FaceBook is my friend for many reasons. Keeping in touch with long lost friends, communicating events and promoting my blog are just a few of the wonderful perks of this social media thing. To my great joy it has also helped me find some amazing talents out there in the real world. One of the artists I stumbled across is Jeanne Bessette. But I didn’t just stumble, pick myself up and keep on going. This woman’s work spoke to me – it speaks to me still, it holds me and makes me stand in the light and treasure the message it brings to me. I love what she creates and felt the need to share her with as many people as I possibly can.
The L Stop: Tell me a little about your background and where you are today:
Jeanne Bessette: I’m not sure which part of my background you are looking for so I’ll mesh some career with the personal stuff. I was born in Massachusetts and spent most of my childhood in Rhode Island. Painting was my first love but ideas of making a living at it were discouraged. Later, I went on to photography school and ultimately became a professional photographer. I had a successful career as a journalistic style wedding and portrait photographer for thirteen years. I was pretty burnt out in 2001 so I literally hung up my camera and my partner and I picked up our lives and moved to Florida. At that time houses were affordable on the water and appreciating wildly so we bought and sold houses until the crash in 2008. It was quite a ride and we nearly lost our shirts in the end. As it was, we pretty much lost everything else. During that time I was working with a Shaman developing my psychic and empathic abilities. He turned my head back toward my first love…creating art. It was like someone turned on the lights. My first official art show was not until 2007 but once the faucet was turned back on there was no stopping it. I now live in Raleigh with my partner of almost 20 years and my four furry children. I have a 600 square foot studio on my property and I’m loving life again. My career as an artist has taken off exponentially and I am so grateful for the opportunity to truly live my dream.
TLS: Do you think you can be taught to be an artist or are you born an artist?
JB: I think anyone can be taught to make art but true artists are born that way. Most artists that I know are driven to make art. It’s like an addiction, something that is a core part of you. This is true for me. Even though I put it on a shelf for many years in pursuit of other adventures, eventually I returned back home. It was inevitable. Being an artist is not an occupation, it’s the truth of me.
JB: No, not really. I was very creative as a child. I was always drawing, especially on the bottom of my mother’s coffee table (giggle.) Seriously, I had a sketch pad available often. In high school I was voted most artistic in my yearbook. But honestly wanting to be an artist as a living seemed so decedent and far away from normal ideas of how to make my way through life, it did not really take hold until I was in my 40’s. When I look back on it, I can see how art carried a torch for me throughout my journey. When I picked up the paintbrush again after all those years, I felt like I was reunited with an old friend. I don’t regret pursuing an art career earlier. I’ve had a full life. Everything seems to align perfectly.
TLS: Where is your studio – and how relevant is your environment in relation to your creativity or inspiration?
JB: My studio is fifty paces from my back door. I built it myself and am quite proud of that accomplishment. Truthfully the environment is rather irrelevant as my inspiration comes from within. I will admit however that being surrounded by the trees and, large organic garden and my animals does not hinder my creative process.
TLS: Do you have a favorite artist in history? Who could choose just one?
JB: Yeah. I love Nathan Olivera, Robert Motherwell, Cy Twombley…geeze; I could go on and on really. Andy Warholl was a brilliant marketer, Motherwell made great marks, Cy scribbled his way through his career…I love their passion and their angst. I could fill the pages with artists I love and admire.
TLS: Is there a piece of yours that you are especially proud of or attached to?
JB: Yeah….every time I do a new one…But seriously…Wow, that is hard. I can say this. Sometime a piece is what I call a breakthrough piece. It’s a piece that brings me to a new place in my art…. A leap forward if you will. These are often my favorite ones. I have some of them in my home. My work is a cathartic documentation, if you will, of being human. Our hopes and dreams, fears and failures are my inspiration. Every time I approach the canvas, I am working through an emotion, dialoguing with the canvas. They are all alive like a living breathing thing. How would I pick an absolute favorite?
TLS: Do you have a bucket list?? If so – share one thing….
TLS: Words of wisdom for the young woman dreaming of making a living as an artist?
JB: Follow your dream, get good business training, find a mentor, stay true to yourself, but understand that you connect with others.
TLS: Tell me future plans – upcoming events – what is new and exciting for you in your journey?
JB: Wow…the hits just keep coming but as of this interview, I have a solo show at my gallery in Santa Fe, The William and Joseph Gallery on Canyon Road. I’ll be there June 7th for the artist Reception.
My biggest and coolest news is that my good friend Marina Rice Bader of Soulkiss Films is producing and co-directing with Dreya Webber, a brand new film called Raven’s Touch. It is a story of an empathic psychic who ends up living alone in a cabin in the woods due to a tragic event that causes her to want to be away from people. Her deceased mother was an artist and Raven (the main character, played by Dreya) owns a painting that her mother created and is one of the only possessions with her in the cabin. I don’t want to be a spoiler so I’ll stop but guess who’s painting it is?
I’m not sure if you know this but independent film makers depend on donations as it is very difficult to get funding otherwise for such important films. Marina creates beautiful lesbian films with strong story lines. She is brilliant.
I’m also creating a huge fund raising offering to help raise funds for this movie. It will be launched right after their fund raising event that is happening April 20 th in San Francisco. I’ll be there too. Stay tuned.
TLS: Can we get your contact information…website link….galleries etc….whatever you want/can share:
JB: My website is www.BessetteArt.com
My FaceBook page is https://www.facebook.com/BessetteStudios
I have a dozen galleries all over the country and Canada that represent my work. The closest gallery to Chicago is The Coffee Gallery in Spring Lake Michigan. My best selling galleries are Mirada Gallery in Denver and William and Joseph in Santa Fe.
I also have a very cool and unusual gallery in New Hope Pennsylvania that is owned by my dear friend Terry Meehan who is also family. I am basically the only artist she represents and her gallery is chock full of my art. If your ladies prefer to purchase from women, Terry is your gal.
I also sell direct from the studio a lot as my reputation grows I find that people like to get to know me. We ship anywhere in the country from either my studio or any of my galleries.
Drop me a line anytime and say hello…..
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About K. Guzman
Kathy grew up all over the US - lots of east coast time. She is a surfer girl with an unabridged curiosity. A woman whose mid life awakening continues to bring her to the place she was meant to be. Her degree in Journalism/Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida is being yanked from the archives and put to good use. Her two kids are grown and rock stars in this wild world – her Harley is ready for some serious summer miles – and her heart remains open to life, women and the possibilities each day brings.