Contemplating the tenth anniversary of the flood that struck Cedar Rapids in 2008, Mel Andringa began to explore his artistic output of the past decade, questioning how it had been influenced by the event. He found himself returning to painting and drawing, activities that he had largely given up, years ago, for conceptual art, performance and storytelling.
“Once I connected my hand with my head,” he says, “new work flowed from my brush, and I found myself using other media as well.” He came to create a series of paintings with ink, chalk, tempera, acrylic and polyurethane. Most of the paintings are on plywood panels, and vary in size from two feet square, to 8 by 12 feet.
Incorporating flood-related images of mountains and gardens, debris fields and jackpots, Andringa considers the new series of paintings works in progress. He will continue to work on them, during gallery hours, for the duration of the exhibit. “I’m wrestling with experience and with finding lessons in loss. This work doesn’t represent a solution or a product. It is the presentation of a process.”
Mel Andringa serves as producing director of Legion Arts, based at CSPS Hall since 1991. A graduate of Hope College and the University of Iowa, he formed The Drawing Legion in the 1970s, creating and touring performances under that banner for several decades. As the Drawing Legion, Andringa continues to produce work in a variety of genres. An independent, multidisciplinary, artist-centered enterprise, the Drawing Legion eventually formed the basis for Legion Arts.