Is it possible to give a sense of the inner life of a form through the outward form of the gesture?
-Jane Rosen, journal entries
Paws | Pause: by Jane Rosen
Straight-to-the-point, and never short on brilliance, Jane Rosen is a force majeure in the contemporary art world. Jane is also possibly the most interesting woman in the world. A conversation with Rosen leaves one starry-eyed (awestruck, really) and doubled over with laughter simultaneously. In the course of minutes, Jane welcomes you into her world, an idyllic horse property in rural California with incredible light that she’s converted to an artist’s studio. All at once, you’re engulfed in a never-ending cast of characters, human and animal, who make up her wonderful world. A conversation with Jane Rosen is simply an experience one never wants to end.
It is also the conversation that surrounds her work. There’s an unconscious melding of her world with her art. The two are justly inseparable: Jane Rosen is always working. Within walking distance from her home, her naturally lit studio is home to a veritable menagerie of animal forms. An enormous marble raven commiserates with glass accipiters perched along the wall; a 7-ft. limestone Barred Owl looks out to his neighbor, Egyptian Man in Horus. It’s as though these beings compel the artist to bring them forth, whether in stone, or handblown glass, or in intimate, painted mixed media works on paper she playfully calls her “drawings.” Truly, Jane Rosen encapsulates the image of an artist in the prime of her career. And through her work, Rosen is the ultimate storyteller.
In a recent conversation with Jane the topic of conversation was PAWS | PAUSE, an expansive exhibition at Tayloe Piggott Gallery planned for August 2021. Rosen described the exhibition as a series of vignettes gleaned from the arc of her life, which has, in a sense, been defined by the dogs by her side. “Thank god I knew early on I needed to tell my story,” she says. Beginning with Tartuffe, a stray rescued from the train station while studying at Cornell, that story relies upon supporting characters with tails. The title piece, Paws | Pause, presents a series of elongated stone, marble inlay and glasswork paws that hang, punctuated at intervals, and casually arranged in tribute to late artist Susan Rothenberg upon the wall. Without words, Rosen pays tribute to each of the animals who have guided her and sat by her side through the years. Each of these sculptural paws allots a pensive pause in time.
A few years ago, in a conversation with Richard Whittaker, Jane Rosen spoke about art in a way that gets to the heart of Paws | Pause: “I say art is the language of the body and feeling trying to make a relationship between the disconnected part of my mind that is desperately trying to understand. That, as a possibility, is what art does. It’s informing and transforming another part of myself, and showing me what’s really going on.” That is also, so it happens, what dogs do.