Artists sometimes do crazy things for love. Things that we have asked them about. This year for Valentine’s Day, we asked some artist couples to show us what they’ve made for each other over the years. As expected, some of them were either private about what they’ve made, or too busy making art for the rest of us to make art for each other. And some happily shared with us.
From a hairy lollipop to an unfinished heart-shaped potato, here are some things that eight artist couples from Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio have made for one another.
Kalee Appleton and Timothy Harding (DFW):
Timothy Harding: “Kalee and I have found our way into a tradition of making random gifts that feature our pets. Each of our respective animals (her dogs, and my cat) long predate [our] relationship, but they all have massive personalities that are part of the fabric of us. Kalee makes some spot-on wrapping paper featuring my cat Clyde, while I’ve most recently had this tote bag made that is based from a vector drawing of her dogs Linus and Chaplin alongside Clyde.”
Jennifer Battaglia and Martin Ivy (Houston):
Jennifer Battaglia: “‘My love is like a flower’ are lyrics from the music duo Faux Real. We saw them together last year. It was probably one of the last shows we attended pre-pandemic. They opened up for Metronomy in Austin and we both became equally obsessed with their tunes over the next few months while staying at home. Being in close quarters day in and day out definitely grew our love.
Martin Ivy: “A commitment to fly, to maintain love between each other. Love for you is my drive, my lift. Maintaining, climbing higher and higher is what I love about us. I hope this piece I made for you can be a reminder of that.”
Brian K. Jones and Brian K. Scott, a.k.a. Chuck & George (Dallas):
From Chuck & George: “We have made each other a stack of Hessian Hearts. Jared & Jerusha Hess are constant inspirations to us, and we quote them all day long. BJ makes a point of telling me, ‘Goodnight Troll Hole,’ pretty much nightly. And it’s always better to use other people’s words to convey your own thoughts, because, clearly theirs are better. These are all lines from Gentlemen Broncos, one of the best films ever made and on the top of the desert island list.”
Joe Harjo and Julie Ledet (San Antonio):
Julie Ledet: “Joe and I have been working together to transplant nine clusters of oxblood lilies, that are thought to be over 100 years old, from one part of our yard to a newly tilled bed where they can be better kept, hopefully, for another 100+ years. Oxblood lilies are currently considered ‘pass-along plants’ among gardeners because you cannot find them in nurseries. They are said to first have arrived in Texas, specifically the Hill Country, in the 1880’s by a German immigrant who acquired them from a collector in Argentina.
“These oxblood lilies are special to Joe and I because we inherited them when we bought our house in Palm Heights, San Antonio. The wonderful woman who lived here before us, the late Emma Bersoza, must have shared a passion for gardening because we continually find new surprises popping up each year. These lovely red lilies sprout up once a year at the beginning of fall, giving them other common names such as schoolhouse lilies and hurricane lilies. Being that Joe is a professor and I am from South Louisiana, we make the seasonal connection to the start of a school year and storm season and see these lilies as a symbol of hope, love, and protection.”
Via the married couple: “Air-hunger comes from a medical condition, Kussmaul Breathing, which is the rapid, deep, and labored breathing of people who are in a diabetic coma. Kussmaul Breathing is also referred to as air hunger. The project air-hunger explores issues of communication, sexuality and trust in relationships through the metaphor of what is traditionally scene as a children’s activity, chewing bubble gum.
“A man and woman interact by blowing bubbles. These bubbles hit and miss. When the bubbles do connect, their air is shared and the sugary bubble gum provides a life-sustaining medium for a few seconds.”
John Forse and Melinda Laszczynski (Houston):
Melinda Laszczynski: “Baking is my love language and I try to bake something complicated for John each Valentine’s Day. A few years ago I made him a Milk Bar pie that was super decadent, and this year he’s getting a lemon meringue pie on request. Usually I keep the baking project a surprise but we’re together 24/7 in Covid times, so there are no secrets anymore. I’m also painting him a heart-shaped tiny potato that I found in a bag from Trader Joe’s. Potatoes are one of our inside jokes and it was an amazing find. At this point it’s pretty shrively and drying out after being preserved, but I’m planning on coating it with holographic and chrome paints and maybe some glitter by Sunday. It’s pretty hideous right now and maybe not suitable for the internet, but I attached an image anyway!”
John Forse: “I made this spoon for Melinda because there exists a Welsh tradition of lovers exchanging carved wooden spoons. My grandmother immigrated from Wales after WWII, as a ‘war bride.’ I wanted to draw on that family history so as to make a truly unique and memorable gift for Melinda. It is hand-carved pine and acrylic.”
Jessica Kreutter and Patrick Turk (Houston):
Emily Peacock and Patrick Renner (Houston):
Emily Peacock: “I impulsively purchased a large scroll of heart suckers from CVS around Valentine’s Day. On February 14th, I decided it was a good idea to photograph one heart sucker with a curl from Patrick’s beard attached. (I had the hair already from a separate project.) I posted the image on Instagram and said, ‘You’re stuck with me!'”
Patrick Renner: “I gave Emily this little chunklet the first V-day we were together, because what’s more romantic than a composition made from carefully curated trash? Happily, she didn’t send it back to the trash, so that was good.”