JIM JOE has existed in New York City for five years now, an omnipresent non-issue in the public domain. His/her presence in the street is created with spray paint and markers on public and private surfaces, but unlike traditional graffiti is both highly legible and deals with a broad swath of content. Urgent remarks, sentences abstracted awkwardly or displaced song lyrics accompany his/her tags. The content of these public missives maintain punctilious manners and frequently beg assistance from the chance passerby. And perhaps partly due to their illegal nature, they suggest a writer who has his eye on the clock, whether literally or figuratively.
In the last two years JIM JOE has shown here in New York City and Paris and Toronto, “artworks” in “galleries” but always questioning and pushing up against those words. The street activity and the gallery artworks come from the same place, which is not necessarily “him/her”, per se, because JIM JOE is not a real person of course, but rather a world within a world, an idea that has its own influences, concerns, approaches and responses, but is not tied to a biographical back story of a unique author. Art audiences may have questioned the idea of lone genius authorship but they still love a good backstory, an emerging artist who can be explained in a few sentences by his or her birthplace, upbringing, school record or lifestyle. JIM JOE did not grow up in a cult and discover fly-fishing as a way out of that restrictive life and thus makes sculptures out of fishing lures. We don’t need to fuss over any of that nonsense because he is not a he or a she, or anyone.
Lives and work in New York City
Jim Joe vs. Lewy: Piece of Dirt, 48 Bowery, New York, NY
Quality of Life, Poppington Gallery, 60 Orchard Street, New York, NY
Millett, Maya, “The Art and Mystery of Jim Joe”, The Local; East Village. New York Times. October 7, 2010.