Mixed Media

Raw Deal exhibit melds two artists’ Simple and Strange creations

Lindsey Quinnies, photos by Timothy Mather

Above and below: Sculptures from It’s Simple and Strange, And Still Being Unraveled
Above and Below: Sculptures from It’s Simple and Strange, And Still Being Unraveled

The Raw Deal in Menomonie is hosting a new art show this month titled It’s Simple and Strange, And Still Being Unraveled featuring two local artists, Heather Kusmider, a full-time studio art major at UW-Stout, and Amber Georgakopoulos, operations manager at the Raw Deal (although she wasn’t when the show was booked). Both artists grew up in the Chippewa Valley and either stuck close to home or returned when Wisconsin called them back.

The two have different artistic backgrounds, one with roots as far back as memory serves and the other with recent ties. “I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember,” Amber recalls. “In kindergarten, I had a brilliant plan to be a cowgirl-ballerina-artist-mom, and all these years later, I’m lucky enough to get to be an artist and a mom. So much for the cowgirl ballerina.” For her part, Heather says, “I’ve been making art for about five years now, since I starting going back to school, but I have always had an incline towards art.”

The two art styles definitely differ, with Amber’s is described as “like an LP record compared to a CD.” It may not be as refined as some, but there’s something sort of “romantic about the grittiness” of using mediums such as old objects and paper, she says. In fact, Amber says she enjoys using materials that have a history themselves. “The paper that I drew on is old photo printing paper made by Kodak in 1918, so the paper itself is almost a hundred years old,” she explains. “The bottles are all antique. …This show also uses flash bulbs, vintage trees from my great-grandfather’s railroad set, a broken bolt that I found on a first date with a boy 10 years ago, three of my wisdom teeth, old glass marbles, part of my boss’s in-floor heating system that I saved from the trash, chess pieces .... and glue. Lots and lots of glue.” In contrast, Heather’s style is more “vibrant, crisp, and abstract” using mediums such as acrylic paints and pencil, gaining influence from artists such as David Kapp, Al Held, and Amy Sillman.

Although the two artists seem to have very differing styles, the show is a cohesive unit reflecting one idea in which both series are speaking to each other. “I am also really thrilled to be showing with Heather,” Amber says. “Her work is so different from mine, but with fascinating common threads of combining disparate elements and exploring memory. I think the juxtaposition will be really interesting.”

Heather adds, “I hope to challenge memory and sense familiarity with the abstract spaces I create by leaving the navigation open in most of my pieces. If asked to recall a particular space, how well could one do it? There are intriguing details in structures and spaces if one chooses to be curious enough to see them.”

It’s Simple and Strange, And Still Being Unraveled featuring the art of Heather Kusmider and Amber Georgakopoulos, runs through the end of April at the Raw Deal, 603 S. Broadway St., Menomonie. For more information on the exhibit and the restaurant, visit rawdealwi.weebly.com.