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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts: Leslie Shows | Out of In Focus: Alex Borovski + Lonnie Potter | UNDERGROUND | Michael Jones McKean - 27 Apr 2012 to 28 July 2012

Current Exhibition

27 Apr 2012 to 28 July 2012

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 south 12th street
NE 68102
North America
T: +1 402 341-7130

Leslie Shows, Face K, 2011
Ink, acrylic, Mylar, sand, canvas, plastic and engraving on aluminum
82 x 48 inches

Artists in this exhibition: Leslie Shows, Alex Borovski, Lonnie Potter, Michael Jones McKean

Leslie Shows

April 27 - July 28
Opening Reception: Friday, April 27 | 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Gallery Talk: Saturday, April 28 | 12 noon

Leslie Shows’ expansive and cryptic paintings connect geologic time scales with urgent and intense imagery. In her new work, sculptures of cast sulfur and visually rich, abstracted images of pyrite suggest ruptures of language, meaning and substances.

Shows initiated this body of work while in residence at the Bemis Center in the summer of 2011. Beginning with digitally scanned images of pyrite, Shows constructs and collages large-scale paintings on aluminum panels, with materials including ink, acrylic paint, Mylar, Plexiglas, metal filings, sand, crushed glass and canvas. The works are spectral, reflective, and aim to accurately depict their object source, yet engage the alchemical mythology of the material. A second body of work includes a series of cast sulfur objects. Shows’ casts of everyday forms — remotes, telephones, toys — conjoin cast-away objects with an element that is used heavily in industrial processes.

Shows has built deep resonance between the two series and a video work, Odradek. The iron pyrite landscape works are illusory, artificial representations of fool’s gold, an economically useless yet psychologically and historically charged sulfide mineral. In contrast the sulfur sculptures are chalky, a waxy opaque yellow copy of senseless objects. Odradek utilizes Kafka’s story to illustrate the disorienting dimensions and unstable perceptive qualities shared by all her works.

For Shows the pyrite landscapes present “a field of features ... doing landscape painting is about being able to spread out details ... where I could have multiple interactions between multiple things — formal, linguistic and conceptual interactions between different images and materials that I would choose to put in a painting together. That’s the engine of the painting.”
Shows is keen to reveal “ways culture and human thought are tied to the structure of objects.” Together her works explore value systems, geologic and industrial flows,

and human biology in relation to deep time registers. Between epic scale and direct, physiological experience, Shows engages an endless feedback loop between our minds and the material world.

Leslie Shows is curated by Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center chief curator.

About the artist
Leslie Shows’ (AIR 2011) work has most recently been exhibited at Haines Gallery, San Francisco; The Nelson Gallery at University of California, Davis; and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Her work was included in the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, and has been shown at the Oakland Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Shows is the recipient of a Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellowship, an SFMOMA SECA Award, an Artadia Award, and the Tournesol Award from Headlands Center for the Arts. In addition to group shows throughout the United States, Shows has had four solo exhibitions with the Jack Hanley Gallery in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her work has been written about in The New Yorker, ArtReview and Artforum, and featured in Harper’s. Shows was raised in Juneau, Alaska and currently lives in San Francisco.

Exhibitions Presenting Sponsor: Omaha Steaks

Sponsors: Amber M. Allen, Justin V. Allen Design + Development, Clark Creative Group, Davis Erection and Crane Rental & Rigging, Echo Tech, Education Power | Robert Webber, Larry Gawel Photography, Chris Headley /, Min | Day, Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Quail Distributing, Recycling Rudy | Grandma M, Roots & Wings, Rybin Plumbing & Heating, Sherwin Williams, Upstream Brewing Company, Visions Custom Framing, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Warren Distribution


Out of In Focus: Alex Borovski + Lonnie Potter | UNDERGROUND

Opening Reception: Friday, April 27 | 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. | FREE
Gallery Talk with the artists and curator: Saturday, May 5 | 12 noon | FREE
April 27 - May 26, 2012

The bemisUNDERGROUND is proud to present Out of In Focus, featuring two artists who focus on details yet rely on the act of stepping into the distance, both metaphorically and literally, to realize and experience their work.

