The latest exhibit at The Studio, inside Sahara West Library, is titled “Transmutations: Robert Beckmann Paintings Under the Western Sky 1977-2017.”
Darren Johnson, Las Vegas Clark County Library District gallery services coordinator, said it was nice to secure a high-caliber artist.
“There were a few people I had in mind (for the space), and Beckmann was certainly near the top,” he said.
Johnson said he was particularly attracted to the Venitas series, depictions of Las Vegas’s skyline juxtaposed with depictions of ancient times in the foreground.
Beckmann prefers large-scale paintings. One of his notable series is titled “The Body of a House,” an eight-piece before-and-after depiction of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. That sequence has been shown in 20 museums around the U.S. as well as in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s housed at the Nevada Museum of Art, but some of the paintings from that series are at The Studio for this exhibit.
Janie Sherwood was there to see the display. The Desert Pines teacher said Beckmann’s works take in “a large spectrum. I’m surprise at the different venues of art that he has. I had no idea.”
Beckmann, a native of Philadelphia, earned postgraduate degrees in art from the University of Iowa. That led to teaching at Northern Illinois University. After four years, he turned to painting full time.
“I’m a curious person,” he said. “I think. I feel. I’ve been around.”
Beckmann said he has no particular style — that he’d rather be in the culture and let his paintings comment on it.
“The patterns are an underlying reality, dealing with social issue,” he said.
One piece, on loan from the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, is titled “Oak” and was inspired by the above-ground nuclear testing on the Marshall Islands. Done in 2010, the mixed media on canvas depicts the blast as an oak tree.
Starry Night, an acrylic on canvas dating to 2012, shows a nuclear blast creating a star shower effect with colors radiating off the atomic cloud.
Beckmann said he gets lost in his work.
“It’s never a matter of me expressing myself; it’s a matter of expanding myself,” he said. “It’s not a narcissistic activity, not putting something out there. It’s connecting with something, connecting with a process that allows me to do something original.”
On exhibit in an adjacent space are the works of Ken Kline, sign painter for the Las Vegas 51s minor-league baseball team. He works in trompe-l’œil, a technique that makes painted objects appear three-dimensional.
His works will be on display through April 9, and he drew his own appreciative crowd.
“Amazingly skilled as far as the detail work,” said Brian Sponnick, a Summerlin-area resident. “Very colorful.”
Cristina Sponnick, his wife, said it was so realistic, she could pick something off the painting.
“It’s nice to be away from social media and see this,” she said. “It’s inspiring.”
Kline is an alumnus of UNLV, where he was a fine-arts major.
“I’m an artist and I just like to paint,” he said. “When I have time, I do this, and when the season’s over, I can do it almost full time.”
To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email email@example.com or call 702-387-2949.