Institutional creativity

The Nash hosts a retrospective of faculty members’ artworks

Katrina Wilber

With more than a century of experience among them, the artists in this exhibit deserve to curate it themselves.

“Retrospectives: Bethke, Cowette, Hoard,” the new exhibit at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, features the work of three retired or nearly retired University faculty members from the art department.

“A retrospective exhibition showcases the entire body of work that represents the person’s entire career,” said Nick Shank, the gallery’s director.

Faculty members Karl Bethke, Thomas Cowette and Curtis Hoard work in different areas of the artistic spectrum. The exhibit contains everything from earthenware and woodcuts to graphite drawings and lithographs.

“This is not an annual event,” Shank said. “The exhibition is a celebration of three faculty who have either retired or are on phased retirement, and the faculty members were chosen by the department of art and the Nash exhibition committee.”

Cowette, who’s been at the University since 1970, showcases graphite and acrylic drawings from the 1960s that are subtle but full of detail. Thirty years’ worth of his oil paintings is also on display.

Shank said, “The exhibition is self-curated, meaning faculty chose the work in the exhibition.”

Bethke, who has taught at the University since 1965, retired in 2004 but still works as an adjunct professor. His screen prints look like T-shirt designs with the overlapped pictures and icons. His sequences of photographs, usually black and white, show actions that seem unthinkable to many Americans.

Hoard’s 37 years of experience as a ceramics teacher is evident in his exhibition pieces. His elaborate, colorful earthenware works include platters, jars and huge sculptures.

The differences among the styles of the artists show the depth of the University’s art department. With a variety of media and materials, these three artists prove mastery of their crafts.

The exhibit also features work by Cynthia Amendt, another member of the art department.

Her black-and-white prints are mostly of Parisian scenes but not the pretty postcard-style photographs. The peeling paint in the pictures is a marked contrast to her other works, such as the perfect pictures of a beautiful day on Lake Superior.

The exhibit is an opening into the minds of artists and professors. The works of Bethke, Cowette and Hoard span decades, stretch across disciplines and showcase the talent in charge of the next generation of artists.