Jennifer Celio

Studio location: Pocket sized room wedged into a charming, Craftsman bungalow in Long Beach’s Belmont Heights neighborhood.

You know her paintings and drawings from: The City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) 2014 Individual Artist Fellowship exhibit at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (Barnsdall) and from the exhibit Women to Watch 2015: Organic Material at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. She also has a solo show at opening April 9th at Haphazard Gallery in Los Angeles.

Fun fact: Although she has never seen a ghost, she would like to.

S – The first time I saw your work was at Sam Lee Gallery and then at in a drawing show at Valley College. Mostly what I’ve seen is graphite work and now you’re working with color and abstraction. The mix is dynamic. The volume is turned up. What was the shift like? You had been making it for years, people collected it, there’s an expectation…

J – Yeah, it was scary. I’d been making it for 14 years. I had reached the end of what I’d wanted to say with that work.


 S – Your older work was from the knuckle. How could you have made bigger, more explosive spaces using graphite pencils?

J – I went back to the uncontrollable medium of water color. I use the same paper, Yupo paper. It’s synthetic, it’s plastic. It doesn’t fully absorb so it creates these pools. You can lift color off after it’s dry. Some colors stain but you can erase a bit. And then there’s this marbleizing effect.


S– It’s interesting that the material creates it’s own details and then you do your thing next to it. It’s a nice exchange.

J– I worked on a piece for months and kept telling myself keep going. I rarely felt that way doing the graphite drawings because everything was pre- planned. I knew what I was going to get. I would transfer the drawing onto paper beforehand.


S– I liked that you were making LA landscape, dystopian situations that were about environmental issues. But the work was really elegant so you were depicting these ugly things in this beautiful way.

J- Now it’s less about specific ecological issues. How nature works around human intrusion and yet survives. It’s shifted away from it, but it’s still in my mind. It’s a conscious influence on me. What it means to me is still in there.


S– Rather than depicting it, you’re coming at it from a more emotional place, less literal place. It’s dreamy.

J-I ‘m glad they come across as more emotional, that was a conscious choice. I’m very passionate about nature and the urban environment and how they collide. It is more personal and based in memories.


S – Tell me about your upcoming show

J – It’s at Haphazard Gallery on Sawtelle which is run by two architects. It’s a collaborative project, a site specific installation and it’s all in panels. The panels will all be hexagons all different sizes. Formally, based on a beehive but it’s not really environmental. It’s more about how the pieces fit together in that perfect way. I’m approaching the gallery as one massive shape.



S – I love the poetry of many beings creating one thing.

J – The imagery will continue from panel to the next in a loose narrative.. Some panels will just be colors or gradations.


S– And your palette. How do you pick colors?

J – I love intense colors so I start there and then I pick more muted ones to balance it out. I’m using flash paint and I like it. It’s very velvet-y. Really different than acrylic, less plastic-y. A lot of it are colors from my childhood, avocado greens, tangerine.



J – Some of the imagery I pull from old photos. Intuition has become more important. I’m trusting my gut instinct more and more about what to include, what direction to go in. If an element seems out of place, I’ll live with the discomfort of that.

S- You’ve be making these so long… that you know where to hold back and when to challenge things. A lot of work is beyond language, that’s why you make these things. It’s interesting that you are working more in abstraction.


J – I like using more abstract elements, moving it beyond depiction or decoration. It gives me a greater appreciation for abstract artists. Just knowing what goes into it.

S – It seems like your work right now requires you to let go. You are upending it for a reason. You’re making problems for yourself.

J – There’s more possibilities now.


You can see more of Jennifer’s work here. Her show Hitched to Everything Else opens Saturday April 9th with a reception at 7pm, and runs through May 7th at Haphazard Gallery.