For as long as I can remember I have noticed Rich Jacobs showing his work on gallery walls throughout the world. Along the way he began curating shows, like his well received MOVE exhibitions, bringing together a variety of interesting young artists in spaces like Clementine Gallery, New Image Art and Feigen Contemporary. Richs work has been featured in magazines, books, and publications as well as seen on skateboards, clothing lines, and other products.
I met Rich Jacobs last year when I approached him to donate artwork to my gallerys benefit auction. Upon first contact I was a little concerned because he was so delightful and willing to help out I was more accustomed to putting artists into headlocks until they surrendered their work. Then meeting Rich face to face, I got a glimpse of his humorous, humble and charming personality and I was sold. Rich travels a lot, so we chatted via email recently:
Where did you grow up?
Long Beach, CA, Seattle then Denver, left soon as I could back to LA, now Im here in NY still trying to grow up.
Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
Lots of good ones- skateboarding in the 70's in big concrete skateparks with my brother and cousins- I once saw a truck burning on the side of the freeway enroute to Skatopia Skatepark-we drove past and I remember thinking how amazing the skeleton of a Toyota pickup looked- I think I developed a crush on that image-I still remember it perfectly. Flames and the black outline of a truck- it taught me structure somehow....weird but true.
What was the first exhibition you were ever in and how did it come about?
There were a few weird ones in high school and then like ones at the Che Cafe in San Diego, or the one in Pall Jenkins from Blackheart Procession's house- but I think you mean real ones - that would be at Georges in Los Feliz- I curated the first Move show there and didn't really know anything about the word curating except that I could get away with inviting my friends and people who I admired to show their art, and people would let me do it. It was fun -there were 10 folks involved-Rick Forberg (Drive Like Jehu), Andy Ward (Antioch Arrow), Chris Shary (Descendents, all,etc,,,), Melinda Beck (she did the Quicksand cover), Jordin Isip (he did the bad trip 7'), Phil Frost (Sick Of It All and DJ Shadow covers), Thomas Campbell (Ugly Casanova, Modest Mouse, Seedling Guy) Barry McGee (The Thing That Ate Floyd Comp.), Margaret Kilgallen (Tommy Guerrero Cover), and myself (I did the Iceburn Covers, Back off Cupids, 3 Mile Pilot, and some others....) just wanted to give some context-no one was well known then-it doesn't matter but the gallery didn't know who anyone was, but somehow managed to let it happen- Thomas & Ed Templeton were hitting golf balls in the gallery-keep in mind the front was all glass, etc,,,it was pretty radical & what we call fun now days,,,,,,,,,,seriously.
There are a lot of human characters in your work. Who do they represent?
Sometimes they are lurkers on the train, sometimes they are abstracted versions of how I feel, sometimes they are me sometimes they might be you......hope they seem like someone we've all seen before...as well. Sometimes they are mirrors, and then sometimes they are composites or combos of folks I see everyday, or in my mind.
Images courtesy of 96 Gillespie Gallery
How do you feel about spending your life as an artist or curator? Do you ever wish you were an astronaut or a rock star?
It's cool - I made a choice- based on mainly gut level reactions to the world at large- I re make that decision every morning when I wake up....now. Space travel could be fake? Rock is definitely almost always fake.....sorry if you rock or space travel
Youve curated some wonderful shows over the last couple of years. How did you get into curating?
Thanks- totally on accident it seems- out of a weird interest to see stuff I liked and wasn't seeing where I lived at the times I lived there.
Installation images from Carry On at Feigen Contemporary, curated by Rich Jacobs and Abigail Scholar. images courtesy of Feigen Contemporary, New York
Last year you put together a show for Clementine Gallery with probably every single street/skate/etc. artist featured. I dont think there was a portion of wall space that wasnt covered. Do you think the popularity of street art in galleries and more established venues with continue to grow, or has it reached a plateau?
Hope fully it turns goth, and goes away soon. That would be sick.
Do you ever collect art?
For sure- I have a lot of stuff I feel so lucky to see a lot. It makes me feel grateful, humbled, and when no one is looking I get all shakey......it makes me more emo than I wanna be at times.
Do you worry about selling your work or the artists work in the shows you curate?
No-but I don't mind either, for some that is the whole point-to me for my own work- I just feel lucky to have the chance to make it. I hope people buy other peoples stuff because it is so radical, but I understand not being a consumer also.
Rich Jacobs and Tim Kerr installing their exhibition, A Toast to the People at 96 Gillespie Gallery. photo By Graham Standage
Do you see the fast pace of New York inspiring or does it ever get daunting?
