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Gehrke the Genre-Bender

artist displays multi-faceted pieces at library

Thom Fountain

“So Long For Now” by Robert Gehrke
“So Long For Now” by Robert Gehrke

To say Robert Gehrke is a multifaceted artist is slightly underestimating him. The painter, sculptor, craftsman, and collector of things has had a wide and varied career – everything from gallery shows to public sculpture. He’ll be displaying a collection of new work at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library over the months of September and October. Gehrke’s paintings, sculpture and crafts all share similarities, inspiring each other. “I like to play with flatness,” Gehrke said. “Positive and negative space, cutting through things. A lot of those are the same kind of images you do with sculpture.” Gehrke credits the natural space in the Chippewa Valley with much of his inspiration, saying he often takes hikes searching for ancient arrowheads – some of which he presents in gorgeously crafted wooden frames. He likes to contrast  strong, archetypal shapes – like those in the arrowhead – with randomness, giving his pieces a sense of push and pull. One such piece he’ll be showing pairs images from the Hubble Telescope – mainly capturing stars and clusters in space – with images of the Chippewa River and things he’s found there. The UW-Eau Claire graduate’s work is ever-evolving, but these strong themes strike throughout across medium. There will be a reception for his show on Thursday, Sept. 11, from 7-8:30pm. You can find a wide range of his work at his website, BobGehrke.com. He also has another upcoming show in February at the Foster Gallery at UW-Eau Claire where he’ll have even more work on display.

Near And Far: Robert Gehrke • Sept. 7-Oct. 15 • L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, 400 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire • FREE