Exegesis: Portraits of Spirit-Paintings by Rev. Richard Vettel-Becker and Luis Mario Figueroa
March 9-April 4, 2018
Reception: March 9, 6:30 p.m., Shafer Gallery
February 23, 2017
Story by Micah Oelze
The Shafer Gallery will hold an opening reception on March 9 at 6:30 p.m. for its latest exhibit, Exegesis: Portraits of the Spirit, featuring works from Rev. Richard Vettel-Becker and Luis Mario Figueroa. The opening reception will feature gallery talks by the artists and refreshments for the attendees.
Exegesis is the process of critically explaining or interpreting a text, especially of scripture. This exhibit transports viewers into the minds of Vettel-Becker and Figueroa, allowing them a glimpse of the artist's interpretation of biblical texts through stunning works of art.
Vettel-Becker first discovered his love for oil paintings while scrummaging around his attic and finding his mother’s old tubes of paint at eight years old. His mother encouraged and guided him in his first steps as an artist.
Now an Episcopal Priest, Vettel-Becker serves as a Hospice Chaplain in Billings, Mont. He continues to pick up the brush to create artwork displayed in numerous galleries and churches, including Trinity Church in San Francisco, where he previously served as a Rector.
Vettel-Becker describes his work as “abstract evangelism in that its sensuality, its colorful richness, appeals to the souls of many people for whom the church has no appeal.”
“I celebrate spirituality and sensuality in my art with the use of color, oil colors that flow together, creating sensual faces and figures that express the concerns of my inner being,” Vettel Becker said. “Concerns about life and death, Eucharist and crucifixion, priests and angels, Jesus and women, lust and love, God and devil, incarnation and redemption, suffering and care, church and hospice, passion and resurrection, and liturgy and religion all come to play in my studio. The creation of such images works to nourish and express my soul and spirit, which are inseparable from my passion and my flesh.”
Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes expressed his experience in viewing Vettel-Becker’s work as powerful.
“Colorful and intense, Vettel-Becker’s abstract figurative paintings reflect both the hope and pathos of human existence as imaged in spiritual and life narratives,” he said.
Figueroa is a Mexican-American artist and a classical and flamenco guitarist. Four years ago, he came Kansas to work as a surveyor and seismographer in oil fields from El Paso, Texas.
“In every painting I create, there should be a message of hope and love, something that will inspire and motivate unity. I have only one chance to live, so every painting I do should be more than colors on a canvas but be a good message to future generations for a much better world,” Figueroa said. “I have been lucky to take my music and art to many venues around the world. My best teacher is my own curiosity; I paint for the love of free artistic expression.”
Barnes sees a visual synergy with the works created by these artists and is thrilled to bring them to the Shafer Gallery together in this exhibit.
“These two artists speak to the same existential issues in different visual languages. Together they create a very rich dialogue,” Barnes said. “It is a conversation of emotions emanating from color and line.”
Celtic harpist Turner Collins to perform at Exegesis: Portraits of the Spirit opening reception
Turner Collins is one of the most well-known Celtic harpers in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region. Collins plays music from the traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Galicia. He will be playing music for the upcoming opening reception of Exegesis: Portraits of the Spirit.
“Collin’s performance has a special significance to the Shafer Gallery as Collins and Lee Worman and myself were band mates in a caile band named Ashentree, Barnes said. “In 1988, we played with the Shanghai National Orchestra in Shanghai, China.”
Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks, mountain music drew him in, much of it from Scotland and Ireland. Turner learned by ear, first ballads and traditional songs, and later he taught himself several instruments.
In addition to the Irish harp, he also performs on button accordion, the bodhran, bombarde, bouzouki, and the tin whistle. He learned these instruments and styles of playing from elders and peers, from the famous and the obscure.
He passes on his knowledge of historical and present-day Celtic culture to others through university and public-school classes and presentations.
In addition to his repertoire of older material, Turner also plays some of the most contemporary manifestations of Celtic music. In his broad approach, Turner helps define what “Celtic music” means these days.