Jean Arnold feels a connection with the 19th-century flaneur – the ambler aimlessly strolling city streets, observing and writing about the urban scene. Among them were Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin. Riding buses by neighborhoods, parks, schools, industrial districts and strip malls, she continuously record sights, thoughts and experiences. Notationally sketching the architecture, cars, trees, and urban clutter flowing by, she captures elements in a state of flux and removes them from their original context.
Arnold’s artwork is extracted from the experience of mobility, the velocity of travel -its visual bombardment, and its alteration of spatial perceptions. In her work, she invents ambiguous scenes and spaces -accumulating and compressing miles of space and time into one image, and creating a dense layering of geography. This reflects the current condition of complexity, simultaneity, speed, and disjuncture in our lives and society.
“WSU: Rapper” was inspired by a pleasant autumn bus ride to Weber State with fellow painter John Erickson. It can be seen along with other current works on exhibit at Phillips Gallery until March 13. She is also represented by Plus Gallery in Denver, and LewAllen Contemporary in Santa Fe.
Arnold is also an activist in the realm of energy issues and wrote one of the first comprehensive stories on Peak Oil, published in Catalyst, which led to her co-founding the citizen activist group Post Carbon Salt Lake. She gives Powerpoint presentations to groups and elected officials.