In the early 1990s, Jackie Grieb already had a reputation in town as a feisty, outspoken feminist lesbian activist. She opened a retail store called Jack In The Box in uptown Waterloo, selling eclectic objects, vintage clothing, body piercing jewelry and curated oddities. The store also served as the gallery for her paintings. There, I would loiter and chat about art, activism, and the social nuances of the punks and geeks and artists and weirdos that made up our scene. When Jackie was pregnant, I made mixed tapes of piano improvisations to play for her growing belly.
Jackie’s paintings were primitive in a way that wasn’t folksy, full of symbolism, and surreal still life assemblages in vivid colours. Checkerboard patterns and things hidden behind curtains, jesters, fish, bubbles, doors, flowers, bells, toys, bees, cigarettes, and moons shining through tiny misshapen window panes.
As the 90s progressed, we lost touch. The store was shut down. I never met her daughter, Dagmar. Then one day I received the tragic news: Jackie was dead, Dagmar too, her closest friends were summoning to each other urgently in an attempt to rescue her paintings from being destroyed.
The day after I learned of the tragedy, I sat at the piano, attempting to collect my reactions. This song began simply as a repeated ringing of diminished octaves, a stinging quiet dissonance that felt like an echo of the question “why” reflecting back—with no answer.
I publish this music and continue to make it available to the world, in memory of Jackie Grieb (1972 - 1998) and Dagmar Grieb (1995 - 1998).