The fifth annual summer exhibition of The Enchanted Brush has been in the Lea Gallery at University’s Mazza Museum since early June, and when taking into consideration the number of art lovers who have been in and out of the gallery during its time span, it’s clear that the popularity of the exhibition continues to be of great interest year after year.
The work in this year’s exhibition, according to Mazza Museum’s curator Dan Chudzinski, was created as an homage to an existing work of art, an artist, or a work of literature, along with an image of the artists’ source of inspiration.
Some of the participating artists in attendance at an artist reception, held on July 17 at Mazza, spoke about their work and how it was created. Artists Rich Klink and Audrey Benjaminsen had two very different pieces of art in the exhibition, but have similar ideas about how their work comes to be. Each artist said they need to feel a good level of excitement about their projects in order for them to craft something meaningful, and that deadlines, while sometimes daunting, have a way of creating their own form of inspiration for the artists.
Benjaminsen, who created a haunting portrait of Vincent Price that was selected as the official poster for the event, said that she likes to put her own spin on classic material and people. “I thought about films and characters from my childhood,” she said. “I was a fan [of Price], and I’m very interested in character design and portraiture. He has such interesting facial expressions, and those can really bring people in art to life.”
Klink, whose sculpture of a mermaid titled “From the Tideless Sea,” explained that his work was based on the writing of one of his favorite authors, William Hope Hodgson, a late 19th/early 20th century English writer who often focused on what Klink called “creepy stories about sailors and boats that crashed onto some mossy island with mermaids and mists.” He described that the sculpture changed dramatically from idea to conception; so much so, in fact, that it wasn’t supposed to be a mermaid to begin with at all. “It actually started off as Pecos Bill,” he said, “but the deadline was looming, and this different piece ended up being the mermaid. I’m a big fan of Hodgson anyway, and have always wanted to do one.”
Another commonality that the two share, and one that they said is familiar between most every other artist, is that they see all of their fellow artists as being a part of a larger community, one that is supportive and helpful, particularly for those who work singularly. “Our craft is largely a solitary thing,” said Benjaminsen. “We like to be a part of exhibitions like Enchanted Brush, because it feels good to walk into a gallery with your friends and see representations of the general spirit of art hanging together. It looks like us hanging out together. Even if someone likes to create alone, we need to share stories.”
She also added that art has a special meaning for kids, so the Mazza Museum and its many attributes is a particularly meaningful and magical place. “The art that you see in books, particularly kids’ books, is magic. Kids have no idea of the tools that went into making it. If and when I create something new, it might be their first time seeing something like it. It might spark a memory. You can have a relationship with people just from consuming their art,” she said.
The Enchanted Brush exhibition is open through Aug. 10.
The various art, much of which is for sale, can be viewed here.