Jenny Belin Fights Back With Flowers, Females and Felines

Friday, July 14, 2017

There’s a common denominator to the main portraits in artist Jenny Belin’s show, Les Femmes et Les Fleurs. “They’re all of inspiring, badass women,” said Diana Kane, owner of her namesake clothing and accessories boutique in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the works are displayed and sold until August 15. 

Spread throughout the intimate space are also paintings of flowers, pin-ups and cats, creating a thematic intersection of feminism, power and beauty. Behind it all, the idea stemmed from the presidential election last year. Upset over the outcome, Belin turned to art—as she has since childhood—as a form of expression. After painting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the artist collaborated with Kane to brainstorm additional female subjects to include in the show.

Among the mix of portraits are former U.S. secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace, actress Bea Arthur, former first lady of the U.S. Michelle Obama, singer-songwriter Madonna, painter Frida Kahlo, musician and poet Patti Smith and fictional character Wonder Woman.

“Diana made button pins of the portraits and I started seeing people in the street wearing them,” said Belin, a Los Angeles native who moved to New York in the ‘90s. “There’s a sense of community in the boutique. People who come here to shop are very supportive of each other. I hope they connect with the paintings and feel a warmth about them.”

Floral still-lifes (painted in ink, gouache and acrylic), fill the left side of the wall upon entrance to the boutique. Les Femmes et Les Fleurs also includes a selection of Belin’s specialty: cat portraits. There’s one of her tortoiseshell furball, Edye, and another of Karl Lagerfeld’s Birman best friend, Choupette. In January, Kane led a group to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and brought posters she made with prints of the Edye portrait, to differentiate her buses from the sea of others.

In the fitting room, behind beaded pink curtain panels, are paintings of pin-ups, which Belin describes as a combination of sexuality and postwar innocence. 

“Women in general are often not taken as seriously,” said Kane, who has always been interested in supporting local artists. “I wanted to give more of a platform to women in an easy, accessible way.” As the interview wraps us, a customer walks in, admires the art and chats with Belin. She mentions she has five minutes to shop and is looking for a “Feminist” t-shirt for a girl turning 11. She’s come to the right place.


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