Collapse Contemporary Art Gallery in downtown Wenatchee hosts a reception for the opening exhibit of “Layers of Meaning” from 4-7 p.m. next week on First Friday, Aug. 5. The exhibit runs through Aug. 27.
The featured professional artists Susan Steinhaus Kimmel and Jim Huber reside in Wenatchee and have shown their art separately in numerous collections on the West coast and across the nation. They each received a master of fine arts degree and have had a career in arts education.
They replied to the following questions by email in advance of the exhibit:
Wenatchee World: Where has your artwork been shown before?
Susan Steinhaus Kimmel: I have exhibited my art in over 100 juried and invitational art exhibits over the last 36 years. The majority of these exhibits were in the Pacific Northwest, with shows also in New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Michigan, Texas and Vermont. One of my handmade books is included in a publication of international book artists.
Jim Huber: My paintings have been shown mostly on the West Coast. However, my works are in collections nationally. I’ve been in shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USC, Riverside Museum of Art, UC Riverside, Claremont Graduate University, Cal State University, Channel Islands among others. In Washington, I’ve shown at CWU, Gallery at the Park in Richland, the Moses Lake Museum, Gallery One in Ellensburg, the Robert Graves Gallery and the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
Wenatchee World: What art movements help contextualize your work?
Steinhaus Kimmel: My art is informed by both the Modern Art movement of the 20th century and the Contemporary Art movement. Years of study during my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Washington State University and my Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts enriched my understanding of art history and my place in a long line of artists. During my college years I focused on drawing and painting. For the last 25 years my focus has been mixed media collage and, more recently, unique handmade books. My collages express a quiet appreciation for the beauty of materials and the interdependence of humankind and the earth. The one-of-a-kind books are finely crafted pieces that explore nature, seasons and poetry. The handmade books integrate text, image and calligraphy.
Huber: I would say that my work is categorized as lyrical abstraction or perhaps post-painterly abstraction. It tends to be organic, colorful, lush and improvisational.
WW: Describe your art studio environment and how you spend time there.
Steinhaus Kimmel: My studio is filled with books, music, 50 years of my sketchbooks and art materials — everything needed to inspire and create art. I have a terrific collection of papers that I have collected in my travels throughout the U.S. and Europe. I am never without a sketchbook. My creative process involves working very intensely for several weeks and then stepping back to analyze the work and plan new projects. Creating my art requires a great deal of emotional energy and I must take periods of time to relax and de-stress. My mind is always filled with new ideas and plans for future work.
My collages require time painting, drawing with Sumi ink or making acrylic ink monoprints and finding papers from my collection. The papers are then cut and torn and reassembled into finished works of art. That process is quite intuitive, relying on my years of experience with design elements and color theory. The handmade books require a great deal of detailed planning. I make a preliminary sketch, a mockup and practice all the calligraphy with various inks and lettering styles. Sometimes I invent a calligraphy style needed to convey the content of a book. A few years ago I created a book that required two months practicing the calligraphy before I ever began making the final book. Collections of papers, inks, pieces of wood, metal clasps, binding boards, linen thread and other miscellaneous materials are all gathered before I begin the final work of art. I think of the artist’s books as incorporating 50 years of art experience into small handheld intimate works of art.
Huber: I work in my home. I have a large office-studio. It’s comfortable and adequate for my needs. I spend three to six hours most days painting there.
WW: What are your specialties as an arts educator?
Steinhaus Kimmel: I retired after more than 20 years teaching college art courses. At Columbia Basin Community College, I taught drawing, graphic design, calligraphy, book arts, beginning design, introduction to art and art history.
Huber: I was an elementary school teacher. As such, I gave my students a weekly art experience. These experiences were usually with drawing, finger painting, clay, watercolor, collage, tempera or found objects. I would often use the Jasper Johns approach, which is “Take something. Do something to it. Do something else to it.” For example, I would often have students paint a free-form design, let it dry, then cut it up and make a collage out of it.