"During these years, Dave was called to Christian ministry, as an Anglican priest. He began work as a police chaplain, in additional to his full-time job in law enforcement. I started a home cleaning business for people with special needs and did this for nearly a decade. Making art seemed to have taken a back-seat in my life, but only because I wasn't sure how I wanted to proceed with the business side of things. Galleries have changed radically since the 1990s--what with the fluctuations of the economy and the transformative impact of cyberspace. I wanted to work outside of the whole traditional art marketing system, using earnings from my art as a way to contribute to social causes, and from at least 2013-2015, I was stuck on just how I wanted to accomplish this.
Dave and I bought a house in 2017. Both of us have spent our lives being wannabe nomads, with rich histories of living life on the unconventional side, so it is quite humorous to reach a point where we still smile and shake our heads at the fact that we are first-time homeowners and grandparents at the same time. We are completely, utterly crazy about our humble, crooked little bungalow. It's a small house, built in the 1930s, so small it could almost qualify for one of the homes in the trendy 'tiny house' movement. The house is on two lots of land, and we envision building an additional facility that will provide room for a church sanctuary, an activity area for working out and study, along with--you guessed it--a micro gallery for me. We would like sharing art to be a much warmer experience, where people can just relax with a cup of tea and talk freely and honestly about the work on the wall, without worrying about impressing the champagne-sipping crowd with lofty artist statements.
This wasn't an entirely new idea...I think it had been percolating in the back of my mind even when I was an art student. Back then, I was like a little kid discovering buried treasure when I stumbled on a dazzling presentation by Jennifer Hawke and Diana Pinnow. In an old run-down firehouse that had been neglected by the neighborhood for decades, huge paintings ran riot on the walls and lavish installation pieces transformed the place--an intense alchemy of color, candlelight and the character of a gritty, authentically shabby building. It was about as far away from a white-walled gallery that one could imagine, and it made the art sing.
The local attraction, called the Bible Story in Stone, did what all great art is meant to do. It not only challenged my beliefs; it literally changed me. Over the years, this jaw-dropping achievement has sadly regressed to just a blip easily raced past on the highway--something that bothered me so much, I actually wrote a piece promoting the place when I worked briefly as an art columnist. I couldn't believe that an artist would want to express so deeply his love affair with the Divine that he would devote his entire life to an intensely private and difficult task--literally making stones convey the soul. This work showed me so many things: that if we devote our work to God, anything can be made to show His glory; the rightness of artists working outside the societal engineering of the conventional art system; the knowledge that 'popular' or 'well-known' does not necessarily correlate with the miraculous. I realized that something Bigger than me was co-creating with me, and it didn't really matter how much the world witnessed what I was doing. I firmly believe the creator of the Bible Story in Stone came to that truth, as well.
I also realized that I wanted to create a different way to sell my work. Putting a price tag on months of effort and emotion has never been easy for me--in fact, it struck me as inaccurate and flat-out frustrating. I recalled that the most satisfying art event I had ever been involved in was the 'Nine Wishes' series, a non-profit cyberspace project where I painted personal wish requests from people around the world, and simply asked for donations. The donation model really seemed to be a way that I could place my faith in God to connect my work to a wider circle of people, and as I've always believed that art should help people and affect change in the world, use my art as a helping tool without prohibitive price tags. All of the donations will go back into basic supplies and be contributed to ministry causes.
It's been a long haul, but the soul-searching has been worth it. Art has become bigger in my life, rather than smaller. It's no longer just the painting on the easel. In fact, I'm not sure where art ends and life begins anymore. I want to live all areas of my life artistically, whether it is in how I decorate my house, cook a meal, or wear my collection of vintage hats. I realize now that we need beauty and truth, imagination and thought, just as much as we need to breathe. Art is not a luxury; it is a necessity to for the growth of human beings."
One of the primary regrets I have from my days when I was represented by commercial galleries is that I rarely got an opportunity to meet my patrons. If you own a Jaeger artwork and would like to send pictures or add your name as a collector, I would greatly appreciate it—and I would love to meet you! I may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All work is copyrighted under Cory Jaeger-Kenat. Any use, without permission from the artist, is strictly prohibited.