There’s Always an Apex Predator

Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska’s most hip alternative space presented “There’s Always an Apex Predator” featuring new work by Jay Kreimer and Wendy Weiss, September 2-29, 2016.

“There’s Always an Apex Predator” explores crocodiles, prisoners of war, the holocaust and more though painted wood sculptures, digitally cut vinyl wall installations, prints and a sound score by Jay Kreimer and Adam Zahller. The work in this collaborative exhibition is entirely new and is drawn from experiences in India, personal and world history, and current political events.p1070795-sm

Kreimer’s father was a prisoner of war in World War ll. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge. Kreimer states his father was “marched and marched, lined up at a pit to be shot, was not shot, and ended at Stalag lXB, Bad Orb, Germany.” Weiss adds this was “the worst German prison camp from which, in 1945, Jewish prisoners and perceived troublemakers were sent to the Berga concentration camp, a slave labor camp that mixed American POWs with Holocaust victims in a work to death frenzy.” Eldon Kreimer spoke little about his time in Stalag lXB, but he did tell a story about dividing a packet of raisins from a Red Cross package between his fellow prisoners. Starving, as they all were, he held back three extra raisins for himself and ate them. Later he felt compelled to confess this transgression to his group. Three raisins.p1070801-sm
Our interest in his experience paralleled what developed from a latent interest for me about the Holocaust and cruelties in Europe during World War ll. As a child, my father had been gripped with the significance Holocaust and the industrialized murder of European Jews. In 2014, unintentionally, we stayed on the site of the Łódź Ghetto in Poland, called the “Litzmannstadt Getto” because during the war the occupiers briefly renamed the city after a German general who invaded the city in WWI.

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Other forms of predation entered our thoughts. Animals and insects in the service of men to torment—dogs and fleas—for example.

p1070805We lived for much of the past few years in Vadodara, Gujarat, a city of two million with the distinction of harboring the largest population of wild crocodiles in a city of that size in the world. They conclude, “so the crocodiles came to this party: Apex Predators.”

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Thanks to Nebraska Innovation Studio, a makerspace/fab lab, on Nebraska Innovation Campus, where we use terrific equipment and workspace for the development of the vinyl portion and some of the wood working portions of the installation. Check it out! And much gratitude to Peggy and Nolan and the super helpers at Tugboat.

They Gave Us Directions

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Based on block printed tent hangings illustrated in Indian Block-Printed Textiles in Egypt: The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Ruth Barnes, 1997.

They Gave Us Directions

Lux Art Center, Lincoln, NE

First Friday Reception: Friday, May 6, 2016 from 5-8 p.m.
View through June 24

Bri Murphy, gallery director of the Lux Art Center, sent out the message I have pasted below:

May is another month with two exciting exhibition openings you won’t want to miss. Wendy Weiss and Jay Kreimer have returned to Nebraska to bring us a slice of life in India. As recipients of multiple Fulbright awards, both artists have spent much of the past few years living and working in India as long term residents. This show is their response, complete with photography, sculpture, textiles, and auditory elements. The title, They Gave Us Directions, speaks to the exploratory nature of their experience. “…we were in search of one thing, as we asked for directions, we found another thing.”

Jay Kreimer is a sound artist, inventor, video artist and educator. He has performed a range of music professionally since 1979. One of Kreimer’s instruments, Tallboy, was a finalist in the international Guthman Musical Instrument Invention Competition in 2011. His music has been released in the US, Portugal and Canada, and distributed and reviewed internationally. Wendy Weiss is an independent artist and weaver. She is professor emerita of textile design in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in North America, Europe and Asia. She uses natural dyes she cultivates and collects locally. Their collaborative works have been shown in galleries and museums in New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Beijing and many other cities.

From Weiss and Kreimer, we can expect much more than a traditional art gallery experience. This time, when you walk into the LUX, you will be engulfed in the cacophony of the bustling streets of India. This exhibition exemplifies the unique capacity of art to transport the viewer to another place and culture, to see humanity from a different perspective, and perhaps to find new understanding and meaning.

The Golden Fiber

Installation of bamboo at the Art Factory in Patterson, NJ for their textile themed exhibit, opening September 28 from 1-8 pm.
Installation of bamboo at the Art Factory in Patterson, NJ for their textile themed exhibit, opening September 28 from 1-8 pm.  Photo Credit: David Shapiro
Golden Fiber, installation view at the Art Factory, Patterson, NJ. Photo: David Shapiro
Golden Fiber, installation view at the Art Factory, Patterson, NJ. Photo: David Shapiro
Installation at the Art Factory Textile Exhibition. Opens September on September 28, 2013. Photo: David Shapiro
Installation at the Art Factory Textile Exhibition. Opens September on September 28, 2013. Photo: David Shapiro
detail of the Golden Fiber. 2013.
detail of the Golden Fiber. 2013.

Wendy Weiss
The Golden Fiber
Bamboo (courtesy of Art Factory); spray paint; nylon monofilament

In 1881, the Dolphin Manufacturing Company, also known as the Dolphin Jute Mill, was the largest jute factory in the United States. It processed over two thousand tons of jute, used 3,376 spindles to produce yarn, 86 looms to weave cloth, and employed 600 men and women. The mill was in operation until the late 1950’s.

Jute grows in a moist, warm climate. It needs neither pesticides nor fertilizer and is planted close together for a tall and straight crop. Farmers harvest the 8-15 foot tall green leafy plants after they flower and before they go to seed. They cut the stalks at ground level or pull them up by the roots, bundle, and tie them into big groups. The tall plants are left in the field a few days where the leaves drop and then set in moving water to soften the pectin, which enables the separation of the fiber from the woody core.

The vast majority of the jute crop grows in Bangladesh and India. Called the “golden fiber” because of its commercial value and light color, the market for jute bottomed out in the 20th century with the advent of synthetics and plastic bags. Interest in renewable resources and staunching the flow of plastic into the waste stream, has regenerated interest in jute, bolstering the economy in Bangladesh. Thirty percent of the country’s population participates in the production of the jute crop.

The Everyday Interests of Young People

The Might Vitamins perform at closing reception for the Everyday Interests of Young People at the Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, NE. September 28, 2012
Film still from the Everyday Interests of Young People in the Hard to See Theater at Tugboat Gallery. Photo Credit: Nina Szczerbowska
Film still in the Everyday Interests of Young People in the Hard to See Theater at Tugboat Gallery. Photo Credit: Nina Szczerbowska