During the run of SUDS: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera, Jean Leathers will have her works on display in our lobby.
Jean’s life with soft pastels began when she participated in the Cleveland Museum of Art Chalk Festival in 2017. She enjoyed the tactile nature of the medium, that the chalk is applied and manipulated directly with the hands and fingertips. Jean loves the messiness of soft pastels, how one often emerges from the work with splashes and smudges of color on clothes and skin, from knees to nose, as if participating in Holi, the Hindu “Festival of Colours.”
She began creating this body of work in the Summer of 2017, just months after her husband, photographer and artist Gary Engle, passed away suddenly of a stroke. Spending days at Edgewater Beach with her dog, Jooli, and her bag of pastels and matboard from his studio, Jean worked through the grief and joy of having known intense love. Chalking on matboard they’d purchased for his photography brought an intimacy to the creations, a sense of continued sharing.
Working on the sand, grounded in the Earth, Jean brought her whole body into the piece, often stretching and crawling over it, letting the motions of body move and sway into the strokes. Sometimes she created with an idea in mind; other times a piece came into being to say something to her, something words could not reach.
Ultimately, this show is about joy, bliss and love. May you find happiness in viewing it.