PAM Jam artists talk about their work

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Sometimes, art is just fun.

“Yellow Pants,” a four-color silk-screen print by artist Mimi Sherman Pearce is an example. It depicts a pair of yellow pants atop shoes shaped like small alligators with red eyes. The image is a monoprint, each iteration unique because the registration varies from print to print.

“I believe art should be for everyone,” Sherman Peace said. “It should be everywhere. And I think it should be light-hearted, as well as serious sometimes.”

She said she enjoyed creating the print because it was different than the oil paintings she has mostly done.

“Yellow Pants” is Sherman Peace’s contribution to PAM Jam Ponte Vedra Beach, a showcase of poetry, art and music at the Ponte Vedra Branch Library. Visitors can see the art, read the poems and then view videos, which also feature the musicians, by scanning a QR code with their smart phones. The exhibit runs throughout November.

Each artist collaborated with a local poet, whose writings are framed and hung next to the corresponding art. Pearce’s collaborator is Violet Rightmire, a pseudonym for Debra Webb Rodgers, whose poem is also titled “Yellow Pants.”

“It was a wonderful collaboration,” said Sherman Pearce. “It was a lot of fun.”

She didn’t tell Webb Rodgers anything about her art before the latter wrote her poem, so the theme is explored differently by each.

The music for their collaboration is performed by Craig Frazier.

Nearby, artist Martha G. Ferguson displays a trio of her oil paintings, depicting the Nation’s Oldest City at sunrise, during the day and by moonlight.

“I paint local scenes in St. Augustine,” she said. “I’ve always lived in little, quaint towns, so it’s just fun to paint them.”

The accompanying poem, written by Ann Browning Masters, is titled “Vermeer in St. Augustine,” and it works in harmony with Ferguson’s art.

“It’s really a wonderful poem,” Ferguson said. “If you’re ever in St. Augustine at dusk, you’ll know exactly how she felt and why she wrote the poem the way she did, the way the light goes up to the bayfront.”

The musicians accompanying these works are Dennis Fermin and Shari Little.

Each collaboration in the showcase is unique. Poet Shutta Crum wrote “3.5 to 4 percent” first, and Deborah Lightfield created her painting, ‘Mangrove Moonlight,” based upon what she read.

“Shutta has a phenomenal poem, and what inspired my artwork is the first line: ‘I rest on a coastal ridge,’” Lightfield said.

She attached two canvases in such a way as to create a ridge that delineates the world of underwater life from that above the surface. Her approach to art is unique.

“I take the canvas and I put it literally into the ocean,” she explained. “The ocean deposits the sand. Then, I take it up to the beach and pour the acrylic paint on it. Then, I take it home, let it dry a couple of days before I sweep off the excess, and then I see images.”

Likewise, Crum’s approach to poetry is her own.

“I was always inspired by science and poetry together,” she said. “So, I did a lot of reading of Rachel Carson and Loren Eiseley, both of whom are scientists.”

The name of her poem refers to the proportion of salt in the human body, which is equivalent to that found in the ocean, from whence life came.

“Essentially, you carry your own ocean around with you,” Crum said.

Their music, by Daniel Birch, is licensed from Creative Commons.

Shari Little, who plays saxophone and flute, has been performing music for more than 20 years. She started the Teal Cabana Club at a time when everyone was self-quarantining during the pandemic. The band performs mostly jazz, but it also mixes in some blues and rock and roll.

Both Little and her band have provided the music for some of the PAM Jam artists’ videos.

“We’re all artists together, you know,” she said. “It’s just such a neat mash-up.”

Though most of the works in the PAM Jam exhibit are mounted on the library walls, those by Judith Fox-Goldstein reside behind glass in the display cases near the entrance. Her mixed-media pieces are reproduced on nearby pillows, business cards, wine-bottle holders and more.

The images are based upon people Fox-Goldstein has known.

“A lot of my work is based on powerful women of diversity,” she said.

Once she has created a work of art, she writes a story about the character she is depicting. And each takes on a life of her own.

“They become a part of my ohana,” Fox-Goldstein said. “‘Ohana’ in Hawaiian means ‘family.’”

In fact, until 2015, Hawaii was where Fox-Goldstein made her home, working as an administrator with the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

In 2018, Fox-Goldstein — who had never before painted anything — had what she calls an art awakening.

“I stand back and say, ‘I didn’t know this was inside of me, because I had never drawn before,’” she said.

She said her art speaks to her sense of social justice. One piece in the PAM Jam exhibit especially falls into that category. It’s called “I Just Wanna Live,” and it refers to a song by the same name performed by Jacksonville youth Keedron Bryant and written by his mother, Johnetta Bryant. The song was a response to the slaying of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020.

Many of the works at PAM Jam Ponte Vedra Beach will be available at a silent auction during Jazz Jam! in December at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. They may also be purchased directly at pam-jam.com.

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