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Pardon Me, Your Heart Is Showing

A close-up of text in Deb Jansen's Artomatic exhibit. (Amy Argetsinger/The Washington Post)

Is it possible that Mark Sanford made a secret trip to Artomatic?

The super-confessional South Carolina governor might have learned something about the art of over-sharing from Deb Jansen. In the D.C. show's most-talked-about exhibit, the Alexandria textile artist, based at the Torpedo Factory, lays bare the gory details of her marriage and recent divorce with a wall-size "thank you" letter to the other woman -- handcrafted voodoo dolls on the side.

(Actually, if Sanford had seen it, he might have been too scarred to ever stray.)

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for [sleeping with] my spineless narcissist of a husband. But he was my husband -- not yours. You had no right," begins the lengthy text, dubbed "Catharsis & Karma." Jansen calls her ex an abuser and his new girlfriend a "chubby, boring ... jan brady wanna be." She discloses bedroom stuff and her own Lyme disease. She exults that, without him, she finally has "my life back."
All this wrapped around a blown-up photo that Jansen says shows the other woman ("her ex gave it to me"). The eyes are obscured.

(Amy Argetsinger/The Washington Post)

Even on a quiet weekday, the exhibit draws steady traffic. "Oh, my God," said one woman, lingering to read the fine print. "That is great!" Comments in Jansen's guest book are a mix of cheers and creeped-out; from "go, girl!" to "get a life."

"All the therapy in the world wasn't going to do me any good until I did this piece," Jansen, 49, told us.

She assumes her ex and his new lady have heard about the exhibit, but Jansen hasn't heard any reaction from either. "I left out the stuff which could have really gotten them in trouble," she said. (Though in the border of the exhibit -- 15 shrunken pages of anguished notes she found in her then-husband's belongings -- we made out the other woman's name. Said Jansen: "I thought I was the only person in the world who could read his handwriting.") After the community arts extravaganza closes Sunday, "Catharsis & Karma" will move to a month-long "Best of Artomatic" show at Fraser Gallery in Bethesda.

Compelling stuff ... but is it art?

"If art is something that channels right out of your soul, and if creativity can heal," said Jansen, then yes. But, "no, I wouldn't want it over my couch, either."

By The Reliable Source  |  July 3, 2009; 1:01 AM ET
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I'm sure it's revenge - in a wierd sort of way - but I'm not so sure it's art.

Posted by: rlj611 | July 3, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

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