With Jessica Turtle


Jessica Turtle is a pretty versatile artist who is able to easily transcend artistic mediums. Her pieces incorporate a multitude of colors and blended images of animals and the natural world. Her style is quirky and fun. Aside from the visual arts she also excels in the culinary arts and is expecting a baby girl in September. Oh yeah, and her last name is Turtle.

MJ: How long have you been painting seriously/what got you into the arts?
JT: I attempted to show my work publicly in 2001 while living in Chicago and I’d say it went smoothly all things considered. It wasn’t until I decided to relocate to Duluth did it become something serious. I found a far more embracing and receptive art community and within five years of working, socializing, and attending school I emerged as a Duluth artist with great enthusiasm.
Art is just an enormous part of what I am. There was nothing in particular (aside from awesome support from my Mother and friends) that “got” me into the arts.

MJ: What have you been working on lately?
JT: This is the most exciting time in my art career thus far. My partner, David Aichinger and I opened a studio in North East Minneapolis entitled “New Monster Art Studio” and in the past two years we have thrown ourselves into public art projects across the Twin Cities. We completed mosaic murals for ParkView Elementary School in Roseville, and another for the new Vertical Endeavors location in Minneapolis. This summer we are taking on a twenty-foot by forty-foot mural for the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to be installed at the Maplewood Mall. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be in an artistic partnership with the Watershed, which is a governmental unit responsible for protecting our water resources.
Aside from that I’ve become a member of the AZ Gallery and coming this July is Running with Scissors, a group exhibition I will be hosting with Brendan Rhode. The show is quite unique and features an assortment of artists from Duluth, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Chicago. This show spins the tradition of gallery exhibitions and is not one to miss. My favorite Duluth artists are working very hard to prepare for this show and I am so excited to see what comes of their efforts and mine.
To list a few Duluth artists: Jeredt Runions, Adam Swanson, Chelsey Miller, and Karin Kraemer.
Given the success of the Running with Scissors show, I will continue to be a liaison between galleries and artists. It’s a position I thoroughly enjoy.

MJ: How’s the Minneapolis St. Paul Art community? Contrasted with Duluth?
JT: I like to think of Duluth as the artist incubator. In Duluth I was able to build my strengths because of an abnormal and very special community of support. It’s not impossible to find similar support in the Twin Cities, it’s just not quite the same. Jeredt Runions said it best upon his return from Oregon to Duluth, “I’d much rather be a big fish in a small pond.”

MJ: Are there any particular themes that reoccur in your paintings?
JT: I wouldn’t say there’s a reoccurring theme, more like reoccurring colors and lines. My subjects constantly change and my interests constantly change but my use of color and line is fairly consistent.

MJ: What inspires you as an artist? What keeps you doing what you do?
JT: People inspire me. Bus rides inspire me. I keep doing this because I have to, like I said before, it’s just me.

MJ: Where can people see more of your work?
JT: AZ Gallery in Saint Paul, www.newmonsterartstudio.blogspot.com, mnartists.org, www.etsy.com and at the New Monster Art Studio where all are welcome anytime.

MJ: Do you have any personal milestones or accomplishments that you’re proud of as an artist?

Well, being voted the Northland’s Best Photographer is high on my list (even though I am not a photographer). In all seriousness, I am really proud to have been involved with the ParkView Elementary project. David and I worked with one hundred and sixty kids (80 kindergartners and 80 eight graders) and survived.
Aside from that just continuing to show my work has been a major accomplishment. I have had numerous rejections from galleries because I tend not to work in series and there are no reoccurring themes in my work. I’ve remained confident that in time a shift would occur and it has. The underground art scene is no longer underground. Artists now have a greater freedom to create pieces because they want to, regardless of whether or not it will sell. It’s never been the greatest business model. I know I’ve been told to do it differently at least a hundred times. All I know is that sticking to what I feel passionate about is what keeps being an artist interesting. I can’t imagine settling into one thing or another. I enjoy so many different mediums and subjects.