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February 05, 2012

Legato :: Jesse Reno

 legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Jesse Reno
by Jenny Doh

In 1999-2000, after having created about 100 paintings, Jesse Reno made a commitment to paint. It was, as he describes, something that he liked more than any other thing he had done or had been doing. What he had been doing in terms of his day job was to work as a postman in the state of Pennsylvania ... a job that he would eventually find a way of letting go, as his commitment catapulted him into the world of painting. Full-time, and all-consuming. 

JD :: Tell me about the words on your hands: Love and Hate ... about the line that separates the two and how at times one changes to the other.
JR :: The lines is pretty far from the two in my mind. like and dislike are way closer then love and hate. It is worth noting that in life we have to do things we love and hate and the idea for me is to remember which are which and why you do each. Only do things you hate out of neccesity. Remember to do the things you love and to move toward them any way you can. The other key thing to remember is it's better to love or hate than it is to be void of feeling. In the instance of the tattoos I dont have them for any of these reasons I have them because my dad has these same tattoos, and I got mine when he almost died a few years ago as a gesture of respect and lineage.

Jesse Reno
JD :: I think fans of your work can tell that it's your work from a mile away. If we were to look at your early works, do you think we could still see strands that relate to your current works? What are those strands?
JR :: I'd say it would be pretty clear pretty far back, my work has changed but I'd consider it all more evolution then change. The techniques motivations and basic feelings are all the same. The ideas have grown the layers have multiplied, the stories have gotten more defined and the legend of symbols is bigger but the base is still the same and comes from the same ideas of introspection self growth and persistance.

JD :: Who is your best friend?
JR :: Micheal Fields, Lana Guerra, my dog Buddy. I can choose 3 if I want as they are all my best friends.

JD :: I read in the Citrus Report interview that you worked as a postman and that you snuck in painting in between shifts to keep sane. I think the need to find ways to cope and stay sane while working in insane workplaces is a reality that many people relate to. Besides painting, were there any other methods that you used to cope in the workplace?
JR :: I was a postman in Pennsylvania before moving to Oregon. It was an alright job actually; it wasn't insane as much as I was at the time. It just became harder and harder to work a day job. The more I painted and saw what was possible. I started going insane about 2.5 years into painting.
By that time I was showing, and selling my artwork regularly ... not enough to quit work but I was making a part-time income. So each day all I could think about was my big escape. So painting at work was just part of the escape as well as a break from the madness. I focused everything on this
so I didnt do much else at work besides work, paint and daydream about paintings or shows, or ideas that would lead to my painting career and my escape from work.

Jesse Reno
JD :: Tell me about the music and sounds that you create.
JR :: I've been making music since i was about 14 years old. I play guitar, bass, drum machines, synthesizers, sequencers, scratch records on turntables, make noise on violins, cellos, violimbas, and other toy instruments. So I make a mix of musical styles and record them in my home studio. I like to make music with the idea of rythm, sounds, and notes interacting rather than parts or keys or parts. A lot of it is pretty linear. I do multiple projects ... kidspecial is a trip hop project, powercircus is an experimental project with two other musicians lana guerra and mahon rose. There are a bunch of other tracks I do here and there.. The best way to find out about it is to go to my site, jessereno.com and click the music link. I really hate trying to describe music.

Jesse Reno
JD :: The workshops you teach are usually 3 days-long. How come 3 days? How come not 2 days or 1? What happens in 3 days?
JR :: You need breaks to get away from your own head and ideas. Most people think about moves as right or wrong then this dictates how they feel about them. In creative instances there are many unexpected outcomes that should not be judged this way. And this thinking is key to my process ...
learning to see an experience of what your are creating, rather then judging it as right or wrong. I'd rather look at things out of the moment when judging. I find a more honest eye when I look at things for what they are rather than what I expected. Expectation can really cloud your vision. So to really get a full understanding of my techniques and ideas about observing art, you need time to digest and comprehend the experience. I'm sure all my students who have taken a 3 or 5 day class will tell you, I tell them a lot of the same things but each day they have a new understanding of the concepts. I'm teaching people about painting, but I'm also teaching them about finding instinct, freeing themselves from there own judgments, as well as taking responsibility for there creations. That's a lot to accomplish in 5 days let alone 3, let alone 2 or 1.

JD :: So we've talked about love and hate. Let's talk about war and peace. How do we live peace? In other words, how do we manage the inevitable conflicts that humans create?
JR :: Not sure. That's all going to depend on the situation and the person. Living truth is a good start. Doing what you believe, and fully understanding it. When forced with conflict fully explaining yourself. Choosing personal values over political ideals. Politics are like creating divisions in ideas and drawing lines betweeen people who could agree on 20 things and disagree on one ... dividing people who for the most part agree based on one idea. Creating teams is a great way to create a conflict. Beyond that I'm not sure what to say.

JD :: Tell me about the music you listen to.
JR :: I listen to music thats all over the place all depends on the day or moment ... timber timbre, coco rosie, minor threat, the ventures, the doors, the mifits, the sex pistols, bauhuas, jay z, method man, beastie boys, anima, mum, crystal castles, tom waits, the zombies, bonobo, amon tobin, bierut, devotchka, powercircus, kidspecial, elliot smith, lightning bolt, etc.

JD :: I kind of feel that you dream vividly when you sleep. Is that right? Do your dream scenes look like your paintings?
JR :: Nope. I rarely remember my dreams at all. And when I do they are pretty normal like me teaching class or hanging out or some other regular life activity. When I'm awake I daydream really well.

Jesse Reno
JD :: What's your favorite meal?
JR :: Veggie samosa, cheese nan, and mutter paneer, with a mango lassi.

JD :: What's your favorite snack?
JR :: Iced coffee

JD :: My hunch is that you're a night owl. That you stay up super late ... painting. Do I have it right?
JR :: Sometimes. I just do what my brain and body tell me. I wake up when I wake up and sleep when I sleep. A lot of the time it seems to be wake up between 10am and noon, go to sleep between 1 am 4am.

JD :: Finish this sentence: "The thing people might not know about paint is that ...
JR :: ... it can be cheap and non toxic.

JD :: Finish this sentence: "The one thing I know for sure is that ...
JR :: ... persistance will bring you to your goals.

Jesse Reno
JD :: Think of a word or two that come to mind when I say:
    home - trees - rain
    baritone, tremelo,
    noise, horror
post office
    old, tall

Jesse Reno
JD :: You say that folks who can't relate to your work need to loosen up. What is the key to loosening up?
JR :: Recognizing that mistakes are as valuable as any other possible outcome. Some of the best things happen by mistake. Learning to believe in what you believe, and to trust in your intentions to lead you to your desires.


All images provided courtesy of Jesse Reno. Visit www.jessereno.com.


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Great interview Jenny. I love Jesse. I have had the pleasure of being in one of his classes at Artfest. He is great inside and out. Love Lana and Jesse.

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