Two unique art exhibits opened Saturday at the Parkersburg Art Center, featuring Dr. Lauri Reidmiller's "Japanese Perspectives" displayed in the main gallery, and Jorge E. Tecunolmos' "Atmospheric Balance" which was showcased in the Esbenshade Gallery.
Reidmiller, who is an Assistant Professor at Concord University, received her bachelor's degree in Graphic Design and received her master's degree in Art Education, both from Ohio State University. Her exhibit Saturday featured works created by painting silk fabric, a technique Art Center Director, Abby Hayhurst, expressed much respect for, "This technique is very old and extremely difficult. It is similar in nature to traditional Japanese screen painting, as far back as the 9th century. A good way to visualize it would be to think about the last time you spilled red wine on your best silk blouse. Now think about precisely controlling where the wine goes. That's kind of the idea."
When asked about working with silk and different mediums Reidmiller said, "I've been working with silk for about four years now. It has really taken me about four years just to find a process that works. I'm also a photographer. I'm an art educator, so I sort of have to be a jack of all trades. I'm really inspired by everything, like I just met Jorge and looking at all of his work, now I wanna go work on new things."
Though a specifically Japanese themed exhibit was never planned, Reidmiller described how it all seemed to come together naturally,"I sketch all the time, I was researching silk paintings and I was already really inspired and attracted to Japanese screen paintings with their minimalist approach and nature themes, so as I was looking through my sketches I just seemed to find a commonality. I didn't intend to make a whole show about Japanese themed work, it just kind of happened."
"This gallery is really reminiscent of the 9th century pieces that were created such a long time ago that we don't really know the artist. Pieces are usually just identified by when it was created and where it was created," Reidmiller explained of her inspiration.
Hayhurst also went on to describe Reidmiller’s work, “Lauri uses asymmetrical balance and uniform fields of color to emphasize the surface of her work. She does not go for a great deal of depth, which is the graphic designer coming out in her. This is not to say that her work is simplistic, it is not. It is minimalist, in that she makes choices, like 'what is important in this turtle's shell?' or 'What is the minimum detail needed to define this fish?' Then she puts the whole kaboodle into a balance that is simultaneously very sophisticated as well as aesthetically pleasing.”
The Esbenshade Gallery staged the creative works of Jorge Tecunolmos, which Hayhurst described as hard to pin an “ism” on. “Some of his work is abstract, but more is what I would term Expressionism. Classically speaking, Expressionist works are scary or full of angst in some way like Munch's "The Scream.” Jorge's works aren't scary in the least, but they do express the artist's personal opinion, which is another one of the key hallmarks of Expressionism.” Even Tecunolmos himself struggles to classify his work, “I really don’t know, honestly. I just enjoy it. I just enjoy the fact that it engages people, I enjoy seeing people’s reactions and I really love color because it represents life to me.”
“You know actually I’ve only been painting for about a year and a half. I came across painting while doing volunteer work, my first work I called ‘Discovery’ because it was just from left over paint from a project. I’m still in the beginning stages as an artist and I think I still have a lot of discovering to do,” Tecunolmos continued.
Elaborating on his use of mixed media and textures, Tecunolmos described the sometimes risky, experimental approach, “It’s almost like a discovery. You know you have all the elements laying there, and there’s always that worry ‘If I do this, I may screw it all up’ but the risk that it involves is worth it. It’s cool. It’s overwhelming. There is one that has the foot prints on it and it was actually a mistake, my roommate actually stepped on it while it was still drying, but I thought what the heck, sometimes art is about mistakes and the unplanned things that make art beautiful.”
Originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Tecunolmos described how his life experiences have shaped his work, “I’ve actually been traveling for as long as I can remember. I’ve been to many places and I think that has helped, to combine all the diversity, there are so many different ways people live. I think it is important to reflect that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be open minded. You may eat with your right hand and someone else eats with their left hand, but they’re both being fed.”
Tecunolmos is also a member of the ON TRAC committee dedicated to revitalizing downtown Parkersburg, “We’re still in the beginning stages with the ON TRAC program, but my goal is to let younger people know, especially in this community, that it is okay to be different, it’s okay to show your work, it’s okay to try, it’s okay to fail. We believe that art can help stimulate economic development, especially targeted towards younger people. If we can get people to engage with the arts, it may be more appealing for people to come downtown, and then maybe afterwards they will grab a coffee or a drink or get something to eat at a downtown restaurant.”
Though they had never met, both artist felt very pleased to be paired together for this show, "Abby just paired us together, she thought it would be a good mix. Jorge does a lot of hard edge paintings so it's similar and really fits with the things I do with silk and both are very colorful," Reidmiller said. When suggested that the two exhibits complimented each other Tecunolmos happily replied, “Yeah! I believe that 100%. It’s a different style, but they’re both very vivid.” Hayhurst also explained her feelings on the pairing, “Both choose uncomplicated subjects, they both do a lot of visual editing, like graphic designers, and they both use good, strong color, which is what everyone wants to see in February when it's so dank and nasty outside. While the artworks are very, very different, their core artistic choices are remarkably similar.” Both exhibits will be on display through March. For more information you can visit www.parkersburgartcenter.org
(Works by Dr. Lauri Reidmiller)
(Works by Jorge E. Tecunolmos)