CALL Program Artist Joe Overstreet

CALL Program Artist

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Joe Overstreet

The staff and board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation are mourning the passing of artist, organizer, gallery director, and collector Joe Overstreet. Overstreet joined our artist community in 2015 as a participant in the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) program. It was an honor for us to assist in the documentation of his extraordinary life’s work.

Read a remembrance of Overstreet's life and work at Artnet: "Artist Joe Overstreet, Whose Paintings Jumped Off the Stretcher and Into the Gallery Space, Has Died at 85"

Share what has changed for you as a result of being part of the CALL Program?
My thinking about my work has changed. I think this experience through the CALL Program has definitely increased my understanding, so I very much appreciate this opportunity. I have learned a lot about the work that I have made in the past and also over the years. I have new insights and learned about some things I took for granted. In future, I will try to think about being organized.

What needed to be accomplished when you started working with the CALL Program?
My work was all over my studio and works were stacked up on each other. It was not organized in any meaningful way except by way of accidental groups. I think I was primarily interested in what I was making in the present, in my new work. I did not know how much I needed a way to control it. I needed to have a system, to create spaces for storing work, and to try to remember how and why I made the older work.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this work?
Getting a chance to see what I have made in the past and how I developed has given me different ways to be able to express what my work has been about and to think about new work. I also believe I have less anxiety because I have more control over things, and the paintings are not so much in jeopardy of being damaged.

What has been the most difficult?
Preparing every week, and getting out of the way has been unusual. I have never let anyone into my studio in this way. Trying to remember back is also difficult and sometimes confronting the memories that are dredged up.

What do you recommend to artists who might be in the early stages of creating an inventorying system?
I would say to stop and think and count as you go along. Sign and date as you go along. Group paintings by date, if you can, and whenever you try to put them away. And if possible photograph. With cell phones, artists can document as they go along. I used to have to wait until I could afford a photographer. So, in some years, my work was not photographed at all. And then I should have taken some notes, and even kept a record of materials. I have forgotten a lot.

All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.