We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Hohlfelder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I feel like my art career chose me. I started studying art under a grad student in the art department at CU ten years ago because I knew I’d love it. After spending years in sales, then owning and selling my own skincare business and ultimately ending up as a bookkeeper, a friend came to me to hang art in a new hair studio. I had never publicly exhibited my art. This notion completely unnerved me. Share my art? The possibility of rejection was overwhelming. I took the owner of the business 4 pieces to choose from and she loved all of them. This was early in 2019, I was still professionally a bookkeeper. I had my first art show at that salon per everyone’s urging and sold several pieces. Everything snowballed from there. I had a millenial come to my house to show me how to use Instagram. It would take me an hour to create a post. Once I started regularly sharing my art, I started receiving validation that I actually WAS an artist. A boutique hotel in Soho NYC asked me to do a two day show in October 2019. I was becoming more brazen by the day. I sold 9 paintings at that show and one currently hangs in an office at One World Trade. I was still a bookkeeper. I submitted a request to the St Julien Hotel in Boulder to be a featured artist. They took me up on it and I was on exhibit there for six months, during a pandemic, no traffic, no events and I still sold pieces, garnered press and became a staff favorite. It gave me street cred. In March, due to Covid, I lost my bookkeeping job. That’s when my new career officially chose me. Today I’m in a museum, a gallery and have representation. I’m finally doing something that inspires me, empowers me and makes others feel good. What more could I want out of a career?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started taking art classes because I wanted to be an abstract artist. It quickly became clear that abstract wasn’t for me. I tried, but every canvas turned into an object or scene. I related to that figurative and expressive style. I feel I see everyday objects, buildings, scenery, figures, in a unique way that inspires a story by the viewer. Nostalgia is a huge influence for me. For example, I once painted an avocado-hued rotary wall phone. The woman who bought that piece loved that it reminded her of the kitchen she had in Kansas in the seventies. That’s what I strive for, I want to touch a chord. I have learned to paint what inspires me, not what I know sells, or what’s trendy in art. If it doesn’t speak to me, it’s not going to speak to anyone else. I have learned to put myself out there. Not easy for many artists, but a lifetime in sales has helped me overcome my initial reluctance, I’m now shameless. A jewelry designer I worked for bookkeeping, encouraged my side hustle, “It’s not art until you share it”. If no one knows about you or your art, you’ll never get it out into the world. Be bold and believe in what you do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The day would start with breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Cafe in Boulder. Then drive up to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area outside Nederland for a hike up to Lake Isabelle. Stop in Nederland on the way back for pizza at Crosscut Pizza and a beer. Back in Boulder, cocktails at a rooftop establishment downtown such as The Rio or West End Tavern. The Kitchen for dinner! Local spots to check out for a visitor or resident: The Museum of Boulder to discover how it got here and what it’s produced as a community. The art museum at the University of Colorado. If it’s summer, a Shakespeare Festival production at CU outdoors at The Mary Rippon Theater – never seen a bad one. A taping of eTown. A small concert at The Boulder Theater or The Fox, preferably jazz. Bands on the Bricks on the Pearl Street Mall every Wednesday in the summer. A tour of NCAR. Any concert or movie being shown at the Chautauqua Playhouse. Cross country ski around North Boulder Park. Coffee anywhere except Starbucks – there are so many cool coffee houses, some offering live entertainment (Ozo Coffee) and most offering art!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My art teacher, Andrew Jensdotter, whose voice is constantly in my head when I’m painting. All of my friends, some who I hadn’t talked to in ages, who reached out and supported my art on Instagram, gave me the confidence to move forward and up every step of the way. My husband, who is my tireless assistant shlepping art, wiring pieces for hanging, a critical eye, and most of all, an ear. He’s finally learning the difference between a story and a post on Instagram.
All of the images I took myself.