Jane (Sommerhauser) Elliott
Studios Eleven - Side Effects - July 2014
Studios Eleven - California Writers - Solo Show - February 2014
Studios Eleven - Group Holiday Show - December 2013
Accepted into the Alameda County Arts Commissionís Artist Registry - June 2013
The Pallet Space - Group Show - September 2012
Commission for Mumford & Sons tour - Suite Treatments - August 2012
Oakland City Hall - Art & Soul - EastBayExpress - August 2012
CK Gallery - Discardia - Best In Show - June 2012
Gallery 1044 SF - Mechanical Voayges - Group Show - January 2012
Poplar Gallery at American Steel - Diamonds In The Rough - December 2011
Poplar Gallery at American Steel - Urban Genuine - Group Show - October 2011
American Steel Studios Summer Arts - Group Show - June 2011
American Steel Studios Winter Arts - Group Show - December 2010
Hotel des Arts SF - Ex-istence - Group Show - November 2010
Farley’s Coffee - Jane Elliott & Ben Johnston - October 2010
ArtBeat Salon - Group Show - May 2010
Projekt30 - Juried Group Showing - January 2010
Visual Aid at Somarts - The Big Blue Deal - November 2009
Manifesto Bikes - The Living City 2 - Art Quest 2 - August 2009
Expressions Gallery - Lines, Patterns and Textures - February 2008
The Crucible - Winter Fling Thing - December 2006
lobot - A Show to Show How a Show is Not Only a Show - July 2006
Annual Juried Student Exhibition - CityCollege SanFrancisco - 2005-04
abco artspace - National Security - October 2003
ArtWorkSpace - Spring Salon - May 2003
Very Short Story of My Life
"All art tells a story and for me - my stories - they come on in a very visual form. I strive to recreate the tales that play out in my head here in the theatre of the shadowbox - rather than on paper."
Born Somewhere in Virginia, Saturday the 27th of July Ė Jane began investigating the inner workings of machines as soon as she was able to hold a pair of pliers. With her fatherís workbench at her disposal she taught herself how to draw and delighted in dismantling -- and occasionally the reassembling -- of house-hold appliances.
Once the idea of creating in 3 dimensions took hold she could not resist constructing imaginative buildings and sculptures with scrap wood and discarded items of interest. Her formal studies in Fine Art started at Cal State Fullerton and continued after a move north to San Francisco in December of 1989. In 2006 she came across the Bay Bridge to Oakland and began drawing and then building the Robots. It was an 'ah ha' moment when a client put a small robot in a gift box and they both were captivated by the effect. Only a small move forward with her painting process initiated the graphic novel style that her current works are known for. She describes the dioramas as "two and a half dimensional" -- each finished work is composed of flat pieces used to 'fake' a 3-dimensional scene inside a deep frame.
Often while working in series the storyline develops in the background and isn't fully formed until the final pieces are being designed. Greatly influenced by the science fiction authors of her childhood, Jane blends her sketchbook ideas with the recollections of daydream musings on the future. Each series stands as a unique entity with its own characters and backstory. Painting in a graphic novel style with matte colors and black outlines, the works have a bold palette which adds to the extra dimensions.
A series of 13 portraits and a handbound book
California occupies an unusually independent and wide-ranging position in the realm of the written word - The very nature of it's geographical size and location generates a unique mix of deserts, mountains, forests, fertile valleys, and beaches. This vast array of natural enclaves brought forth cities, towns, farmland and roadside attractions of an equally varied scope - which in turn inspired writers, poets and authors to a multifaceted layering of genres. Its position on the eastern arc of the Ring Of Fire - facing toward the Asian theater - yields a very different aesthetic than that of Europe, which for so many centuries directed the body of the written word.
If our Wild West and Gold Rush heritage were not enough to produce a fecund planting ground for new thinking, the presence of great poets and radical thinkers contributed immeasurably to this fertile edge of the world. Could we imagine a California without the great writers who have penned this state into its current state of being - and will inform the sensibilities of every budding author to follow?
