Leathers is both an artist and an architect. He previously toured with the light show Phantasmagoria, which accompanied rock bands Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly and Seals & Croft.
Leathers said, “San Diego has been dragging its feet about what people could do in and for the community. We here at Space4Art are committed to making a difference,” adding, “We want to expand and establish an arts district in this neighborhood with affordable housing for artists. We want to have 40 people living here.”
Leathers also insisted on the importance of the arts in San Diego’s future development. He said he would rather see an arts district than a football stadium downtown. “There is no question that the arts are more important for San Diego than football. It is the arts that bring people to a city, not football,” he said.