STRUGGLE AND PRIDE IN JAY DEFEO
Gallery assistant Armando Jaramillo Garcia reflects on a favorite work in the Whitney’s collection.
I’m thinking a lot these days about Jay DeFeo’s The Rose, a work she created over the course of eight years in her San Francisco apartment. To me, it expresses the essence of struggle, of trying to express your vision as it evolves without compromise. It also speaks to me about the close relationship between obsession and isolation for artists, as well as the calamities and circumstances that can present themselves and make the world feel like it’s spiraling out of control.
DeFeo fought through poverty, neglect, and eventually illness to create this monumental work. She was sustained by a community of friends and artists, curators and museum directors—and without their support, The Rose wouldn’t have made it to where it is now.
In conversation with Leah Levy near the end of her life, DeFeo expressed her faith in The Rose‘s ultimate fate: It was a work that began with visions and ended with her vision of it hanging in a museum, where she might, in another life, feel proud of it being admired.