Follow Your Heart
Van Gogh, in one of his many letters to his brother, wrote in September of 1888, “The more I think about it the more I feel that there’s nothing more genuinely artistic than to love people.”1 What could he have meant? The way I’ve always interpreted it goes something like this: two important tools in the art-making toolbox are empathy and creativity—and the same goes for thriving relationships, especially romantic, committed ones. I might go one step further and add an extra “especially” for a couple consisting of two artists. “Oftentimes one person of the couple is an artist, and one is not,” Kyle Ragsdale laughs, “but when there are actually two artists working, I think it’s kind of a miracle, you know?”
February’s show “Follow Your Heart,” curated by Kyle Ragsdale, features the work of five couples: Amy Falstrom and Ralph Domanico, Corey and Megan Jefferson, Zack and Gala Bent (currently based in Seattle), Andrew Perry Davis and Rachel Bliell, and Quincy and Nikki Owens. There’s no overarching theme besides the fascination of viewing a couple’s work side-by-side, detecting the traces of influence, departures, and similarities between the two. Some artists chose to work together on these pieces, like Megan and Corey as well as Quincy and Nikki, and others do not.
You could argue that crucial to understanding an artist’s work is familiarity with his significant other’s work. With most of these couples, the Harrison Center has shown one artist from each couple more than the other, which makes this show an unmistakable opportunity to expand your understanding of an artist you thought you knew well. How do they learn from each other’s mistakes? How do their personalities affect their art, and each other’s art? How do they get excited for one another? These are all questions to ponder, and maybe even to ask these artists on February 5th.