The Odyssey of ‘The Jaguar’s Love’: Artist Chris Bleicher Discusses Sculpture’s Epic Journey To ArtExpo

Chris BleicherChris Bleicher

Chris Bleicher is a neon and performance artist from Munich, Germany, who uses joy, a love of life, travel experiences, fantasy and positive feelings as inspiration for her colorful and vibrant artworks which have awed and delighted the media and the public alike for decades.

Chris attended New York city’s famed ArtExpo from April 21-24 to show off her sculpture titled “The Jaguar’s Love.” The beautifully colored and whimsically designed sculpture was carved out of wood and features yellow neon. It is the only creation of its kind in the United States. Although many visitors saw and admired the artwork, few know the story behind the art…specifically its long journey to Pier 94.

According to Chris, “The Jaguar’s Love” was inspired by her travels through Mexico. In Mexican culture, the jaguar is a mystical animal that symbolizes strength and also keeps the secrets of the forest. “As cat lover, I’m fascinated by its power and beauty,” Chris stated. “Kings from Aztek, Olmek, and other cultures decorated themselves with its claws, skin, and skulls to demonstrate their power to their people.”

Chris at ArtExpo 2017 in NYC.
Chris stands beside her creation at ArtExpo. Featured image credit: Chris BleicherChris Bleicher

Chris took a year to complete the sculpture which she rendered in the vibrant colors that are ever-present in Mexico. Moreover, she made sure that the exotic wood was cut in Thailand on full moon nights. “The cutting time is very important for the energy flow in the wood,” Chris explained. “Sometimes I traveled to my wood carving man because he had to cut the basic on my design because this work would be too strong for my artist’s hand.”

Chris had the man cut enough wood to create eight sculptures, and she then transported the wood back to Germany via airplane. She allowed the wood to dry in her Munich studio for half a year before she started to work on the surface. Although the jaguar sculptures appear similar, they all have a unique pattern on their surface. “To get this smooth surface the wood had to be sanded many times, and then I put on acrylic paint before sanding it again and again until the surface looks like it does now,” she said. “When the sculpture was ready, I designed the neon for my neon company to produce. I installed the neon from one jaguar’s mouth to the other’s and I chose yellow because it is the color of light and symbolizes love energy which is the highest energy!”

Chris certainly needed a high level of energy when it came to the delivery of “The Jaguar’s Love” to ArtExpo’s venue site, Pier 94 in Manhattan. Before arriving in America, Chris had shipped the piece to a storage facility in Chatham, New Jersey. After an uneventful plane ride from Munich to New York, Chris discovered that she had forgotten to bring her German driver’s license along with her international driver’s license, so the rental company refused to loan her a car.

“I didn’t know how I was going to deliver my heavy wooden neon sculpture to the venue,” Chris said. “But I’m always lucky, a gentleman waiting for his car next to me immediately checked the best bus connections! So, I bought the tickets and went to the bus station. To change the buses wasn’t too difficult and when I arrived, I had to walk about three blocks to the storage building and happily took my neon sculpture. But the most difficult part was still ahead: To return with a heavy bag on my shoulders and, under my arm, the big and heavy jaguar sculpture with fragile neon installation!”

Chris poses at ArtExpo 2017.
Chris has attended ArtExpo several years in a row. Featured image credit: Chris BleicherChris Bleicher

Not knowing how to get a taxi in New Jersey, Chris walked three blocks back to the bus station where the bus arrived minutes later. “There was just enough space to put the wrapped jaguar on the floor,” Chris explained. “Fortunately, the bus just had a few travelers, and I had fun with passengers. An elegant black lady even wanted an AUTOGRAPH! We went ahead, and I asked the bus driver about the final destination. He said it was Penn Station which I thought was wonderful because, from there, it’s only a short hop by taxi to Pier 94.”

Unfortunately, when Chris got off the bus, she discovered that she was not in the famous Penn Station of Manhattan, but the Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey. “That was the first time I heard there were two Penn Stations,” Chris admitted. “From there I took a taxi to Pier 94 and the sculpture, and I arrived safely. It was quite a journey though!”

Despite the hassles that are sometimes associated with creating art, Chris has a deep passion for her work. “The most rewarding thing for me is to give joy to people, to fill their lives with light and love,” she declared. “I’m just working on my art when I’m feeling good because I put all my positive energy in my art. The reward I’ll get from people who enjoy my neon art. To young artists I would give my two mottos: ‘Never give up!’ and ‘Live and let live!’ Also, be honest with financial affairs!”

Chris is planning a very busy season full of art shows. On May 3, 2017, she will be participating in the BIENNALE Barcelona in Spain and displaying her Neon Picture Object “Nightlife II” at the MEAM–European Museum of Modern Art. “Very special for me is that the Italian curator Dott. Salvatore Russo choose me as German neon artist,” Chris said. “The prize is for the artists that have proven to have worthwhile artistic merit so it is a big honor.”

To learn more about Chris Bleicher, see her website. Also, follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Xing. She also has a website and Facebook page dedicated to her “peepart” movement, which she founded in 1996 and incorporates most of the joyful themes that her art represents.

[Featured Image by Chris Bleicher]