No doubt you’ve heard stories—and maybe experienced yourself—the athletic skills, the amount of practice, the hours of honing fledgling abilities until they are poetry in motion, seemingly effortless in their execution. Behind every appearingly simple arch of the back, extension of the leg, leap in the air, graceful focus of the dancer, the skater, the runner are hours and hours, sometimes year upon year of evolving prowess.
When I watch Jessel paint, there is a seemingly effortless surrender as her brush touches the page. Magic happens before my eyes upon a page once blank as she whistles or sings to her piece, enticing it to take form, muddying her rinse water quicker than anyone else I know, sometimes trickling paint purposefully, at other times being led by where the paint wants to flow. Leading, or being led, it is a dance she does well, in a seemingly effortless way. Yet she is quick to remind that for over a third of a century she has been painting professionally. Before that came formal studies and before that, she drew and explored on her own. It’s fair to say creativity has flowed from her right hand for almost her entire life. Effortless? Not hardly.
I’m guessing a similar tale could be told about many of the artists at the gallery. What looks pristinely elegant, easy really, is a compilation of year after year of mastering.
Jessel recently took time off for surgery and recuperation. Several of us stepped up to fill in during her absence. It was then that I got a tiny glimpse of all the effort required to keep this gallery looking and running like the temple she has created. From keeping the exterior plants healthy and the deck inviting, to knowing which artists to represent and which to refer elsewhere, to interacting with a diverse array of personalities and requests of customers and clients, to record keeping, to keeping ample toilet paper in all the stalls, to creating new and stimulating shows month after month, to being genuinely thrilled when you walk through the door and truly desiring to be of service---these are just some of the roles Jessel has played, the hats she has worn since 1984.
Effort appearing as effortless? It’s an art form. And it’s alive and well, practiced daily at Jessel Gallery.