Sunday, September 21, 2014

Local Art Seen: Rodrigo Bello at Trepanier Hall

Friday evening Trepanier Hall hosted a Rodrigo Bello exhibition titled Northland-Southland. Bello's paintings caught my attention the first time I saw a few of his pieces at a PROVE Gallery show titled Transplants which featured artists who have recently moved to our community. Bello is originally from Santiago, Chile where he attended an arts high school, which eventually led to a career as an engineer. Along the way he met and married a Duluth girl. After nine years in Chile together the pair moved here to the Northland. It's my understanding that the Bellos will be moving to Minneapolis next, which I believe will provide excellent opportunities for the artist to showcase his work to a broader audience.

Bello's paintings have a striking, evocative quality. There's a shroud-like mystical sense in much of his work which combines indistinct, moody abstract backgrounds with sharply defined characters or scenes, as illustrated in Fishing Day below. There are also paintings revealing a social conscience, most forcefully his Three Voices which echo the monument to Duluth's infamous lynchings. (May we never forget.)

"Three Voices"
"Fishing Day"
Like many of the art receptions at Trepanier Hall, the evening is orchestrated to be an event as well. In this case Kathy McTavish and Richie Townsend provided a musical accompaniment, Rocky Makes Room shared his spoken word art, Jake Vainio performed with his guitar and Bello himself shared a few words from the heart.

As Bello noted in an interview last October, "Art plays a significant role in any society. It creates a sense of self-awareness. This is essential if we want to pursue a better, peaceful and joyful society."

The walls were crowded with paintings, and some might call that a criticism as it didn't allow enough breathing space between pieces. In point of fact, the abundance of work enabled the Bello to showcase his range. Here are some of the pieces you missed if you were unable to attend.

"The Trapezists"
"Santiago 1973" (detail)
Rodrigo Bello will be an artist to watch over the comping years. 

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

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