Archive for November, 2010


A Study in Gratitude-remix

I thought that on the night before Thanksgiving it would be appropriate to re-post my Thanksgiving post from last year. Some things have changed.  Charlie is 8 now, Clayton 15.  The gallery is moving from the beautiful Hays Building to 1025 E. Walnut, the beautiful Berry Building.  Some things have not.  The economy still struggles, therefore so do we.

I am still grateful for the opportunity to do what I love with people I love.  Happy Thanksgiving.


Above is a picture that my seven year old daughter painted of me.  I keep it at my desk to remind me of the good things in my life.  I work at being a glass half full person.  I am a small business owner.  I do own an art gallery in a challenging market, during a very challenging economy.  I have plenty of opportunities for growth that I could talk about, but not today.  Today is a study in gratitude.  I have a sign in my office that hangs on a wall just beside the door.  It reads “This is the best month ever”.  It has hung there for about two years now.  I have friends who kid me about the sign, but in reality This IS the best month ever.  Let me tell you why.

I am grateful to have a happy, healthy, and beautiful daughter who can come hang out at work with me.  I am grateful (and somewhat amazed) that in second grade she knows who Picasso is, and allows herself to be inspired by his work.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to send her to a public school that celebrates the arts.  I am grateful to go to a school assembly and hear an amazing drumming troupe.  I am grateful to walk through the halls and see rich artwork done by incredible children.

I am grateful to have a step-son in high school who still thinks art is cool.  I am grateful that he brags to his friends that his parents own an art gallery instead of hiding it.  I am grateful that he is handsome, smart, and incredibly sure of himself.  I love watching him talk to people at the openings.  He wears a name tag that says “Clayton Stevens, Owner”.  I am grateful that at 14 he has a sense of ownership in the gallery.

I am grateful to walk in a space every morning that is beautiful and fills my soul.  The gallery resides in the old Hays Hardware building.  It has white washed brick walls, an old elevator shaft, and a beautiful glass transom in the front of the building.  It is warm and inviting.  It provides the perfect backdrop for art.  It is easy, day in and day out, to take your environment for granted.  Sometimes when I am frustrated or discouraged I go sit on a bench in the middle of the gallery and breath in the beauty that surrounds me.

I am grateful to live in a community that values art enough to support it.  I am grateful to live in a city that has a percent for art program.  I am grateful to live in a city that has great public art.  I remember as a child growing up in Columbia, passing the Flying French Fries or “La Colomba” as the sculpture is actually titled.  I am grateful to live in a community that I am proud to tell people about.  In addition to all the visual arts venues, we also have a great live music scene, independent film, and theater.  For a town of this size we are very fortunate to have the arts community that we have.  I, for one, am grateful for that.

I am grateful for the amazing customers that we have.  I am grateful for the support and encouragement that each of them provide.  I am grateful for the people who know when I am hanging a new show and make a point to be one of the first to see it.  I am grateful for the people who make art a priority in their lives.  I am grateful for the people who have my postcard hanging on their fridge.  I am honored to be a part of your lives.

I am grateful for the incredible artists who trust me with their work.  I am grateful to be surrounded by creativity.  I am grateful to know many of the gallerie’s artists on a deeply personal level.  I am privileged to be able to experience the creation of art first hand.  I am proud of the part I play in bringing said art to the community.

I am grateful to have two wonderful employees who work for peanuts, because they love PS:Gallery.  Joel whom has been with me from the beginning, is invaluable (read the previous post about Joel if you want to know how much I truly appreciate him).  Sarah, who started as an intern soon after we opened is now my gallery assistant.  I am grateful that they know that in many ways the gallery is as much theirs as it is mine.  I am grateful to have the ability to leave and not worry about what might happen.  I am grateful that often my desk is cleaner after they have worked than after I have worked.

I am grateful to all of the people whom I have worked for and worked with that have helped prepare me for this.  I don’t have a degree in business or in art for that matter.  Somehow along the way, I have obtained the skill sets I needed to run a business.  I have had some pretty incredible mentors.  I will always be grateful for them.

