When island artist Pascale Judet invited her son Gabriel Judet-Weinshel to share a show at VALISE Gallery this month, his response surprised her. Instead of two separate exhibits, the New York City filmmaker and musician suggested he and his mother talk about their deep-seated link as artists. Their joint show, “A Lifelong Dialogue,” opens Friday at VALISE.
The two artists’ mediums are different. Judet paints and uses collage on a range of surfaces and dimensions, from tiny stamp-sized miniatures on wood to large-scale canvases. Her iconic clock dioramas combine painting with model figurines. Judet-Weinshel creates films as the writer, director of photography and composer/musician for his company Wax Wing Films.
Their worlds also couldn’t be more opposite. Judet lives on 35 wooded and pastured acres on Vashon, and Judet-Weinshel calls Brooklyn home. But the two share a wealth of imagery that populates their artwork. Boats, water, visions of flight, trees, open doors and corridors, the earth, fertility, flat horizon lines and reckoning with death — these are the common territories each artist explores and that will be will evident in Judet’s paintings and in short clips from Judet-Weinshel’s flims and journals.
When Judet-Weinshel, a 1995 Vashon High School graduate, thinks back to the beginnings of his artistic dialogue with his mother, he likens it to an involuntary movement.
“It’s been almost like breathing,” he said. “She was the first artist I knew and whose work I really liked. I don’t think I’ve ever not had that dialogue with mom.”
Judet says she’s been painting all of her life. Born in France, she moved to Berkeley for graduate school in 1970s, when she met her husband John. They moved to Vashon when Judet-Weinshel was 10.
“Mom worked at home,” Judet-Weinshel said. “Then the dialogue was as simple as me walking into her studio and doing paintings together. It was less intellectual, more collaborative. It was being exposed — like osmosis — to her artistic approach that influenced my art making.”
Judet describes her work as very personal and realistic, although during the last six months, she has found herself doing abstract scribbles. In the past her scribbles have led to images, she said. Right now, they remain scribbles. But Judet trusts the artistic process.
“It is all there in my unconscious, and it opens a door when I am in that space. It connects me to something very important.”
Gabriel says his mother’s work is highly emotional and highly intuitive.
“Art is a natural impulse for Mom,” Gabriel said. “It is anything but pretentious. She is the most honest artist I know. I have always trusted her work.”
Judet-Weinshel makes his living as a director of photo-graphy, some pocket change as pianist with a trio at New York’s Soho House and is creating a feature film called “Omphalos.” He credits Vashon for creating a safe and supportive community that allowed him to grow up to become who he is today.
“Vashon has such an amazing amount of creative artists. And the landscape influenced me.”
Though Judet admits she and her son have many connections and are “almost scarily alike,” their discussions now serve as helpful critiques.
“We are very separate artists,” Judet-Wienshel added. “We trust each other’s opinion. It’s an ongoing dialogue.”