Two new exhibits open at the Bemis
April 26th, 2012
Omaha, NE – Two new shows open up at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts this weekend.
As Alex Borovski, a young artist from Lincoln, walks between the columns of the Bemis Underground gallery downtown, she points to large, brightly-colored paintings lined up against the wall, and in neat rows along the floor. â€œI built this body of work around the thematic concept of this â€¦ alternate world,â€ she says.
Borovski is a young artist from Lincoln, who emigrated from Russia at two years old. Pointing to a painting of a figure emerging from swirling, dark waters, she says her ideas typical begin with a feeling. â€œThey start at one point and itâ€™s kind of arbitrary and then I end up working in layers, and then they just sort of manifest themselves into a story.â€
Borovski is the winner of the 2011 Bemis Center Juried Exhibition. The Bemis Underground is readying her work for display in its latest exhibit opening Friday: Out of In Focus. Joel Damon, curator of the exhibit and the Underground, says he paired Borovski with another local artist, Lonnie Potter, whose work contrasts with Borovskiâ€™s large-scale pieces by both size and concept.
â€œAlex is digging more into herself with her work and exploring more, and on the opposite end, Lonnie has been, for the past decade and a half, pulling his hands out of the art making process,â€ Damon says, â€œfinding his work within other artistsâ€™ paintings.â€
Potterâ€™s work is lined up as rows of notecard-sized pieces of collages â€“ cut-outs of modernist artwork thatâ€™s been printed in art magazines. He says the work comes from his training in studying composition.
â€œWhen I look at a piece, Iâ€™m always sort of taking it apart,â€ he says. â€œI canâ€™t help it, when I look at something, I go that doesnâ€™t need to be there. Whatâ€™s the heart of it? Whatâ€™s everything that needs to be there?â€
â€œSo I thought it would be interesting to start showing people the things I see when I look at other peopleâ€™s work.â€
The Bemis Undergroundâ€™s exhibit, Out of In Focus, opens Friday. And upstairs, in the Bemisâ€™ main gallery, another â€“ somewhat local â€“ artist will open her new show the same night. Leslie Shows is based in San Francisco, but she spent a few months in Omaha last year as the Bemisâ€™ artist-in-residence.
â€œWe love to do that. We love to bring them back,â€ says Hesse McGraw, chief curator at the Bemis.
â€œWe get very excited about inviting a former resident whose work, or whose time here was transformational for their practice, who made a kind of breakthrough in the studio,â€ he says.
McGraw says Shows began her work for this exhibit while at the Bemis, and has now completed three bodies of work. The first: large-scale paintings that use multiple layers of texture and different media â€“ from crushed glass to metal filings and sand â€“ to create seemingly three-dimensional images of pyrite, otherwise known as foolâ€™s gold. The second series features sulfur sculptures of everyday objects, and the third features a video production based on a Franz Kafka story about the ever-changing nature of objects.
â€œHer work connects geologic time scales with a kind of urgent and intense imagery,â€ McGraw says. â€œWhen you see the paintings, you think about almost violent eruptionsâ€¦ the work has this sort of intensity to it.â€
â€œBut in the sense that sheâ€™s dealing with things that are intensely structured, literally objects that have evolved, it speaks to the time scale required to generate that evolution.â€
Leslie Showsâ€™ exhibit opens Friday at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. And the Undergroundâ€™s Out of In Focus opens the same evening. The Underground will host a gallery talk with the artists May 5th, and Leslie Shows will present her gallery talk Saturday at noon.
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