Mostly, I am grateful for my husband.  I am grateful that every day he puts on a suit and tie and goes to work so I am able to run the gallery that he always dreamed of opening.  I am grateful that he has complete faith in my ability to run the gallery that bears our names.   I am grateful that he is as crazy as I am and rarely questions what we are doing.  I am grateful that even though my messy office drives him (and many others) crazy, he doesn’t say anything most of the time.

Thanks to all of you who allow me to do the work I love.  I am grateful.


jack levine (1915-2010)

A couple weeks ago, the art world lost one of my heroes in Jack Levine.  Like another of my idols, Alice Neel, Levine worked against the grain as a mid-century realist.  The highly pivotal and agitprop (as the CIA recently disclosed to the Independent) movement of Abstract Expressionism, which single-handedly brought the epicenter of art from Europe to New York, all but snuffed out with extreme prejudice any trace of realism at the time, along with the dying genre’s scab creators.  With stubborn-headed persistence, Levine, and few others, weathered the storm of abstraction’s cerebral propaganda, and even flourished in some capacities, with an ability to speak to broader audiences by way of representational depiction and searing social commentary that was intellectually narrative, while at the same time visually accessible.  Levine, specifically, painted his deeply cynical sentiment of the human condition in regards to politics and wealth with scathing canvases of plutocratic paradigms: large Titian-esque tableaus of fat, wasteful gluttony.  In both these regards, it’s no wonder his work has resonated with the populace.   It takes gumption to be dissident politically, and even more to be dissident occupationally.  I greatly admire the immeasurable impact Levine’s life and work has had on my own, as well as his impact on the greater concept of Truth.

-Joel Sager


Jane Chukas
















By Aarik Danielsen (from Columbia Daily Tribune’s Art Axis November 5th)

Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. With autumn ambling by and holiday preparations on the brain, it would be both easy and forgivable to overlook a wealth of exciting art exhibits slated for November. Over the course of this calendar month, I’ll be posting something of a set of artistic public service announcements, alerts to the beauty which can be found indoors even as we enjoy the natural red-and-gold glory outside.

Already open, Columbians can see the winsome works of Illinois-based landscape painter Jane Chukasnow through December 31 in the alcove at PS: Gallery, 812 E. Broadway. Described by the gallery as “whimsically bucolic,” much of Chukas’ work is deeply rooted in her Midwestern setting and sensibilities. On a recent trip to the gallery, co-owner Jennifer Perlow mentioned Chukas was appearing, essentially, by popular demand. Something of a PS: veteran, the painter’s work has been housed in the gallery both in 2007 and 2009 and Perlow had several recent requests that her work be shown again.

Chukas’ rolling hills, verdant fields, welcoming dwellings and barns and majestic, distant horizon lines immediately place the viewer in a world that is all at once familiar and full of discovery. An examination of the works cloaks the viewer in a Midwestern chill yet comforts them with the warm possibilities awaiting just over the next hill or in the church service about to start down in the meadow. Although Chukas’ website contains no current artist’s statement, this quote on her biography page does allow the viewer to glean some insight into her process and purpose:

I largely work with oil pastel on a black surface, generally on hand prepared pastel board or watercolor paper. Some new work is acrylic or oil on a variety of surfaces. I continually experiment with different mediums and grounds. I began my working career in music. As time has gone by I have discovered a new love – visual art. But I bring music with me. Tone, color, rhythm, melody all appear in a painting in different form. But I didn’t know that until I started to paint. What a surprise to discover ‘ya gotta have rhythm!’

I have certain goals in art and whether they are achieved is up to the viewer. I think because I started as a performer before an audience, my audience is still important to me. I see art as a communication between the artist and viewer or listener. I want them to see what I see. Love what I love. Laugh when I laugh. I strive for an emotional connection through a visual language. What fun! I think it is important to find a ‘first voice’. That is not painting what you think you should. Not overlaying it with some definition of art. That’s up to the viewer anyway. Someone important whose name escapes me at the moment said, “in the end, enthusiasm is more important than discipline.” It is the artist’s main job to find that enthusiasm.