Sunday, February 15, 2009
the art of dj kennedy
today i'd like to introduce you to a good friend and an outstanding artist, dj kennedy. i met dj in the early 90s, when i was an assistant buyer for neiman marcus in dallas (a fascinating experience worth its own post), and we went bonkers over his exquisite line of handcrafted writing instruments. collectors went nuts over it too, and his sales went through the roof right away. so i got to know dj and julie, his business manager/mate at the time, very quickly as we were working together on a near-daily basis to satisfy the demand for his resplendent pieces. we all clicked instantly and had the good fortune to see each other often long after i left the company.
although i got to know dj through his pen craftsmanship, this doesn't even begin to describe the range of art he creates. he is not an artist who clocks in and out of his studio each day. he lives it and breathes it; art is his life, his skin, his way of being. not much is off limits in his creative exploration. but you won't find dj's name all over the place in a google search. he doesn't advertise his work on the internet, i imagine because he's busy doing other stuff: working on a commissioned pen, crafting a pair of earrings, writing poetry, creating accessories for a friend's clothing line, experimenting with precious metals i've never heard of, inventing things and theories, painting art cars, playing in trombone festivals, sketching people, scavenging and using every last piece of found material, discovering new uses and ideas for everything that crosses his path and mind.
somehow he has kept up with our address changes through the years. i've lost count of the postcards and letters we've sent back and forth, and every once in a while the wind is knocked out of me when i find one of his precious pieces of art peeking out of the mailbox.
these are two dj pens i'm proud to call my own - the #261 garnet ballpoint and one of his baby ballpoints that is worn as a necklace. my lousy photography doesn't do justice to these beauties. fortunately i kept one of the many promotional mailers we did at neiman marcus featuring his work. i believe this one is from 1996.
here's a snippet of one of the many articles written on his work during his pen boom in the mid 90s. now those pens are traded and sold as collectibles. i'll never let go of mine - no way, no how. these are heirlooms.
a few days ago these gorgeous earrings appeared in my mailbox and i shot upstairs to show my husband. when something from dj arrives we inspect every angle of whatever he's sent - if we don't, then for sure we miss something. look closely and you'll see stampings in the metal - these say "aimo" (my nickname to many people), "artsyville 2009", "titanium", "niobium, ew" and there's probably something else i haven't noticed yet. what a beautiful gift. in almost every piece of jewelry he creates, some thought or remembrance is etched in the metal.
over the last fifteen years i've received letters on the backs of beer cartons, financial statements from the county hospital, thirty year old court documents, little debbie snack cake boxes, pieces of shopping bags (with the handles), shoe boxes, and anything else that holds ink. his artistic style has had an immeasurable impact on my own, particularly his stream of consciousness writing and the way he hops from topic to topic. one moment he contemplates the meaning of the universe and the next he groans about an overdose on pringles. being exposed to the freedom of his thought process through the years has helped me to unlock my own way of creative expression.
dj in his studio about 10 years ago.
here we are on the set of channel 5 in phoenix around the same time - he was doing a series of early morning TV shows in the area. i was just along for the ride. actually, he and julie were staying with me so i think i WAS the ride - otherwise i would have never been up that early.
a portrait he did of me after one of those morning shows. dj often draws people in public and then gives the sketches to them. he is one of those exceptional people who shares his art and life with nearly everyone he meets; i feel so lucky to know him. and he didn't mind in the least when i asked him if i could share these photos and memories with you.
speaking of exceptional people, my fabulous roommate from the 'half' made a delightful surprise appearance in the commentary - the only person who could have made that half post whole!
Posted by aimee