A true artist is hard to find these days, some might say. But Jessica Gorlicky, the subject of Dario Duran’s documentary entitled 100, is certainly that. The film is not only an account of Gorlicky’s journey as an artist it also celebrates Gorlicky herself and her work.
100 was the first screening on opening night of the 2013 Daring Independent Film Festival (DIFF). Art students have been told countless times about how impossible it is to make a living from their passion. Yet Gorlicky describes how she defied the odds and managed to achieve international success and earn a living as an artist. She utilizes her outgoing and self-described “wild”, fearless personality to her advantage: she is constantly networking everywhere she goes, making useful contacts and promoting her work through word of mouth. She began painting at age thirteen, though as she and her family members attest, she demonstrated a passion for art from a very young age. While Gorlicky received a somewhat formal education in art and art history, she describes herself as a “free unstructured bird”, and “hated it” when her art teachers would “enforce structure”. In her eyes, “being in the world is what [life is] all about”. And so she carved her own place into the art world in her own, albeit unconventional way. She became proficient in four languages including Italian, and studied Renaissance art in Italy. Upon returning home, she sold her first piece of art, at the mere age of 17, for $500. She also snuck into a university painting class, in order to learn other techniques and gain fresh ideas for projects. She claims the painting she produced from the final project of that class is the one piece she refuses to sell, due to the work she put into it. Her bubbly and fun personality makes it look easy, but in reality the artist of the 21st century has to become a hybrid creator. Gorlicky is simultaneously an artist, curator, videographer, editor, actor, performer, and (most importantly) a salesperson. The film stresses that talent alone does not make someone a successful artist in the 21st century. It is not simply enough to paint anymore; an artist has to also promote him or herself. Gorlicky has several advantages, namely that she comes from a very supportive and encouraging family. Both parents, who also worked in sales, taught her business networking skills. Though the film’s purpose is to showcase Gorlicky’s amazing accomplishments, it also acts to promote her work, spreading her name out to more people across different communities and backgrounds. The latter part of the film provides examples of Gorlicky’s current style of work: speed painting. Most of her current works and projects, called “Art In Motion”, consist of “random acts of inspiration”. She does art inspired by anything that catches her eye, and she travels around the world to find the inspiration “because [she] can”. However she has also managed to catch the attention of commercial companies such as Coca-Cola, Holt Renfrew, and Revlon. She hires herself out to perform live art as entertainment for their corporate events. Since she loves a challenge and paints extremely quickly, she is given a set amount of time (as would a musician or dancer for a performance) and the audience can watch her speed paint as they socialize. Gorlicky has also done speed paintings for Cirque du Soleil. She had a more compressed time frame in which to work, and had to do so in a tent, which she says not many artists would agree to do. Gorlicky enjoys connecting with people; she allowed audience members, including children, to help her paint during the Cirque du Soleil shows, forging a deeper bond between audience and viewer. She was also commissioned in the 2010 Olympics to perform across Canada as the torch was passed from city to city. She was given an even tighter time frame, a mere 8 minutes, to complete paintings outside in front of crowds ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 people. Interestingly, her live art works are focused more on the performance itself than the actual painting produced. Furthermore, each painting is unique; “no one’s ever seen [it] before, I’ve never seen it before”, she states.
Yet, Jessica Gorlicky is not a “sellout”. She continues to do art because she loves it, not for the money or fame which she receives. As family and friends maintain in their interviews, Jessica stays true to herself. She uniquely manages to be as unrestrained as her free spirit yearns for, while still appealing to corporate and mainstream audiences. Duran’s editing skills seamlessly move from one interview to another. The subjects (Gorlicky, her friends, and her family members) speak so casually it feels as though I am having a direct conversation with each one. Gorlicky’s interviews feel like I am talking to a friend over coffee, as she jokes, tells funny stories about her experiences, and discusses her art with such emotion, it is although she is talking about her children. Gorlicky herself was present for the screening and even performed a live painting on a backlit canvas, which was thoroughly enjoyable and added another dimension to the film. After the film she answered questions from the audience (comprised of: as far as future projects). She says she hopes to create more interactive work to inspire more people and further involve the audience. She plans to create a 360 degree video, where Gorlicky designs a world, presumably much like a video game, but the audience member can navigate through it.
100 is an inspiring piece, especially for an art student such as myself. Jessica Gorlicky has proven over and over again that it is possible to make a living from art. In both direct speeches to the audience as well as in the film, Gorlicky has stressed over and over how important she finds it to let the artist explore oneself, one’s world. Before the film she told the audience her mission in life is “creating, inspiring people to do what they love” and advised the audience to “try everything at least once”. She gains inspiration from everything around her, and hopes to be an inspiration to those wanting to follow in her footsteps. Photography by: Oren Kats ttps://www.facebook.com/orenkatsphotography