Bemis Center to open three new exhibits

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By Rachael George, Entertainment Editor

The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts at 724 S. 12 St. will open three exhibits this weekend, the first to open at the gallery this year.

The first exhibit, Vera Mercer: Still Lifes, will open in Gallery 2.  It is the first solo exhibition to appear in the United States by Omaha-based photographer Vera Mertz Mercer.  Mercer’s photographs are grotesque yet captivating images of food, vegetables and animals.

Her first photographs of food were taken in 1960 in Paris marketplace Les Halles just before its demolition. The photos documented the raw materials and butchers’ culture of the marketplace. These images, as well as photographs of Parisian cafes, became murals in the French Cafe, an Old Market restaurant opened by the Mercer family in 1969.

Mercer began to arrange and photograph still lifes in 2004, using mostly candle-light in her photos.

The opening reception for this exhibit will take place on Jan. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. A gallery tour with the curator will follow on Jan. 15 at noon. Both events are free and open to the public.

Another Nebraska: 2010 Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellows is the second exhibit opening at the Bemis Center this weekend in Gallery 2.

Every three years, the Nebraska Arts Council awards the Individual Artist Fellowship to visual artists living and working in Nebraska in recognition of their talent.

In 2010, the Nebraska Arts Council awarded $23,000 to nine artists. Another Nebraska: 2010 Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artists Fellows will showcase the winning work of these nine artists.  It will be the third exhibit the Bemis Center presented for the winning artists.Works will occupy 5,000 feet of interior gallery space, an additional exterior gallery and a concurrent exhibit at the Fred Simon Gallery.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Jan. 14 from to  9 p.m. On Jan. 29 at noon, the Bemis Center will host a Gallery Talk with the artists and curator. Both events are free and open to the public.

The final exhibit will be held in The Bemis Center Underground, with a collection of quirky works by Kenneth Adkins, Dan Crane and Victoria Hoyt.

Sculptor and painter Adkins creates haunting images that are widely showcased in private collections and the Joslyn Art Museum’s permanent collection. His paintings are certainly eerie, but what really makes Adkins unique are Wedding Dress and Suit Coat, two works he created by using the garments they were named for. Each garment was strategically treated with five to six gallons of industrial grade wood glue before layers of paint were applied.

Crane has a funky style to his work that is anything but unoriginal, hoping to stimulate the character of the people who surround him.

Hoyt illustrates narratives that explain the human experience. An Omaha native, she enjoys patterns, mixed meanings and small humor.

The opening reception is Jan. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. A Gallery Talk for this exhibit will be held on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

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