Those looking for a change from the run of the mill Friday night can enjoy an evening out at the Shafer Art Gallery’s opening reception for its “Pedagogy” exhibit from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 10. The reception will feature catered food, music and gallery talks. Admission is free.
Gallery Director Dave Barnes said the two featured artists, Michael Jilg and Harry Krug, spent much of their life in art education, while at the same time continuing on their individual journeys as artists.
Artist Michael Jilg started painting in the ’60s and spent most of his adult life teaching art for 30 years at Fort Hays State University. Now, with decades of instruction in the rear-view, the retired educator spends his days painting in his gallery in downtown Hays and cranking blues music on Spotify.
Jilg said finding time to work on his personal art was always the greatest challenge of being an artist.
“Now I’ve been given the gift of time, and am lucky enough to have a studio downtown,” he said.
With time restraints lessened, Jilg has had the luxury of getting out of his comfort zone. Traditionally a very figurative artist creating works with intentional subject matter, Jilg’s collection for the show will be a tangent from his normal style and will consist of brand new, non-objective paintings.
“It’s been a lot of fun building paintings out of the basic elements of design rather than having figurative subject matter,” he said. “Each painting starts out with no idea whatsoever, and I just develop it as I go along. It’s tactilely fun and emotionally challenging.”
Jilg also takes pride in his process from the ground up. Not only does he create the art work, but he also creates his own frames, stretcher bars and strips from 100 percent recycled lumber in his own woodshop. Some of the lumber in his most recent frames dates back to more than 100 years old and was taken from his grandfather’s farm in Barton County.
A legend in the world of printmaking, Professor Emeritus at Pittsburg State University Harry Krug spent 38 years passing his knowledge on to young artists. Now, as a retired artist he has been able to focus almost exclusively on his own work.
His contributions to the exhibit will be a series of densely layered serigraphs that explore shapes, color and form in energetic, abstract compositions inspired by the landscape.
Serigraphs, or silkscreen prints, are made by using a squeegee to press ink through a taut, fine fabric mesh onto paper. Areas that are not to receive ink are masked out on the fabric. Krug is a master as this process, often using as many as 20 screens to create the composition and the unusual surface texture of his work.
His work has been exhibited in the United States and Europe and he has been featured in several textbooks on printmaking.
According to an interview by the Wyoming Arts Council, after all of his years as an educator, Krug offers this sage-like advice:
“As a creative person I’ve spent a great deal of my life being a student; every day I learn new things. The big challenge is developing within one’s self, in your consciousness and your belief system, what you’re all about as a human being – what your identity is, what your interests, hobbies, and beliefs are, and to try and put that into a visual language.”