Whatever challenges California faces in this fast-moving age, we may all find evidence here of the exaltation of freedom, for the written legacy of this Western culture is indeed a celebration of a richness and diversity that is so essential to the making of this land. This series is by no means meant to be a comprehensive listing of the best and brightest, but an informal look-to, which hopefully displays a wide array of our brilliant multiplicity.
By appraising the written words of our region we find a certain kind of vision and imagination that knows no boundaries - a certain kind of joyous restlessness is our inheritance - intimately tied to the physical landscape as well as the dreamscape which forms this State of California.
A diffierent kind of graphic novel
This story began as these things usually do for me - while daydreaming. On my bike riding to and from my studio at American Steel in West Oakland it was easy enough to filter the visuals of the neighborhood, with its abandoned storefronts, abandoned vehicles and abandoned streets at 7am, in through the art making part of my brain and thus produce a narrative that grew in scale and complexity to this outline for a graphic novel.
The beginning of art making for me seems to come in the middle of the whole of the series - as far as the storyline is concerned. Without really knowing where it would all lead I began making the dioramas as the tale was still being told. Starting with 'LoneStar Industries' I was able to physically grasp the fundamentals of this new kind of work - the 2.5 dimensional shadowboxed diorama. Although 'LoneStar' doesnít fit into the story line anymore - it is a self-portrait of a kind - the 'About the Author' image on the flyleaf of this 'book'.
Currently the characters are a mixed group of people I know, have met, heard about or found and interesting picture of to use as reference. I'm sure I need to contact a few folks to get some permission of some kind for image usage - or I'll just change the names to protect the innocent. For now as the works are progressing - about one every other month or so - I'll keep to making art and figure out those details when I'm coming around to the end of the building process.
You will find the current version on this page - 'Storyline' and just so you know I'm always in the process of refining the work. I'll be doing that until all the pieces are built and finished. It's a bit on the rough side --- but I think it is understandable.
What is this 'Haedron' you speak of?
272 Million Years Ago
The Haedron crashes into a Paleozoic Swamp
Curious energy fluctuations attract visitors and scientists alike to the mysterious henge.
Mysterious Object discovered by Famous Archaeologist, Georges St.Mark.
Hailed as the "Find Of The Century"
but just as suddenly rumors begin to circulate -
The whole thing was a set-up !
Death of the Archaeologist
St.Mark leaves his estate without any word to anyone and takes the penthouse of the Mayfair Hotel.
He makes a deal with the hotel owner to be secreted away there until he can prove the truth of the Haedron
on his own. He pays a lot of money for this privacy. The hotel owner is a mostly honest man and does keep
this secret. As he lays alone in the penthouse - near to drawing his last breath - the Haedron emerges from it's case pulsing with energy.
A nearly post oil world. A nearly abandoned City.
Amberlyne talks with Hank, the grandson of Alhambra Fairmont. Hank lives on the street and tells the story of the mysterious Haedron and the archaeologist who holed up in the penthouse of the old Mayfair Hotel. She tries to find the old rooms - tries to find the Haedron - but never does - -
Since the stairwell to the Penthouse had been boarded up
and plastered over after the death of the St.Mark she never finds it.
The papers are Sold
Although copies of St.Marks' Haedron papers had been sequestered and hidden, the originals had been pilfered away by Evers Smith - a double dealing operative of the SGA. He sells them to artist WeiWei who is working to expose the mystery of the Haedron.
Allegra, an assassin in the employ of the SGA is sent to kill WeiWei so that all knowledge
of the Haedron can be squashed and the Haedron can be found and appropriated for the military.
The Haedron Papers
Christina and Audry, working for a local television, attempt to confront Weiwei about the papers as he attempts to flee the city. They find him unconscious in the abandoned airport - apparently they had interrupted Allegra,
sent to kill him. They understand that they now have the Haedron papers when suddenly WeiWei's
plane blows up.
Brooke was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. At night the Haedron makes a virtual visitation and imbues her with special powers and abilities. As the Haedron begins it's new growth cycle and expands in the abandoned hotel penthouse, Brooke destroys the transmission towers to keep the rest of the humanity in the dark concerning the happenings at the Mayfair Hotel.
