Press

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012

Sweet Sweet Jane

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Every­body has a past, and if they don’t then they’re not a very inter­est­ing per­son. Jane Richard­son Mack must have a diverse resumé filled with exotic past lives of intrigue, because there is noth­ing plain about this Jane or her work.

I can only spec­u­late the roles this gifted San Fran­cisco Bay Area artist must have played span­ning time in dis­tant exis­tences and other worlds. She’s Michelan­gelo, Cleopa­tra, Vivian Leigh, Mary Shel­ley and Elvis all rolled into one.

Like Mary Shel­ley, the writer respon­si­ble for bring­ing us the Gothic novel Franken­stein in 1818, Jane breathes life into inan­i­mate ingre­di­ents and makes some­thing lasting.

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Packed with lay­ers of cross-cultural con­no­ta­tions and both nat­ural and his­tor­i­cal influ­ences, her art astounds. Check out this mural on an ele­va­tor panel, above, from the 2009 San Fran­cisco Dec­o­ra­tor Showcase.

The sheer beauty of the pieces leaves me speech­less, and believe me, that is not an easy feat. It’s no won­der the one and only, music prodigy Car­los San­tana col­lects her art and is one of Jane’s fans, because she is so Smooth.

Chas­ing the Dragon

Jane was invited by Gumps’s vice pres­i­dent Jon Leaf­st­edt to cre­ate art pieces for their Year of the Dragon install­ment. Here she is, pic­tured below with one of her babies. “Giv­ing birth to drag­ons is a prickly painful expe­ri­ence. I’ve had eight of them,” she said.

Mere pho­tos can­not cap­ture Jane’s drag­ons. They are awe-inspiring.

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Leg­endary, and Mythical

Of the 12 crea­tures in the Chi­nese zodiac, only the dragon is myth­i­cal. It’s also the only one that’s leg­endary. The rest of the char­ac­ters are real animals–the rat, ox, tiger, rab­bit, snake, horse, goat, mon­key, rooster, dog and pig. The dragon how­ever, is unique and ever­last­ing. How appro­pri­ate then, that Leaf­st­edt would com­mis­sion Jane for this job in particular.

Method Act­ing

Jane’s tal­ent for role-playing has proven valu­able in the process of cre­at­ing drag­ons. As any worth­while actor knows, you must under­stand the char­ac­ter you’re por­tray­ing and let it become a part of who you are. It’s the Stanislavski tech­nique and with­out it the char­ac­ter you’re pre­tend­ing to be is just make-believe–hollow and mean­ing­less and devoid of true depth. It’s a shell of a per­son, a mere shadow of the char­ac­ter itself. Unfulfilled.

The pieces Jane has cre­ated reveal an under­stand­ing for the majes­tic beast. “When I close my eyes at night I am a dragon,” Jane told me. “I know what it’s like to see through the eyes of a dragon. You are a ser­vant to the dragon. They like to play tricks on you,” she said.

Smoke & Mirrors

Each piece for Gump’s is Verre Églomisé–that’s French for ‘glass gilded’–it’s a pre-Roman art tech­nique where a design is engraved into leaf­ing on the reverse of glass for a mirror-like reflection.

Named after the 18th-century French dec­o­ra­tor Jean-Baptiste Glomy who repop­u­lar­ized the method, it is used in doors and pan­els as well as free­stand­ing art. Clean­ing is like magic since the design is safely on the back­side of the glass.

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Above, Jane stands with one of her twins. She cre­ated a pair of fra­ter­nal drag­ons, one male and one female, $4,000 each, in this stun­ning jet dis­play of Verre Églomisé.

Stage Pres­ence

There were many, many beau­ti­ful women of all ages at the Gump’s Year of the Dragon event, but it was sweet sweet Jane who stole the scene with an effort­less sex appeal and casual con­fi­dent kind of glam­our that was authen­tic and uncon­trived and infi­nitely more appealing.

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Foot­note

Here is Jane with her boyfriend, above, an adorable guy who showed up to the fancy affair impec­ca­bly dressed from head to toe, wear­ing wing-tip Vans.

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For a truly one-of-a-kind gift, Jane’s pieces are avail­able at Gump’s San Fran­cisco, priced from $1,600 to $5,100. Or you can do what the rich and famous do, and com­mis­sion Jane to paint a mural in your home.

If you can’t cough up quite that much cash, Jane’s work is now on dis­play at Gump’s San Fran­cisco and makes a great date for you and your sig­nif­i­cant others.