Wednesday, April 17, 2013

COLUMBIA/KAISERSLAUTERN MURAL PROJECT, PART II (& IN TWO PARTS) On View During Artista Vista 2013, April 25 – 27, at Lewis & Clark

Roland Albert, Nicole Gimber, Angie Horlemann, 
Edelgard Lösch, Reiner Mährlein, Annerose Nickel, 
Veronica Olma, Shakty Paqué, Silvia Rudolf and Angelica Steinmacher, 
 Dickicht und Unterholz, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 90 x 294 in.

Stephen Chesley, Jeff Donovan, Mary Gilkerson, 
Tonya Gregg, Klaus Hartmann, Peter Lenzo, 
Silvia Rudolf, Laura Spong, Mike Williams and David Yaghjian, 
Columbia/Kaiserslautern Goat Rodeo, 2012, 
mixed media on canvas, 90 x 288 in. 
Photo: Forrest Clonts Studios, Columbia, S.C.

The Congaree Vista Guild and Artista Vista organization contributed to the exhibition of the two murals during Artista Vista 2013.

PART II of the COLUMBIA/KAISERSLAUTERN INTERNATIONAL (MURAL) PROJECT will take place during Artista Vista, April 25 – 27, 2013, the annual gallery crawl in Columbia's Vista district, at Lewis & Clark, 1221 Lincoln St., next to if ART Gallery.

Part II of the project consist of a new mural created earlier this year by eight artists from the Kunstlerwerkgemeinschaft Kaiserslautern. Kaiserslautern is Columbia's German sister city. Part I is a mural created in September–October 2012 in Columbia by eight Columbia artists and two from Kaiserslautern. 

The project is part of an exchange between Columbia and Kaiserslautern artists that has been going on for more than a decade. Through the exchange several artist from Columbia have visited, worked and exhibited in Kaiserslautern, and several from Kaiserslautern have done the same thing in Columbia.

The initiative for the mural project came from if ART Gallery as part of the September – October 2012 visit of two Kaiserslautern artists, Klaus Hartmann and Silvia Rudolf, who both are represented by if ART. The first mural was created late September – early October at Vista Studios in Columbia by Hartmann, Rudolf and Columbia artists  Stephen Chesley, Jeff Donovan, Mary Gilkerson, Tonya Gregg, Peter Lenzo, Laura Spong, Mike Williams and David Yaghjian. The mural is called Columbia/Kaiserslautern Goat Rodeo and measures 66 x 288 inches. The 10 artists worked on the mural for about a week, sometimes by themselves, more often in groups, creating the work as they went along, without much planning, playing off each other's work until they arrived at a result that everyone was satisfied with.

The first mural was the center piece of the if ART Gallery exhibition Columbia/Kaiserslautern: The International (Mural) Project at Columbia's Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in October 2012. The rest of the exhibition consisted of work by six Kaiserslautern artists and 11 from South Carolina, most of whom were from Columbia, most of whom have been involved in the exchange and all of whom are represented by if ART Gallery. Of the Columbia contributors, all but Lenzo and Gilkerson have been to Kaiserslautern.

After the exhibition, if ART shipped the mural to Kaiserslautern; the mural consists of several smaller canvas pieces that ship easily. The idea was that the artists from the Kunstlerwerkgemeinschaft Kaiserslautern artists group would first exhibit the Columbia mural and then work on it again in their city. That is, they could paint on top of it, they could add new pieces of canvas to it and paint on those additions or do anything else they wanted to do with it, then exhibit the new version of the work. After having exhibited the new version in Kaiserslautern, the German artists were to ship the "revised" mural back to Columbia, where we then would show the new version. 

As it turned out, the Kaiserslautern artists couldn't bring themselves to painting on top of the existing mural. Instead they decided to create a second mural in response to the first one -- a second mural of about the same size as the first one. They did and then shipped both murals to Columbia. The second mural was created by Roland Albert, Nicole Gimber, Angie Horlemann, Edelgard Lösch, Reiner Mahrlein, Annerose Nickel, Veronica Olma, Silvia Rudolf and Angelica Steinmacher. Albert and Mahrlein also are represented by if ART Gallery. The second mural is called Dickicht und Unterholz, which translates to "Thicket and Undergrowth."

Meanwhile, reports coming out of Kaiserslautern about the conceptual basis for the second mural remain vague. Asked in which way the Kaiserslautern artists saw their mural as a response to the one created in Columbia, Silvia Rudolf responded: "O, how difficult. There were so many different ideas on how to respond to the first mural that I hardly can recall them. First we wanted to add "works/painting" or whatever to the first mural, but in the end decided not to cover it. Then we thought about maybe putting individuel responses to the first mural on the floor in front of it or to hang them. But it seemed more in the spirit of the first one to intertwine the works of the german artists rather than have them create individual responses, and so we thought of "dark/bright" as a first layer for the second painting as a kind of opposite image to the Columbia mural, and maybe more like a positive/negative mirror. I don't know what else to tell you. As I said: there were sooooooo many ideas, and so
"Unterholz und Dickicht" it is!"

The Kaiserslautern artists creating their mural jointly is interesting given the process through which the Columbia mural was created. That process was similar, except for the absence of any planning meetings. That absense was met with considerable disbelief by the two German artists involved in Columbia, Rudolf and Hartmann. "What we need is a meeting," became Hartmann's mantra for days after the canvas for the Columbia mural was mounted and the local artists simply had begun to paint. To which the Columbia artists' basic response was: "Why?" To figure out what to do, Hartmann suggested. But we're already doing it, the locals' response was as they added more paint. 
Hartmann, a sculptor used to creating studies for his work and planning its execution, had trouble wrapping his head around the spontaneous, decide-as-we-go approach. Painter Rudolf, who arrived a few days after the work had started, did, too, even though her work relies heavily on the direct, felt-moment approach to creating. No meeting? Everyone just painting, even on top of each other's work? Yes, m'am.
Both Hartmann and Rudolf worried about hurt feelings when one artist would paint on top of another's contributions. The locals thought that was funny. Pointing at a post stamp Stephen Chesley drew on the canvas, one of the other Columbia artists grinned. "If Stephen thinks that's going to survive..." 
Laughter all around, except with the increasingly bewildered Hartmann. 
"What we need is a meeting." 
As it turned out, Chesley's stamp survived nicely, albeit with modification by some of the other artists.
The disconnect was cultural exchange in action. While the German artists couldn't imagine there not being a meeting, none of the Columbia artists had given that much thought, if any. The German artists were worried about hurting others' feelings by modifying their contributions and even painting on top of each others' work. The locals were pretty cavalier about it. The German artists had thought that each contributing artists in Columbia would get their own section of the mural to work on, trying to make each contribution work with those around it. That was never the plan on the Columbia end.
The approach to the Kaiserslautern mural did involve meetings, evidently. But then the painting started, the artists "intertwining" their contributions, presumably even painting on top of each others' work.

To see images of the Columbia mural being created in September–October 2012,

Here are images of the Kaiserslautern mural in progress.

First Stage Kaiserslautern Mural

Second stage of the Kaiserslautern mural with musician
Michael Geib, a member of the Kunstlerwerkgemeinschaft

Third Stage of Kaiserslautern Mural.

Reiner Mahrlein and Veronica Olma work on a later 
stage of the Kaiserslautern mural.

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