Inspiration Island, Mikesville

Chronicles of an Elsewhere Studio Mate: Sarah Jane Lapp

SJ & me in our old studio, circa 2007

Now that I have a blog, I am very excited to share all of the artists who I have either had the pleasure to call a friend or who have influenced me as an artist. Sarah Jane Lapp has been both friend and inspiration.

I met my friend Marc on a plane from Newark to Seattle about 7 or 8 years ago. We hung out one day, and he said he had a friend who lived just two doors down from me. Enter Sarah Jane, curious and wild-haired. Unlike most keep-to-yourself Seattleites, Sarah Jane immediately invited herself over and asked to see my art, and we have been friends ever since.

SJ's famed loveseat that you see us sitting in above. This piece hung in our studio until Sarah Jane moved away.

We would sit in her kitchen almost daily, and plot out our lives while she would make some tea and vittles from her random cache of twigs, greens, and legumes. We had big plans to have our own art “destination” where we would make things, and somehow sell them to people who would be lured in by the scent of our fresh-baked cookies. Surprisingly, this did not come to pass. However, we did become studio mates and remained so for four wonderful years. We have seen each other through the highs and lows (and very lows) of our personal and artistic careers.

This is one of my favorite pieces by any artist. I just want to jump into it and turn into a burst of bright colors.

Sarah Jane is a film maker/illustrator, working in ink and gouache. The honesty of her line matches her genuine spirit. Some of her pieces have a minimalist approach that capture such a depth of feeling with just a few strokes. Others marry her line with bursts of colors that I can only describe as alive.

Still from Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist. A character study of these birds hangs proudly in our dining room.

I had the honor of watching her work on and complete an animated film that took her nearly 11 years to create, Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist. When she was done, when all of the frames were stacked in one proud pillar, the film stood more than half her size. It was an entire film handmade with ink and gouache and edited in Final Cut Pro. Eulogist went on to screen at South by Southwest and the Seattle International Film Festival.

Op-Ed piece for the Post Intelligencer

Meanwhile, SJ also did op-ed pieces for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (RIP), and sold her art to the masses via a booth at Pike Place Market. This was always funny to me; I wondered if customers understood that the woman in the Russian faux fur hat that they were purchasing handmade greeting cards from was a genius. I am in awe of the various fellowships and residencies Sarah Jane has been accepted to, not to mention teaching at several universities (including a little place called Harvard). I do want to note that I am totally butchering SJ’s resume by leaving out her other lauds, but these are the moments that stick in my mind, the ones that make me proud and give me hope as a creative.

The title of this is "This Is A Total Catastrophe", but to me this is a total illumination.

SJ would always say to me “be good to yourself,” and it’s something that I try to impart to others. She is always trying to connect people, always trying to learn and grow and be a good human.

When you're Not Here, starring SJ's loveseat and the void where her ink seat used to live. (by me)

SJ left Seattle over a year ago, and it hasn’t been the same without her. She’s currently living outside of Providence, plotting new adventures.


9 thoughts on “Chronicles of an Elsewhere Studio Mate: Sarah Jane Lapp

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  3. Heather says:

    I was one of the random people that purchased one of SJ’s paintings at the Market. Her work clearly bespoke genius. As I was just starting in my career I was quite broke so I remember that she was kind enought to accept when I embarrasingly had to “trade” for part of the price. Years later her painting still makes me happy everytime I look at it and I am honored to be the owner of one of her creations. As a matter of fact, her painting is still one of my prized works of art. (“Rabbit – the pert ears”)

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