The Shafer Gallery will hold an opening reception on March 9 at 6:30 p.m. for its latest exhibit, Exegesis: Portraits of the Spirit, featuring works from the Rev. Richard Vettel-Becker and Luis Mario Figueroa. The opening reception will feature gallery talks by the artists and refreshments for the attendees.
Exegesis is the process of critically explaining or interpreting a text, especially of scripture. This exhibit transports viewers into the minds of Vettel-Becker and Figueroa, allowing them a glimpse of the artists’ interpretations of biblical texts through stunning works of art.
Vettel-Becker first discovered his love for oil paintings while rummaging around his attic and finding his mother’s old tubes of paint at 8 years old. His mother encouraged and guided him in his first steps as an artist. Now an Episcopal Priest, Vettel-Becker serves as a hospice chaplain in Billings, Mont. He continues to pick up the brush to create artwork displayed in numerous galleries and churches, including Trinity Church in San Francisco, where he previously served as a rector.
Vettel-Becker describes his work as “abstract evangelism in that its sensuality, its colorful richness, appeals to the souls of many people for whom the church has no appeal.”
“I celebrate spirituality and sensuality in my art with the use of color, oil colors that flow together, creating sensual faces and figures that express the concerns of my inner being,” Vettel-Becker said. “Concerns about life and death, Eucharist and crucifixion, priests and angels, Jesus and women, lust and love, God and devil, incarnation and redemption, suffering and care, church and hospice, passion and resurrection, and liturgy and religion all come to play in my studio. The creation of such images works to nourish and express my soul and spirit, which are inseparable from my passion and my flesh.”
Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes describes Vettel-Becker’s work as powerful.
“Colorful and intense, Vettel-Becker’s abstract figurative paintings reflect both the hope and pathos of human existence as imaged in spiritual and life narratives,” he said.
Figueroa is a Mexican-American artist and a classical and flamenco guitarist. Four years ago, he came Kansas to work as a surveyor and seismographer in oil fields from El Paso, Texas.
“In every painting I create, there should be a message of hope and love, something that will inspire and motivate unity. I have only one chance to live, so every painting I do should be more than colors on a canvas but be a good message to future generations for a much better world,” Figueroa said. “I have been lucky to take my music and art to many venues around the world. My best teacher is my own curiosity; I paint for the love of free artistic expression.”
Barnes sees a visual synergy with the works created by these artists and is thrilled to bring them to the Shafer Gallery together in this exhibit.
“These two artists speak to the same existential issues in different visual languages. Together they create a very rich dialogue,” Barnes said. “It is a conversation of emotions emanating from color and line.”
Celtic harpist to perform at opening reception