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Bluemner, faculty art at Hand Art Center

CONVERGENCE artThe Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center at Stetson University’s DeLand campus opens the new academic year with two major art exhibitions, beginning Friday, Sept. 13. The public is invited, free of charge, to an opening reception for both exhibitions that Friday evening, from 6-8 p.m., at the Hand Art Center, 139 E. Michigan Ave.

The exhibition Oscar Bluemner: Color Sketches, featuring works from the Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection, will be shown at the Hand Art Center from Sept. 13 to Dec. 2. This exhibit continues the mission of the Hand Art Center to display and interpret works from Stetson’s extensive collection of artwork by American Modernist painter Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938). On Wednesday, Oct. 2, exhibition curator Dr. Roberta Smith Favis will present a lecture on the artist and his works in Room 25 of the Instructional Media Center, at Stetson’s duPont Ball Library, 134 E. Minnesota Ave. (Pictured bottom right, “Oscar Bluemner, Untitled, Feb. 15, 1911, colored pencil on paper, 5 in. x 7 in., Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection, Stetson University.)

Bluemner was born and educated in Germany and came to the United States in 1892 to work as an architect. By the first decades of the twentieth century he became interested in modernist experiments in art and turned his attention and, eventually, his practice to painting. The color sketches in this exhibition come from the years 1910 and 1911 when Bluemner was actively making the shift from architect to painter.

Bluemner“Most of the pieces on display capture commonplace scenes of the New York and New Jersey suburbs and countryside not far from New York City, where the artist lived at this time,” said Roberta Smith Favis, professor emerita of art history and curator of Stetson’s Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection. “The works were drawn with a new type of particularly vibrant and versatile colored pencils that enabled the artist to combine his interest in the expressive qualities of color with his immediate response to subjects observed from nature.”

In Convergence, the second exhibition at the Hand Art Center, art marks a point of intersection for the disparate practices of three Stetson faculty artists: Stephen John Ellis, digital media; Sean Erwin, ceramics and installation; and Sean Peuquet, sound and installation. (Photo, top right, is by Stephen John Ellis.) Beyond such literal applicability, Convergence further describes a set of considerations that operate internal to each artist’s work, and outlines those core tangencies that arise between them: at what point do the personal and impersonal converge?  How might virtuality serve to implicate, reframe, or even reconstitute reality? Is the division between the Singular and the Universal, as disclosed through narrative, identity, and direct perception, ultimately irreconcilable? Or, might we find a way to bridge the gap?

Individually, Ellis’ interactive, video and photographic work “argues for identity as a socio-aesthetic hybrid in an attempt to explain representations of self through the visual language of virtual realities.” Erwin’s ceramic objects and installations “use the seduction of fine craft as a device to engage the viewer in narrative while trying to understand some truth about human nature and the world around us.” Peuquet’s sonic art “leverages formalized, algorithmic structures against the contingency of imminent perceptual experience.”

Collectively, the juxtaposition of three divergent aesthetic imperatives only serves to retroactively reinforce the necessity to identify problematized, thwarted, and incomplete (if not impossible) notions of convergence in their art, reflected in both theoretical and sometimes literal ways. Convergence will run at the Hand Art Center from Sept. 13-Oct. 19.

Gallery Hours at Stetson’s Hand Art Center are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on weekends and university holidays. For more information call 386-822-7270.