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Artist paints furniture personalities

Submitted Photos “Ethel” by Erica Jespersen is shown in this photo. Jespersen’s exhibition focuses on the personalities of her furniture

Bowbells artist Erica Jespersen’s work highlights the more animate side of something we use every day — furniture. Jespersen’s exhibit. “Portraits of Furniture” is on display in the Taube Museum of Art’s Langer Gallery. The artist named each one of the pieces to reflect the personalities of the subjects. Ethel, Clarence, and Sophie are a just a few of them.

Jespersen, a mother of two young children, started her watercolor portraits in the end of 2019 when she was pregnant with her youngest and finished them at the beginning of 2020.

“I’m pregnant with my second when I start these pieces, and then I had a little, colicky newborn, I don’t know how I had time to do all these,” she said.

The pieces of furniture that ultimately became the subjects of her exhibition inspired her with their various personalities. She said in her bio that she wants the viewer to be able to picture the type of person she sees behind the furniture pieces.

“A lot of my furniture is antique, so it has all this personality and character that I’m just surrounded with. I’m just painting things that are in my life and showing their personality and what I see them in them,” Jespersen said.

Executive Director of the Taube, Rachel Alfaro, said that Jespersen’s work caught her eye when it was on display at the James Memorial Art Center in Williston. The names of the portraits were one of the things that drew Alfaro to Jespersen’s work.

“I reached out to her directly and offered her an exhibition,” Alfaro said. “Yes, she’s painting things that she can see directly like chairs, but they all have people names. I just found that really interesting because it gives personality to them instead of it just being a painting of a chair.”

Currently, she’s working on some watercolor florals. She said she’s gravitated toward using watercolors when she works from home because it’s a medium allows her to start and stop a piece if her children, who are two and three-years-old, need her attention.

“And if I’m painting, they want to paint too, but that usually only lasts for five minutes. I think it’s the age to where they just like to scribble on everything, sometimes it’s the walls unfortunately,” she said.

Jespersen is planning to acquire her own studio in Bowbells soon, so she’ll have space to continue with and expand her range of work.

“I’m currently in the process of buying one of the store fronts here in Bowbells. We’re gonna be closing next month, but I have the keys and we’ve been working on cleaning,” she said. “I’m gonna have space to work and hopefully work in more mediums like I used to be able to.”

There will be a reception for Jespersen’s artwork today from 5-7 p.m. at the Taube Museum of Art. The reception is free and open to the public. The artwork will be displayed at the museum through Feb. 11. For more information, contact the Taube Museum of Art at 838-4445 or visit their website at https://taubemuseum.org/

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