Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University exhibits the work of Mark Beltchenko
The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum conducted its 2018 Regional Biennial Juried Sculpture Exhibition, a state-wide competition for sculptors, and the first prize went to the Detroit Artist Mark Beltchenko. Part of that process resulted in a one-person exhibition at the museum. The Detroit-area sculptor is highly skilled in multiple media can be currently viewed online at marchshallfredericks.org The title of this virtual exhibition ‘SOS (or ***—*** in Morse Code) is often used to denote phrases such as ‘Save Our Ship’ and is comprised of six different series of works by Beltchenko: INSIDER, BIRTHWORKS, HISTORY LESSONS, NOT MY PRESIDENT, PEDESTAL, and DISTRESS, spanning from the year 2006 to the most recent works completed in May 2020.
Museums in Michigan and around the country have been hosting virtual exhibitions due to the Covid-19 regulations and have harnessed various technologies to assist in the process. The MFSM used MatterPort technology, allowing the viewer to begin at the open of the exhibition and proceed for a self-controlled visit through the virtual space. https://www.marshallfredericks.net/mb
As mentioned, Beltchenko’s work is sorted by what he calls series, and these stone pieces are cut from building parts and then combined with other material. Steel, brass, and limestone carved to look like concrete structures are the ghosts of a man-made world in decay. The metals protrude from and through the concrete-appearing objects as the sculptor reclaims the man-made world’s parts.
Another series is Beltchenko’s pedestals. This series is a dystopian view of what art could look like in a world void of artistic expression and freedom. The sculpture, Pedestal #1 has an engraved plaque that states “1 of 3 carved objects discovered on the North American continent of Earth.” Art encapsulates and makes possible reasonable communication throughout the history of humankind. The limestone has been carved to resemble human bone as the pedestals are made of steel vein structures that are bare, out of balance, and leaning uncomfortably on edge.
Artists are people with political views, but few choose to bring those views into their art. Mark Beltchenko is a three-dimensional artist who decides to devote a small part of his work to his view of the United States’ 45th President. The artist uses thorns in this artwork represent the poisonous nature of the 45th President and his current administration; the hiring’s and the firings, the infighting, the tell-all book writing that now exists. So much so, it requires the museum to place a disclaimer upfront: CAUTION This exhibition contains subject matter and imagery that some may find difficult, disturbing, and uncomfortable. Museum staff is available to discuss the works and the artist’s intent.
“The views and opinions expressed in this exhibition are those of the artist and do not necessarily reflect those of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw Valley State University, our funders or sponsors, including Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.”
The director of MFSM, Megan McAdow, is quoted from a review, “Beltchenko is not a loud or verbose man, but his work screams at us with a dire urgency. That is not to say that his work is obvious; rather, it is not. It requires effort. One must spend time with the work and breathe into it. You may not immediately recognize the discourse; however, allow yourself to linger, and as one lingers, the layers begin to unfold and reveal its meticulous detail and dialogue. It affects and changes you.”
Equally comfortable working in stone, steel, aluminum, wood, and the non-ferrous metals, Beltchenko’s work serves as a meditation on the good and bad in our current lives: The environment, political hypocrisy, positive growth, greed, and human narcissism – not necessarily in that order, are all covered through his works.
His three-dimensional imagery communicates ideas in ways that are both primitive and profound.
The artist, through his work, is clear about his political views. Beltchenko states: “These works reflect extreme emotion because I’m highly affected by what is going on. I’ve never been politically motivated in the past, but we are at a point where we can’t take this anymore. I have a voice, and my voice is in my art.”
Mark Beltchenko earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alma College, Alma, Michigan.
The exhibition at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Mark Beltchencko: • • • – – – • • • (SOS) runs through January 16, 2021.
To plan your visit: https://www.marshallfredericks.net/mb