Exhibit by artist Gene Reimann opening at Besser Museum

After more than 45 years teaching art classes through both Alpena Public Schools and Alpena Community College, Gene Reimann hasn’t lost his zeal for creating. He always has ideas and concepts just waiting to be executed.

Though Reimann continues to teach drawing and painting courses at ACC, his own work has transitioned to computer-generated imagery.

“The computer and the program I use (Corel) allow me to keep up with my thought processes,” Reimann said. “The technology just allows you to do so many things that you couldn’t ordinarily do in a short amount of time.”

Some of the newer images he created over the last three years are featured in an exhibit opening Saturday at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. In all, 29 of his framed pieces currently hang in the museum’s Trelfa Gallery.

The exhibit marks Reimann’s first solo public showing of his work and comes as a result of his winning last year’s Besser Museum Juried Art Exhibition held annually. Besides taking the top prize, the winner of the competition also receives the right to have their own exhibit at the museum the following year.

“I am honored because it’s my hometown,” Reimann said. A graduate of Alpena High School, he received his training at Alpena Community College, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Wayne State University, Michigan State University and various workshops.

As an artist, Reimann doesn’t stick to any one methodology, and just about anything can get his creative juices flowing. Sometimes he will scan random items into the computer, then use those images as a launching pad to create something else. The random items can be anything from a plastic grid to the guts of an old radio. When sets out, he doesn’t have any preconceived notions of what the end result will become.

An example of that is Antenna 4, one of the artworks included in the exhibit. The piece started out with the scanning of an antenna and wiring from an old radio. In the finished state, it now more resembles an abstract face.

Other times, Reimann will start with scribbles on a page. As he studies those scribbles, images begin to form for him that he then manipulates via the computer and takes further in other directions. He employed that particular process for a piece called Dawn and Her Escorts that ultimately won him the top prize in last year’s museum art competition. It too is included in his current exhibit.

Still in other instances, the artist takes large-scale pieces he painted years ago using more traditional oils or watercolor, snaps a photograph of them and then scans the photograph into his computer. From there he is able to fine tune or add to the piece. Astronaut, another piece showcased in the exhibit, demonstrates this process.

“Essentially, it’s the way the painting was originally, but I fine tuned it,” Reimann said. “Now with a computer, I can do things that I couldn’t otherwise do before.”

Sometimes, he just likes to have fun, and that’s reflected in a couple of his more whimsical pieces, Some of My Friends Smoke Cigars and Everyone Needs Somebody. He also sometimes plays around with the titles of his paintings such as his Tribute to Art Deco, which can be taken as a nod to the Art Deco movement or as the name of the abstract man depicted in the piece.

Reimann calls the computer a “great what if machine,” and said he views it as a facilitator to the creative process. He also realizes that his vision of art isn’t necessarily one that everyone embraces, but he hopes his exhibit will help people to expand their boundaries a bit.

“Since it’s all computer-generated, it might open some people’s eyes, and what I do is only one sliver of what you can do in the art world,” he said. “Others take it a lot further than I do. The computer allows the artist to test and develop varied ideas quickly ideas that would be too time consuming and too costly or impossible using traditional methods.”

The Art of Gene Reimann will be on exhibit Aug. 9-Oct. 18.