The Waldemar A. Schmidt Gallery is now open for the school year. The first exhibit, entitled “Design as Idea” opened on Sept. 7 and features the work of five Cedar Valley artists.
“This is kind of the first time for something like this because before we always have one artist or two who sign the contract then we have a theme for them and they bring their work in some weeks ago,” Zhijian “Alice” Wang, gallery director, said.
“Design as Idea” was not the original idea for the first gallery exhibition of the school year. Wang said a different artist was supposed to show his work, but circumstances came up that prevented him from attending.
“This time it is kind of urgent and kind of a big group show.” Wang said. “We just kind of focused on one theme and then found out who has work that could fit in the theme rather than find an artist and have the artist decide what theme they want.”
With help from Scott Hudson, the previous gallery director, Wang was able to put together “Design as Idea” in a short period of time.
“We tried our best to try and contact as many artists as possible,” Wang said. “Then we saw who had artwork ready for exhibition.”
For this gallery, Wang was able to sign four artists and one architectural company.
All of the artists and Wang agreed that one of the biggest differences between this exhibition and others is that the work featured is not complete.
“Usually a gallery exhibit like this is of finished works while this is all about works that were made to support a larger idea or larger project,” said Scott Hudson, one of the artists.
While the overall theme of this exhibit is different than others, one artist did feel that there are some benefits of other artists, whether they be student artists or not, seeing incomplete work.
“Nothing gets done until it’s started. That is like with writers or anything else,” Larry Kurtz, artist, said. “You can see the mistakes or the beginnings of things and then you can see how they evolved.”
Kurtz, a landscape architect, said that he draws a lot of inspiration for his work from nature. Over the years, he has learned what gets people excited and incorporates that into his work.
Dan Hatala is another artist featured in “Design as idea.” Inspiration for Hatala’s work depends on the project.
“The other half of my work is more nostalgic automotive stuff. I can get that inspiration from seeing an old car in a show or something like that,” Hatala said.
Two of the other artists included in the exhibition are Gary Kelly and Arthur Frick. Kelly, who is known as an illustrator, said he draws inspiration from some of his favorite painters including Picasso.
Frick, who is the designer of college mace, said he did not always design how he does now.
“I was for many years an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, but I got tired of it,” Frick said. “Reality seemed to be more challenging and so I drifted slowly to reality, but I have always been involved in design.”
Hudson’s work is mostly based off environmental themes. After moving to Iowa from California, his designs include more human elements in the landscape.
Wartburg’s gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekday. “Design as Idea” is on display until Oct. 19.