Art In Uncertain Times: Work Makes Work with Josh Jefferson in Boston
"How are you doing?" It's casual and automatic, not always heartfelt, so routine that you don't even realize it’s the default salutation to friends, family or a random stranger. But now it feels essential: How are you doing? "For the first time, everyone you know is on the same boat, so to speak," Josh Jefferson tells me from Boston during our conversation earlier this week. Having been friends for a few years, I just wanted to check in on him and his family, make sure things were okay and that everybody was safe and healthy. Because this is what we do now. It took only a few days to alter our conversations, perhaps deepen our compassion... to just check in with people we care about. "Art In Uncertain Times" is a series we conceived as a way to get the art pulse from places around the world hit hard by Coronavirus, and more importantly to make contact with the creatives who have enriched our lives.
Evan Pricco: I guess the simple question I keep asking people is, "How are you doing?" That seemed so banal three weeks ago, but now it seems simply vital.
Josh Jefferson: I am feeling good. Its just getting used to things, new routines with the family.
What was the first indication to you that your routine had changed?
With the canceling of ALL sporting events that seemed huge to me. Also my son's school closing for a month!
Doug Gillen, who I do the Radio Juxtapoz podcast with, brought up a really great point to me the other day about how its not that artists have really changed what they do (creating often times in isolation), but how do they react when the world changes to their pace. So, for you, how has it been to watch the whole world kind of get in this similar pace and perhaps "staying in" style?
That's a good question. I was talking to my friend, Paul Inglis, who is a artist in Boston. And he jokingly said nothing has really changed for him in the sense that he is continuing to work as he always has, however his day job is on hold and there is no Purell anywhere! I think for most artists, its a head space we need to have to be able to get to work. And I think in this instance work makes work; in other words, keep it moving in the studio, whatever it takes to make some progress, everyday.
What are some good tips you can give to people who are stuck at home, perhaps for the first time in a very long, long time?
Get some exercise, however you can. Try to meditate or practice mindfulness in anything that will give you a grounded perspective. Also talk with family and friends. For the first time, everyone you know is on the same boat, so to speak.
How has Boston changed in just a few weeks? What are you noticing?
This will sound funny, but the traffic is so much better. Boston drivers are the worst (that includes myself) and now nobody is really driving on the streets. Recently, I saw a family out for a walk and all four of them where wearing custom masks on their faces. They all stood together and the dad took a family photo. This seemed to me to encapsulate the moment. That's the new normal I have noticed.
Are you doing anything differently in terms of your personal "well-being?"
I have been skateboarding a ton with my son, trying to stay positive, reading more, and trying to remind myself that this is temporary.
What are you working on? What are you hoping to work on over these next few months?
I am working on a new series of big brush paintings. Using a brush I made myself that is three four inch brushes connected together. I have a few group shows lined up however I am not sure they will happen. Although I am continuing to make work assuming the shows will go on. I am not sure what will happen in the coming months. Applying for grants will be my main focus moving forward.
Josh Jefferson curates Jux Saturday School, our weekly Instagram series featuring classic art clips and tutorials.