Monday, July 08, 2013

Somerville Artist Jesa Damora Creates and Works in an ‘Asylum’

Somerville Artist Jesa Damora Creates and Works in an ‘Asylum’

By Doug Holder

 Jesa Damora works in an asylum. No, not in a psychiatric hospital like McLean Hospital, where I have labored for thirty or so years. She works in the Artisan's Asylum a huge open space for artists of all stripes, that is located here in Somerville. She is also a consultant for other artists, as well as creating her own acclaimed prints and drawings. Like many Somerville artists of my acquaintance Damora is a refuge from the Republic of Cambridge. She and her husband moved from the rarefied environs of Appian Way in Cambridge to the more egalitarian territory of Prospect Hill in Somerville. Now she owns a home, and has a small carriage house that acts as her art studio. Of our town Damora told me: “We moved from Cambridge because it was so expensive. I love the multicultural aspect of Somerville. I mean in Cambridge where we lived, it was all rich, white doctors and lawyers.” Damora is also excited by the subway coming to Union Square and the changes it will bring. She is a member of the Mystic Valley Task Force and feels that in the end this will help the creative economy in the Square. Damora, by her own description, is not a political animal but hopes that there will be advocacy for low income and moderate income housing so Union Square will not just be a home for high income young urban professionals. She wants Union Square to retain its unique flavor—a very hard task if you examine other neighborhoods that went through similar transformations.

Damora is known for her drawings and limited edition of flowers and seedpods.  Her work according to the website of the Somerville Open Studios consists of "vital, luminous immensely detailed drawings. They are about the wildness both in nature and ourselves, that we think we have tamed."But Damora is not only about flowers; she is also known for her drawings of men's testicles. Damora feels the penis has overshadowed the testicle--so to speak, and she has given it more...well...exposure. And after all, isn't the sacred sac a sort of seedpod...huh?

Damora attended Harvard University and majored in General Studies. She said Harvard was not a good place to study to be an artist because it was too traditional. But Damora came from a rather unconventional family. Her father was a noted architectural photographer, and was friends with Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus Art Movement. The house Damora lived in when she was a child was designed by Philip Johnson. Her life was filled with unconventional and creative people that has influenced her rather unconventional life.

Because of some physical problems Damora was unable to paint and draw as much as she would of liked. So after browsing Facebook she realized that a lot of artists do not really know how to market their work properly. So she started an artist consulting business titled FunnelCake. Because of her extensive background in the arts and the connections she has, she helps the artist to get the word out about their work, and teaches them how to connect to the markets that best serve them.

Damora is also involved with the Artisan's Asylum  located right outside of Union Square off of Somerville Ave. This is a huge open space that rents sections to any number of artists. Damora is the unofficial tour guide and is heavily involved in the promotion of the facility. She told me: “ We have 3D printers there, a jewelry school, glass work artists, plasma cutters, etc…There is a great cross- pollination of artists here.” The venue was founded by Gui Cavalcanti. Damora added: “There a lot of incredible but unassuming people here.”

Damora is married to John Bailes—a poet of some note, and a protege of the late bard Philip Whalen.  As Damora left the Bloc11, she seemed to be swept away by some creative breeze that graced Bow St- and then out to the wilds of the Paris of New England.  

To find out more about FunnelCake Marketing  contact Damora at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article, Doug! A great rendering of our conversation; I enjoyed it immensely, and enjoyed sharing around the Ibbetson Street Press publication you gave me.
    I like being able to participate in the creative efforts of my neighbors.

    It's true, my life and many other people's have been enriched by Artisan's Asylum. I'm one of many here who blab about it and tour others around it, as the curiosity and admiration level is high. It's open 24/7 and I invite all to come by: There's usually someone around who can show it off.

    I've become involved as a volunteer in the activism of Occupy Museums since you saw me, in particular with their action, which your readers may want to check out. It's a big decentralized art fair which will be held in NYC this fall to help artists pay off their debts. It's also a way of drawing attention to the huge disparities of access in the art world, and is attempting to change the nature of who owns and assigns value in it.