For artists that have held any idealism in terms of the possibility of art to “change the world” there eventually comes a time when that idealism is met with a dose of “reality” or, in many cases, a violent beating. A group of young Pilsen artists and gallery owners have been working to secure a stable studio space for artist Jaime Mellin to take his work where it is destined to go; Mellin’s work is a prime example of the power of art to consume, connect and resuscitate. Daris Jasper, the owner of Artistic Jeanius Gallery where Mellin currently holds studio space states with inspiring simplicity, “We help each other because that’s what artists do.” Jaime Mellin is the definition of prolific, making work every day for almost fifty years through a variety of obstacles that would push most artists straight to day jobs at Kinkos. Mellin is part of a growing number of artists slowly eroding the title of “outsider artist.” He meets the requirements of the outsider: he has no formal training, doesn’t work as Sallie Mae’s bitch, sacrifices at every level to make his work and has unstable studio and housing space. Even so, he spends at least thirteen hours of his day focused on his work—work that is explosively colorful, experimental yet intricate, that reads more like the new art director for Scion than “outsider” art. Mellin’s work is increasingly popular among young digital media makers or generation Y, stealing the show at a few group exhibitions he has been in. His work is completely hand-produced with sharpies and paper, yet is imbibed with a newness that is fresh, fun, and gorgeous. (Sara McCool)
Jaime Mellin, “The Sharpie King,” shows at 2ndFlr Gallery, 903 West 19th. Opening Reception: July 11, 7pm-midnight.