2021-22 Mentorship Gallery Show – Snapshots of a Mind Set Free

As we approach the end of our mentorship year for 2021-2022, we are excited to have two upcoming gallery shows for each of our mentorship pairs.  The first gallery show held in the Jan Johansen Gallery at Rumriver Art Center showcases all the hard work that mentor Cherene Bebeau and mentee Christine Tauer have put in over their mentorship year. “Snapshots of a Mind Set Free” opens Saturday July 16th from 2-4. 

It has been fun watching these two artists delve into a year of mixed media exploration.  They have been on fire with creativity and exploring many new techniques and have created many amazing pieces of art. 

I posed some questions to them to reflect on this last year. 

What have you learned from this year as a mentor/mentee?

Cherene: “I’ve learned that mentoring incorporates being a teacher, a coach, and a friend. There’s a fine line between leading and letting go. While striving for great works of art I had to learn to let Christine do her own art, speak her own voice. 

Christine: “As this year’s mentee I have learned so much about techniques, types of art, color selection and use of various materials.  I came from two years of acrylic painting, so I had a lot to learn about my chosen medium- mixed media.  So, for the mentee application I created some works of art that I felt made the viewer think and wrote my feelings in poetry to go with each piece. When I got the e-mail that told me I was selected I felt so blessed to have been chosen as a mentee which has allowed me to grow and express myself in so many ways.  One of the things I like best about mixed media medium is the ability to problem-solve how to create a visual representation of what you see and feel in your mind.  It is also amazing to me that “inspiration” comes from many different sources in life. I have been incredibly lucky to be working in the medium of mixed media which allows me an endless array of materials, subjects, and techniques

But more importantly I have learned things about myself, some of which had been tucked away for years.  I have always been different- a real nerd and proud of it, who has been comfortable with expressing myself in music and theater.  I loved studying and learning new things.  I even had a teacher tell me in high school “to never let others keep me from who I needed to be.”   As an artist (I love calling myself an artist) I am encouraged to express my ideas in a unique way.  I like to “jump in” and not worry about the outcome.  I was so lucky to find a mentor who celebrated this trait of my personality and kept challenging me to try new things.  In visual mixed media art, I have found a new passion and my true self. I would like to thank my mentor, Cherene Bebeau, and Angie Renee who guided my progress over the many months. 

What has challenged you?

Cherene:  Keeping up with Christine!!!

I also had to keep from trying to not over-influence Christine with my style. She has a unique style. I encouraged good design elements and composition principals while letting her speak her own voice. Each week we analyzed her work and discussed how to improve each piece along with incorporating new techniques and materials into new works.

Time management was also another struggle as I have many other projects/jobs to juggle. Also getting ready for a show is a big job.  Framing Frenzy!!!!

Christine: The quick answer is “everything.”  I had so much to learn about technique but that has also been the greatest reward. However, I love a challenge. I have studied art and artists all my life, sharing this passion with my students. Not having any formal training has allowed me to come up with my own style.  Artists who have influenced my work are Van Gogh and Kandinsky. I like texture, color, and works of art that make the viewer think and wonder.  The hardest medium has been watercolor.  Cherene says it is hard to go from acrylic to watercolor, but I am determined to get better at it.  It has become my favorite medium to use to combine with mixed media.  

What has surprised you?

Cherene:  What surprised me the most is how extraordinarily motivated Christine is and how much meaning and sentiment she puts into every piece of art she creates. I was also surprised at how much I value her input and opinion on my work.

Christine:  What has surprised me the most is the many varied materials available to the mixed media artist.  One of my favorites is Tyvek, the kind that is used to make bird seed bags.  When it is heated through a special technique it bubbles up and can be used to represent realistic boulders, mountains, and bluffs.  The fun is problem-solving how to cover it to create an “effect”. I have also used real sand on beaches and wooly yarn to create sheep.  I can paint flowers in the morning and create abstract art using coiled copper wire in the afternoon.  I am surprised so many people like my 2’ by 4’ fashion ladies that I just had to get out of my system.  I also have had fun combining photography and Lino-prints. A surprise to both myself and others is how fast I have produced my art.  It feels like I just can’t wait to get them out and see if they lived up to my inner vision. During those moments of working in the “flow” you just let go and let it come. Many times, I have been surprised at what has appeared.  Another surprise is that when you get an idea you feel compelled to produce it because your brain won’t let it go. Who knew?  That is so true of my Scottish portrayal of the Glencoe Massacre which I painted in blood red and put skeleton bones in the crevices.  I knew I had to paint it that way and I didn’t worry if others would like it or understand.  My accompanying poem for the Glencoe Massacre explains it all.   What a great year this has been.  Creating art is “playing”.

How has your artwork grown?

Cherene:  The mentorship required me to create many paintings and finish others that I’ve started. It was a great lesson in problem solving–how to improve Christine’s paintings and mine as well. It took me on a creative journey that I may not have taken if it had not been for the mentorship: exploring new and forgotten techniques and materials, creating paintings I wouldn’t have done, spending the time creating that I wouldn’t have taken.

Christine:  It has grown in every way and every direction possible. It sounds “shmaltzy,” but I opened myself up to new possibilities and the Universe answered.   Cherene has helped me to grow so much and still be able to be myself and develop my own style.  My knowledge has increased in how to use the various techniques and mediums.  But as I have grown, I also realize that though I have come so far, I still have a long way to go.  How wonderful because that means I need to keep working and learning until I get so old I can’t.  I want to be one of those artists that keeps going until I am in my nineties. I want to keep discovering new things.  I have talked Cherene into giving me private lessons next year so this can happen.  

What piece is your favorite piece you made during this time, what was the process in creating this piece? 

Cherene:  In all honesty my favorite is a piece that I had started but it always aggravated me. “How do you know when a piece is finished? When it quits aggravating you!” The mixed media piece is titled “Midnight in the Garden”. The underpainting is watercolor with many layers of acrylic, collage, and stenciling. I never had an appropriate mat to pull the piece together. Together, Christine and I went it on a field trip to a local cemetery and took some head stone rubbings. I collage these onto the border of the work creating a mat. I’m now pleased with the results, and it has the moody feel of Savannah that I was trying to capture…. problem solved.

“Midnight in the Garden” Cherene Bebeau

Christine:  My favorite piece is a large work of art called, “Falling Waters.” This piece took a great deal of work as we made our own papers to create the cliffs with some of the papers using words as background.  Then I started the work by using watercolor to create a sky at the very top. Next, I cut up the papers and used them to create cliffs on each side of where the waterfall would be.  I used watercolor to paint in some evergreen trees. Japanese circular, tufted paper was added to the sky and water that brought an element of texture and the effect of turbulent waters.  Then I poured white ink from the top of the waterfall and sprayed water on the ink allowing it to flow over the “boulders” to create a realistic effect of spray.  The final touch was a pair of goats from a photograph that I had taken in Utah.  I really worked hard to create contrast in the rock formations to simulate depth.  It is just one of my favorite pieces.

“Falling Waters” by Christine Tauer

Please stop by and see Cherene Bebeau and Christine Tauer’s show “Snapshots of a Mind Set Free” in the Jan Johansen Gallery at Rumriver Art Center.  The show runs from Saturday, July 16 – August 6.  Cherene and Christine will be doing an artist talk on Saturday July 30 at 2 pm which will take place in the Jan Johansen Gallery.  This is a great opportunity to hear about their work together and their creative process. 

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