By PT Russell / January 1, 2024
Be Good Like a Tree – by Jenn Stack
AN ARTIST IN ELEUTHERA
What a joy it was to host my first Bahamian guest on the Journaling With PT Podcast .
Jenn Stack is a tenacious self-taught artist, whose hallmark is to capture cultural nostalgia through colourful island scenery.
She is also the proud founder of the Eleuthera Art Gallery.
Read The full transcript below.
PT: Welcome to the podcast Jenn.
JENN: Good morning. Thank you.
PT: It is so lovely to have you here, and it was it’s an honour to just have
a conversation with you.
How are you doing today?
JENN: I’m good thank you. And it’s an honour to be here chatting with you. Thank you.
PT: Thank you very much, and how is the lovely weather where you are?
JENN:Yeah, in Eleuthera, Gregory Town, the weather today is lovely.
We got a breeze, we had a bit of a cold front so it’s not so hot, and the sun is shining so I would say it’s pretty good.
PT: That’s wonderful! And I’m going to ask you something about what’s in season now. I know there’s lots of pineapples in Eleuthera.
JENN: Yeah. No, it’s not pineapple season that’s done. Yeah, pineapple season is usually from May, June, July; sometimes you can get them in August.
So but I think they’re trying to do it where they can have them all year round but that hasn’t happened yet. So, oh now we got avocados, pears, and mango seasons on its way out. We always got papaya, bananas.
PT: Good Stuff.
JENN: Oh guineps. No. No, no guineps. No guineps, no Tamarind.
I wonder did I miss Guinep season?
Anyway no I don’t see any around town.
PT: What about Dilly?
JENN: Always Dilly. I don’t think there is a season for Dilly. Dilly does
its own thing it seems to be there or it’s not that makes sense.
PT: For those ones who are listening are creatives or, other artists people who are interested in art. People who are art professionals, it doesn’t matter because there’s so many styles of art.
There’s so much to see, art is very vast in its form and one thing that caught my attention with your art is just the energy that’s just bursting out of it.
Whenever I look at your art it is just so happy, it makes me so happy.
What is it that inspires your art?
JENN: Well I think what inspires my art is just, you know growing up being a Bahamian and just you know living here. I’m inspired by my country and my Countrymen and all that it is and its culture. And you know everything about it. I just love and it makes me happy and I’m so glad that you see happiness in my art.
PT: Absolutely! Every piece! I haven’t seen a piece that has made me melancholic or anything. It’s very nostalgic. A lot of the pieces, it takes me back to my own
childhood. Just certain things that you paint, and I you know it’s just like I said. It’s not just paint on a canvas or whatever material you’re using.
It’s the whole aesthetic. It’s the feeling. It’s the spirit of the painting that comes to life in such a way I find it fascinating.
JENN: Well. I mean so most of mine is from also, you know my memories of growing up.
I grew up in Nassau and that was, you know, a happy time.
That was 300 years ago.
I mean the Bahamas is a happy place to me, so I don’t know if I could find anything too sad to paint.
Do you know what I mean? I don’t know if that makes any sense. But
yeah so most of my paintings are also memories of my childhood so that’s where all of what I paint comes from. Or of like you know like all the animals and stuff that are around here. you know that all comes from more, you know fantasy. I don’t know, whimsy whatever the word is – yeah.
You know because like that one that I sent you is that’s more fantasy.
Amen – Jenn Stack
PT: So how would you describe…
If you were to give a description how would you describe your art?
JENN: Well the first word, and I don’t know anything about art because you know I only just started painting like two and a half years ago.
But I’ve looked it up and I would say my art is naive, obviously because you know I’m new to it so I would say Naive.
Some of it is whimsical I guess and yeah. I’ve been looking up art to see what mine is. And I guess it might be a little folky folk art I don’t know. yeah I there’s so much art out there that I really don’t know the label for you know what needs a label.
PT: That’s just why I wanted to ask you to describe it for yourself.
JENN: And yeah right. I don’t want to label it, and I don’t know maybe the word but it makes me happy.
PT: That’s the important part you have fun when you’re creating. Yes and obviously your collectors because you have art all over the world are enjoying your wonderful art. Isn’t that beautiful?
