Birds on a Wire

Paper planes on power lines and the politics of distance

There’s something about the work of Jill Simonsen that has the Valley arts community and its patrons more excited than usual about a show by an out-of-towner. Maybe it’s the loneliness of her acrylic-and-pen creations depicting neglected buildings and sparse power-line-scapes. Or, quite possibly, it could be the nostalgic quality of paper airplanes flying in formation or caught in telephone wires. Whatever it is, there are many qualities that touch us deeply. Apparently, we’re not alone, as Simonsen tells New Times what somebody once said about her work. (It’s different, to say the least.) “A Japanese woman who bought one from my paper-airplane series years ago explained it by pointing to one of the planes and saying, ‘That’s me.’”

On the local-arts tip, her works feel like a cross between Laura Spalding for their in-the-sky perspective and graphic designer Jason Hill for their clean, trippy qualities. But Simonsen’s style is most definitely her own, especially the paintings in the power-line series. They feel like Phoenix or New York City, where Simonsen is based. But according to the artist, the crisscrossed urban patterns harbor a more metaphorical vibe. “Almost none of the images are from New York City, although a lot of the ideas behind my work are inspired by New York and the environment here,” says the artist, who holds degrees in photography and graphic design. “A lot of it is based on the distance between people and within themselves. They're [antennas, power lines, etc.] always within shouting distance of others, but are oftentimes alone. The things that keep us together are the things that keep us apart.”


Saturdays, 1:30-7 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 15, 6-10 p.m. Starts: Feb. 9. Continues through March 1, 2008
 
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