Jes Lee

What a strange and wonderful ride

August is already almost gone. The last hours of this month are ticking by. I’m ok with it. August has been great, and now I’m ready to see what September brings. 

Looking back since the last time I posted, all I see is days full of giddy excitement, and roller coaster like rides of emotions, and lots of working. 

The opening for the Pretend the World show at Banfill on the 20th was amazing! A ton of people came and there were great discussions about the work. This show is made up of a truly amazing group of artists. Everyone’s work is so different that you don’t really feel like you are competing. At least I didn’t. For me the night included a lot of visiting with family and friends that stopped by, a discussion with a fellow artist about my work, and an invitation to apply for membership in another artist Co-op (seriously, this is awesome! I have no idea if I will get in or not, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that someone thought that highly of my work to encourage me to apply!), one of my friends (a fellow photographer, whom I greatly admire! Her work is amazing!) purchased one of my pieces (I’m amazed, and honored, and I totally did a dance of pure glee!!) and we had a wonderful discussion on bringing back the small photograph. So many photographers are printing their work huge. I don’t think it needs to be. Small is intimate, it draws you in, instead of pushing you away (you have to stand so far back to see a large piece) and it allows you to do your own printing and framing much more easily, giving you full control of the process. That was so encouraging to hear, as I quite often hear “your work is so small! Will you have enough to fill this space even??” Bring back the small!!

I finished the book I have been working on. It is the first book that I have made from scratch, not as part of a class (well, the designing part of it was part of a class, but mostly just for the critique) and not as just a collection of images that had been in a show. This one is for real. I am very excited to announce that it will be carried in the gift shop at MCBA and will be part of their Fine Books and Fine Wine event in October! This book will be an edition of 40. I will be dropping off the first 4 at MCBA next week. (Yes, I only have 1 completed so far, yes I’m working like crazy to make more!)

I am hanging up artwork at the Dunn Brothers in Edina tomorrow evening. There will be a couple of new pieces there as well! 
First time being printed:

Where are you going?


Nebraska blue.

I’m also adding new work to the gift shop at Bloomington Center for the Arts:

There you will be able to see Where are you going?, Nebraska blue, a print of the image in my book:


and this one, (first time printed):
Nature takes over


For my friends and family wondering why I haven’t been able to remember a darn thing lately, this is why! My brain has been full of book material costs, frame sizes, and deadlines! Ha!

A nice long weekend is coming. Yes, I will be printing book pages all weekend, but we are planning on spending Saturday roaming around Red Wing with some friends. I’m looking forward to the chance to get outside, visit, and take some photos! I just have to decide what cameras to carry with this time! 

Until next time,

New things and the prairie

I have been working hard lately. There are a lot of big projects coming up, all of them quite fun, though, as usual, it does mean some things get neglected in the proces.

Today, I actually took a bit of time off from working on projects for other people, and started a new compilation for a project I am working on for myself. I don’t know if it is finished yet, or how this will all pan out, but It is a start on a new journey. 


Prairie restoration site, Theological Seminary, New Brighton, Minnesota 

When my friend first asked me to work on videos for her poems, I found many poems that were full of imagery from the prairie. Knowing I would need some images for that, I talked to my uncle who happens to work for the DNR. He pointed me to a number of prarie restoration projects that are going on not far from the cities. One of them was practically in my back yard. The more I talked to him, the more I became fascinated with these places. Almost a perfect mix of analog, land, growth, returning places to what they had naturally been, mixed with digital, tracking growth, predators, controlled burning, life cycles…
It has been taking over my mind lately. I see my Digital Dreams of Life series stretching towards this. Everything needs a new direction sometimes. I think this is where I’m going.

In the mean time – Yes! Videos! My friend Kathryn Kysar will have a new book of poems being released March 19th. We are working together to create videos of her poetry, which will be posted on the website for the book, as well as here. It is an exciting project. Video is can be an unforgiving, frustrating medium, but it can be beautiful when layered and finessed just right. It is taking me awhile to catch on, but I keep working. In the mean time, there are some still images that pertain to this project in this gallery. Mostly portraits right now, I will be posting some of the still images I am using in the videos.

I am also starting a little prairie gallery just for all of the prairie images I’m working with. 

It has been a busy winter. Around here, that seems like a good thing. It doesn’t leave for much time to relax, but it does leave a lot less time to mope around with the winter blues. Just this last week, I was at a kareoke bar for the first time ever, went to visit friends at their studios during First Thursday, saw a screening of some of Jay Rosenblatt’s films at the Walker, and checked out a couple of great local date night places. The date night time did a lot to get me out of my winter funk, and all of the great artwork I have seen at the galleries and at the studios of my friends lately has done a lot to inspire me and get me working again. We all need pick-me-ups like that sometimes.

While I wish that these days of “so freezing cold you don’t dare take a camera outside for fear it will freeze to your face” would be over, today I am so grateful for the sunshine!

Until next time,