Most Detroiters are familiar with the murals of W.C. Bevan that dot the urban landscape. Less familiar, though, are his smaller scale ink drawings on paper and shaped wall pieces, now on view at River House Arts in Toledo.
Bevan’s large murals are often characterized by highly graphic imagery reminiscent of 30’s hand-drawn animations. Simple elements that suggest fragments of faces or cartoon gestures are repeated rhythmically over the surface of each composition, keeping our eyes in constant motion. As Ryan Standfest of Rotland Press says in Essay’d:
Bevan believes that every object possesses a quality he terms “vibration.” To a degree, this is a scientific fact; everything we see and hear arrives in the form of waves. But Bevan is likely referring not just to this sensory information but also to some other unmeasurable, auratic quality.
Form Gathering/Jigsaw Assembly consists of two distinct bodies of work. A series of several fairly large black, pink and white wooden cutout pieces was created by the artist during the summer of 2021, while Bevan was at work in Toledo on the Glass City River Wall murals. His usual referential imagery is subdued here in favor of more formal elements. Fluid ovals, waves and curves repeat and undulate, evoking for the artist, “sentiments of summers past: picking sun warmed fruits, dealing with midwestern clowns, walking Metropark trails, and existing 100 feet in the air [while working on the silo mural].”
The second (and to my mind, more successful) series of works are his intimate ink drawings, often on vintage commercial papers such as invoices, bills of lading and the like. The muted blacks and subdued pastel colors of these dimunitive pieces introduce an element of nostalgia. Their small scale allows Bevin to create images that are more nuanced and sensitive than his usual larger artworks. They are both quirky and rigorous, and suggest a dreamy carnival.
River House Arts is located at 425 Jefferson in Toledo, Ohio. Hours are by appointment. Form Gathering/Jigsaw Assembly will be on view until January 29, 2022.