People from Ohio never seem to lose their childlike wonder or easy manner. Artist Bethany Bachmann is no exception.
After leaving Akron to major in art and psychology at the University of Wisconsin, she still managed to retain her Midwestern outlook on life while gaining a touch of wanderlust.
She moved to Alaska, where Bachmann says she was blown away by the mountains and glaciers, the people, and the abundant water. Next on her journey of discovery was Seattle, and it, too, dazzled her with the surrounding natural beauty.
Today, she calls Durango home and has succumbed to the light, the land and the colors of the Southwest. Akin to the regions spectacular spectrum, it is the saturation of color in Bachmanns art that initially grabs the viewer, while her use of red and blue clearly reflect her study of African art.
Her characteristically busy compositions are unique, imaginative and immediately identifiable. The viewer invariably moves closer to study the complexity of detail and hopefully decipher the meaning of it all, and before long is engulfed in a stylized, rhythmic, whimsical, expressive and sensitive world.
Although Bachmanns treatment of elongated, alienlike figures is reminiscent of Marc Chagalls allegorical paintings, she is equally inspired by other greats.
Van Gogh for his palette, energy of his brush strokes and subject matter, she said, enthusiastically adding, Matisse for his use of color, patterns and black outlines (and) Frida Kahlo for her rawness and emotional world.
Included among those influential masters, Bachmann credits her teacher Robert Schultz, the acclaimed draftsman of psychologically compelling work, for encouraging her to pursue an art career.
Back in her studio after four years off, she admits to approaching her art from a deeper and more curious, open and explorative space. Time away from creating is never easy, but I also believe it can be valuable.
Bachmanns recently completed pieces incorporate decoratively detailed patterns surrounding the figures instead of situating them in a recognizable setting, although she still likes using bars and pool rooms, or cafe scenes.
There is a total lack of white space in her work, and she justifies it by admitting, I feel like the piece is unfinished when I leave white space. Ive tried to leave large areas of blank space, whether white or another solid color, and it doesnt work for me. I think it has to do with the rhythm of the piece.
A licensed massage and certified cranio-sacral therapist, the artists affinity for the human body, particularly the female form, is evident in the women she typically portrays in her work.
Female figures, for me, are symbolic of all that is sensual, from their soft curves, organic movement and self-expression, she said. I also feel the female figure embodies creativity, intuition and strength.
Considering her artistic journey so far, its hard not to speculate about where she is headed next. Confronted with the question, Bachmann answered, I see my figures becoming more abstract and faceless again with more patterns and symbols surrounding them. I also see myself playing more with the placement of figures and symbols in the composition.
Their emergence is greatly anticipated by all who know her work.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and nationally. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.