Friday, July 8, 2011

Jay Isenberg-Installation - Form and Content Gallery

“Ghosts and Shadows” - Section from the exhibition “Unbundling the Housing Crisis” with Feyereisen Studio
Jay H. Isenberg

Name: Jay H. Isenberg, AIA
City/State: Minneapolis, MN 55416
Website: profile:

Jay H. Isenberg, AIA is a practicing architect in the Twin Cities, an arbitrator and mediator of design and construction disputes and a founding member of Form+Content Gallery. His projects as an artist are multiple-disciplinary and collaborative and often include a component of public dialogue around specifically themed installations, digital presentations, and performance. His interactive digital submission (with Ron Haselius), "Pilgrimage on the Seam" won an honorable mention designation in the recent Just Jerusalem 2050 international competition (

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
My work as an "artist" sits at the intersection of architecture and it's delivery with issues of law, ethics, politics, social-political conditions and the built environment. It uses the language and materials of architecture, usually with some mix of object and text to depict the ambiguity of situations and how architecture plays a role whether overtly or as subtext. Often, the subject matter addresses the complexity of jewish identity and history including the contemporary. I almost always work collaboratively with invited partners and have created and curated two other exhibitions at Form + Content Gallery with my wife and artist, Lynda Monick-Isenberg.

Currently, we are working on our third exhibition opening July 14th titled:
"Interim Report on the Excavation of Zone 5". It involves 5 other architects working together with personal artifacts, found objects and scraped together materials in order to uncover what we are doing, while we are doing it and why. It's a work in progress based on trust, inquiry, making, humor and discovery. A large eclectic "table" made upside down will be the centerpiece with an archeological basis in the display of other pieces; a wunderkammer of sorts seeking a thread of its own reason. It's theme was never defined before we began working together, and that's what's somewhat different, exciting and nerve wracking as well.

“Dialogue on the Wall” - installation with Lynda Monick-Isenberg

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
All of my work is a mediation on my own ambiguity, which apparently I need to depict, defend, facilitate with others and share.

Can you describe the “line” between art and design and how that affects your work?
I wouldn’t say it’s a “line”, rather an ambiguous zone where creativity happens within a vocabulary made up of the two disciplines but a process more akin to the design where iterations of an idea are developed, critiqued and then revised. It’s an open ended process, invitational, collaborative, argumentative, builds upon itself and only has an end because it has an explicit deadline. The challenges a client brings to the architect in me is more familiar and comfortable than the struggle an absent client brings to the artist in me. The results are quite different but related, others are far more articulate in describing the condition.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Don’t be afraid, work at it with others better than you, critique yourself, make up your mind, laugh at yourself, change it, finish it already, be done, make it and hang or install it already. I don't know where any of this came from, it's what bangs around inside my head.

“Interim Report” - reAssembly Detail

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
No such singular space. I have a light filled "studio" space above our detached garage filed with remnants of 25 years of practicing architecture, a corner in the house where the laptop sits, a kitchen table that doubles as layout for everyone in our family, a table at half a dozen coffee shops around town, and have worked in the studios of several collaborating professionals. Much work also gets done on dog walks and 20 mile bike rides listening to Dylan, as well as in the space before waking up from a sudden nap on the couch, chair or at the keyboard.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Fellow gallery members at
Form+Content (

Architects in the Department of Public Design's Council of Firms (

Alec Soth (

James Lileks (

Non Minnesota artist: Walid Raad (

“Two Walls” - digital installation with Ron Haselius

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Afraid I don't go to many art galleries other than
Form+Content ( openings where there would be a different show every six weeks, the Walker Art Center ( and the MIA ( If you followed me there you'd likely plan on a short visit. I also have a great respect for the owners and the work at Homewood Studio in North MInneapolis (

I'd rather walk, drive and bike the city to see "art".

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Stumbleupon (
Cool Hunting (
Archidose (
Visual Complexity (

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Yes, the exhibition noted above, "Interim Report on the Excavation of Zone 5" at Form + Content Gallery.
The info is below:

"Interim Report on the Excavation of Zone 5" - Exhibition media image

Form+Content Gallery and the Department of Public Design present
an interim report on the Excavation of ZONE 5
JULY 14 – AUGUST 20, 2011

The Director of the Department of Public Design announced today
that an ambiguous assortment of artifacts and materials
recently uncovered in Zone 5, will be evaluated by the
Council of Architects and presented in an exhibition of reassembly.

Curated by Jay H. Isenberg and Lynda Monick-Isenberg

Council of Architects:
ALTUS Architecture + Design
Locus Architecture
RoehrSchmitt/HLKB Architecture

watch for further information and updates at

Form+Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St • Mpls, MN 55401 • 612-436-1151 • Thur-Sat 12-6 pm

Jay Isenberg

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