Barton Community College’s Shafer Art Gallery will host an opening reception for its “Repurposed” exhibit from 6-8 p.m. Friday, February 26 in the Shafer Gallery. The exhibit will feature the sophisticated cardboard constructions of Jessie Montes and “Heidegger’s Ghost,” a visual essay concerning the themes of ontology, New York City and personal vision by Scott Thein.
The exhibit will run through March 24. The Shafer Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the gallery will host two programs for youth. Space is limited; call 620-792-9242 to RSVP. Admission is free; materials provided.
• March 5: Youth Art Workshop, 10-11:30 a.m., “Corrugated Cardboard Craziness.” This workshop encourages imagination and experimentation as attendees consider the many ways to use cardboard as a medium for making art and includes a guided art activity. Ages 6-12.
• March 9: Story Time at the Shafer Gallery, 10-11 a.m. “Cardboard Creations” is the theme for these stories about imagination, ingenuity, and fun and will include a guided art activity. Ages 2-5 with an accompanying adult.
Jessie Montes created amazing folk art from corrugated cardboard. The self-taught artist lived in Texas at the time of his death in 2013 but spent some of his life in Kansas. A native of Mexico, he became a naturalized citizen in 1972 and worked as a custodian for much of his life. He was one of 25 children and five sets of twins.
Montes’ art is very unique and is something one has to see to believe. His ornate pieces range from small plaques to some up to 6 feet tall. Some pieces are three dimensional. The process he used consisted of arranging pieces of cardboard to create intense and almost tactile textures that make the artwork come to life. His work has been featured in numerous art magazines and galleries.
“I have always been interested in art,” he said. “Growing up impoverished in Northern Mexico, I had to create my own toys and items of amusement. This was the beginning of my creative bent. My early desire to create something from nothing is really the basis for my art. I chose cardboard, because so much of it was going to waste ... I always try to be precise in the composition of all the pieces, especially the abstract ones. The landscape pieces reflect my love of nature and the land, stemming I guess, from the topography of my childhood.” – Artist Statement by Jessie Montes.
Phyllis Kind, who represented Montes in her New York City gallery from 1998 until he retired, said Montes was a visionary.
“I would suggest that Montes invented his own vocabulary of visual form,” she said. “His concerns are purely technical and he tells us much about them, but more importantly is the mystery of creative genius, the most impelling, single aspect of his brilliant and unmistakable work is its significant inventiveness; wholly his own.”
Sometimes Scott Thein lives in Great Bend but mostly he lives in New York City. He obsessively draws the New York City cityscape on cast-off, uptown shopping bags. These drawings reveal a complex conceptual reality that underscores the transformative power of mark making. Using forms of thinking associated with the influential German philosopher Martin Heidegger, Thein’s drawings become a web of “careful” observation and metaphor. They trace the journey of a shopping bag through various contexts that change its significance and meaning. They also define the contexts in which meaning begins to fade. Just as Thein transforms the meaning of the shopping bag through associations and metaphor making, he also alters its physical being with his incessant marking. He transforms the raw utilitarian paper into something soft, precious and ethereal, almost ghostlike. – Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes.