Meet Judy Jessen, Gallery Owner

Find out how art can impact a space and where to learn more.

This month Tidewater Women interviews Judy Jessen, owner of BOJUart, an online art gallery featuring multi-disciplinary artists.

TW: Why is art important today?
JJ: Art touches us by creating an emotion–good emotions, bad emotions, strong emotions—from curiosity to inspiration to outrage to social statements. It connects us.

TW: How did you come to be interested in art and in supporting artists?
JJ: I've spent my career as a marketer with a brand strategy focus, leading in-house marketing teams and for over 30 years a marketing agency co-owner. Coming from the advertising and marketing world, there's always been a creative backdrop. My interaction was with creatives—writers, art directors, designers, photographers, retouchers and illustrators—who often had a fine art pursuit.

Rather than exhibiting awards, the marketing agency walls displayed local, national and international artists' work. We hosted art auction fundraisers. My husband, Bob Petersen, is our agency's Creative Director and a fine art photographer. We often discussed how artists are undervalued. BOJUart was founded on the premise of helping artists achieve and sustain their growth.

TW: Your gallery is currently online, but do you anticipate opening up a bricks-and-mortar venue once the crisis has passed? If so, tell us about it.
JJ: Unfortunately, with so much unknown, the new gallery bricks-and-mortar plans along with pop-ups and art fairs are temporarily on hold as live gatherings have been affected by this health crisis. We were about to move into new space at the oceanfront before the virus. We will keep you posted on updates.

Currently, we're curating new online programs highlighting multidisciplinary artists and providing the "gallery" experience. Clients can experience a free personalized art consultation via Zoom to decide which pieces work best in their home or business. We continue to offer personalized one-on-one appointments. We also offer a wall visualizer consultation using a photo and dimensions provided by the client to experience "live" how the artwork integrates with their space.

TW: What kind of art/artists appeal to you and why?
JJ: I prefer non-traditional approaches to a traditional subject whether that's painting, photography, or mixed media. I have an affinity for 3-dimensional work: glass, ceramic, textile, and wood. I am an avid street art/mural follower, fascinated by the artist incorporating architectural elements into the art.

TW: Tell us about your background: where you were raised, went to school, career, family, etc.
JJ: I'm a Navy brat who moved every two years. Our tours landed us in Virginia and included Northern Virginia and here. I went to middle school in Norfolk. I'm a Hokie. After graduating I went back to Northern Virginia, then to Pittsburgh and then to Cleveland where I lived for 26 years. We re-located here in 2014. BOJUart was founded in 2018 and I continue to dabble in brand marketing consulting. I'm surrounded by artists. My son is a glass artist in Richmond, VCU Arts graduate.

TW: What trends are you seeing in art? Interior design?
JJ: I'm not sure there is one single trend or statement that can define today's interior design. Taste levels are diverse. But that's the beauty of how art can expand the cultural component of a space. When accompanied with furnishings, accessories, and space design, it can be a good framework to help define time periods, personality, uniqueness and bring in materials and finishes. Interior designers have asked us to help match the correct artist with room designs to create states of simplicity, complexity, energy, etc.

TW: What advice do you have for artists and people who are considering pursuing art?
JJ: If possible, get your MFA. It opens up educational career opportunities to support your art pursuit. Find a life partner that supports your art world, emotionally and financially. Persistence and tenacity. And surround yourself with a team of people that can allow you to do what you do best. Your art.

TW: How did you choose the name of your gallery?
JJ: It's short for Bob and Judy. Let me explain. We explored a ton of names and then made it simple. My husband and I have had a history of accomplishing a lot, together. What is more simple than names like Bob and Judy. BOJU. People ask how it's pronounced. Is it French? What does it mean?

TW: What are your thoughts on the ViBe District?
JJ: A lot of hard-working people with a lot of love for building an art culture district in Virginia Beach. It could use a commitment from more Virginia Beach locals beyond just the surrounding neighborhoods. Pharrell's support has boosted the ViBe's visibility. Successful creative districts in other cities have developed their districts with subsidized rents, incentives, and rezoning initiatives to attract and maintain creative tenants. This allows innovation and creativity to thrive.

BOJUart is pleased to announce the launch of ongoing online exhibitions highlighting multidisciplinary artists. Recent online exhibit additions Limits of Spontaneity and Organized Chaos. Limits of Spontaneity is a solo exhibition featuring the large abstract work by BOJUart mixed media artist Marlowe Emerson. Emerson explores the limits of spontaneity in painting and drawing, playing with a tension between simplicity and complexity. Organized Chaos is a solo exhibition featuring new botanical work from BOJUart photographer Bob Petersen. Petersen's photography borrows images from our familiar natural world, resulting in large-scale work that moves between recognition and abstraction. Both Emerson and Petersen live and work out of their studios in Virginia Beach. For more information, visit www.bojuart.com.

Peggy Sijswerda

Tidewater Women Magazine, Editor & Co-Publisher.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com
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