JENN: That is so unexpected and lovely.
PT: Yes. What are some of your first influences when it comes to Art? Like is there a particular artist that you enjoyed their art or their work?
JENN: Oh. So, I don’t have much exposure to Art per se, but locally yes.
Bahamian Amos Ferguson one of the greats. let’s see who. I love
Eddie Minnis, I mean he lives at Eleuthera, so FYI, and Brent Malone also a goodie.
And there so those are the old guys that I can think of, I can’t think of any women isn’t that sad?
Do you know any Bahamian women artists?
PT: You know what I mean for nowadays, the modern artists, but I mean like before…
JENN: Yeah right, I meant old like you know me. But no yeah I mean there are
lots of young Bahamian artists which are female.
PT: I know of crafters and what not. that their names elude me but I’ve seen their work like you know in the Bahamas archive.
JENN: Oh you mean like older ones.
I know like Netty I mean she was more… I’m okay now it’s coming to me right Netty Symonette. That’s one.
PT: Yes. But they haven’t been as well you know – it’s coming from a time when women were suppressed in a way right? And that might have something to do with it. They were in the home.
JENN: Yeah, they were too busy at home trying to do all the other things they had to do.
PT: That is something too that some of the things that they did, you know our predecessors the women. They did so we have this opportunity that we can be a little more free. And I think that in itself is beautiful indeed.
And yeah so your art is is all over how does that make you feel that you have
art all in all corners of the earth?
JENN I mean I don’t know about all corners, but I mean just knowing that people you know want to buy it is still kind of shocking to me. Which I love and I appreciate no end. And yeah no it it makes me feel grateful and and shocked. But you know
it makes me feel very good, and then that way I can continue you know painting. Because I have a small house and we only got you know so much space, and the walls are already kind of full.
PT: Well you’re making it work and and the world would not be the same without your art.
JENN: I don’t know about that, but that’s nice of you to say. Anything that the world if it makes it happier that’s always good the world could use a little more happiness.
A Giving Tree – Jenn Stack
PT: I think your collectors will agree as well that your art brings them joy and they love having it in their homes or offices, wherever they are. It’s a blessing either way to create and also to receive, and have the art in your space.
But I noticed that in a lot of your your pieces there is this cute little girl, she’s like a recurring theme. Is there -is she someone – who – what’s what’s the inspiration behind her? What is she all about this cute little girl?
JENN: So you know I’ve never actually thought about her like that so I’m thinking now that you asked me that. Maybe she could be me or there’s a young girl here that everyone says she looks like here in Eleuthera right and they’re just like oh that looks like Antonia and I’m like oh okay. So maybe I don’t know that could be just a a subconscious thing that I maybe need to
dig into and I have not really, but she cute aye?
PT: My goodness she is so cute and and she has this her
own personality. She’s taken on her own life and just like separate from whatever you’re doing and whenever I see her it’s like okay what’s she up to now?
JENN: Well I mean and and the most. I mean usually what she’s up to is usually something that you know you would do back in the 60s and 70s so there’s a a little bit of nost Nostalgia thrown in there with her.
Like my last little, one well I don’t know did you see the one where she’s sitting on the bent coconut tree?
PT: I might have.
JENN: Anyway. Whatever. So because there’s lots of those you know from hurricanes where the coconut tree ends up just sort of like being a bench but still thriving. Anyways and so that always reminded me of that the that story The Giving Tree was it called The Giving Tree?
PT: Oh I don’t know was it I do you know that I have to I have to double check that.
JENN: Oh it’s about a tree that this little boy and yeah I think it’s called. The Giving Tree. Anyway so I just thought of that and she’s blowing bubbles. You don’t see that bubble stuff anymore do you? Maybe I don’t get out enough.
PT: No, very rarely.
I’m telling you internet’s taken over everything and it’s not the way it used to be for sure. It’s, they’ve kind of sidelined the bubble gum blowing and the Hopscotch and the jump ropes for their phones Etc.
JENN: Oh shame. yeah yeah see that’s the other thing is that yeah maybe. When I’m dead and gone and you know that people look back and look and say well what’s she doing? Because they might not even know about blowing bubbles right?
