WATERLOO – Artist Kim Behm’s recent painting of a gloomy morning in the foothills of Santa Catalina Arizona is a departure from her other works on display in the Hawkeye Art Gallery.
“A Crowded Planet, Works of Kim Behm” features 15 pieces with eight richly detailed oil paintings sharing “Pilgrim” in their title. “I don’t work specifically in series, although some of this work focuses on the subject of refugees – the plight of refugees around the world – and the state of the planet. It reflects the way I see the world around me, ”Behm said.
Arizona’s landscape, however, with its cacti and shaded mountains under purplish skies – the desert “blue hour” about half an hour before dawn – represents another aspect of the eye of the eye. artist for the composition.
“We were hiking Catalinas before sunrise. You have to go out to Arizona early in the day in July because the sun is scorching, ”Behm recalls. It was natural for the artist to want to interpret the contemplative view with oil and brush paints on canvas.
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The current exhibit is on display until February 24 in the third floor gallery of the Van G. Miller Center for Adult Learning, 120 Jefferson St. Behm retired from Hawkeye Community College in 2020 as Professor Emeritus, but continues to teach part time.
“When I teach painting, I work alongside my students so they can see me working and doing the same things they do. There is something symbiotic about the vibe of the studio. I like having the space to work and interact with the students.
Behm comes from a family of artists and his resume includes a long career as a professional illustrator. He continues to work as a freelance. Originally from Des Moines, he trained as a graphic designer and photographer at Des Moines Tech, from which he graduated in 1967. He obtained degrees in printmaking, painting and art history from the University of the New -Mexico, and taught at the University as well as at the University of Northern Iowan in Cedar Falls.
Award-winning artist and illustrator, Behm is recognized for his portraits which often represent current events, art history and shared cultural experiences. His work often refers to his love for the history of art, such as “Pèlerins 2”, a painting located in the Salle des États of the Louvre in Paris which required him to paint Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”. in its golden frame.
“Painting it wasn’t as difficult as having to paint the frame it’s in – I don’t like painting repeating patterns,” he said with a laugh.
Although he does not work from a specific color palette, Behm thinks of color for its expressive qualities, “and not of painting to reproduce a photographic image. I use color for contrast, texture, light and shade. I’m making a visual statement, not decorative – well, a little bit, but it’s more than that, ”he explained.
At present, there is a prepared canvas on an easel in his studio. “I don’t know what to put on it. I have learned to start and painting will become something meaningful. You don’t start with a conclusion; it is a process that builds and grows as you work.