Hokey Bear, Ambassador to the Wilds, to be Featured in Local Art Show.
Eugene, OR (WEB) June 19, 2014. – His hairy hands worked nimbly, tacking bright red signs to telephone poles and hanging them carefully in local storefronts. When approached, the suspender-clad bear appeared tired but markedly committed to the duty at hand. Asked for comment, Hokey made enthusiastic gestures but, apparently, lacked either the ability or energy for basic, human speech. Luckily, friend of Hokey and local artist, Bryan Putnam, was on scene to address our questions.
“ ‘Bed’ is my first solo art show,” Putnam explained, drinking a lemonade while surveying the bear working in the afternoon sun. “I titled the show after the logging term: a ‘bed’ being the spot where a tree is felled.” He crunched a bit of ice before continuing, “The show is an experimental storytelling project and Hokey Bear is the central character. I’m combining several forms of art to tell a dynamic and really impactful story of ecological destruction, loss, and the crushing guilt one feels when confronted by a landscape torn open by the cultural system they have participated in, blindly, for a great number of years.”
Putnam laughed loudly for a brief moment after saying this, lemon-stained ice cubes reflecting in his sunglasses. Hokey was now paused in his work, clearly lost in some deep, internal world. Noticing this, Putnam cleared his throat and pointed at the stack of signs, ending Hokey’s brief daydream. “Hokey is good to his core, but troubled,” Putnam continued. “My story is about him confronting his demons out in some sad patch of wilderness.”
‘Bed’ will show in Salem, Oregon during the final week of August 2014. It will feature works of drawing, installation, and printmaking. Additionally, Hokey Bear will perform live throughout the week, bringing his narrative to life over the course of the exhibit. The show is part of Project Space 2014, a grassroots art exhibition opportunity organized by the Salem Art Association. “This is really the perfect venue for this show,” Putnam said, “It is community focused and highly experimental. If things get weird, that’s ok.”
In order to help fund the project, Putnam is launching a Kickstarter.com fundraiser where backers can pledge money in return for unique works of art, prints, and even guest visits from Hokey Bear. A book will also be released, cataloging the show. More information about ‘Bed,’ Hokey Bear, and getting involved in the fundraiser can be found on the artist’s website: www.IAMRAINIER.com.
I thought this short excerpt from my MFA thesis paired well with the images of a recent drawing. Getting closer to being finished with that beast…
“I have come to view the concept of wilderness expansively. While there is a longstanding and very interesting conversation in academia about what factors should characterize, and have characterized, our concept of wilderness, I must admit that I do not base my own use of the term within this discourse.[i] This is not to say that I am not influenced and invigorated by wilderness theory. I absolutely am. But being that my interest in wilderness is based primarily in my own lived experience – which is at once visual, mental, primal, and symbolic – my understanding of ‘wilderness,’ spatially and terminologically, includes but also extends the latter discipline’s parameters to encompass phenomenological, that is, mental and spiritual, traits. The heart of my interest in wilderness lies in a desire to better understand the nature of human experience within spaces we characterize as wild. My interest is holistically driven, fueling artistic and academic labors by the restless sense of curiosity and wonder I derive from these.”
|Lunch Break, 2014 (mock-up)|
Assart: The P.R. Years
I am very excited about a new series of work revolving around my Hokey Bear character. An appropriated political mascot, Hokey Bear is a character in my work who affords me the means to explore the social and political aspects of artmaking, storytelling, and interactions with nature. Assart is a chapter in the narrative of Hokey Bear, detailing the great P.R. years and his road trips across the states. Though a bit tongue-in-cheek, the concept of assart, the action of converting a plot of land from wild to arable, plays a foundational role in the work. This series will explore the (federally propagated) back-story of Hokey Bear, from his human adoption out of the smoldering remains of wilderness, to his training as wilderness ambassador and PR masthead, to his climactic self-realization of his paradoxical and troubling nature. In performance, print, and participatory interactions, this story is made live.
I am currently showing Puffs, and Lunch Break in an exhibition at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Springing from the Assart chapter, these pieces solicit interaction with the viewer, Puffs namely. In this piece, viewers are offered a free bag of cheesy puffs – that is, woodcut printed plushies, made translucent by their greasy innards. By a sign (painted over and written on by the great wilderness ambassador himself), Hokey asks to trade the cheese puffs for ‘tokens of nature.’
|Brattle (alternate curation)|
This is out of the ordinary scope of what I usually share here or use this blog for but I feel that it is necessary to do so at the present time. Two of my best friends just found out some tragic news regarding their 8-month old son. Much is still unknown in terms of his prognosis, but he looks to have a long road ahead in recovering from an aggressive tumor that was removed from his brain just yesterday. I visited him, and his mom and dad, last night and got to see him after the surgery. He is as beautiful a kid as ever and we are all holding on to hope that the tough little guy beats this. That said, I’m offering an edition of a recent etching, Sedimental, to help offset the costs associated with travel, medical, etc, for this lovely family. I will update with detailed information and photos of the print this evening BUT as of now the print can be purchased safely with a credit/debit through my etsy page or by contacting me directly. If you are interested but have further questions please email me, bryanp @ uoregon.edu
Sedimental, 2013-14, is a hand-printed etching in an edition of 10. It is printed in smoky black on a cream colored cotton paper, fully archival. Each print will be signed and editioned on the back and shipped with a record of sale. The print measures 17″x21″.