FRANCESCO CLEMENTE & PAMELA LOVE

FRANCESCO CLEMENTE & PAMELA LOVE

FADE IN:

INT. FRANCESCO CLEMENTE’S STUDIO, NOHO, NEW YORK CITY – AFTERNOON

A serene quiet occupies the studio of FRANCESCO CLEMENTE, which looks out on one of downtown Manhattan’s busiest streets, but feels a world away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

CUT TO:

FRANCESCO and PAMELA LOVE take seats next to one another on a plush sofa, next to a side table that’s set up for tea service. FRANCESCO pours PAMELA a cup, and then proceeds to fix one for himself.

PAMELA
There’s definitely an element of autobiography in my jewelry, but it speaks to the people who I want to be, too. For instance, sci-fi has inspired my work, but I can’t go be an alien on another planet. A lot of the time, the pieces say more about who I want to be than about who I am.

FRANCESCO
I didn’t know that. It’s interesting, because I invented the painter that I am — I didn’t come from an academic education and, sometimes, feel like I’m impersonating others. What story, or stories, does your jewelry tell?

PAMELA
I used to think there was just one, but now I think there are many. In the beginning, I had lost my father, and was struggling with notions of what death and family meant.

FRANCESCO
Is there a dark side to it?

PAMELA
I think there’s always a little bit of a dark side. Is there one in your artwork?

FRANCESCO
Absolutely. There cannot be any true seduction without a root of darkness. But that doesn’t mean the work itself has to be dark.

PAMELA
Totally. Not long ago, I created a collection with no element of darkness — it didn’t come from my soul — and, as a result, I didn’t like it.

FRANCESCO
Somehow, I don’t believe that. To me, that assumes you know your soul, which nobody does. I think, perhaps, you encountered a side of yourself you’d never met before, and that’s what you didn’t like.

PAMELA
Do you have work that you —

FRANCESCO
Regret making?

PAMELA
Yes.

FRANCESCO
No [BOTH laugh].

PAMELA
Even in the moment?

FRANCESCO
No. I have work that I prefer, in the sense that I prefer light to darkness. There was a period of my life when my work was very grotesque. I don’t regret that time, but I’m glad that —

PAMELA
It’s over.

FRANCESCO
Yes.

PAMELA
For a long time, I tried to explore the ideas of mourning and of connecting to the past in creating my jewelry. That’s now changing, and my new book [Pamela Love: Muses & Manifestations] comes at a time when I’m ready to tell a different story.

FRANCESCO
What is the book about?

PAMELA
The journey from inspiration to creation of a piece. Each chapter is divided by a theme of sorts. One focuses on the occult and explores the ideas of magic and luck. Really, I think of jewelry as something magical.

FRANCESCO
A lucky charm?

PAMELA
Yes.

FRANCESCO
That’s what it is. Whenever you lose a piece of jewelry, you’ve been spared some more unpleasant experience.

PAMELA
Totally. Other cultures, like the Incas, believed in carrying precious stones to protect themselves. If something bad was coming, they’d throw them and say, “Eat this, not me.” So my book explores those concepts, in addition to referencing the sketches, old photos, and drawings that have influenced me.

FRANCESCO
Not really knowing what the process is, how important are these materials that you use? Do you draw first, or does looking at them lead you to drawing?

PAMELA
Usually, I look at lots of sourced material then start drawing. I’ll sketch for a month or so and then decide whether I want to make any given piece. If I do, I’ll carve it out of wax.

FRANCESCO
You’re actually making it with your own hands?

PAMELA
Yeah. I never wanted to be a designer who just does a drawing and sends it away. Around the time I was working as your assistant, I apprenticed in [New York City’s] jewelry district on the side to learn the craft myself. My business has grown so much that I can no longer do everything on my own, but it all started with me making pieces in my house. And, sometimes, here in your studio, when you weren’t paying attention [BOTH laugh].

FRANCESCO
Would you say that you became a jewelry maker by default, that you intended to be a painter?

PAMELA
Yes, I intended to be a painter but fell into jewelry. Remember my boyfriend Kim?

FRANCESCO
The one that would sleep in the park?

PAMELA
No [BOTH laugh]! Kim! The blond one who worked for you for a little while before you introduced him to —

FRANCESCO
To Inez and Vinoodh. Yes, yes.

PAMELA
Kim had a friend who owned a store back then, and she liked the jewelry I was making. She placed our first order at a time when I was just doing it for fun.

FRANCESCO
But “for fun” means what? That you were making it for yourself? For your friends?

PAMELA
For me and my friends, yes. I didn’t think starting a business was realistic, and was still very focused on painting, but, ultimately, the jewelry sort of found me. And you kind of have to go with something if it’s really calling out to you, don’t you think?

FRANCESCO
Yes. I’m also a painter by default [BOTH laugh].

PAMELA
Didn’t you intend to be an architect?

FRANCESCO
I was almost an architect, and my prime motivation to become an artist was a political one.

PAMELA
What were your politics like then?

FRANCESCO
I single-handedly wanted to take down world capitalism.

PAMELA
Oh [laughs]! How did that work out?

FRANCESCO
I witnessed the collapse of every single hope I had for the world [BOTH laugh]. It’s prudent to become anything you want to become by default, because then your motives are relatively pure. When you start thinking about gain you can only think about gain. But, for instance, when you make paintings, you should only be thinking about those paintings. Nothing else.

PAMELA
I think my initial success as a jewelry designer came from not giving a fuck about what was popular, trendy, or selling. I made what I wanted to make and, as a result, it resonated with the people it did. My book explores certain themes, like the desert, that have served as recurring inspiration to me over the past decade.

FRANCESCO
The desert as in The Southwest?

PAMELA
Yes: Arizona, Utah, New Mexico. One of the best experiences I ever had in the region was staying at your home in New Mexico.

FRANCESCO
I recall hooking you up with someone at the turquoise mine.

PAMELA
Yeah! We went and nobody was there, except for this scary woman with a gun.

FRANCESCO
It’s in a small town, the entire population of which I think are outlaws that don’t go by their given names.

PAMELA
I remember you saying we had to be home before it got dark or the coyotes would eat us. We took that so seriously.

FRANCESCO
I was not really being serious but —

PAMELA
Great [laughs]! Well we were in by six every night because we were afraid.

FRANCESCO
My experience is that all the wildlife would move in with us if they could. They love civilization. Is there any wildlife where you live in Greenpoint?

PAMELA
Really fearless squirrels. [My husband] Matt saw one eating a Subway sandwich the other day.

FRANCESCO
After the Pizza Rat —

PAMELA
Comes the Pizza Squirrel! Growing up in Florida, we used to get alligators in our swimming pool. My mother would be like: Get away, I’m calling Animal Control! You know my mom —

FRANCESCO
I’m surprised she hasn’t called yet!

PAMELA
She has. Twice! I had to send a text saying I’m busy.

CREDITS

Photography byRyan Petrus

Conversation moderated byAnthony Rotunno

Francesco Clemente is an artist based in New York City.
Pamela Love is a jewelry designer based in New York City. Her book, Pamela Love: Muses and Manifestations, is out now.

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THE END