Art Focus: Centerpiece Gallery

November 09, 2011 | Pursuits

  Kenmore Avenue, LA (2008), by Erik Beehn

We all know the old conundrum about the tree falling in the forest: If nobody’s around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Artist Erik Beehn believes that it most definitely does, and he explores its visual equivalent in his new exhibition, at CityCenter’s Centerpiece Gallery through November. The mixed-media photographs and drawings depict what Beehn calls “transitory spaces” and are all devoid of any people, as if there’s no audience at all to what he’s depicting. “They are parts of a visual landscape that I passed every day but never looked at,” he says. “I want to identify them as having more of a presence or importance.”

Beehn photographed Kenmore Avenue, LA with a homemade camera, then applied layers of other media with painstaking precision. “It has charcoal, graphite, ink, and acrylic medium,” he says. “I do things in small sections, so it grids itself out. There are probably 150 or 200 sections in this one.” The overall effect is subtle yet arresting, as slight alternations in color and texture draw the eye to details it normally skims over, and the images on display at Centerpiece hum with quiet mystery.

Beehn grew up in Las Vegas and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He later moved to Los Angeles and trained as a master printmaker at Gemini G.E.L., a limited-edition publisher, where he worked with Richard Serra and other renowned artists. “Most of my work incorporates printmaking theory,” he says, “how things are put together and form layers, translucencies, and opacities.” Asked if he believes that the medium is the message, he replies, “There’s a balance between concept and process. The process is probably more important to me than to anyone else. But spending five weeks on a drawing and putting it in a gallery puts a mantle on it that wasn’t there before.” Locals Only, through November 13; Centerpiece Gallery, CityCenter, 702-739-3314


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