Alex Borovski is a painter from Lincoln, Nebraska who has constructed an alternate earth in her current body of work. Her large-format multi-panel paintings take the viewer on a ride, beginning miles above the surface and falling fast through various environments and finally arriving within intimate figurative and occasionally pre-historic situations. Her painterly hand builds psychedelic chaos atop quiet dreamlike moments that repeatedly prompt the viewer to come closer while simultaneously forcing distance to take it all in. Borovski is a winner of the 2011 Bemis Center Juried Exhibition.

Where Borovski has created her own world, Omaha artist Lonnie Potter deconstructs ours. For 15 years, he has refined his practice to highlight subtle possibilities in the everyday. Often using humble materials — stacked kitchen sponges, woven extension cords or magazine clippings — Potter’s work achieves an apex of perceived value for his materials, without concealing their original purpose. Potter dwells in objects and images that are usually passed over and, through his careful selection, demands moments of intense investigation toward simple things. For Out of In Focus he is presenting several dozen new works — highly reductive “collages” that have been culled from contemporary art publications and mounted to card stock.

Out of In Focus is curated by Joel Damon, UNDERGROUND curator.

Michael Jones McKean
The Rainbow: Certain Principles
of Light and Shapes Between FormsJune 1–September 15, 2012

Opening weekend: June 21–23
Exhibition & project tours: every Thursday, 6pm
Michael Jones McKean's The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms creates a simple but phenomenal visual event—a rainbow in the sky. The public artwork will produce temporary rainbows above the Bemis Center using the most elemental materials: sunlight and rainwater. Twice per day with clear sun, for 20 minutes each, a rainbow will appear above Bemis Center's downtown building.

This commissioned artwork and exhibition represents extensive cross-disciplinary collaboration. Irrigation and rainwater harvesting experts from Omaha-based Lindsay Corporation and Watertronics, structural and mechanical engineers, atmospheric scientists, plumbing and electrical experts have joined McKean in creating a wholly integrated system for this site-specific work. McKean's work will amplify the placeless, celebratory, seductive, and elusive qualities of the spectacular event of a rainbow.

Leading up to the exhibition, extensive modifications to the Bemis Center's five-story, repurposed industrial warehouse took place—creating a completely self-contained water harvesting and large-scale storage system. Throughout the project cycle, collected and recaptured storm water will be filtered and stored in six above-ground, 10,500 gallon water tanks. Within the gallery, a custom designed 60-horsepower pump supplies pressurized water to nine nozzles mounted to the 20,000 square foot roof of the Bemis Center. In the morning and early evening, a dense water-wall will be projected above the building in which a rainbow will emerge. Based on atmospheric conditions, vantage point, available sunlight and the changing angle of the sun in the sky, each rainbow will have a singular character and quality—one could see the rainbow from a thousand feet away or seemingly touch it with your hand.

A rainbow operates as an egalitarian visual experience. It is by nature temporary, undetermined, and wonderful. The Rainbow exists somewhere between real and representation, actual and artifice. McKean is deeply interested in the rainbow as a complex form—ephemeral and steeped in mythology—that possesses an out-of-time existence as pure optical phenomena. The image of a rainbow extends through time, surpassing our known and archived histories, and operates as a constant unchanged form. Although the symbol of a rainbow has been co-opted, politicized, branded, and commodified, an actual prismatic rainbow still has an ability to jolt us from the everyday. It feels hopeful, yearning, optimistic, ghost-like, and meaningful.

The Rainbow is a work of significant logistical complexity that realizes a silent, delicate, and temporary visual experience. The work provides a direct and momentous experience of art, science, ecology, and wonder.

The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms is curated by Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center chief curator.

About the artist
Michael Jones McKean (Truk Island, Micronesia, 1976) is an internationally recognized American artist. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Nancy Graves Foundation Award, and an Artadia Award. McKean has been in residence at The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York City; The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center; the Bemis Center; The Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana; and ThreeWalls, Chicago, Illinois.McKean's work is represented by Horton Gallery in New York City and Gentili Apri in Berlin, Germany. He is an Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Residency Program

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