The clairvoyant, digital hot tub known as Psychic Jacuzzi was founded in 2016 by Matthew Wicks, an artist and Visiting Professor of Art at the University of South Florida. Its platform, an Instagram account (@psychicjacuzzi), features emerging artists from around the world. Artists are given a week to prune up in the Jacuzzi; they post a minimum three times a day for seven days to share their inspirations, process, finished works, and more while getting aquainted (sorry) with other artists and followers.
Wicks, an artist whose practice has evolved over the years to include elements of craft and mixed media, started the account as a way to showcase emerging artists who work with sculpture, ceramics, or fibers. “When I graduated, I saw this huge boom in mixed-media sculpture where I was starting to see these works featured at Art Basel and museum shows,” Wicks said. “I have always been intrigued by these materials [fiber, glass, sculpture] because they have their own traditions, histories, and rules.”
Psychic Jacuzzi ‘tight as leather’
Nov. 14, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Social distancing and masks required
parallelogramgallery.com (see artist lineup at bottom of post)
The name of the account has a two-fold meaning. “I see the emerging artist as a metaphor for psychic,” Wicks explains, “It might sound hokey, but I see the maker as a kind of alchemist who has a vision of the future with the abilities to create the world they want to see. Emerging artists are the future of the art world, so I’m always wanting to see how they break the rules and push their work forward.”
This approach to managing the Jacuzzi bubbles into his teaching methods, too. “I talk with my students all the time about creating their own world, I think that’s important to plant that idea and power in an artist’s head,” Wicks said.
As for how Jacuzzi came into play? “It’s something that’s a little romantic and a little disgusting; people can hang out together in their own space. The issue is that there isn’t a jacuzzi emoji so instead we have to use a bathtub, which has its own fun connotations. I like the idea of sinking into something.”
The logo is a Tide-dye (sorry) swirl of color which connects to Psychic Jacuzzi’s celebration of color in any form. The account welcomes colorful work, conceptual work, and material work. Over the last few “seasons” or three-month periods of how far Wicks schedules out, there has been more of a focus to feature artists whose work feels relevant and is engaging with timely issues.
“When Psychic Jacuzzi first started, I had maybe one artist apply each week,” Wicks said. “Now it’s about 25 or 30 artists per week.” Being introduced to so many artists from all over the world, and from so many backgrounds and mediums, helps keep Wicks sharp as an adjunct faculty member—it also helps elevate the Instagram account in a kind of ripple effect.
“When one artist gets featured, their friends and colleagues get introduced to the account and all the artists on it, and vice versa. It really becomes a chance for artists to tag other accounts and connect with artists,” he said.
“Most of the rejected applicants are just misinterpretations of the word ‘emerging,’” Wicks laughs. “We’re looking for artists who have good, relevant work and who can navigate being active on social media for seven days in a row. There’s a lot of trust with that—the jacuzzi doesn’t work if you’re not working it.”
Sort of like how USF art professors saw the need for a space to show work for emerging artists and thus transformed their garages into gallery space, Wicks sees the platform of Psychic Jacuzzi as a chance for MFA students in programs around the country and world to mingle with each other. “The grad students in the jacuzzi are doing a phenomenal job because they really know how to work social media,” he said. Over the thousands of posts and hundreds of artists featured, Wicks notes one theme that every artist wants to showcase: their studio space.
“The idea of a personal studio space is interesting and almost sacred, especially for recent graduate students who have gone from the shared bubble of art school to now working in their basement alone.” Wicks observes, “It also ties back to the idea of the artist as alchemist: the studio is where the magic combusts, where the idea fails, where the 2 a.m. breakdown happens.”
Out of more than 200 submissions, Psychic Jacuzzi is manifesting as two in-real-life exhibitions held at Parallelogram Gallery in Tampa. The two-part series, collectively titled “tight as leather / swift as sword” will feature a total of 29 artists working in photography, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and video. It opens on Nov. 14.
“This show title references what we were looking for in this exhibition [lightweight works],” Wicks explains, “And is a twist on the phrasing ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board.’”
The chosen artists come from our beloved Bay area, state of Florida, national and international backgrounds. Be sure to seas the day (sorry) and check out both shows. If you’re not already following Psychic Jacuzzi on Instagram, water you wading for? (sorry and sorry).
tight as leather: Nov. 14 - Dec. 16
Erickson Díaz-Cortés @ericksondiaz
Jon Feinstein @jonfeinstein
Jonathan Virginia Green @jonathanvirginiagreen
Dalton Howard @daltonhoward.space
Johanna Keefe @Johanna.keefe
Julie Malen @julie_malenhead
Bradley Marshall @bradleymarshall
Mar Martinez @meatvoid
Jenna Miller @wontipanicinapitnow
Taryn O'Reilly @Artsandwhiskey
chase palmer @chasepalmer_andstuff
Kelly Reaves @kellymreaves
Kasia Sosnowski @bad.bucket
Jonathan Talit @jtalitbul
Jesse Ring @jesse.ring
swift as sword: Jan. 9 - Feb. 6, 2021
Ellen Dempsey @ellendempsey_studio
Sydney Ewerth @sydthekid09
Aaron Ford @aaronwford
Łukasz Horbów @LUKASZHORBOW
Dominique Labauvie @labauviesculpture
Alves Ludovico @alves_ludovico
Roberto Marquez @Jorge roberto_marqiez_jorge
Sam Newton @slammtronn
Maxwell Parker @apearofmaxwells
Laura Pirgie @ laurapirgie
Joey Solomon @joey.solomon
Ben Victor Waggett @victorwaggett
Erik White @erikdanielwhite
Gary Schmitt @mrgaryschmitt