Transimssion lines go dead - transformers blow - cctv shuts down -
A New Dawn
By its very nature collage is a transformative work - more so than any other practice of art making. Yes indeed, the paint in its tube, now brushed onto a canvas, becomes something else entirely - and has fulfilled its purpose. Collage on the other hand, is made from a collection of otherwise unrelated pieces that have already fulfilled their original purpose - and are now coaxed into a new finality that is altogether different.
These works are culled from such disparate sources as couture fashion rags, art magazines, and vintage photography monthlies. The actual doing of the work of collage is very much a nonverbal game of mix and match - why this spiral motif here exactly and not over there, I could not really say - just a feeling I guess.
I begin with laminating a sheet of acid free card stock to thin plywood and then set to scraping - or 'pulling' as I call it - acrylic colors across the panel until I see something I like. Then I cut out a pile of interesting images, patterns and parts - - and that's when the fun begins - to see which bits want to be with which bits. I'm always intrigued by the stories that can be found in the finished work.
Made in an almost dream state - they are much like dreams themselves.
About the Robots
Easy to spot from a Distance | Single Issue Robots 2008 - 2011
The inventive proliferation of the natural world and my penchant for Industrial Design inspire this series of Robots - I see an endless combination of beastlike and spare parts all mixed up! Mechanized flora and fauna blended in a caricature of shining colors and black lines. Each machine has a distinct personality - They rattle and choke up and purr and snap. They grind to a halt and oscillate wildly - and now become an increasing presence in our lives. I mix this essence with my fascination of amoebae, diatoms, insects, Russian space stations and mysterious sea creatures. My biomorphic-machine mash-ups say that 'life insists' and Nature always wins, I don't know if they are merely glorified household cleaning assistants or if now they find their own reasons for being.
The Robots began as a series of sketches and after many months of turning their shapes over in my head, needing to figure out how to build them, I realized they were flat - and then I was able to trace, trim, layer and paint the first one.
I use an opaque projector to re-draw these mechanical beasties on light weight plywood, then cut out the silhouettes using a scroll saw. Carapaces, tubes, claws, suction cups, satellite dishes, detectors, gauges, antennas, and sensors - the parts are painted with a glossy enamel, and glued together. Solid colors and black lines give the Robots a superflat cartoon look even though the artwork is actually made of several layers. With wood, glue, paint, and a modicum of woodworking skills the robots are now ready for action - Whatever that might be - -
About the Making
Hand Tools win every time | Why I am what I am
Making things -
Figuring out how things work -
Building something that I have never seen before -
Creating a new world for others to step into -
Following my love of creating new worlds, it is no surprise that the diorama has become the stage for my latest works.
At my fatherís workbench I disassembled - and occasionally reassembled - all manner of household appliances. I taught myself to draw and paint, and began to build crazy structures out of all the objects of interest I could get my hands on; hoping that no one would notice anything had gone missing.
Everything else in my world fell out of focus, and my most vivid memories center around the making of these tiny worlds. Houses, beasts, furnishing, landscapes - even the corners of the garden were subjected to my heady desire to open that Doorway into that Other place. In school, I battled other useful, but mundane, subjects like history and math - Music, writing, and art were a balm against the deathly boredom.
College started out as a blast in music theory, and ended in a whoosh of drawing and photography. Years later I returned to capture a degree in graphic design only to succumb the unfathomable need for my hand to be at the tools I love most - a certificate in cabinetry and furniture making was produced instead.
Across the years, I have done all kinds of jobs; from 3-D modeler to graphic designer, website builder to writer, filmmaker to costume maker to metal worker. Iíve spent time in the darkroom, at the table saw, and on the anvil in search of what was important to me.
I've come to realize it was the time spent figuring out things for myself - deconstructing the icons of reality around me - that opened the doors to a world beyond.
The art that I make and the worlds inside my shadow boxes come straight from my hand holding a screwdriver to that missing toaster.
And so please do take a look, and hopefully something in here will open the door for you to another world - a little place not so far in the future.