Jump for the Joy of Art

Artist Cavorts On Quirky Blog

Posted February 13, 2009 at 2:56pm

Painter Allison Reimus was living a charmed life. The artist had snagged a job with what she describes as the “nation’s only traveling art museum” called Artrain USA, which is dedicated to contemporary American art.

Then one day in tiny Skykomish, Wash., Reimus realized just how good she had it and she actually jumped for joy. That first jump has led to even happier things: She created a blog about that joy and with it launched a growing movement dedicated to celebrating great art by jumping for joy.

“We love art so much that we literally have to jump for it,” said Reimus, 26, who is now finishing her master’s degree in studio art at American University.

Reimus posts photos of people jumping in front of works of art that they love at jumpinginartmuseums.blogspot.com. She said the blog is all about sharing photos and stories that make people happy.

“It’s important to have fun, even in the sometimes-stuffy art world,” Reimus said. “I just hope that the blog continues to serve as a virtual meeting place for art lovers around the world to express their joy for the visual arts.”

As the blog has been linked on better-known art blogs, it has attracted attention from a variety of media outlets, which in turn inspire more submissions. The word didn’t always spread so quickly, though.

“Actually, at the very beginning of the blog, I would try to get my friends to jump for me just so I would have something to post,” Reimus said. Now she updates two or three times a week.

Reimus traced the snowballing movement to a link on the blog of local arts maven Philippa Hughes, a friend of a mutual friend, about a year ago. More art blogs and newspapers commented on the practice, and their readers began to send her photos. For example, after Reimus spoke to newspapers in Germany and Brazil, she received more submissions from people there.

Now submissions are more and more from “complete strangers,” Reimus said. They jump in front of the work of established artists and students in world-renowned museums and community centers, alike.

A recent submission showed a German woman jumping for a piece in the town of Oestrich-Winkel, Germany. Another showed friends jumping at a student show at Western Michigan University.

Some jump for architecture, as in the case of a couple of submissions in front of the Eiffel Tower and one from Machu Picchu, Peru. A particularly funny entry shows a man at Duke University jumping for an oversized sculpture of a grumpy man’s face at an angle that makes it look as if the sculpture is atop his own shoulders.

A few of those jumpers, once strangers, became friends. One asked Reimus whether he could start a Facebook group about art jumping. And a woman in New York planned the “first official group jump” at the Pipilotti Rist exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in December.

“Her photos are always good, and of course, her enthusiasm is even better,” Reimus said.

For the most part, Reimus and other art jumpers haven’t met with resistance at museums. One security guard at a museum in Chicago asked them to stop taking photos, she remembered, but she said most guards aren’t sure whether jumping and taking photos are allowed.

“I’ve been questioned or asked, ‘What are you doing?’” she said. “The funny thing is, the security guards might look at you funny, they might laugh, but last time I was at the MoMA, they actually joined in.”

Unfortunately, at this point, the blog has only inspired relationships (and not lucrative work) for Reimus. As she gets closer to graduation — her thesis show at American opens April 23 — she has made informal plans to “pay some bills and continue making paintings.”

“It’s great that people know about the blog,” she said. “It’s just I haven’t figured out how to translate working on the blog into making money.”

For now, her blog serves as an open door welcoming visitors into art museums, and that’s enough for Reimus.

“What’s great is when I hear people say they went to the art museum just so they could jump and actually spent time there and enjoyed themselves,” she said. “I’m happy that jumping got them in the door.”