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Human ~ Nature Opens At La Sierra University's Brandstater Gallery

Brandstater Gallery starts new year with duo-artist painting exhibit

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( The first exhibit of the new year at Brandstater Gallery in Riverside will feature paintings by two artists whose work expresses, through differing styles and perspectives, the interplay between nature and humans.

The exhibit titled “Human ~ Nature” features works by Gary Brewer and Paul Paiement and will be on display Jan. 18 through Feb. 10. A virtual reception, artist’s talk and gallery tour will be held Sunday, Jan. 23 at 6:45 p.m. on Zoom video conferencing at The gallery is located at La Sierra University.

The exhibit is unique to Brandstater Gallery and will not be shown in other venues. “Gary Brewer and Paul Paiement are incredible artists,” noted Brandstater Gallery Director Tim Musso. “The juxtaposition of their painting in this two-person exhibit creates a fascinating visual conversation about nature and humankind.”

Brewer’s works involve oil on canvas and water color on Fabriano paper, while Paiement’s art appears in acrylic on plywood. The artists will display 14 artworks in total.

Brewer, who is based in Pasadena, served as curator for Brandstater’s “Woven Threads” exhibit in January 2020 and is an adjunct faculty member in La Sierra’s Art+Design department. A self-taught artist, his paintings have been exhibited in nearly 100 group and solo shows since the late 1980s. He has also worked extensivel

y as an exhibit curator since 1999 and is an arts writer covering exhibits and publishing essays which have appeared in Art and Cake and Art Now LA. He pursued studies at the Laguna College of Art and Design and the San Francisco Art Institute.

Paiement, a native of Minneapolis, earned a master’s degree in drawing and painting at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles with his family and teaches at Cypress College while creating his own art. He has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in New York, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, England, France, Austria, Japan, Chicago, and Southern California. His artwork has been enthusiastically reviewed by critics for the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Artforum, ARTNews and other outlets. A print from his “Nexus” series, a line of works that will also appear at Brandstater Gallery, will be on display in Rome, Italy in January and February as part of an international group exhibit. In 2018 he was featured in a Twin Cities PBS Originals video about his life, work, and perspectives as an artist.

When approached last year by Musso about participating in an exhibit with one or two other artists, Brewer recommended his close friend Paiement as the two of them share central artistic themes within the context of nature and humans’ place within it.

We both challenge this anthropocentric bias that we humans are divorced and separate from nature,” Brewer said. “In my work I convey the vast oceanic swoon of life that we are a small part of, ratcheting back the hubris of our sense of exceptionalism. Paul’s work expresses, in part, that our structures and systems that we create to survive are not separate from nature, but are an existential need expressed on all levels of the natural order of life. A home is a nest -- an extension of our body -- and our efforts to survive.”

An essay by Cooper Johnson in a Human ~ Nature exhibit catalog depicts the complexities of the artists’ work. “Though approaching the subject from differing aesthetics, they share a philosophical curiosity and technical mastery that exposes just how entangled the human view of nature is with human exceptionalism,” he writes.

Paiement’s “Nexus” series depicts outlines and elements of buildings floating mist-like upon and through and rising from idealized landscapes while Brewer’s canvasses evoke images of oceanic life, flora and astronomical elements in “hyper-realistic detail,” writes Cooper. “Brewer quotes from the microscopic to the cosmic, finding structural rhymes and echoes of forms. In the way he aligns pollen particles, orchids, and dark matter imagery onto backgrounds of abstracted organic patterns, one starts to sense an underlying rhythmic structure.

“[T]herein is the subtle lesson of Human ~ Nature. The goal is not to achieve some perfectly inhuman perspective, but to understand and appreciate the beauty in the entanglement, in all of its entwined and tendrilled mess.”

Through their exhibit, the artists desire to take viewers on a contemplative journey of new insights. “I hope to engage the viewer in a deep and profound way,” stated Paiement. “To create a visual ‘dance’ between the viewer and the artwork. As a kid, I was influenced by a lot of the installation art that was created in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. I'm intrigued by the notion that a viewer can step vicariously into an artwork. So, I've always aspired to engage the viewer on a deeper, more visceral level--to create paintings that a viewer can merge into--like a virtual art installation.”

Paiement grew up without artistic role models, although his natural knack for drawing was encouraged by family, friends and teachers. “The idea of becoming a studio artist was a pipe dream. Nobody that I knew made artwork, either as a hobby or professionally. My first exposure to modern and contemporary art was a Picasso retrospective at the Walker Art Center [Minneapolis, Minn.]. My seventh grade French class visited it in 1978.”

A high school art teacher shepherded Paiement’s talent by writing a letter of recommendation for his transfer to a high school for the arts. He was accepted and after graduating enrolled in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where he was exposed to “concepts and practices that I wouldn’t find anywhere else,” he said.

Brewer grew up in California’s Mojave Desert and Orange County coast. He displayed a natural gift for rendering at an early age and pursued his own education on artists, art history, philosophy and literature. In his early 20s he dedicated himself to the pursuit of his art and through varying stages of artistic realization arrived at a practice motivated “by a passion for the preservation of the natural world and what we as artists can do to shape the course of its future,” he writes in his bio.

La Sierra University is operating online through the end of January due to the Covid-19 pandemic and changes in public health guidelines. To make an appointment to view “Human ~ Nature” at Brandstater Gallery in February pending a return to in-person operations, or for additional information, please contact Tim Musso at Visitors to the gallery must wear face masks.

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