Feature Articles

April 2014

Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, Offers Works by Ken Hoffman, Brian Mashburn, & Kevin Palme

The Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, is presenting Relationships: Art of the Human Condition and its Effects on the Environment, featuring works by Ken Hoffman, Brian Mashburn, and Kevin Palme, on view through May 17, 2014.

These artists use dreamlike images to investigate the relationship of the human condition and its effects on the environment. Each work expresses the subject in the context of human values, contemporary culture, and events of a specific space, both physical and psychological. The exhibition takes a fresh look at conventional representations of nature to push boundaries and offer interesting ways to evoke emotional responses. The art may seem whimsical, colorful, or challenging, yet each elicits contemplation and empathy toward the artist’s view.

Ken Hoffman (Peoria, IL) uses anthropomorphic imagery to pursue a surreal approach to the human head. “For the past 20 years, the anthropomorphic subject matter of my animal portrait paintings has been the central focus of my artistic endeavors. My main objective has been to pursue this vigorous and quasi-surreal approach to the human head. It is my intention to convey to the viewer animal-people expressions and to show how close humans are to animal counterparts. The impact of the imagery parallels certain kinds of modern literature such as Animal Farm, Metamorphosis, and Waiting for Godot.”

Hoffman uses color and a buildup of oil paint as part of a complex method to achieve surface effects. In his recent work, he has been exploring the use of new materials such as sand, glitter, and acrylic paint.

Hoffman is Professor of Art, Emeritus at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. He earned his BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been exhibited nationally and is held in public collections of the Rockford Art Museum in Rockford, IL; the Lakeview Museum in Peoria, IL; and private collections including the Administrative Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the President of the Chicago International Art Expo. He has also shown his work internationally in Paris, Poland, Germany, Australia, Ireland, and Argentina. Hoffman’s exhibition, Animals Great and Small, will be shown in the Norvell Gallery.

Known for darker, chaotic landscapes, Brian Mashburn (Asheville, NC) paints a whole series of work that centers around the overgrowth of cities, industry, and urban populations. His scenes look like they could be from a post-apocalyptic world.

Mashburn graduated from UNC (Chapel Hill) with a BFA in Painting and Drawing and has shown his work across the United States.

Mashburn says, “My paintings are about accumulation and consequence, contrast and depth, narrative and observation. The growth of cities, industry, and urban populations has entered a state of perpetual velocity, with untold implications for both natural and social geographies.”

Consequent states of excess, alienation, degradation, and serenity bleed together in Mashburn’s meticulous oil paintings of gothic beauty. Between grandeur and the grotesque, he presents post-apocalyptic visions of the modern world where nature, culture, and industry engage in an ambivalent endgame. With the delicate touch of 19th century German Romantic painters, Mashburn creates complex, but exquisitely rendered spaces where trees, clouds, spires, and solemn figures negotiate a proliferating maze of telephone poles, smokestacks, and carcasses of the Industrial Age.

Painting with what Mashburn calls, “the soul of a hopeless romantic and the dark humor of a cynic,” He channels hallucinatory states of a bleak, yet sublime future. Steven Matijicio states, “After spending time in Hong Kong, Thailand, and China, the endless tides of skyscrapers and citizenry left an indelible imprint on the work of Brian Mashburn. As a model of the escalating urban condition, the sheer density of population and infrastructure was sublime as it teetered on the tipping point. Like the seductive draw of an epic disaster, he travels this path towards overload in both subject matter and style.”

Comparing his methodical brushstrokes to the monotonous processes of mass production, Mashburn observes, “In the end, they both produce a polluted, drab landscape.” His current body of work, Miasma, is on view in the Osborne and Woodson Galleries.

The work of contemporary artist Kevin Palme (Asheville, NC) is an ongoing study derived from his interest in places, landscapes, and the abstraction of memories. Born and raised in New Jersey, Palme spent time driving and traveling throughout the country which had a dramatic impact on his work and ideology about making art.

Palme says, “Since 2001, the primary basis for my work has been my relationship to landscapes and places. I employ painting to understand how I interact with spaces and environments and how those particular places impact me. Derived from atmospheric light, sheer scale, or simply from a specific object, the work is often spare and focuses on only one facet of the environment, resulting in fields of slowly shifting color.”

“My recent series of works are based, not only on physical places, but psychological spaces as well,” adds Palme. “I am interested in examining how painting can be utilized to allude to an idea of a place or memory of a particular time. Transparent and hazy layers of color built into and over previous layers of color become metaphors for the act of remembering and its inherently distant and abstract nature. As completed paintings, the works function as contemplative fields conjuring memories of landscapes and experiences. While each painting has a very specific origin and meaning for me, each may also have uniquely different and individual meanings to viewers, inviting personal interpretations and new metaphors.”

Palme received his BA in Studio Art from Wake Forest University and his MFA in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design. His work has been nationally exhibited and is held in public collections including the Creative Arts Guild, Dalton, Georgia, Mohawk Industries, Dalton, Georgia, Parsec Financial Management, Asheville, North Carolina, and Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia. His works are also held in private collections nationally.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 704/636-1882 or visit (www.waterworks.org).

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