Kim Behm family's artwork in Hearst exhibition
posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 in
By Melody Parker, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
CEDAR FALLS–There’s no doubt Kim Behm has a solid Midwestern work ethic.
“I’m always busy working on something. There’s always something on the easel. Nothing is ever finished,” the artist confesses, smiling.
As an example, he points to a canvas in his new show at the Hearst Center for the Arts, an abstract he has repainted at least “9 or 10 times.” He enjoys working in oils, a pliable medium that takes some time to thoroughly dry, which gives him the luxury of reimagining and repainting a piece. But he also uses wall paint in several pieces – “I love those little pots of paints that come in so many glorious colors,” Behm notes.
Although his paintings compose a large portion of the exhibition, it’s titled “Kim Behm & Family” for a reason. The show features multi-generational, mixed media artwork, including abstracts and photography, by his family, beginning with his father, William Behm Jr., who is in his 90s, and sister Janis Behm, both from Tucson, Ariz., sister Kristi Galindo Dyson from Renton, Wash., son Jon Behm from St. Paul, Minn., daughter Marit Behm from Albuquerque, N.M., and his niece, Mini Galindo from Seattle.
“I’ve wanted to put together an exhibition of Kim’s work for a long time. He had a show in 2014 at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. It was a beautiful show, a retrospective,” recalls Emily Drennan, the Hearst Center’s acting executive director.
“I wanted to do something different. Being able to gather and see all this family’s work in one show, and show work Kim is doing now, sounded like a great idea,” she says.
This collection of Kim Behm paintings reflects the artist’s interest in current affairs – “more social subjects than usual,” such as the Syrian refugee crisis, Somalians, the Paris nightclub terrorist attack and other topics.
Several paintings depict refugees in clusters, carrying their meager belongings – “figures in transit,” and another with people crowded into a bright yellow inflatable boat on blue water – “yellow, the color of emergency,” he points out.
His people are not caricatures, but portraiture of individuals and crowds so realistic from their facial expressions, postures and shapes, and the play of light and shadow, that the paintings take on a photographic quality.
“It’s my response to the world — the refugees, the violence, the extent of what’s happening in our culture. It’s a way of examining the world,” Behm explains. At the same time, much of his work references one of his favorite subjects, art history. “I want to recall elements which I think are still relevant today. It elevates the idea of common humanity.”
Behm teaches painting, drawing, art appreciation and art history as assistant professor of fine art and history at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, where many of his paintings hang. His resume includes a lengthy career as a professional illustrator, and he continues to work as a freelancer.
Originally from Des Moines, he trained as a graphic designer and photographer at Des Moines Tech, graduating in 1967. He earned degrees in printmaking, painting and art history from the University of New Mexico, and taught at the university as well as the University of Northern Iowa.
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