Sunlight pours in through the tall windows of artist Jared Weiss' studio space. Electric guitars lie on a nearby ancient sofa, overstuffed bookshelves line the walls, canvases litter the room emblazoned with works in various states of completion. Upstairs, his girlfriend mills about in their shared apartment; downstairs, Weiss explains how he'll sometimes change a painting's course, flip the canvas and start a new piece on the opposite side. He's working on a new series lately, this one seemingly fixed on the idea of motion and starring friends and loved ones.
Weiss' work has always carried a certain degree of activity, and those close to him have always been featured in one way or another, even if they aren't immediately recognizable. It's the creation of something familiar, though dreamlike—the catalyst for sincere emotion; a static work that swims with action and with more going on the longer you observe.
Once upon a time, Weiss explained to us Freud's concept of dream space, or the retooling of memories we find lacking; the hiding of things from ourselves and the creation of personal fiction. He brings it up again now, and how the idea generally lies at the heart of nearly everything he does. But this body of work is particularly staggering, even as it's still in progress. "Your headspace has to be right and you've gotta want to dive in," Weiss says of his process while presenting works from the past month or so. "I always have ideas, I'm always working on something—the ultimate goal is for them to look like they've almost spun out of control, but I've grabbed them at the last moment."
Weiss hails from Ohio, but has called Santa Fe home off and on for five-ish years. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, he says there's just something about the New Mexico light that makes him stay. "I'm think I'm addicted to it," he explains. "It's really good to be here, because it feels sane, and in San Francisco there were so few opportunities. … My friends, we wouldn't share opportunities with each other because it was so competitive."
Of course, he's become a bit of a darling in the local art scene since he's been here. With solo shows at galleries of the caliber of form & concept, group exhibits at places like Freeform Art Space and various other showings across town, it's generally agreed that Weiss belongs in Santa Fe, or is at least a forebear to a new guard of contemporary painters: He's young, he's crazy-talented and he's not a jerk about it.
"Jared Weiss' work is deeply psychological [and] his hyper-colorful palette feels synesthetic," Curate Santa Fe's Niomi Fawn says. Fawn has worked with him numerous times before. "There is something about these compositions that makes you want to join," they continue, "like a party invitation. For better or worse."
Indeed, Weiss paints with a sense of urgency and says he goes at an almost frantic speed. Here, in his studio, he continues working on a piece centered around a friendly game of football among friends. The iconography of the sport melts away, however, and we lose the awareness of the game. Instead, we zero in on the tangle of arms and legs, understanding it is a group of people but ultimately finding a single breathing organism inhabiting an oddly familiar world. We know this place, we've maybe even been there, but we still can't quite put out finger on it. The word we're searching for is "beautiful," even if overuse has stripped the term of its meaning.
The light has changed since we've been here and the shadows grow longer. With Weiss' back to the room, all we hear is the scratch of brush on canvas. Maybe we've been here before, too.