Unique, local art displayed at gallery

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Artwork by two Dubois County artists — Jasper photographer Brian Bruner and Schnellville sculptor Kerri Mehringer — will be on display at the Jasper Arts Center’s Krempp Gallery through the end of June. While their pieces are shown side by side, the two approach their crafts in very different ways.

Brian Bruner

Bruner

Brian Bruner wants to take you on a field trip. Ever navigated a canal in Italy? Shopped at a market in India? If you haven’t seen the giant, smiling faces carved into stone in Angkor Thom, Cambodia, you need to.

And Bruner can take you there.

Throughout this month, a selection of the Jasper man’s work will be available for viewing and purchase at the Krempp Gallery. His many stills cover a wide range of subjects: from breathtaking shots of nature and life across the globe, to electric concert performances forever frozen in time.

“I think it’s just capturing that special moment, or something unique,” Bruner said when asked why he enjoys snapping pictures. “When I get one that just pops, that’s what drives me. To get those magic ones.”

His introduction to photography came in the form of a shoebox camera as a preteen. While that marked the beginning of his time behind a lens, it wasn’t until years later that he’d take a deep dive into the artform with a faraway friend.

More than two decades ago, Bruner met Saumil Shah, an Indian man who, at the time, lived in West Lafayette and studied at Purdue University. Shah visited Dubois County to give Bruner’s mother a book he wrote about computer viruses, and his friendship with Bruner blossomed from there.

The pair still meet up in the States and in other countries, even though Shah now lives in his hometown of Ahmedabad, India. When they spend time together, they often take photos of their surroundings.

“We’ve kind of gone on this path together,” Bruner said of their mutual love for photography.

The hobby has since taken Bruner across the globe and brought him closer to the world of music. He has seen John Mellencamp perform “well over 70 times,” he said, and he has taken photos for the Hoosier rockstar’s fan page several times. Through that connection, he’s become an official photographer for Farm Aid, an annual benefit concert for family farmers across the country.

Traveling is a little easier than you might think, Bruner said. And once you do it, you’ll get hooked.

“A lot of people around here haven’t really traveled much,” Bruner said. “They don’t get too far past Florida or the Rockies. But they may have aspirations of going to Italy, or going to India. They may be really intrigued by that.”

Kerri Mehringer

Mehringer

Kerri Mehringer doesn’t have the answers. He wants you to take a step back and think.

His abstract sculptures will also be displayed at the Krempp Gallery throughout the month of June. Made of hydrostone, bronze, cast iron, aluminum and concrete, Mehringer’s creations are complex works of art designed to spark a dialogue.

“I want them to think,” he said of visitors who check out his work. “I know that some of my work is unusual, and I get comments like, ‘What’s that?’ a lot. And that’s OK.”

His pieces feature many distinct markings forged from the materials mentioned above, with the tiny details working together to create cohesive works both varied and whole at the same time.

The relationship between technology and nature is a theme that interests Mehringer, and it is visible in his work: one sculpture resembles a ball of brush with wires, knobs and switches entangled on the surface; and others look like fossilized circuit boards.

Mehringer earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in studio art from Anderson University, and later earned a master’s degree in sculpture from Southern Illinois University.

Like many artists, he wants to generate a conversation, make people think and allow viewers to feel like they’ve seen something they’ve never seen before — all while enjoying themselves along the way.

Many of Mehringer’s sculptures on display at the local gallery are wall-hangings made from a very hard plaster material called hydrostone. The process of molding, forming the cavities, casting the artwork and letting it cure can take months. It’s a process he loves.

“I get lost in it,” he said of the work. “I can just sit there for an entire day on the weekend. I can get to the studio at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning, I can be there all day until the sun goes down and not even stop, and not even know it’s been a day.”

There’s something below the surface in most of his works that kind of keeps you guessing, Mehringer said. He thinks a relationship exists between technology and nature that is filled with both tension and harmony. He believes the two are both compatible and incompatible.

“And what do you do with that?” he asked. “I’m not answering any questions. I’m just asking questions with it. And if you can get people to think about it, that’s a good thing.”




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