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The Visual Landscape of Erik Beehn

000004432099_Cropped 2015/Acrylic and Solvents on Archival Inkjet Photograph mounted on Dibond/Erik Beehn

Las Vegas native and artist Erik Beehn will talking about his collaboration with painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly.

Most of us don’t think of painting and drawing as a collaborative art. But Erik Beehn does - and thrives on the process.

Wednesday, Beehn will be talking about his collaboration with the painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly. That event is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Marjorie Barrick Museum.

And beginning Thursday, Beehn has a gallery show of his own drawings, photo collages, and a wallpaper installation. It’s at the MCQ Fine Art herein Las Vegas, and runs through May 20. 

He was born in Chicago, but was raised in Las Vegas, actually living at a hotel on the Strip for many years. He went to school in Chicago and worked in Los Angeles as a printmaker.


Los Angeles, Chicago have a reputation of being really great art cities. Las Vegas not so much. What’s your view of that?

“I think Los Angeles in the last five years has really changed. And I think it really is the cost of living and the possibility of space in Los Angeles that makes it draw over a lot of East Coast cities, particularly New York”

“Chicago and Las Vegas are fascinating to me because I feel like they both have a lot in common. Chicago is sort of a larger version of what happens here I think.”

“Chicago has a great museum scene, just tons of museums and really great exhibitions that travel through there. The gallery scene is bigger than here but still not large enough to sustain the amount of artists that are there. So I feel it is very competitive in Chicago in the same way that it is out here because there is a smaller number of opportunities”

You are a painter, photographer, and printmaker. What is printmaking?

“Printmaking in the terms of fine art printing is different than commercial printing. A lot of the process maybe similar but the evolution of a project is slower. Everything is done one at a time and by hand. It’s a different process.”

On working at one of the oldest printmaking shops in Los Angeles:

“We would do lithography, plate and stone lithography. We do intaglio or copper plate etching. We would do relief or wood block printing. We would do screen printing or object making, if someone wanted bronze or cast objects. Sometimes we would make unique objects and paintings.”

Why is the light different in Las Vegas? Is it different than the light in Los Angeles or Chicago?

It seems so much more intense out here in Las Vegas, like it’s a brighter light. I get the feeling that there is less interference whether it’s smog, whether it’s clouds, whether it’s the valley breaks away some of that. It seems like a more direct light.

Talk to us about who Ellsworth Kelly was?

As an artist I think Ellsworth was one of the more important artists definitely of my life time. And as an individual he was very kind and gentle. He was astute and soft spoken and generous but very attentive to very small details.

How did he effect your work?

“I was always influenced and effected by each artist’s work ethic and process. Some artists would come in and be very tactile. They would walk around and touch everything. Some artists would come in and aggressively work on a material. Some were a little slower to sort of get to that aggressive. For me, I always found his specificity to be so fascinating. He could look at a curve that looks the same to me, in five different iterations and he could tell that it was two millimeters off to the left or now it was a different shape than he had pulled it from. The way of working was really fascinating. The influence really came in not settling with results that you were not happy with.”

Talk to us about your new gallery show:

It’s a wallpaper installation that I designed for the exhibition and a mixed-media work that is going to hang on top of the wallpaper. The wallpaper started as a painting in the studio. And I believe provides a context for the work that’s hanging on it.

They are still life, florals for the most part. Before this project, so much of my work had to do with the landscape and personal narratives. And I think this is my response to personal narratives that have taken a strong hold on contemporary art.


Erik Beehn, Chicago-based artist 

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.