Two new exhibits open at the Bemis

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April 26th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Two new shows open up at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts this weekend.

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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. “I built this body of work around the thematic concept of this … alternate world,” she says.

By Alex Borovski. (Photo courtesy Bemis Underground)

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. “They start at one point and it’s kind of arbitrary and then I end up working in layers, and then they just sort of manifest themselves into a story.”

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 Borovski’s large-scale pieces by both size and concept.

"Callipygia" by Lonnie Potter. (Photo courtesy Bemis Underground)

“Alex 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,” Damon says, “finding his work within other artists’ paintings.”

Potter’s work is lined up as rows of notecard-sized pieces of collages – cut-outs of modernist artwork that’s been printed in art magazines. He says the work comes from his training in studying composition.
“When I look at a piece, I’m always sort of taking it apart,” he says. “I can’t help it, when I look at something, I go that doesn’t need to be there. What’s the heart of it? What’s everything that needs to be there?”

“So I thought it would be interesting to start showing people the things I see when I look at other people’s work.”

Face K, 2011 by Leslie Shows. (Photo courtesy Bemis Center)

The Bemis Underground’s exhibit, Out of In Focus, opens Friday. And upstairs, in the Bemis’ main gallery, another – somewhat local – 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 Bemis’ artist-in-residence.

“We love to do that. We love to bring them back,” says Hesse McGraw, chief curator at the Bemis.

“We 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,” 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 – from crushed glass to metal filings and sand – to create seemingly three-dimensional images of pyrite, otherwise known as fool’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.

“Her work connects geologic time scales with a kind of urgent and intense imagery,” McGraw says. “When you see the paintings, you think about almost violent eruptions… the work has this sort of intensity to it.”
“But in the sense that she’s dealing with things that are intensely structured, literally objects that have evolved, it speaks to the time scale required to generate that evolution.”

Leslie Shows’ exhibit opens Friday at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. And the Underground’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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