(Jeramie Bellmay stands in front of his artwork called, Will She Offer You Her Garden?)
“Art can transcend its message,” said Jeramie Bellmay, featured artist in this month’s Mr. Rains Fun House café in the American Visionary Art Museum. “I am trying to illuminate current problems — political, environmental – so that we can speak about them.”
“To bee or not to bee” is one of Bellmay’s unusual creations. The work is, indeed, a play on Shakespeare’s soliloquy of Hamlet. The subject is also the astonishing transformation currently happening in established bee colonies.
Bellmay explained that nearly one hundred bees died just outside the door to his home and he painted one with eighteen karat gold.
Carving cherry wood, he also created a walking stick and placed a magnifying glass near its center. The golden bee rests directly under the glass.
“Does the bee continue to exist or not?” he asked.
The brightest colored piece in his show, “Will She Offer You Her Garden,” acrylic on canvass with a wood frame, is based on an ancient civilization that destroyed their planet. Bellmay’s work, seven feet tall, spills onto the floor where folks have stepped on it.
There are colorful globes with small, dark skylines etched in them. “This is meant to dramatize the over-industrialization of our planet,” Bellmay explained. “The globes also represent other planets that are heating up and they will change everything.”
The curved, blue section of the work on the floor is Bellmay’s “awareness of our ice caps melting – stepping into a new age.”
Jeramie Bellmay, a Connecticut native, was trained in classical ballet and attended The School for Visual Art in New York City. “I’ve always had a compulsion to create and I moved back and forth between visual art and dancing,” he said.
Displaying his work in the American Visionary Art Museum is a highlight of his career.
“At 26, to be in this building is extraordinary,” he explained. Artists rotate their work every two months and the waiting list to exhibit is long. Bellmay gratefully acknowledged the recognition the Museum has given him.
His work offers deep meaning for those who may sit amongst it to sip a hot drink on a cold day or enjoy the fare at Mr. Rains Fun House. The museum’s café is open Tuesday through Sunday and it is free to the public if you mention that is where you wish to go when you enter the lobby.
The American Visionary Art Museum is located at 800 Key Highway next to Federal Hill.
Bellmay’s “Facing Fiat” will greet you when you enter the café.
It features a strange looking sculpture on a flat platform of what looks like grass. If you study the “grass” you will discover that it is actually shredded genuine dollar bills from the U.S. Treasury.
“This piece plays on worth and how we value things,” Bellmay explained. The sculpture, “Rozuna,” made of human hair in dread locks, a baby doll’s head and braided bamboo, holds a miniature walking stick, painted in eighteen karat gold. It faces several hand etched glass spheres arranged — on the shredded money — in the formation of the solar system.
“This illuminated for me what debt is,” Bellmay said.
Bellmay believes that artists must say what they are seeing. His art creates awareness.
Of his work, he offered this analysis: “If we don’t change, we will have really big problems.”
Bellmay’s art, which also includes several pieces of wood work and sculpture, is on display through March 7. Some is showcased on his website, Perception Altar.
Caryn Coyle writes about arts, culture and food for the websites CBS Baltimore and Welcome to Baltimore, Hon. Her fiction has been published in a dozen literary journals including Gargoyle, JMWW, The Little Patuxent Review, Loch Raven Review, Midway Journal, The Journal (Santa Fe) and the anthology City Sages: Baltimore from City Lit Press. She won the 2009 Maryland Writers Association Short Fiction Award, third prize in the first Delmarva Review Short Story Contest, 2011 and honorable mentions for her fiction from the Missouri Writer’s Guild (2011) and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild (2012).