I mean that liquid bubbles not bubble gum, hopefully they’ll still know that. But you know I mean yeah it’s kind of sad in a way that technology it’s you know it’s a Love Hate Thing. You love it but then the children don’t go out and play and do you know so much imagination, and fun things anymore, I don’t mean to bring the subject down.
PT: No, no. No, this is it’s true.
It’s you know it’s it’s unfortunate but there are others out there there are some who may be listening. And thinking, like you know what I do that and they can keep art alive in a way where, like by creating Nostalgia creating you know their memories or dreams. whatever it is instead of the outdoors.
JENN: Yeah, that well the good thing about living in one of the family islands is you know there’s still a lot of outdoor play activities
PT: You know what? I mean oh I said instead of the outdoors, what am I thinking? I said and for the outdoors instead of the phones is what I meant.
JENN: Yeah I knew what you meant, that’s okay.
Up High in Banana Tree – Jenn Stack
The Eleuthera Art Gallery
PT: That is, it’s beautiful. And one of the things that I wanted to just slip into would be. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Eleuthera Art Gallery and you founding, the Eleuthera Art Gallery. because you kind of gave me a slingshot with my art sales by having my works there. And not just my works, you have the works of so many other emerging artists, specifically from the out Islands. Tell us a little bit more about that.
JENN: Well, so well I would I have to go and do therapy for my… Anyway I was swimming with my friend doing my exercises slash therapy, and I had only just started painting. And she’s oh and it was during the pandemic so everyone was locked down we probably shouldn’t have been swimming but whatever. And we, she said everybody’s got everything on Instagram, why don’t you do a an Eleuthera art Gallery on Instagram? And so it was really my friend Pam’s idea.
And so, and then there’s Nassau you know the capital it’s got a lot of, you know venues for different Bahamian artists, but mostly it seems like Nassau. So and there’s so many family Islands, so I figured well I’ll call it Eleuthera since that’s where I am. But we got other islands like we got well we got you (referring to Grand Bahama), we got Exuma we got Eleuthera, Abaco.
I mean I wish, the thing is that most of the younger artists they all have other jobs. You know so for it’s not it was during the pandemic because everybody well couldn’t go to their jobs. So everyone was very prolific in their painting or creatives whatever.
But now you know back to reality. So it’s a little less but that’s basicall. I wanted to give a platform for the family Island artists that don’t, you know that don’t have what Nassau has. That was that and then I got to put a couple of mine on there too.
PT: Well you were from the family islands, and you’re an artist, so…
JENN: Yeah, so, that all worked out. And I’m glad and you and I even got a couple of yours. I’m looking at them now.
Anyway yeah so that that was fun and and like I said it’s not as busy as it was back in 2021, whatever 2020. But that’s okay they they still you know slowly and then a lot of them you know created their own platforms so it was great.
It’s just wonderful and that’s the whole idea, is to you know get the creatives out there so that people can see how Wonderful all their work is.
PT: Absolutely! And speaking of the creatives and the artists many of them who you showcase, one is one artist is he’s extremely gifted artist his name is Chauncey.
I Love his work.
JENN: Oh my yeah. and Chauncey, he’s from Bannerman town south Eleuthera and he’s self taught but my word is he good. yeah yeah if anyone wants to check him out that’s artbychance Instagram @artbychance yeah he’s
PT: He has an amazing a painting of Amos Ferguson. I mean that was breathtaking.
JENN: And that’s in a resort in Andros. Which is kind of also really nice when your artwork and kind of stays at home too. Yes but is in like a resort because then lots of you know people from different countries get to see it right?
So yeah that’s at Kamalamie Key in Andros.
Beautiful yeah so cool he’s actually having a show in January over in Harbor Island. Yeah. I know he’s young that’s that’s what young people do.
PT: And then there’s a – I love the the work of Tiffany lightbourn
JENN: Yeah Tiffany right she’s another artist there.
JENN: Yeah Danielle’s right here in Gregory Town. Yes and there are a few others
I if you can remind me I know that they that contribute well yeah well there there used to be more.
