“He made me fall off the couch the other day…. but I love him.” – Chelsea

They live together. They work together. And they make art together. Meet Jacques and Chelsea. Originally from the East Coast, the artists fell in love and relocated to Sonoma County last year. Both academically trained in art, their paths intersected two years ago in New York City when the pair realized they’d both attended Maryland Institute College of Art. After relocating to Santa Rosa, Jacques began working at Village Art Supply in Santa Rosa, and shortly after, Chelsea joined as a giclee printer. They typically work Monday through Thursday and spend every evening at home creating art. Half of their living room is protected with plywood with Jacques at the easel and Chelsea sprawled out on the floor surrounded by brightly colored markers, pens, and inks.

True to their East Coast roots, Jacques and Chelsea are direct and authentic. They both share a passion for creating art that represents their vision, despite what’s popular or marketable. During his college years, Jacques challenged the status quo and produced representational paintings when everyone else was producing conceptual, abstract art. Chelsea studied film and video, creating “shock value” installations that documented childhood traumas including physical abuse and a life spent dealing with the auto-immune disease psoriasis.

Jacques spent time at Oxford for his master’s degree and as an artist in residence, held gallery shows in Europe for eight years, even selling a piece to the Guggenheim collection. But despite commercial success, today he doesn’t need his paintings to be in galleries. He wants the “average joe”; not an art critic, to connect with his art and that’s why you’ll find his pieces on display at cafes and restaurants. Jacque’s paintings have an art nouveau quality to them, with layers of intricate details based on compositional math used in the renaissance like the Fibonacci theory and Golden Section.

Jacques Bartel

Behind the Lens | Jacques Bartel

After realizing her early work with film and video was an expression of her post-traumatic stress, Chelsea is now drawing and painting. Often told she has the hand of a graffiti artist, she introduced urban art product Krink to Village Art Supply—a product originally designed to write on trains. Since she doesn’t want a felony for street art, she uses this textural medium on vellum and combines it with gold leaf, holographic poster board, washi tape–even Mrs. Grossman’s stickers. She takes inspiration from her surroundings, understands “the rules” behind classic art training, and enjoys breaking them. Her subjects range from pop culture to social media, including Prince, Rhianna and even Juliette Lewis, who reposted Chelsea’s homage to Juliette’s character Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers, on Instagram. With her Jersey girl roots, using Krink in her artwork puts her in touch with the contemporary urban culture she misses from the East Coast.

Chelsea SheDemon

Blood without Rococo | She.demon (Chelsea)

Ever since he met Chelsea, she’s been his muse and model. “He made me fall off the couch the other day. He had me lay upside down to see how the muscles looked. But I love him,” she says. Chelsea appears in nearly all his paintings. Except an early one of an ex-girlfriend he later painted a deer head over (after the break up).

Jacques and Chelsea love Sonoma County and don’t plan on returning to the East Coast. After you’ve been held up at gun point or woken to the sounds of a woman screaming, Santa Rosa feels like another planet. The weather, natural beauty, and ease of getting onto the freeway, are all reasons they will continue to live, work, and create art here.

Jacques Sketchbook

Jacques’ Sketches and work in progress

Chelsea

Chelsea’s work using Krink

Visit jacquesbartels.com and shedemon.org to view their portfolios. Jacques’ paintings will be on display at SoCo Café in Santa Rosa (May 1-June 1).