Ladies First! exhibition highlights art of local women

(Courtney Pedroza/DD)
Jobot hosted the second Ladies First!, an event to showcase women in arts Friday. Over 30 female artists were featured. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

Locals gathered at Jobot Coffee and Dining to commemorate women in arts at the second annual Ladies First! art show on Friday.

More than 30 female artists, performers and business owners gathered to showcase their work for attendees at the Third Friday exhibition.

“We just want to be a part of correcting the imbalance of the gender representation in the art field,” said art curator, longtime Jobot employee and event host Niki Noriega.

The idea of the art show first came about after Jobot employees saw potential for a new event and mission, in the steady flow of female artists featured in the coffee shop. Outdoor tables offered coloring pages featuring women in traditionally masculine roles, including a female motorcyclist.

A wide range of artwork, including collages and embroidered designs, was displayed on Jobot’s walls. Performers who set up in the patio area included hula hoop performer Lola Joy and poet Carli Pike. Also featured were female-led music performances by The Darling Sounds, Kaijupie and Junkyard Amy Lee, with Leonhardt & Co.

The variety was largely due to an overall lack of restrictions placed on artists.

“The only kind of submission guidelines that I gave the girls was I wanted them to try to keep to a smaller size of art,” Noriega said. The smaller size was to conserve limited wall space.

Although renovations kept the event from occurring in 2014, Noriega said the initial event in 2013 provided more artists with greater ideas for submissions to this year’s showcase.

“This one’s a little bit different because I think people saw what happened in the first one, like what people submitted,” Noriega said. “They kind of did a variation on what we did before.”

Many artists chose to submit art that reflected feminist views. Ashley Macias’ “Beneath the Skin” showed the sameness of all people, when stripped passed outer appearances.

Similarly, a featured comic strip by Grace Bolyard, vocalist and guitarist of The Darling Sounds, illustrated the life of Nellie Bly, a female journalist who broke through gender barriers of the workplace more than 100 years ago.

“She just did it all, and she was unapologetic,” Bolyard said. “I wish I was more like her sometimes.”

Lauren Joyce, who performed under the stage name Lola Joy, described the importance of showing attendees the abilities of women in unconventional arts, as with her background in roller derby and hula hooping.

“I hope they take away that art is beautiful, no matter who makes it, or what type of art it is,” Joyce said. “And that they learn to appreciate things that they wouldn’t have been aware of before, or they see things from a different perspective.”

There were also many men present at the event.

“There are still so many hesitations for men to even utter the word feminism in a positive way,” said Zachary Nelson, drummer of The Darling Sounds. “Having been exposed to this community through Grace, through fans of The Darling Sounds, I’ve really grown and opened up and seen how important it is to see these groups and see what they can do for themselves. I know this might be a cliche takeaway, but it really does benefit everyone.”

Although gender divides still have yet to be resolved, Bolyard said she believes events like this reception for women further the cause.

“The work of feminism is still not done, even though it’s 2015,” Bolyard said. “I think women are still underrepresented in so many areas. It’s really important to get women’s work out there in male-dominated fields.”

Though the annual Ladies First! art show focuses on spotlighting artistic women, its showcasing of local talents also reflected Jobot’s mission of benefitting the arts community.

“It’s really hard for a lot of people in general—not just women, but men too—to get into some of the galleries,” Noriega said. “There are very strict guidelines, and at Jobot, we really like to showcase the little guys who maybe are just starting out, or have smaller bodies of work.”

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