But well there’s Monique who does the quilts which are beautiful. I love those, I love quilts even though I seldom get to use a quilt because it’s so hot, but they are pretty. And oh now I’ve got – I can’t think Emmanuel from Exuma, but he does his own thing and they’ve now got the Exuma Art Network. Is that what it is they’ve got their own page now and they’ve got an actual building where they do art classes and and that’s Emmanuel and Sunsam.
PT: Yeah I’ve seen his work, he’s a very distinctive style. It’s very representative of the Topography of of Exuma, and I haven’t been there yet. But I could you know get a lot of vibes from his art and look.
JENN: Yeah. I think it’s very cool it’s very it, it kind of I mean it’s sort of vanghooy isn’t it.
PT: To me it is. Lots of swirls going on there.
JENN: yeah and like it’s almost like a vibration if you will.
PT: Style I’m not sure. I think he uses acrylic, I’m not 100% sure but it looked like acrylic. I haven’t seen a his piece I don’t think they’re oil but they’re very –
JENN: Yeah, he does both.
And then he also uses a spray paint yes so yeah he’s very another young very you know good artist yes I
PT: I love that though a lot of women are becoming
involved in art and especially Bahamian wome. One that is an artist I can’t remember her name right now she’s from Abaco she she paints abstract art I don’t know if you would remember her name.
Jenn: Abaco. yeah oh. Ashley Russell possibly that she uses photography like old photographs and then kind of does. She just had a show, I don’t know if that’s her if that’s who you’re talking about but she’s amazing and then Dee Dee Brown. Do you follow Dee Brown? She lives right in Spanish Wells, okay she’s amazing too yeah yeah there it’s it’s exciting. Exciting times yes
PT: And so what is next for for Jenn Stack Art?
Will you name your character?
JENN: I don’t know if I I’m gonna have a new character, but right now right now I’m painting on a piece of wood. Oh so yeah I did and it’s heavy which is hard for me just saying okay . But that’s okay they wanted it on wood I did something on wood that was a small piece of wood and then somebody wanted the same thing which to me is weird but okay I can try my best to do
it again but on a bigger piece of wood so that’s what I’m doing right now did you see the one it was called Up high in banana tree I’m sure I did oh well it was just a man and a and a young boy standing under a banana tree um looking up at the yellow bird that was singing in the banana tree up on the top of it.
PT: But you are because you you find these names that are so quirky.
JENN: Well that’s from the song.
PT: I know but I’m just saying in general your the titles for your paintings are –
JENN: That is the most fun doing that, I just love a good title. Some of them crack me up.
PT: Because you can tell that you’re really involved in every part of everything that about what you’re creating and yeah so just a full experience right you’re like kind of really
immersing whomever that the collector is into this world that you’ve created.
JENN: Yeah, I guess you could say that, fun and strange my favorite title can I tell you my favorite? title super wait Super
Bubble Bubble Gum bubble oh right you remember, Super Bubble it’s a brand of
PT: Bubble gum.
JENN: That was a little girl blowing a super bubble bubble gum bubble I just think that to me that just it just cracks me up.
PT: Before we close, what advice what you give for someone who has never done art before, is thinking about it?
What would you tell them?
JENN: Oh. I would just say you know,just go ahead and put whatever it is to whatever it is whether like even it doesn’t. You don’t have to buy a canvas just you know peep cardboard that’s what Amos Ferguson
used to paint on did you know that?
JENN: Yeah, pizza box cardboard so get yourself a old pizza box and
put some paint on it, and whatever I’m sure it will be magical because apparently everybody’s an artist. Yes I know isn’t that wonderful?
It is that’s the best news I’ve heard all week, no joke maybe the last five years I don’t know everybody’s an artist that’s all I can say.
PT: And where can the lovely folks find you?
PT: Wonderful! All right, thank you so much. I really
appreciate you sharing your time and space with me, with us today and it was lovely having you.
JENN: And well I really appreciate you asking me that’s so cool I thank you very much. that was fun.
PT: There we go. That’s what it’s all about. Art equals fun, there you go
Contact Jenn Stack:
EMAIL – firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram – @eleutheraartgallery
To appear on the Podcast or for other inquiries.
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