|Above: Julia Haw, May 2015, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Image provided by artist; black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
My dad never used credit cards; he tore the collars out of his uncomfortable shirts; and he burned our family's trash in a huge stove in one of the many barns he built behind our house. My mom, now retired, was a fourth-grade teacher in an elementary school. I truly "made her feel like a mother,” in the words of my best friend, as I was very rebellious in my teenage years.
I was painfully shy in kindergarten, and I spoke as little as possible; my teacher asked my mom if everything was OK. I believe I wasn’t used to the confines of a classroom and received most of my inner guidance from cats and trees.
In second grade I got glasses: pink plastic glasses with a silver heart on each corner. I had a crush on a guy in my reading group, and I'd hide my glasses each time I went there.
|Above: Julia Haw with Jerry Saltz at the Expo Chicago art fair, September 19, 2013. Image provided by artist; black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
In the basement of our home I shared an art studio with my sister. I considered myself the black sheep of the family, and I maintained a slight inferior complex: constantly compared myself to my older brother and sister.
|Above: Julia Haw, 1996, Davison, Michigan, USA. Original halftone newspaper print reproduction of a photograph from The Davison Flagstaff. Image provided by artist; converted to black & white; cropped and resized for publication.|
In high school I got braces. I was a band nerd, having played percussion since the fifth grade. I went to band camp in the remote cornfields of Ohio, and I became very outgoing. I had friends from many different “groups.” I was at once an outsider and an insider.
I attended college at Western Michigan University. I switched my major a couple times: from fashion to photography to painting. When I was accepted into the painting program I knew that it was the right path for me. From 2004 onward, I developed a serious, professional interest in the world of painting. At WMU , the painters were tucked away in a historic building called East Hall, which sat on top of a huge hill overlooking the city. We blasted music late through the night. The walls flaked their lead-based paint; but that didn’t matter. We were the painters! With the help of the Gwen Frostic Foundation, WMU has since erected a new, beautiful building; it has huge sunlit studios and several large galleries. We were “roughing it" back then!
|Above: Julia Haw's "Human Fodder" 2006, acrylic on canvas, produced at Western Michigan University. Image provided by artist; black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
Expectations: I used to frequent a dive bar in Kalamazoo, Michigan, called Green Top. One night there I ran across a man named Mark Turcotte, who, in my opinion, is one of the best living poets today. He gave me a copy of his book "Exploding Chippewas," for which Tony Fitzpatrick had produced a cover.
|Above: Julia Haw with Mark Turcotte at Erin and Claire's, a/k/a Studio 1020's, "The First Ward Ball," an interactive community performance scripted by Scott M. Priz, July 31, 2011, at 3220 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL.|
Mark guided me to Chicago, first by means of a visit to Tony Fitzpatrick's huge show at the Cultural Center in 2008. I was fascinated by Tony's work. And then Mark brought me to Tony’s studio; at the time, Tony was still working in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. I had never before been to a working artist’s studio. I was blown away. Being a fresh 26 year-old, meeting Tony was a momentous occasion for me. A week away from signing a lease in Brooklyn, I scrapped my plans to move to NYC, and I came to Chicago.
|Above: Tony Fitzpatrick with artwork, candid, at Studio 1020, March 27, 2010.|
Through Tony (Fitzpatrick) I met: Claire Molek, Mike Pajon, Damara Kaminecki, KS Rives, Dan Cameron, Steve Conrad, Jon McNaughton, Dmitry Samarov, and Wesley Kimler. I also shared an Italian dinner with his friends Neko Case and The New Pornographers! I had never been a part of this sort of creative life before: here was an artist who made a solid living, and surrounded himself with a beautiful cast of characters. My eyes were OPEN.
|Above: Wesley Kimler, in his studio, December 20, 2009.|
School: I did not attend school in Chicago.
Activity: To summarize my time in Chicago: I've been in practice here for eight years. And I've enjoyed much, if not all, of my success on my own terms. I've had no representation--other than Claire Molek. The community here is amazing, and essential to me. My particular community includes artists and curators, as well as non-artists and non-curators.
I'm enjoying my peak experience right now, because my work is better and more seasoned than it's ever been. Having written that, I've had many frustrating moments in the short arc of my career, e.g., rejections, or showing in spaces that weren’t the right fit, and I've had periods where I had no sales and my anxiety was through the roof.
|Above: Erin and Claire (Molek) at center, a/k/a Studio 1020, and Stephanie Burke at right, July 31, 2011.|
I think “Power Pussy” was my most misunderstood or controversial work to date. It was a combative piece, created in response to George Baselitz’s statement in a Spiegel interview that “women can’t paint,” and it was accompanied by an essay with sexist examples from the past year. Women felt very empowered by that piece. I hear it has now been resold for triple the amount I sold it for, and I’m trying to find out who owns it as the seller hasn’t been in contact with me.
Departure: I leave Chicago often. I leave Chicago at least once a month--even if it's only for a short trip home to Michigan to see my family. I spent over six months in Australia this past year as I fell in love with a man who lived in Byron Bay, NSW. We traveled around to the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. I painted at the apartment when my partner went to work.
|Above: Julia Haw at Byron Bay, NSW, Australia, in 2014. Image provided by artist; black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
Perspective & Connectivity: While traveling, and looking at Chicago from the outside, I better see the community we have here. I've established a family here. And we are hustlers. We get out and talk to each other; we attend each others' shows. Sometimes, when we haven’t had a sale, we don’t eat as much as we'd like. And when we have dinner parties everyone breaks off a piece of bread to bring home with them. Our work is different and strange, it comes from the gut, it comes from a blue collar, Midwest ethic.
|Above: Julia Haw's "The Fall of John Lease" 2010, 28 x 34 inches, oil on canvas, Collection of Sandbox Industries. Black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
Information: I stay up-to-date through regular visits, long talks with friends, and some online media sources when I’m away.
|Above: Julia Haw's studio in use, in 2015, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Image provided by artist; black & white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.|
For me, “place” is wherever I feel I need to be at any given moment; in that sense, yes, place is important. That said, it's less-and-less important where an artist IS; the internet has changed things. What matters, now, is only that the work is created, and it’s taken to that next level.
- May 14, 2015 (C) Julia Haw
Learn more about Julia Haw and her work by visiting her website: http://www.juliahaw.com/
Images (1-4, 9, and 11) provided by Julia Haw; black and white (halftone) filter applied; resized for publication.
Images (5-8, and 10) above copyright (C) 2009-2011 Paul Germanos.
Edited by Paul Germanos. Apologies for errors and omissions. Contact using the information at right.
Amended by Julia Haw, on May 30, 2015, to preserve her idiom in text.