From Oils to Pennies to Cigarettes: Alumni Art Featured in William Whipple Gallery

Kim Watkins, News Editor

You can take a chair, stack it on top of another chair…and then you can call it art. That’s how limitless art can be and that proves true in Southwest Minnesota State University’s William Whipple Gallery. Going hand- in- hand with Homecoming, the Gallery is featuring the works of four alums from Oct. 1-25, called Alumni Art 2012.

The four featured artists include alumni Cat Abbott, Jason Schiffman, Nick Schlief, and Bonnie Van Moorlehem. Each alumnus has contributed their works to make for a very unique display of art from the wild and out-there to the calm and peaceful.

Abbott’s pieces include “Deco Elephant,” “Spanish Dancer” and “Butterfly Tide.” Abbott uses oil on canvas as her medium in these three pieces. Very natural, calming colors are used with a hint of the brightest red visible in all of these works.

Schiffman’s two pieces, “Oh Yes!” and “Oh My!,” both acrylic on canvas, are more mellow with a blend of reds, whites and oranges. The man of “Oh Yes!” and the woman of “Oh My!” make these pieces stand out. The people are stuck in their own world in these paintings and true art-lovers will delight in being able to see that come through.

Van Moorlehem’s works include seven pieces, with five being oil on canvas, one as acrylic on paper and the other oil on clayboard. Some of these pieces are titled “Untitled”, “Searching for Clarity”, “The Hush Following An Ice Storm”, “Dance of the Prairie Grasses II” and “Wildflowers.”

The acrylic on paper piece, “Wired,” shows a variety of mellow blues, reds, greens, browns and gold with a white backdrop. The colors seem to branch out and break apart across the page, creating a vivid image. Another work, “Patterns,” show more natural colors such as greens, browns and blues. These rivulets of color are so simple, yet special.

The last featured artist, Nick Schleif, brings a more out-of-the-box type of art with McDonald’s food, pennies and cigarette butts used as his medium. One of his mediums is digitalized-like numbers with his pieces entitled “Clash of the Titan,” “The Merger,” “Calorie Counting,” “American Eating Habits,” and “Pre-roading.” Another piece, “The Silence is Deafening,” with Ludwig van Beethoven, a famous classical composer, featured in the background of musical notes (acrylic on canvas).

In his “Money-shot Lincoln,” pennies on plywood is used as a medium, with darker, aged pennies clash with lighter, new pennies to create the image of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln. Cigarette butts, from charred to slightly burned, are displayed on a canvas called “Filtered Out,” which features the Camel cigarette brand inside of a large, red paper ashtray.

“The Dinner Party” is by far the most unique of his pieces, however, with McDonald’s food and packaging on formica. A variety of different packages looks like a jumbled mess at first and then suddenly it is realized that that mess is the face of Ronald McDonald, the mascot for this famous restaurant.

These four artists will be featured through Oct. 25. The Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-11 p.m. The Whipple Gallery is funded by SAFAC (Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee) and the SMSU Foundation.