Charles Beneke visit…

I am very excited to say that the WVU School of Art and Design is hosting an exhibition by Charles Beneke through September. Charles stopped by the Creative Arts Center to work with my students to create his installation, give a quick demo, and a public lecture.

Charles is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Akron. I have known Charles since 2013, and have been inspired by his work and life ever since. Charles has been the awards coordinator for the SGC International printmaking organization since 2013. He has also served as the President, Vice-President for the Mid America Print Council.

Charles strives to live his art. He works to be mindful of day to day challenges, and works toward making a positive difference in his community. In his work and lectures, Charles does not shy away from acknowledging the confusion, the challenges and the joys of being a father, being an artist, fighting global warming, living in academia, or in short, being a human being. He works to humanize and understand these challenges and communicate that understanding to others. It was absolutely great to see Charles work, and to see my students working along side him.

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Charles first visited on Aug. 21 to start creating his installation. Charles showed up to the CAC with a van full of lumber, numbered and organized like a prefabricated house.

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All hands on deck as multiple WVU Printmaking students are helping put together the structure that would be the major aspect of his exhibition.

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None of us really knew what we were getting into at this point, we could only see the individual parts and not the end product.

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There were times when this felt like a barn raising…

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Towards the end, the structure was getting more and more complex. Then an amazing thing happened, Charles asked us all to hold a few important parts of the structure, as he unscrewed two or three screws. He lifted one side so the entire structure was now off kilter. He inserted the screws back into the structure, and the entire structure was just a little off center, giving the viewer an unsettling feeling.

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August 21st was also the day of the eclipse, so Charles and I had to take a little eclipse break. Thanks for the picture to Shalya Marsh.

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Charles came back to WVU on September 5th for three FULL days of activity. First, the installation needed to be completed. Charles needed to create a large black cloud of pollution and debris inside the wooden structure. Again, we were all hands on deck helping to finalize the exhibition. Above, graduate students Stephanie Alaniz and Feliks Pyron giving a helping hand.

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Charles taking a minute to inspect the progress.

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Mesaros Gallery coordinator Shalya Marsh handing graduate student Rachel Simpson a light.

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Many, many bits and pieces of black paper put together to form the cloud.

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At the end of the day, the gallery floor was a disaster!

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Poster designed by WVU Graphic Design students for Charles.

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When the installation was complete, Charles headed up to the printshop to give us a quick wallpaper printing demo.

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Charles has his own setup back in Akron, but he was able to give us a version of his process that we could do on the fly.

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Undergraduate printmaker Christina Kang giving it a shot.

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Charles showing us the results and talking about presentation.

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Finally, at the end of the day Thursday Charles gave his talk. I have seen him give a few lectures now over the years, and they are always thoughtful and poetic, never overly academic. This picture was taken at the start of the lecture, Charles is giving us some yoga breathing exercises to get the audience centered and ready.

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When Charles came back to WVU to take his installation down, we headed over to the WVU Art Museum…as always, the How and Nosm mural in the lobby packs a punch!

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Also impressive is the gigantic Shepard Fairey mural in his exhibition upstairs…

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And WVU Art Museum curator Bob Bridges was kind enough to take some time to show us some work in the collection…always appreciative of when Bob takes time out of his schedule to show us work.

This was such a great visit, I can’t thank Charles enough for a such a fantastic time!

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