The Bemis art shows in the spring and the fall allow visitors to celebrate art and experience the creative spaces of residents of the historic Bemis building. The Spring Art Show featured 26 visiting artists along with the residents of the artists community—a variety of styles, mediums, and disciplines united under one roof. The following artists, although working in various mediums and styles, can be linked through his or her focus on the concept of unity. While Sherey unites painting and photography, Gardner’s photography unites the disparate, and isolated, parts of our nation into a collection of images. The idea of unity is expressed both visually, physically, and conceptually by the following artists.
Niki Sherey’s artworks combine photography and painting. This unity reveals painterly qualities in everyday snapshots and scenes of life. Sherey’s fascination with horizon lines motivates her to expand the photographic picture plane onto the canvas. The photographs within the paintings are often placed on the horizon, allowing the artist to expand from this point in oil. This fascination is expressed in her works as the more literal structure of the photo and the freedom of the oil painting “hold creative tension between documented reality of landscape and perceived memory of place.”
Yoshimoto’s work exhibited at the Bemis Spring Art Show uses the visual language of Japanese prints and comics. While the bright colors and style of these Holbein Acryla Gouache paintings create a sweeping energy, his series explores somber and stirring subject matter—Disasters. Yoshimoto focuses on the disaster of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. Yoshimoto’s work also speaks to a sense of unity between humanity around the world. In an effort to support and “honor those who lost their lives, livelihood,” and homes in consequence of the earthquake, Yoshimoto embarked on a nearly year-long project that resulted in a thirty foot long scroll and multiple studies and explorations of the subject matter. One piece hits especially close to home, Vultures of Fragmented Past. Yoshimoto illustrates a narrative on the tsunami debris that washed ashore on the coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Yoshimoto balances the language of the Japanese culture with fragments of American life—constructing a scene that is shocking and deeply powerful.
The American landscape and the open road is the subject of Gary Gardner’s photographs, which are shot from the seat of his Harley. As Gardner moves away from the interstate, one sees his self-professed fascination “with the loneliness of abandoned places.” These Ghosts of the Road are haunting relics of Americana. Gardner’s Ghosts are solitary and devoid of human presence, yet full of life and history of their own. He has covered much of the continental United States, creating a map of a wandering artist’s exploration.
Vic Delirium prides himself on “finding those hard-to-find items.” His collection of antiques and collectibles are truly unique and the display in his Bemis loft renders them as not just individual pieces of art, but as installation works. His self-defined “bizarre tchotchkes” range from collectible figurines and a “Jaws” cup, to a taxidermied mini pig. The loft space highlights Vic Delirium’s creative eye for design and unique furnishings, creating an ensemble cast of pieces for the living space. The most intriguing pieces were perhaps the models hung from the walls. One such “still life” positioned a crushed beer can amongst a miniature city, while another work features a small figurine riding a fly—three-dimensionally recalling the work of Christopher Boffoli or Slinkachu. These works playfully unite both the mundane and the imaginative, as well as present a dichotomy of miniature and seemingly “gigantic.”
Karen Hyams acts as her own agent of both creation and destruction. Her photographs capture an environment specifically constructed for each image—freezing that unique space before its eventual destruction in the recycling bin. Hyams work is extremely textural as the material pushes out of the picture plane, becoming the focal point of the piece. In l’eau, Hyams constructs a seemingly aquatic space through tissue paper and a flashlight. Hyams’ study develops the material into a textural exploration, engaging viewers with the folds and details of the everyday item. As in l’eau, Hyams creates an organic yet surreal environment in Rorschach. The point of view of these pieces takes the viewer into a detailed moment within this environment—almost cutting off all other senses. The use of bulletproof glass in Rorschach reflects the material quality of the upper register—softening it against the glass. Hyams’ work relies on materials and various elements of our world but allows us to enter into spaces that are quite unknown.