About Us: The Second State Story
In 2011, artists Heather Patterson and Elaine Coombs began working on a set of collaborative paintings as an experiment. They had always responded positively to each other's work and thought it might be interesting to see it together. It was a way to push them into new territory, to be faced with challenges they wouldn't usually encounter working by themselves. Heather and Elaine started on paper and small panels, each taking a turn at starting a work and then shipping it to the other artist (Heather lives in Colorado, Elaine in California). Initially, both artists found it challenging to deal with their different styles - Heather works in layers and can actually go completely over a layer if it doesn't work; while Elaine’s process by contrast, is only additive. In the first few tries, they tiptoed around each other's marks. However, after several attempts, they found a happy medium – layering and integrating the imagery to slightly overlap and compliment, rather than compete. Each artist usually gets 2 turns with the work, and the artist that started, doesn’t usually get to finish. The initial four works (3 on paper, 1 on panel) were shipped back and forth 4 times over 3 years. The first showing of the Second State work was at Stephanie Breitbard Fine Arts (Mill Valley, California, now Simon Breitbard Fine Arts, San Francisco) in November of 2014, where all 4 pieces sold to private clients.
In January of 2015, the duo began work on a new batch of pieces on panel and paper. Two of the new artworks were shown in July of the same year in Park City, Utah at JGO Gallery’s annual summer show – Massively SMALL. Following that exhibition, the duo had a two-person show entitled ‘Conversations / Second State’, which opened in February of 2016, also at JGO Gallery. This show debuted a new collection of four Second State works as well as many new individual works by each artist. That same summer, they again participated in J GO Gallery’s annual Massively SMALL show with several new works.
Recently, the collaborative team was commissioned to create a series of four wine labels for Imagery Estate Winery. In conjunction, the artworks for the wine labels, along with process photos and support materials, as well as their own individual paintings, were featured in a museum show called, “Beyond the Pour II - The Creative Process” (August 20, 2016 - January 20, 2017). Invited by curator and artist Bob Nugent, the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design exhibit was a group show that featured over 50 original works of art by many notable Imagery artists: Judy Pfaff, Sol LeWitt, Catherine Wagner, Stephen Galloway, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Jim Melchert, among others. After the exhibit, the Second State wine label artwork will be on display in the tasting room at the Imagery Estate Winery in Glen Ellen, CA. The wines featuring the SS labels were released in late 2016, and are now available by joining the Imagery Winery - Artistry Series Wine Club.
While further projects for the duo are pending in 2017, Coombs and Patterson continue to maintain and develop their individual artistic careers. J GO Gallery currently represents the duo.
What does the name mean?
“Initially, we were thinking about passing our work back and forth between our two states of residence - California and Colorado. Our idea then shifted to thinking about how the work is transformed when each artist takes their turn and makes their marks on the piece. A work is in the 'first state' when one artist begins. Then when it is passed to the other artist in the duo, it is now in it's 'second state'. The second state is the place/space where the magic starts and collaboration begins. The second artist has to feed off the ideas that the first artist has begun to develop. We really like that there is a dual meaning of the 2 states idea.”