When Josef Zimmerman agreed to curate his first museum exhibit, no one would have blamed him if he had worked with all local artists or focused on one medium. But that wasn’t even close to his vision.
I just thought, I’m going to go big with this, Zimmerman says.
Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s new exhibit, Brilliant Optics: A Spectrum of Mediums and Color, will feature the vibrant works of nine artists from the United States, Canada and Australia. The works span many mediums and genres – all using color to communicate with the audience.
Zimmerman says the exhibit will intentionally not have a focal point, so that the boldness of the exhibit catches the eye of the viewer from across the gallery.
There’s a lot to take in. I want it to be overwhelming. I don’t want people to be able to just walk by something, Zimmerman says. I want there to be so much activity in the room that you have to sit down and take it in for a minute.
The exhibit will display acrylic, oil, screen-printing, aerosol, photography and ink-based works from resident and nonresident artists. The artists include seasoned exhibitioners and artists who will be displaying their work in an art museum for the first time.
When I was looking for artists, it was fun to go off the color instead of the mediums they used, Zimmerman says.
As I was starting to pick things out, we began to see this invisible kinship. There was this activity going on throughout all the works.
A Fort Wayne-native, Zimmerman has curated art exhibits for Artlink, Dash-In and Lotus Gallery. With experience as an independent artist and curator, Zimmerman says working with the museum’s specialized staff allowed him to reach out to artists he has never had the chance to work with before. He says this exhibit will be his biggest endeavor yet.
Working on that kind of professional level is a lot easier than doing it yourself, Zimmerman says. When you’re on your own and you need to get something done, you pull favors or do whatever you have to do to pull it together.
Zimmerman has spent 10 months working on the exhibit, giving artists time to create original works for the exhibit. Zimmerman says during the initial meeting with museum Executive Director Charles Shepard, he created a list of artists. But he says that the real vision of the exhibit hinged on one promise – Dabs Myla.
Dabs Myla is the collective name of street art duo and married couple Dabs and Myla, who are from Melbourne, Australia. The two world travelers have lived in Los Angeles for the past four years, creating vivacious paintings for galleries in London, Melbourne, Las Vegas and Miami.
If they had said no, I would have kept it more local, Zimmerman says. I knew if I had them, then I would really have something.
Dabs says that color plays an important role in the couple’s work, which usually consists of highly animated characters and scenes that reference their travels from all over the world. For this exhibit, the two created a painting inspired by their experience observing London’s architecture.
We both put a strong emphasis on color mixing and the way we go about it, Dabs says by phone from Los Angeles. We went to the same art school, and we were taught color theories together. That’s one thing about our style – even though it’s two people, we are using the same color-mixing techniques, which makes it work together.
Coming from an independent-artist background, Zimmerman has asked that the museum make the original pieces available for purchase. He says showing artists outside the city that there is a demand for original artwork forges a stronger connection between artists and the Midwest region.
I know as an artist being institutionalized in (a) museum looks great on a résumé, but for some of the artists maybe they don’t need exposure – they need money, Zimmerman says. I wanted to make sure the artists have that opportunity.