‘Inside-Out, Upside-Down or Sideways’: Will Hafeman at ARS Gallery

Published 1:31 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Will Hafeman stands beside one of his pieces in which he laced painted strips of material together to create a unique design. Submitted photo

Will Hafeman stands beside one of his pieces in which he laced painted strips of material together to create a unique design. Submitted photo

Last week, the walls of the ARS Gallery looked a lot more like those of an old warehouse than those of an art gallery. But, all of that will change by Friday, Nov. 22. Bare and crumbling in places, those walls will soon serve as the perfect backdrop for Will Hafeman’s colorful, abstract paintings.

The ARS Gallery in the Benton Harbor Arts District will be hosting an opening reception to celebrate the work of Will Hafeman. The reception, from 6 to 8 p.m., is free and open to the public. Hafeman’s paintings will be on display there through Jan. 14, 2014.

“It will be the perfect kick-off to the holiday,” said Anna Russo Sieber, owner of the ARS Gallery. “There will be a live performer, and of course, Russo Sieber promises to provide “the small bites and wine selection that [she has] come to be known for.”

With 35 years of experience as the owner of a successful advertising and design business under his belt, Will Hafeman shifted his focus towards creating pieces that emphasize color and form. The Chicago-based artist lists among his influences Gerhart Richter, Sigmar Polke, Mary Heilmann and Mark Bradford.

“Will Hafeman is a sort of mid-century modern artist [whose] work is very Pollack-like.” He starts with “layers and layers of acrylic paint. Then, he takes them and cuts them into strips and reassembles them on tar paper or board…. He deconstructs the paint and reconstructs it,” Russo Sieber said. “Hafeman lets chance and deconstruction reveal the secret life of paint — a life that is both beautiful and arresting — without the use of brush or canvas.”

According to Hafeman, “Through pouring, throwing, dripping and smearing of repurposed paint, I have a limited control over the materials. They do what they will. By deconstructing the original image and building it anew, compositions are created that could not be worked out ahead of time. The work may be inside-out, upside down, sideways and totally reordered from where it began.”

Russo Sieber describes “Hafeman’s paintings [as] stunning — filled with action, color, form, texture and expression.  Much like relief sculpture, you literally see the design, pattern, gesture and movement of his paintings in profile. Will is a brilliant artist!”

ARS is located at 147 Fifth St. in Benton Harbor, Mich. And, as Russo Sieber pointed out, two nearby art galleries will be open Friday evening as well, providing guests with a convenient opportunity for an evening of gallery hopping.

At 3 Pillars, located inside the Brammall Supply Warehouse at 198 Water Street, “The owner, Laura Boyce, a Cranbrook graduate, will be exhibiting her unique sculptures, created from found objects,” said Russo Sieber.

Meanwhile, at 210 Art Space (210 Water Street), Gideon Douglas will have “a pop-up gallery with abstract paintings that are very beautiful.”