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Gallery Exhibit: Exploring the Historical and the Vintage

Photographs of Civil War battlefields and mixed media collages illustrating found objects highlight the work of multidisciplinary artists Jeff Beekman, Wayne Bertola.

<em>"Gettysburg 7 (Unidentified Timbers Family)," Jeff Beekman</em>"Gettysburg 7 (Unidentified Timbers Family)," Jeff BeekmanMultidisciplinary artists Jeff Beekman and Wayne Bertola showcase distinctive works that feature old but not outdated subject matter and materials in the new Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery exhibit at Alma College.

The exhibit is on display from Monday, Oct. 9 through Thursday, Nov. 9. Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. A closing reception with the artists will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Beekman explores the interrelationships between land, memory and human activities. Battlefield Project, Beekman’s ongoing exploration of these topics, is a collection of photographs focusing on the battlefields of the American Civil War.

Included are direct observances of the battlefields in their present conditions as well as photographs of projections cast upon these sites. In the latter process Beekman scours through archived photos, then with a portable projector projects these images onto the scenes and captures the event in a photograph.

In an interview with Hyeyoun Choi, when asked about his choice of theme being such a major historical event, Beekman responded, “To be ignorant to our pasts, our histories, this limits us to living reactionary lives. Alternatively, when we begin to know our histories, how and why things have taken shape the way they have, why people are reacting the way they are, that’s context and power.

<em>"Leonine Elegiacs," Wayne Bertola</em>"Leonine Elegiacs," Wayne Bertola“Whether observed or constructed, the goal of these photographs is the same — to create a compression between a traumatic past and the present day, a space where the relationship between site and memory, the now and that fleeting moment where the nation almost succeeded in tearing itself apart, can be investigated,” says Beekman.

Also in the exhibition are the works of the self-taught Chicago artist Wayne Bertola. These are composite pieces that incorporate found objects and vintage images.

“My materials can come from anywhere that I find myself confronted by an object which bears witness to the inevitable, yet unpredictable, changes wrought by the passage of time,” says Bertola. Examples of such places include alleys, streets, abandoned buildings, used book stores, garage sales and flea markets.

“It is my hope that my works speak for themselves, in their own voice, without being burdened with autobiographical and didactic references,” says Bertola of his numerous expressionistic and surrealistic mixed media collages.

“If the works in question have any meaning it is in their ability to combine found objects and images, the discarded debris of the once-functional and the humblest of materials in such a manner as to demonstrate their capacity for transformation into objects that engage the viewer in a creative dialogue of association, allusion and reverie,” says Bertola.

Story published on October 06, 2017