From Feb. 7 to March 18, Benjamin F. Calvert, a third generation printmaker, has a solo show available to view in the Wadsworth Family Gallery, located in the Oremus Fine Arts Center. The show features 64 pieces that were all made using a printmaking process and many of his pieces have homemade frames.
“He’s kind of been focusing on this idea that he makes the print and then he does another version of that same print, which he calls Hawaiian style,” said Director of the Art Gallery Natalie Swain. “So what he’s trying to show is that the inside of a Hawaiian shirt is the actual brighter, more vibrant color, but then he also was really drawn to the other side of the fabric of a Hawaiian shirt.”
Calvert’s art originated as a way to help him cope during a hard time.
“A lot of the work that he created was when he was dealing with the grief of losing his mother,” said Swain. “He basically was using art as a therapeutics for dealing with grief, which is a very common process and nowadays, it’s part of art therapy.”
The first purpose of displaying an artist’s work in the gallery is to invite artists to show off their work, in order to help gain exposure and expand their careers. Another purpose is to convey knowledge to students, who view the art in the gallery as a learning experience.
“Every once in a while, we do sell a piece out of the gallery, and the nice thing about Lewis is that we don’t take any commission, so 100 percent of the sale goes to the artist,” said Swain. “It’s a very nice feature for them because usually they’re giving up 50 percent to the gallery.”
Students are encouraged to view his work in the gallery because it’s a relaxing and quiet space that is constantly changing.
“They can come in and they can study or they can look at the work in a peaceful surrounding,” said Swain. “It’s just a nice place to come and take a break from classes and the usual grind of being a student.”
The community should be aware of the shows in the gallery because Lewis is a local venue for art, music and theater, rather than having to go into the city.
“It’s just a nice place to come in the southwest suburbs for people out here that maybe are looking for something to do that doesn’t require having to go into the city or travel very far,” said Swain.
According to Swain, she really likes his artwork because she is drawn to the Hawaiian style pieces.
“I think there’s quite a few pieces in here that people would really like,” said Swain. “There’s so much work here by one person and you’re going to see a lot of different styles of work in one place, which I think is really nice.”
For most of Calvert’s work, there is a QR code that students can scan in order to learn about his process of printmaking each piece.
“The QR codes are a new technology that we’re looking into also adding for other shows,” said Swain. “So I think that’s something that’s really innovative and something different about this show.”
On March 17, from 7-9 p.m., Calvert will be hosting a gallery talk and closing reception for his solo exhibition, where students can view his work, enjoy some food and refreshments, all while earning Arts and Ideas credit.
Photo credit: Katelyn Leano