By Jamilyn Hiskes
WHITING, Ind. (September 1, 2021) – Taking inspiration from dreams isn’t a foreign concept to many artists. Inspiration for a drawing, painting, sculpture, or piece of writing can come from anywhere. But often, the perplexing, eye-catching imagery of surrealist art captures imagination with the most ease.
Local artist Jim Siergey has described his work as “dreamlike” for decades, and he’s showcasing three of his pieces in Studio 659 in Whiting as part of the Midsummer Dream exhibit at Arts Alive!
“The gallery chose me,” Siergey said in an email when asked how he chose to show his work at the gallery in downtown Whiting. “The exhibitor asked around for names of artists to invite and mine was one of them. I was invited and I accepted. I’m glad I did. It’s a very nice gallery.”
Studio 659 is a small yet spacious art gallery run by Arts Alive!, a nonprofit located in the Whiting-Robertsdale area that has operated for 25 years and “raises money for and awareness of the arts” in the area they serve, according to Studio 659’s website. The Midsummer Dream exhibit is the studio’s second exhibit since it reopened in early June after being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is Siergey’s third time in an exhibit in the Northwest Indiana area this summer.
“All the galleries I have seen so far in these parts are very nice and each has its own personality,” Siergey said. “It is good to be bringing art back alive and into people’s lives … but there is still that COVID uneasiness lurking about. Attendees for the most part are masked as it is, like it or not, part of our present ‘New Normal.’”
“The pandemic hit, and we had nothing going on for a year,” said Joe Erickson, Arts Alive! member and Whiting resident. “It hurt, you know? Then in February or March this year, we got together and we said, ‘When it breaks open, we’ve gotta have something here at the gallery for people in Whiting and for people coming in.’ … Then in June, we had an exhibit here about the pandemic, and then we had this one.”
Three Siergey pieces
Siergey has three pieces displayed in the Midsummer Dream exhibit: The bold yet simple “TWO,” the heart-pounding “MEANWHILE…” and the classically cartoony, yet melancholy “The Love I Saw In You Was Just a Mirage.” There are also some postcards of his work and an art book entitled “NART” for sale. Siergey is one of many local artists featured in the exhibit, which showcases paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works that speak of dark rooms and introspection. Most of the pieces are for sale.
“Rarely have any (of my art pieces) been based on a dream … (but) dreams and surrealism both deal with the unconscious mind in one way or another, so I felt that my work niched in there comfortably,” Siergey said. “Upon reading the exhibit title and description, these three pieces immediately sprang to mind. Being one who doesn’t take springing lightly, I considered the objects of my immediacy and it felt good.”
Of all three pieces Siergey is showcasing in the exhibit, the one that suits its theme the most noticeably is probably “MEANWHILE…” It depicts a white figure with flowing hair in a situation many may have experienced in a nightmare or two — fleeing through the dark to escape something unseen.
Local artists and their Midsummer Dreams
Other artists providing works for the exhibit include Arthur Julius Edwards, T.C. English-DuMont and JoAnna Dornick. Their works include elaborate sculptures of dreamlike faces, photographs featuring ghostlike subjects, and paintings that evoke the feeling of drifting down into a deep slumber — or up into one.
“These are all local people,” Erickson said of the impact Arts Alive! has on the artists it supports and the town it serves. “Throughout the month of August, we’ve helped a lot of people. When you come into town and there’s something going on, we’re partly responsible, along with volunteers. I just think it’s fantastic.”
With art lining the walls, sunlight streaming through the windows, and sculptures big and small adding texture to the gallery, the Midsummer Dream exhibit is certainly a worthwhile sight to see in the heart of a historic and friendly town. It’s a great way to ease back into enjoying in-person entertainment after enduring virtual options for so long, and a great place to take away what Siergey calls “whatever happens to people when they view art — a different view of things, an altered way of thinking, a new appreciation for something or other, the surprising realization that you have found something you need that you didn’t know you needed.”
In addition to operating Studio 659, Arts Alive! also supports and puts on events in Whiting such as the Summer with the Symphony concert series, St. John the Baptist school festivals, and yearly Halloween events. The nonprofit also is a supporter of Whiting’s famous annual Pierogi Fest, which is put on by the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce.
The Midsummer Dream exhibit will be at Studio 659 through September 18. Studio 659 is open Thursdays and Fridays 4–7 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The studio is located at 1413 119th Street, Whiting, IN.
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