Jene-Paul Lemieux Pots World Remembered
I was my late husband's second wife, but first love from high school. We had met in art class when he was 14 1/2 and I was 15 years old. Jene-Paul was the smart-ass, (as our art teacher called him), but brillant artist, and I was the wanna-be shy artist. Long story short, we fell in love only to be torn away from each other through the adults in charge of us at the time. We were together for only about a year and a half. Like most first loves though, we never forgot each other. In 2011, through a Google search engine, Jene-Paul found me and soon we reunited our love for each other. We had a total of five years together before he lost his life suddenly to a drunk driver.
Jene-Paul was an amazing man. During his last two plus years alive, he began to rebuild the dream he had started long ago of turning old but beautifully designed appliances and coffee urns and turn them into light sculptures. It was very important to him to not change anything about the form of the object by adding it to something else. Taking a coffee pot and ramming a lampole and lampshade into its center appauled him. Heresy to ruin the object in his opinion. No, he was very careful to bring a new life into the object. Teapots would become lamps for bicycles. Or become a hat. Old radios with fiip number panels would now display a favorite relative. A robot toy from the 1970's became a baby monitor for his new grandson. Blenders would become kitchen lamps or nightlights with a soft glow from where the beaters should have been. Coffee urns would become touch night lights. Old cameras, they were a favorite of his to turn into light sensing night lights. You did not have to turn on the camera lights. Jene-Paul would find a way for them to come on when there was no light on in the room.
During the 1990's, Jene-Paul began to sell his wares on the street in the Alberta District in Portland. Soon a local art gallery discovered his unique lamps on those artwalks. From what I was told of the story, the gallery owner took over all of his inventory and future work. Jene-Paul was forbidden to sell his work on the streets as long as the gallery existed. I do not know how long Jene-Paul was able to have his "Refunk" art at this gallery. I know the owner eventually had to close up gallery due to age or death. I cannot remember which it was. Jene-Paul's "Refunk" was back on the streets again until it was no longer an option for him to sell on the artwalks.
Life, his own health issues, plus supporting his first wife Beth and his three children took him in a new directions. "Refunk" soon became a thing of the past for him. It was not until our move from Montana, (where I was living at the time), back to his old stomping grounds in the Portland/Clackamas county area did he express the desire to restart his "Refunk" business. Other's by now had taken the name, "Refunk" and he had to come up with a new name. A small bedroom became his new workspace. He quickly filled up the room so much that I was surprised how he could even move in it. Before his death, he had been in the process of using "PotsWorld" for his creations. He never got to actually do more than just buy the domain names. When Jene-Paul died, he left behind about 15 unique and beautiful working pots and cameras. His daughters chose what they wished from the small collection. I have what is remaining that worked. As for those pots and camera's he did not start yet, I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor that loved antique pots. They went to her. All the mechanical parts were donated back to Goodwill.
The pictures below feature the photos I found from Jene-Paul's laptop. Some of the photos show the steps he would take to make his camera creations. Other's are of works that he made while married to Beth. I cannot speak much about those pieces. All I can tell you is that he loved making these works of art he called them. He wanted to give them new meaning but retain the past. To show off the beauty of the form in a new light. To take something old and repurpose it. I am so proud to share his last works in his gallery. To remember his life in this way.