Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guten Tag! Spring has Sprung in South Carolina!!

Salutations from sunny South Carolina! Yes, sunny and 70 degrees no less. I spent last week wrapped in down coats and wool socks for the 40 degree weather in Wuppertal, Germany where I was visiting to attend my solo exhibition "Wachsspuren" at Galerie KUNSTKOMPLEX.  Located near Dusseldorf, Wuppertal has a population of around 300,000, a river that runs through the city center, a suspended rail train, and strong cultural ties to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where artist Tony Cragg serves as Director. 

Wuppertal Schwebebahn or Floating Tram

I received the invitation to exhibit in 2011 after artist Bodo Berheide visited my studio when he was in Spartanburg giving a presentation at USC Upstate on his sculpture project, Figura Magica, a six-ton cast-iron oversized horseshoe magnet that traveled to ten different countries before being permanently installed in the city of Wuppertal. Bodo originally studied with Joseph Beuys in Dusseldorf, and much of his work is associated with the philosophies of Beuys and the ideas of social sculpture. He asked about my work and became intrigued when I explained I was using beeswax and the encaustic process of heating and applying the medium to panels and paper. Bodo and I share friends Dirk and Catherine Schlingmann who live in Spartanburg, so I invited them to visit my studio and see the process I'm using. 

Artist Bodo Berheide next to the famous image of
Joseph Beuys at the Von Der Heydt Museum.

Tony Cragg installation in the stairway at the Museum.

One thing led to another, and soon after Bodo returned to Germany, I was contacted by Nicole Bardohl owner of Galerie Kunstkomplex in Wuppertal. Nicole had reviewed my work on the web at Bodo's suggestion and was very interested to bring an exhibit of my encaustic work to Wuppertal where it is a relatively unknown process. In the past I have shown in Switzerland and Italy but those were group exhibits, so an invitation for a solo show was most exciting, and to make it better we decided I would visit for a week so I could attend the vernissage and present a talk on the encaustic process.

Galerie KUNSTKOMPLEX, Hofaue 54, Wuppertal

So, on March 3rd I flew out of GSP and arrived in Dusseldorf early the next morning. Bodo met me at the airport and we proceeded to Wuppertal getting a brief tour of the area before arriving at my hotel. The region reminded me of the Asheville, Hendersonville area of North Carolina that is near to where I live and is filled with lush forests and rolling hills that allow for beautiful vistas of the landscape. I was pleased to have a chance to visit Bodo's studio, located on the top floor of his flat and overlooking the city of Wuppertal.

Bodo Berheide in his studio and view from the studio windows.

Monday we went to the Galerie KUNSTKOMPLEX so I could see the space and arrange the paintings for installation. Nicole and I had spoken on the phone and emailed, but it was a pleasure to finally meet her in person and see the Galerie. She had sent press releases in February so when I arrived I was pleased to see two of my works were published with details of the exhibit in their culture magazine. The vernissage was scheduled for Thursday, and I was to give a talk on the wax process on Friday, so this gave time for touring the city, food and beer!! Good German beer!!

Galerie KUNSTKOMPLEX prior to the installation.

......and of course, German Beer !!

Coming soon, a visit to the Tony Cragg Sculpture Park, my exhibit "Wachsspuren" opens, views of the city, and a visit to Stephan Werbeck's print studio, Syngraph Atelier Freie Graphik.

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