INTERVIEW: OUT OF LUCK and Kentucky Derby-Chasing with Jen Ferguson

Pop culture is a bizarre creature and often creates strange intersections in media. Brooklyn-based artist Jen Ferguson has found herself standing at a cross-roads of TV, blogging, and illustration in her projects OUT OF LUCK, based on the HBO series LUCK, and in the Triple Crown horse racing previews that she’s been asked to create. Ferguson has a long history in Brooklyn and Manhattan as a painter, producing both large fine art compositions of architecture and landscape and also prints and paintings in a more illustrative style that has more than once dabbled in the comics sphere, including being featured in Seth Kushner’s CulturePOP photocomix series on multimedia arts salon TRIP CITY. Her large paintings are majestic, full of an epic pull that captures some of the more sublime aspects of city life seen above the daily chaos, and her illustrative paintings are wickedly playful, full of reconfigured fairy-tale hints that always bring out the trickster-aspect of storytelling. But alongside that work, Ferguson has always been an animal lover, and in particular, a childhood association with horse breeding and racing has inspired her. The common thread in her work is an intrinsic, often subtle, form of storytelling.jenwithhorse

In 2009, she produced a sketchbook entitled Railbirds: My Life at the Track, conjuring the enigmatic gamblers she watched at the track when sketching, and after her visits to Saratoga Springs, NY, she suddenly found herself plunged into unknown territory. John Perrotta, a lifelong horse expert and professional racing manager, who had been a screenwriter and consultant for the HBO series LUCK , struck up a correspondence with Ferguson after seeing some of her work in the hands of LUCK director David Milch. He eventually approached her about illustrating the remaining scripts he had written for the cancelled series LUCK to be published on the major racing news site America’s Best Racing. She accepted the job, and the ongoing OUT OF LUCK has attracted plenty of attention from followers of racing culture. This led to an independent project, also for America’s Best Racing, presenting previews of the Triple Crown races in illustration format, debuting this week before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4th as “The Kentucky Derby Oracle”. It’s been an unusual journey for Ferguson, but one which she’s handling with characteristic grace. She agreed to do an interview with The Beat about how she found herself working on these unusual projects and what strategies she brings to her work these days.OOL ep4.1 large

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