'Jealous Curator' arts blogger brings exhibit to Walnut Creek
By Lou Fancher
Words can kill.
Yet, words -- a teacher's criticism masquerading as "instruction" or a hero-figure's clipped rejection of a proposed collaboration -- can also trigger a blog, a book, more than 10,000 Twitter followers and a touring gallery exhibit.
"The Jealous Curator: From Blog, to Book, to Gallery," opening Dec. 7 at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, tells exactly that muzzled-to-marvelous story.
At the heart of the endeavor is 41-year-old Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator), who lives in the tiny town of Summerland, British Columbia. Her book, "Creative Block" (Chronicle Books, 2014), in which 50 artists describe their creative speed bumps and offer "break free" projects, unfolds as the springboard for the exhibit featuring contributions from 21 of the book's artists. Her blog, begun in 2009, is more like an accordion, playing out in daily posts and a diverse parade of work from contemporary artists whose multimedia creations Krysa admires.
Although, in her case, admiration was once like an overdose of favorite perfume.
"When I was little, I was a total art kid," she says. "But at university, I didn't fit in. They weren't my people, and it rocked my world."
Krysa's creative leanings were initially decimated by a professor's critique at the University of Victoria. She shifted to graphic design, earning a graduate degree from Ontario's Sheridan College and finding success as a creative director. All the while, she collected, "Damn, I wish I thought of that" examples of art that attracted her, crushing as that could be.
"I looked at great art, and it just paralyzed me," she says. The feeling contributed to a five-year hiatus from art she took after her son was born.
Krysa's husband, Greg, a social media scientist, suggested she turn her vast documentation of inspiring art into a visual bookmark.
"It was truly for myself; I never thought anyone would see my blog," Krysa recalls. "I had Google analytics, and I'd check. There'd be six hits; my husband, my father and four friends."
But four months later, she had 43 reviews. Twenty-seven of them were from New York. Krysa didn't know anyone in New York. Strangers were finding her blog and sharing it on social media platforms. When an Australian magazine published a short blurb about her blog, she says, "The hits went crazy."
Jump to 2014: Krysa writes about emerging artists, and thousands of people take note. One artist wound up with a Paris opening and a nearly sold-out show. Requests for appearances at artsy tea parties, speaking engagements, curated shows, invitations to Pixar and mentions in "The O" (Oprah) and other magazines followed suit. Instead of searching for art work all over the world, it comes to her in the form of nearly 50 daily submissions for inclusion on thejealouscurator.com.
The power of the Internet induces a near-high in Krysa, because when she created the blog, she was a blogging novice, a lonely art widow, a jealous curator of other's talent. She was creativity, blocked.
"I can't tell you how many times I hear my story repeated by others. That's why I wrote this book and why I can't wait to stand inside the Bedford. It will be like standing in the middle of my book," she says.
Bedford curator Carrie Lederer looks forward to having the arts blogosphere become part of the gallery.
"I'm thrilled to have artists coming to share diverse media, imagery and approaches. It will be lovely for our local community to see the art, up-close, real life, and talk to the many guest artists at the opening," Lederer says. The opening reception is 3-5 p.m. Sunday.
Throughout the gallery, "unblocking" art-making stations will allow visitors to fold, cut, draw, sculpt, glue or in other ways burst from their creative blocks.
"We'll have a wall where they can pin up whatever they make," Krysa says. "I want this book to come to life; we're in this creative club together."