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John Berkey Observed Exhibition opens

14/10/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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The second exhibition of SFF illustrator John Berkey's seldom-seen works, titled John Berkey Observed, will open on Friday, Nov. 4, at ArtOrg's Moving Walls Gallery, 200 Division St. S. in Northfield USA.

The opening reception will be from 6 to 10 p.m. The exhibition includes the world premiere screening of several of Berkey's experimental video productions will be on Saturday, Nov. 5. The events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition will feature 50 original works spanning Berkey's career, including a number of Berkey's signature space paintings. The show is the second of ArtOrg's two extraordinary presentations of Berkey's work this fall. The shows are believed to be the first significant solo gallery exhibitions of Berkey's work ever held and each will include a number of works never before seen by the public. Many of the works will be available for purchase.

A feature of the exhibition will be Berkey's experimental videos. The artist has taken many of his fully-realized paintings and set them to music, weaving in and out of the images, panning and zooming across one image only to fade in to another. He created descriptions of his various works in subject groupings such as American history, space travel and others. These video works will have their world premier on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. in Carleton College's Boliou Hall, Room 104.

ArtOrg Executive Director Dave Mahacek has said that Berkey is hoping to be present at the screening.

Berkey was born in North Dakota and grew up in South Dakota and Montana before settling in Minnesota. After attending the Minneapolis School of Art and taking various studio jobs, he became a staff artist at the Brown & Bigelow advertising firm for eight years. During that time, Berkey produced more than 500 calendar images, featuring everything from pastoral scenes to historic tableaus, before turning to freelance illustration in 1963.

Berkey is perhaps best known for his science fiction illustrations. Among those attracted to his science-fiction illustrations was the young George Lucas, who commissioned him to work on the pre-production designs for "Star Wars."

Renowned for his robust and impressionistic style, he has created paintings for book covers, movie posters, advertisements and publications such as National Geographic, Life, Time, Sports Afield, the Eddie Bauer Catalog and TV Guide. His images appear on 16 U.S. stamps and he was the illustrator of the "elder Elvis" in the Elvis Presley stamp competition of the early 1990s.

In 2004, Berkey was named to the 104-year-old Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, which includes Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Frederick Remington and John James Audubon. He has been nominated by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists for the Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement and has been a guest of honor at a number of science fiction conventions.

The "John Berkey Observed" exhibition runs from Friday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 18. The ArtOrg Moving Walls Gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays. The hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information and disability accommodations, contact ArtOrg at (507) 645-2555.

ArtOrg was founded in 2004 by a group of local visual artists desiring to create more opportunities and greater visibility for the arts in Northfield and the surrounding area.

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