THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME: Paintings of the PSU artist lectures by Ben Killen Rosenberg
- July 1st through September 1st, 2009
- 8am to 4pm, Monday through Friday
- Closing Reception:
- Wednesday, August 26th, 4pm to 6pm
Ben Killen Rosenberg received his BFA (printmaking) from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1988. He recently received an MFA from Portland State University in studio arts, and has just begun teaching at several local colleges. He is an adjunct instructor at Portland Community College, Clark Community College and Portland State University. His past illustration work are all monotypes hand colored with watercolors and gouache, and have been used by clients such as The Portland Tribune, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Oregonian, and the Internal Revenue Service. His art also ranges from paintings, tiles, sculptures, public art commissions and teapots that explore humor, social ironic situations, and caricature. His public art is all over the east coast and Oregon. He just finished a commission of concrete turtle sculptures for Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon. When taking a break from work during the day Ben can be found walking his miniature dachshund Muso, visiting all the cats in the neighborhood.
Statement from the Artist: Ben Killen Rosenberg
These paintings originally were shown at Portland State University in the fall of 2008. 54 paintings in all were shown. This show is an edited version with 10 paintings absent because they have been sold.
I feel fortunate to have been a student in the MFA program at PSU several years ago when the lecture series began. The line up of weekly lecturers was inspirational and when we had the chance for one-on-one studio visits with the visiting artist, it was even better. As students, we all made flyers to announce the visiting artist for that week’s lecture. I made this sandwich board to place in front of the theatre holding what would be left of the printed flyers soaked in the rain. Seeing the paintings by Peter Doig at the Whitney Biennial during one of our school MFA trips of his announcements for a film series inspired me even more. His ability to change his own style to capture each film the announcement promoted while at the same time letting the looseness of the paint speak for itself made me wonder how I might do more.
The year after graduation, I knew there was more that could be done and Harrell Fletcher put a bug in my ear that perhaps I should make an assignment for myself to complete two paintings every week based on the next year’s line up of artists who would be lecturing. Like most artist’s I thrive on having assignments. Having a concrete assignment keeps me focused and making new work when I’m not sure what the next thing might be. Over dinner at a Thai restaurant during the beginning of the school year, I met with Harrell and ironed out my plan. I committed myself to produce 54 paintings––two a week––and also to have the sandwich boards ready by noon on Monday. I planned to attend the lectures and have a photograph taken of the visiting artist and myself to chronicle the whole process from beginning to end.
Most of these artists I was unfamiliar with. I searched the Internet gathering information and images of them and then immediately striking out on an idea and image of their work. All went well until winter term when I learned that I wouldn’t be able to attend the spring lectures because I’d be teaching. I briefly considered ending the project until I thought of an alternative. I asked the current MFA students to wear a mask of my face weekly and pose with the artists.
The greatest challenge in this entire process has been forcing myself to stay away from ways of making art that I was comfortable with. Because of this project, I’ve stumbled into some new ways of working.
There are many people to thank. First and foremost, Professor Harrell Fletcher for getting this lecture series started and inspiring me and supporting me to do this project. Thanks to the artists whose work inspired this project. Thanks also to you, Steve Beatty for all the great photos you took during the year and being there for me. Sandy Sampson for helping with photos and “stand ins” in the spring. All the MFA students, and volunteers who wore my mask. Vicki Wilson for helping put this show together. Walter Lee for helping on slideshow. Kim Stinson, who not only knows how to live with my neurosis when it came to having these deadlines to do these paintings, she has also been always a great partner to have helping me figure out creative problems at a last minute shout. And lastly my dachshund Muso, and my parents Marvin and Lilli Ann, who have always supported my work as an artist and continue to inspire me.Ben Killen Rosenberg