New York is funny-it smells funny, the weather lets face it sucks (not funny), the only thing you can do is get into whatever it is you do, and try to remember to have a good perspective when you are busting ass to pay your rates.....try to inhale and pretend like you are in California more often- go to the new Trader Joes and pretend you are mellowing out-listen to your favorite record and take your partners hand or arm and go for a long power walk & look at everything- so you can remember that there are a lot of rad people here trying to do their thing too-you won't feel as lonely maybe? I am no expert- I have lived here six years now-but it feels like six months sorta in a way.
You recently returned from a trip to the West Coast, Spain and Japan. What were you doing out there?
Goofing around -trying to put my stuff up on walls for others to see, eating the food and trying sleep (yeah right?) where as space travel might be fake -long plane rides aren't -even though I wish they were at times.
Do you see the fast pace of New York inspiring or does it ever get daunting?
Whats up with the limited edition craze in Japan?
It is everywhere-I blame it on people thinking they have an edge on the other guy-it has to with staleness, over consuming, and cool guy stuff probably....make your own stuff-like the pioneers-but make it so no one thinks it is awesome and has to have one too ? I don't know,,,,,is it for the kids maybe, or adults who act like kids rather?
Whats your favorite place to travel to?
My friend Kates house probably. Or somewhere I haven't yet been to.....but in all honesty somewhere with ocean access and nice weather. With spicy oriented foods, lots of fruit juice, and a comfortable place to lay down every once in awhile.
Have you gone to the Whitney Biennial yet?
I have- liked it more when it was called relevant (ouch!) I felt like I was trapped in an 80's stuffy mind melt-with art that made me feel nothing. it hurt my feelings I think- I just remember feeling like I paid too much after wards-50 cents was the price, I thought I would rather have bought a really cheap cookie-or that cookies still costed 50 cents or something....I wasn't satisfied at all truthfully. I made no connection to anything there, and got semi-offended with some of the work and or choices made. That is giving more than it is worth in words. I resent the art world at moments like that still some. Is there an art world? That would be lame kinda.....
You used to be relatively computer illiterate, rarely using email. However, recently you surfaced on such unlikely places such as Myspace. How has joining the information age changed things?
It makes me feel weird in other ways-that's all-it is ok. I still do a lot by hand- it can get info there quicker- I suppose- I am still collecting dust -don't worry.
As an artist and as a curator one has a different relationship with the actual artwork. What role are you enjoying more these days?
I like both- but I am kinda in an art-making mode lately though.
Do you get more anxious at an opening for your work or for a show that you curated?
Just about the same-tired, sweaty, exhausted, it is all a blur-time goes so quick by the opening for some reason- I will remember stuff a week later-that kind of thing....
You live with the artist Eric White. Though your styles are pretty different do you influence each other or are you over it?
Eric is a great guy-our influence on one another is pretty abstract- we talk about art-but mostly we kinda get each other amped on just doing more or trying harder to not be as shy as we are about things mostly-is that too personal? He used to paint here and it was fun to watch a really gifted person do their thing-but our styles are pretty individual and kinda on their own I would say honestly. He works in oils, and is incredibly skilled- I am a mark maker, and scribbler-and just work in a more spontaneous manner- I am really a drawer with paint sorta- he is "a painter" in every sense. He is great-just look at his work-you don't have to be an art geek to know it either....I like rawness, mistakes, accidents, human hand prints, sweat stains etc......that is just how I grew up in this world sorta- I am not over- if talent could rub off- I'll take some -but.....I am glad I have my own thing as well-that's what makes me-me. I am cool with that luckily. Good thing I am not a jealous person huh?
Any other influences?
So many- are you ready- life-love-light-look at everything closely. I am in a new relationship right now that seriously makes me so incredibly stoked-I didn't know I could even feel this happy till now- I am lucky- I know this. I am reminded constantly of this fact-and know now even more. I have great friends- that I love very much - they help me stay into things - too many to name- I am fortunate- I get to see amazing stuff a lot-and hear new things always, I have a really simple and beautiful life. It is not perfect-but it feels real and mine. I love life and like trying to get the most out of it. It is a rare gift-I try not to take it for granted. Laziness influences me too.
When you are not thinking about art, what is on your mind?
The regular stuff-food, music, books, walks, intimacy, social welfare, war, crime, world events, interactions amongst people- people fascinate me to no end. I think about what makes us all tick sometimes. I also like to use my mind to get abstract and imagine things a lot-I say what if, a lot in my mind....Italian ices, the elusive burrito specimen not found yet here in the NY.
Everything else after now.......shows, self expressions of all
kinds-books, records, murals, zines, sculpture, photography, continued learning and studying, hopefully growth and warmth. more smiles.......please! Thanks for thinking of me for your interview- I appreciate the chance to speak about this stuff with you, thanks to anyone who will spend their time to read this as well. be twice as nice-then things will get better sooner. love rich
Thanks to Feigen Contemporary and 96 Gillespie for sending over some images!
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