Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts

Michael Jones McKean: The Zephyr Breeze and The Deepest Ocean Valley

August 26 - October 22, 2005

Gallery Talk | August 27

As the dog days of summer come to a close, a cool and surreal breeze is blowing into town. The Zephyr Breeze and The Deepest Ocean Valley, an installation that allows viewers to walk in the clouds and plumb the deepest depths of the ocean.

Created specifically for the Bemis Center, The Zephyr Breeze and the Deepest Ocean Valley is a lushly formal multi-media installation that is at once beautifully complex and keenly orchestrated. Using various devices and props, McKean stages a holistic creation that works as part stage set, part sculptural musing to probe the mysteries of experience and meaning where epic collides with myth. The central objects – both made and appropriated – includes seemingly unrelated items such as a full-scale model of King Tut’s funerary mask, a 2,000-pound wet clay stalagmite and a Corinthian column. The addition of a cloud machine, a small rainbow maker, a high-powered fog machine and a breeze machine all combine to heighten the strangely ethereal effect even further. Noting that the project operates as a complex vehicle, McKean states that his installation offers the opportunity for “a formal musing on the materials of our existence, on experience and meaning, on civilization and the modern continuum.”

The artist received his MFA from Alfred University, New York and a BFA from Marywood University in Pennsylvania. The recipient of numerous Artist-in-Residency grants, McKean has created his installations at the Sculpture Space in Utica, NY, The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana as well as at the Bemis Center. His roster of solo exhibitions is impressive. Recent venues include: The Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown, MA; San Diego Mesa College, San Diego; and The University Art Gallery, Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI. The artist has also received distinguished awards such as an Emerging Artist Fellowship, Delaware Division of the Arts/NEA, a Kansas City Avenue of the Arts Commission Grant and a Jeanne C. Thayer Fellowship, SUNY, New York. The artist’s installations crackle with an eclectic intensity, his work typically featuring whimsical titles, such asThe Summit Convoy Revival (2002) and The Epic of Jim Hookan and the Great Time Machine (2001).

The Zephyr Breeze and the Deepest Ocean Valley establishes an artificially sublime location that allows for aesthetic exploration and open discussion about our visual worlds. As McKean notes: “A breeze is a beautiful thing…For me the idea of the Deepest Ocean Valley is a lot like this breeze: beautifully enigmatic, impossible to understand.” Don’t miss the opportunity to join us the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts for this highly engaging and thought-provoking exhibition.

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 South 12th Street
Omaha, NE 68102
Admission and Parking: FREE
Phone:: 402.341.7130