Beatrice Public Library’s latest exhibit in the Vette Cultural Arts Center is fitting for such an unusual time in the world right now.
Titled “Compact Rhythms," the feature is part of the 33rd annual touring exhibit from Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, and highlights artists who used abstract thinking to explore the world around them.
Through this exhibit, one piece from a Beatrice artist is being temporarily returned to his hometown. The work in question is an untitled portrait from Weldon Kees, who was born in 1914, and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri, and the University of Nebraska.
According to The Poetry Foundation, Kees was also a writer, a poet, a musician and a photographer. His career ended uncertainly in 1955, when his car was found abandoned on the Golden Gate Bridge, and he was never seen again.
A description of the exhibit’s display explains that while each of the 17 artists used the abstraction art style in different ways, they all focus on subject matters like still life and landscape while experimenting with shapes, colors and lines.
“After World War II, the focus of the art world shifted from Paris to New York through the successes of abstract expressionists, such as Grace Hartigan and Joan Mitchell,” the display states. “These artists took components of early 20th century art and added elements of spontaneity and improvisation, emphasizing the gesture and psyche of the artist. This eventually led creators to produce non-objective canvasses that do not refer to our physical world, exploiting their materials to spotlight the flatness of the canvas, the sweeping brushstrokes of paint, and the potential of color.”
Beatrice Public Library director Joanne Neemann said it’s nice to have a local artist be included in this statewide tour.
“This is my favorite art subject,” Neemann said. “I just think that you get more of a feeling. Whether it’s a good feeling or a bad feeling, whether you think its art or not, it makes you think. It’s not telling you anything outright, but yet it is, and you kind of have to look at it and feel what the artist wanted to say…I’m happy to do this because it brings museum-type art to us, so that we don’t have to go to Lincoln or we don’t have to go to Omaha. We have it right here.”
The exhibit is open during regular library hours, Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until Monday, March 1. The exhibit will then go to Cornerstone Bank in York from March 3-29.
The library’s next exhibit in the Vette Cultural Arts Center will further highlight local artists, as instructors from the Beatrice campus Southeast Community College display various kinds of artwork starting Saturday, April 10.
“When you do a statewide exhibit with museum pieces, I think then when you juxtapose it with the college’s exhibit you can see that this is reachable for anybody,” Neemann said. “Not all of us are going to be a Picasso or a Weldon Kees, but we do have Southeast Community College where you can take classes and be your own artist. I feel that having that option lays the groundwork for anybody to be able to do this.”