Creative Couples: Joel & Justine15 December 2009
Justine & Joel in their gallery, Cairo.
Joel Leshefka and Justine Ashbee are two Seattle artists behind Cairo, a small independent gallery providing a unique platform for upcoming visual artists and musicians. Joel, a photographer, also runs a vintage clothing boutique called Twenty Twenty, where he began curating shows. Justine’s work has been featured internationally including the ROJO gallery in Barcelona. Both artists share a similar aesthetic, a bond that provides support for each other and their respective creative endeavors.
How did the two of you meet, and how long have you been together?
Joel: We met a party for Tokion magazine, about two years ago.
Justine: We met at a Tokion party in Seattle at the Rendezvous. We have been together ever since – almost three years.
What’s it like working with your better half?
Joel: I think it’s been a really inspiring… we have a lot of similar interests and aesthetic inclinations. We both care very passionately about the art and artists we work with, and having such a close relationship has really strengthened and honed what is that I am most attracted to and inspired by artistically.
Justine: It is at times challenging and also totally inspired. We approach life in very different ways, so we each have a totally different way of doing things, solving things… our creative process is very different, but when we agree on a result it is fun and inspired. We are both so passionate about what we do, and really want people to enjoy the experience of it.
We are both very visceral and tend towards similar aesthetics, and that creates an unspoken bond between us about what we do, why we do it, and with whom we work with.
What are the benefits of living/working together?
Joel: Make up sex.
Justine: We can read each other really well, respond to the cues of one another pretty quickly, compassionately.
Joel: There are all the old standard cliches, about working together, being lovers, friends, and roomates. It can get really intense sometimes, and ultimately requires A LOT of processing and good communication. Ultimately, these are good things though, and I think we’ve both grown and learned from things that one might describe as a ‘disadvantage’.
Justine: Constant communication is necessary for true growth to occur . The ‘disadvantges’ of being lovers and business partners has been some of the most profound work we have done to grow and heal in our lives and with each other. Being able to overcome our challanges together has been immensely powerful for us as a couple, and as individuals.
Has your work changed as a result of living/working together, if so how?
Joel: I find that I’ve been exposed to more concepts and disciplines that I now seek out on my own, based on my relationship with Justine. She is an incredible artist, has true vision, and has a great eye and ear for things. All of which has rubbed off on me for sure.
Justine: Absolutely. Our ways of doing things have rubbed off on eachother, and I feel so much more grounded than I ever was. Joel has an incredible talent of listening to people’s ideas, and then offering great plans & ways for people to accomplish their dreams – I love that about him. I am an idealist, anything is possible- he is a realist, and so makes things possible – so I love to create new realities with him – his persepctive is intriguing to me.
Are you currently collaborating on anything at the moment?
Joel: We are currently working on supporting each other’s private, solo endevours. I’m opening another clothing/art boutique in Seattle, and Justine is exploring a long held passion for experimental music, while continue to develop her career as an emerging international artist. I think our focus is on helping the other acheive everything they are setting out to accomplish.
Justine: We are currently collaborating on being incredibly passionate and supportive of one another’s solo endeavors. There is a strong amount of love and trust between us, that we can really feel supported by one another.
Any advice for future creative couples?
Joel: Do it with integrity, honesty, and vision. You can’t fail.
Justine: Be willing to do the work, always show up with an open heart & mind, and then anything is possible.
Thank you Joel and Justine. Keep Seattle and beyond inspired.