Jenessa Goodman is an artist based in Encinitas, California. Her recent work includes a series of paintings that explore braids. Before joining a Zócalo panel discussion about the arts in San Diego—“Will San Diego Ever Become a Great Art City?”—she talked in the Zócalo green room about preventing painting disasters, working in big dimensions, and enjoying at-home dance parties.
If someone has one night to spend in Encinitas, what should they do?
I just did that last night! My friends [who were visiting from out of town] and I started with tacos at the beach. Then we got in line for the best Japanese restaurant ever, where we holed up and drank sake and ate all night. But I’m not going to tell you the name of the restaurant!
What do you do to get in a creative mindset?
I’m always in a creative mindset. Though I do have “billable hours”: I tidy up, I putter around, then I get my workspace ready.
Describe your art in three words.
Emotive. Precise. Depths.
You have a painting series that features images of braids. Why is the braid an important symbol to you?
In braids, there are a lot of different pieces, but when you twist them together, the result is both strong and supple. All the elements work together in a way that can be very powerful. And I have a personal history with braids—I have a lot of hair!
What’s the worst disaster you’ve had while making art?
I’m a pretty precise artist. In fact, I go to great lengths to prevent disasters. I have a lot of systems in place.
What’s the last song you had stuck in your head?
“Watch me (Whip/Nae Nae).” After our Japanese dinner last night, we went home and we had a dance party.
What do you miss most about New York City?
I miss just being able to be out on the street, with people out and things going on, at any hour of the day.
You make “Peace Posters” to raise money for Migrant Offshore Aid Station. What made you choose this charity over others?
It’s the only one of its kind. I grew up in San Diego, in the ocean and on the ocean. For people who grew up like that, it’s not hard to imagine dying out at sea. I think I have a very visceral reaction to that.
What’s the hardest part of teaching art?
Keeping men in classes. It’s all chicks! My classes are more about creativity than technique. They’re about process. There’s a lot of talking and sharing. And the guys tend to quit.
Your works are large—sometimes multiple feet in height and width. Name one advantage and one disadvantage of working on this scale.
The advantage is that I get to really spread out, which feels great. I have a new studio that’s set up for working big. The disadvantages have been framing and transportation.