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j2 (aka Jennifer O’Brien) from my hometown of Chicago

October 7, 2009

Jennifer and I met at a rain-soaked barbeque here in Chicago.  I honestly don’t remember exactly what we talked about but her unique sense of self came shining through.  It was clear I had just met a new friend.  She invited me over for dinner at her newly renovated South Loop pad.  One step inside and I was knocked over by her funky collection of art.  Her work area was decorated with a series of black and white photographs.  “Where did you get these?” I couldn’t help but ask.  “Actually, I did those,” she responded.  These photos were seriously moving.  Some sad.  Some joyous.  But all filled with emotion and exuding originality.

She then showed me her latest work in assemblage. She had been collecting little photos, miniature plastic toys, scraps and cuttings from papers and pamphlets and all kinds of items for years.  After scattering her mother’s ashes over the grave of her younger brother in New Mexico, she finally realized what she had been saving all these little trinkets for.  She knew they were to be clustered, collaged and assembled in ways that conveyed and shared the despair, joy, laughter, and eccentricity she possessed. She started creating greeting cards in this style and one was actually selected in a juried competition to be sold at the gift shop in the Art Institute of Chicago.

About a year ago she realized that “our art – the art we create and the art we collect — is too precious and expressive of ourTanya & Jennifer true selves to hang on walls and leave behind when we go out into the world.  Our art needs to move with us, be with us…adorn us.”  This is when she started to assemble her funky collection of belt buckles.  Each buckle is handmade…purely original and completely amazing.  Check them out for yourself in her Travel Gal gallery.

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