The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Interpreted Meaning

    Lyssa Beyer

    Behind the closed doors and windows of Foster Gallery on Monday, artwork leaned against the bare white walls. Matt cutters, tape measures and wooden frames sat everywhere while gallery director Tom Wagener was hard at work.

    Wagener spent the day preparing the Haas Fine Arts gallery for today’s opening of “Meaning and Metaphor,” a show demonstrating how four nationally renowned illustrators condense contemporary issues into single images.

    The show will be up until Feb. 21.

    But this isn’t the only exhibit hitting the gallery this semester. Three more are scheduled, including an exhibition of work by displaced New Orleans artists, a juried student art show and a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibit.

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    While these opportunities are right on campus, Wagener said he’s surprised at how many students aren’t aware of their existence.

    “I think it’s good for the students that are not in the art program, as it shows something they’re not going to see (normally),” he said. “Part of your liberal arts education is to develop an appreciation of the arts . as well as challenging them to ask why they have the reactions they do to items on display.”

    The gallery always has four university shows and four outside shows each year.

    “We try to show the students what’s going on in a national and international art scene and we’re trying to show the different areas that the students might be studying in,” Wagener said. “The gallery is a teaching gallery, but is open to the entire university. We’re addressing what we feel students at Eau Claire would benefit

    in seeing.”

    A conceptual portrait of a naked Borat giving a thumbs up next to a chicken.

    An illustration of a soldier carrying a cross also doubling as a smoking gun.

    A collage of a grasshopper eating the American flag.

    An image so precise it looks digital, but is, in reality, all done by hand with watercolor and pen.

    These are among the more than 60 pieces on display right now in Foster Gallery done by nationally renowned illustrators Anita Kunz, Daniel Bejar, Jason Holley and Guy Billout, respectively.

    Collectively, their work has been published in many national magazines, such as Time, Esquire, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, Playboy, GQ and Vanity Fair.

    “What I like about this show is quite a bit of this work (students) have probably seen, so there’s a connection,” Wagener said. “It will be of interest to our students in illustration and graphics design in particular.”

    Freelance illustrator Kunz, of Canada, said she does anything from sociopolitical comments to portraits.

    In “Meaning and Metaphor,” six of her conceptual portraits are on display. Two of the portraits were featured in national magazines, one for Vanity Fair and one about eating disorders for Time magazine.

    Among them is the previously mentioned Borat portrait, as well as portraits of Martha Stewart, George Bush, Angelina Jolie, Conrad Black and Alluese, the children’s book character.

    The Martha Stewart portrait features Stewart wrapped in cloth and tied to a stake, for example. Then knives, forks and other objects are sticking out of her.

    “They all have things to do with their personalities,” Kunz said.

    Bejar, of New York, said his work is mostly prints with mixed media on top. He then uses acrylic paints, pencil and other mediums to add detail.

    “If they want to see some good work, definitely show up,” he said. “The lineup is pretty good. It’s some of the smarter work that’s being done out there. It’s more substance than eye candy.”

    Bejar will be on campus 10 a.m. Friday to lecture about his work. It will mark his first trip to Wisconsin, and while he was shocked to hear how cold it is, he said he’s looking forward to it.

    French artist Billout will also lecture 10 a.m. Friday in Haas Fine Arts, room 105.

    Billout, who was born in France and worked there as a graphic designer for advertising agencies, moved to New York in 1969 and became an illustrator.

    In this show, he is featuring his different projects from editorial and corporate work.

    “I’m looking forward to meeting students and answering their questions,” he said.

    When senior graphic design major Becky Thornton heard about “Meaning and Metaphor” she said she made a point to go see it.

    She said she sees several shows in Foster Gallery and hopes others do, too.

    “That’s part of college: to make us all well-rounded,” she said.

    Senior art major Lisa Groves said she also attends the gallery when there’s something of interest to her.

    “It’s culture that is right at our fingertips. It’s just such a great opportunity. I don’t know why they would want to miss that,” Groves said. “It’s a good way to get artists to come and more exposure. Others have made it in the art world, and we can do it, too.”

    Other Spring 2008 Foster Art Gallery exhibits

    • “New Orleans Artists in Exile”
      Hurricane Katrina and Rita left countless artists without homes and studios. Jonathan Ferrara Gallery’s traveling exhibition of work by displaced New Orleans artists will appear in Foster Gallery Feb. 28 to Mar. 31.
    • “51st Annual Juried Student Art Show”
      Open to everyone, this exhibit features the artworks of students, as selected by a nationally known artist. Art can be submitted to Foster Gallery on April 3 and 4.
    • “Senior BFA Exhibitions”
      Senior exhibitions by December Bachelor of Fine Arts degree candidates will be featured from May 3 to 11. Seniors are required to have a show, Wagener said, and this is a culmination of their work. This semester, he said, about 12 students are involved.

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