PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas November 2021

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The primary wall was filled with a series of canvases that looked to be camouflage paintings à la Warhol but revealed the presence of sparrows. On another wall, figurative work in varying stages of progress displayed Holmes' arresting depiction of Black protagonists in his own captivating and lyrical language. Because my Houston pal Lester Marks collects his work and regularly corresponds with Holmes, I felt on shared ground. The artist offered a sofa, and we plunged into a dialogue that lasted for two hours, traversing art topics, race in America, police brutality, and the artist's big dream for the place he came from. Catherine Anspon: Your path to the contemporary art world. Jammie Holmes: When I was in Thibodaux, I was working in the oil field, at a machine shop, and I remember they were doing layoffs — that's always the hardest thing, seeing people getting laid off. A lot of the guys were grown men, much older than me, because I was the youngest supervisor over there. I knew my salary could save at least two employees. So then, I was like 'I'm just going to quit,' because I felt bad. These people are grown men, and I saw some dudes cry. I ended up putting my two weeks in. I always felt like stuff was bigger for me anyway, and I'm not afraid to go searching for it. I remember when I quit my job, I had decided that I was going to leave. My kids' mother, we're not together, so I was afraid to go too far away from my kids. So, I was like, 'Okay, Atlanta or Dallas.' CA: Why Dallas? JM: I'd been here when I was a kid. I had a cousin that lived in Dallas. I would spend a whole summer out here. I started coming here when I was in the seventh grade until I got out of high school. I'm 37. I needed a job, and the company was only hiring people that lived in Dallas. At the time I still lived in Louisiana. And I told them that I did live here. And then they gave me the job and asked me to start the next day. I was like, 'Oh shit, I don't have clothes, nothing.' So, I went to Walmart, bought everything I had to get, and started working. I stayed at a hotel for a few weeks until I was able to get an apartment. CA: Take us back to that time. JM: In late 2016, The Modern in Fort Worth had a KAWS exhibition. I think that was close to December. I ended up going to that. And I'll never forget the reaction — the moment I decided, 'Man! I can do this.' Because I've always liked to sketch. Sketching was the thing I did when I was younger … that my family really pushed. When I go back and look at sketches that I did when I was in seventh grade, when I was my kid's age, I was super advanced. My mother used to work at a nursing home, and the elderly would pay me to sketch their grandchildren. They would give me, like, $100 to sketch. I've always [done that]; I didn't know it was like a real thing [a profession]. They had this one picture of my great-grandmother and nobody had copies of it. I mean, we're in the country; we didn't think about printers and scanning. So, I did the old-school thing of sketching. I would sketch this photo of my great- grandmother, and my grandma would hand them out to her sisters. To this day, you can go to my grandmother's house and she has sketches that I did for her. We didn't know copiers. I was the copying machine. It's a reminder that I've been sketching for a long time. Read the rest of our conversation, including Jammie Holmes' plans for his hometown, on Jammie Holmes in "Black Bodies, White Spaces: Invisibility & Hypervisibility," through January 27, 2022, at the Green Family Art Foundation, 150 Manufacturing St., "THEY USED TO GIVE ME THIS COMPARISON TO BASQUIAT EARLY ON. BUT THE THING WAS, I DIDN'T KNOW BASQUIAT. I NEVER SAW HIS ART." — Jammie Holmes Jammie Holmes' The Illusion, 2021, at Green Family Art Foundation COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GREEN FAMILY ART FOUNDATION, DALLAS The artist in his Design District studio 112

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