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Local artists to share the spotlight for CCAC’s September exhibit

Local artists to share the spotlight for CCAC’s September exhibit
Noah Orthel and Erik Gordon will be the featured artists at the Charles City Arts Center for the month of September. There will be a reception for the two at the CCAC on Friday, starting at 5 p.m. (Press photo James Grob.)
By James Grob,

The local boys will finally get their moment.

The featured artists for September at the Charles City Arts Center are both local men, Erik Gordon and Noah Orthel. Gordon will have his paintings on display while Orthel will show his ceramic sculptures.

Gordon and Orthel have both been perpetually involved at the CCAC in recent years, and both have served as unpaid volunteers as well as paid assistants.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I never actually thought it would happen,” Orthel said. “It’s kind of weird, and it’s kind of crazy. People maybe just see me as the handyman at the arts center, but I can also make stuff.”

“This will be great,” Gordon added. “I’ve been involved with the arts center for 10 years, since I’ve moved back here, and this is my first show here.”

There will be a reception for both artists in person at the CCAC on Friday (today) starting at 5 p.m.

The Charles City Arts Center is open to the public from 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The dual exhibit is entitled “Art?” — with a question mark.

“I think it’s because we both sort of have weirdo approaches to our art,” Orthel said. “Art is what it is to the people who are looking at it, and so we are asking the people to answer for themselves, is this art or isn’t it? It’s really up to them to determine.”

Gordon paints with oil and acrylic, while some of his newer pieces include mixed media art.

“Some of this is new, some of it is a retrospective going all the way back to the year 2000,” Gordon said. “Hopefully it will show a little bit of my progression.”

Gordon said that much of his work can best be described as “pop surrealism.”

“It takes elements of pop art, with more stream-of-consciousness creation, like with surrealism,” he said. “I’m influenced by street art and comic books.”

Gordon was born in Charles City, spent time growing up in Colorado but has been back in Charles City for 10 years now. He is also involved in theater arts, written and spoken word art and has recently developed an interest in bricolage, which is defined as creation from a diverse range of available things.

“It’s art made out of found items. It’s kind of like up-cycling but a little more arty,” he said.

Orthel grew up in Charles City and has lived here for most of his life. He said his pottery style comes from a fascination with all things non-beautiful.

“I guess you could call some of what I’m doing artistic ugliness,” he said. “I’m kind of fascinated in finding the beauty in creating ugly things. It’s sort of an intentional ugliness.”

Orthel has been making art his entire life, and said he’s jumped from many different forms, from drawing to sculpting, but the common theme has always been his desire “to capture an ideal.”

“I was a very fearful child. I had nightmares about tornadoes and monsters in the closet,” Orthel said. “I also made the mistake of watching a popular sci-fi horror film called ‘Alien,’ which certainly didn’t help.”

As an adult, Orthel said that this childhood fearfulness engendered an interest in the concept of fear, what it is, and how it takes shape.

“That is the current focus of my work, as I now love horror movies and the ‘Alien’ films now serve as a major part of my inspiration,” he said. “I’ve had so many different hobbies, I just kind of take them all and mash them together in whatever way I can.”

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