Arts center to debut two exhibits
Two new exhibits will open Aug. 4 at the Oats Park Arts Center: Kirk Robertson’s “Homage to Collage: Mixed Media Works from Three Decades” and Jay Schmidt’s “The Middle of Nowhere: Recent Sculptures, Paintings and Collaborations.”
A reception for both exhibits will be held on Aug. 4 from 5-7 p.m., and a talk from Schmidt begins at 5:30 p.m.
“Homage to Collage: Mixed Media Works from Three Decades” features the talents of Robertson, a longtime and well-known prolific literary writer, poet, columnist and conversationalist who died unexpectedly in 2017. Robertson, along with his wife Valerie Serpa, transformed the old Oats Park School into a jewel in the desert.
They transformed the school, which was built in 1914 and designed by Reno architect Frederick DeLongchamps, into a centerpiece for arts in rural Nevada. The facility became a state-of-the art center with three art galleries, a 350-seat theater and the Arts Bar, a popular gathering place for patrons before and after performances and exhibitions.
Robertson had an affinity for collage as he described in one of his last columns for the Lahontan Valley News in March 2017: “Collage and assemblage were two of the most important creative strategies in 20th century art. The works created were compositions made out of various seemingly unrelated materials which were juxtaposed to generate new and unanticipated meanings. Many well-known artists frequently used collage and assemblage methods in their works including Pablo Picasso, Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenberg, Hannah Hoch, John Heartfeld and many, many others.”
Serpa said the works in Robertson’s show are all “flat” in frames with the older pieces compose of pictures and text (along with other sources) and are taken from old magazines and books he found in the vintage or thrift stores.
“Kirk has always worked on collage, and it’s the nature of all of the artwork he’s created over the years … even the three dimensional pieces are composed of found objects, re-imagined to create a piece of art,” she said. “The newer, edgier stuff are actually photo collages; he cut pieces of images from magazines like Vogue, W. etc. and put them together in totally new ways and then took a color photo so that they are seamless.
This is the first show in the newly renamed Kirk Robertson Gallery (formerly known as the Classroom Gallery). The Arts Council Board voted to honor Robertson this past year, and to kick of the arts center’s new season with his exhibition.
Schmidt was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1952 and currently resides in Bozeman, Montana. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1974 and completed his Master of Fine Arts at the University of California, Davis two years later.
In 2007 he retired from a 26-year career as a professor in the School of Art at Montana State University. His enormous paintings engulf the viewer — one is swaddled in colors, bombarded with madness, with the obsessiveness of modern-day consumerism, commercialism, and war-mongering — all spiraling beyond sanity like a tornado of society. It is this kind of experience, this topsy-turvy urgency, that gets beneath your skin and drains the breath from your body.
Schmidt has kept busy after retiring from MSU.
“At the same time I have been very fortunate to have become involved with a couple of collaborative art making groups, Paintallica and the Living Breathing Thing, that have been a major source of energy and inspiration,” he wrote.