I first encountered Jeramie Bellmay nearly three years ago at Evolver Baltimore’s Give it Up event. If you were there, you know the magic that was in the air that night. In fact, it was at this party where I met What Weekly founders Brooke and Justin, and it also turned out to be one of the first events that What Weekly ever covered. That night, Jeramie made some serious contributions to the magic that unfolded, helping to facilitate the Magic Hookah Lounge which featured the Scoposcope.
It was Jeramie’s fine art, however, that truly captured my imagination that night. Hanging on the wall were two of Jeramie’s intricately complex wood burnings, known as Ginclone and Evoke. On a small shelf sat a crystal optical toy, and hanging from the wall by human hair was a strange laser contraption called the Prismascopic Laserscope. I must admit, Jeramie had me intrigued.
Ginclone by Jeramie Bellmay.
Since Jeramie moved to Baltimore 18 months ago, we have had the privilege of becoming friends and colleagues. And yet, during that time, Jeramie has not become less of a mystery. In fact, I continue to find myself amazed and enchanted with each new idea that emerges from his being, and the scope, diversity and utter strangeness of his creations.
Jeramie has spent his life exploring, experimenting with and mastering many mediums, which he speaks of as both his tools and his teachers. From an early age, he has had a strong desire for creation and balance. A concurrent obsession with dance and movement has produced a truly original artist with a deep understanding of multiple layers of reality, and the universal motion we exist within.
Just four days after I watched Jeramie give a breath-taking dance performance at the Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular at Theatre Project, I found myself at Mr. Rains Fun House at the American Visionary Art Museum, for the opening of Jeramie’s latest exhibit of visual artworks.
This show, which remains on display through March 7, 2013, features fourteen original works, including sculpture, installation, painting, pen and ink drawing, as well as wood burnings, carvings and a walking stick.
“Facing Fiat” by Jeramie Bellmay. Photos by Philip Laubner.
Upon stepping through the doors at the Fun House, I was immediately greeted by Rozuna the Six Legged Baby Dragon, which Jeramie has crafted from a wire armature, plaster, doll parts, individually placed bamboo leaves, and a full head of dreadlocks, kindly donated by Jeramie’s long time friend, Luna. Rozuna sits atop a carefully arranged bed of shredded money, and stares, trance like, into a hand etched glass sphere. Upon closer inspection, the sphere reveals the Great Seal of the United States. The installation as a whole is titled Facing Fiat, and subtly evokes contemplation on our current monetary system. Once again, as it has always been with Jeramie, I find myself not knowing what to expect next.
“Shift Shaper” by Jeramie Bellmay. Photo by Philip Laubner.
Jeramie’s artwork fills the back wall of Mr. Rains Fun House, and down a corridor with small booths and tables. The main room of the Fun House contains three large works. Shift Shaper is a carved and burnt piece of cherry wood, with a few highlights of paint added in for extra effect. The motion that Jeramie captures in the wood, reminds me of the dance I had seen him give just a few days prior. Pixielation is a large pen on paper drawing, which invites you to stare at it for hours. The intricacy and extreme detail Jeramie is able to achieve with the help of ultrafine Micron pens is truly a sight to be witnessed.
“The Empress” by Jeramie Bellmay. Photo by Philip Laubner.
The third piece in the main room has been created upon a rather large piece of Pawlonia wood, whose nickname served as inspiration for the piece, called The Empress. In speaking with Jeramie, this piece, which stands at seven feet tall, holds a special place in his heart. Unlike in his previous wood burnings, where he created an image on top of the grain, because of the size of The Empress, Jeramie was able to enter into a communication with the wood, and pull the image out directly from the grain itself. This piece also possesses an illusory quality, as sometimes, when the light is just right, the image all together disappears back into the grain.
Before we enter the hallway which leads to the outside patio, we encounter two pieces which could be missed if you were not looking. A small wood burning called Death and Resurrection, which Jeramie created shortly after Ian Hesford died and came back to life. Below this sits a walking stick, which Jeramie has carved by hand. At its center sits a lens, which if you crouch down to look through, reveals a golden bee. This piece, To bee, or not to bee?, emerged in response to Jeramie watching dozens of bees die on his doorstep. He explains that he collected the bees because he felt he should honor their hard work and divine beauty, while sending a wake up call to the world that our bees our in trouble. “Without the bees,” he notes, “it all crumbles.” Jeramie also explains that walking sticks are something we use to assist our balance, and he wishes to remind us that the bee does this for us naturally and without question.
“To bee, or not to bee?” by Jeramie Bellmay. Photo by Philip Laubner.
He continues, “I hope that the world wakes up from this dreaming state and realizes that we are one the brink of completely tipping earth’s eco biology so far off course that we will alter the life and livelihood of future generations to come. Remember the future, we are currently pummeling toward it.” Who knew a walking stick could mean so much?
Continuing down the hallway, I reach a large painting entitled Will she offer you her garden? Upon my first encounter with the piece, it immediately became one of my favorite paintings. It’s bright colors are a departure from Jeramie’s other monochromatic work, and its detail and exploration of multiple levels of realities evokes a visceral experience. The ultimate power from the piece comes from parts of the painting that extend from beyond the frame, and enters into our own reality, in the form of a canvas waterfall, creating a puddle on the floor.
“Will she offer you her garden?” by Jeramie Bellmay. Photo by Philip Laubner.
Directly next to this painting sits another installation, titled Entheogenic. The piece entails four large clay sculptures, which I learn are carnivorous plants – two male and two female. The males are rooted below the ground, while the females slither past. Emerging from the plants are paper butterflies suspended in the air by carefully placed fishing wire. Jeramie understands these plants perfectly, and relays their inner workings. The butterflies (which are actually a butterfly-moth hybrid) remain white, until they eat the transformational goo that the female plants emit. If the butterfly dares to eat the goo, they will emerge transformed, but in order to do so, they must fly close to the plants, and run the risk of getting eaten.
“Entheogenic” by Jeramie Bellmay.
This series of strange creatures from another realm continue with the last six pieces in the show, which sit across from the large carnivorous plant installation. These six shadow boxes, which are labeled as “Alien Specimens” contain relics recovered from Jeramie’s imagination. Just like the scenario that unfolds within Entheogenic, each of the boxes comes with a full understanding of what the specimens are, how they interact with their environment and one another, and their place within their planet’s eco-biology.
“Alien Specimens 6″ by Jeramie Bellmay. Photo by Philip Laubner.
I reach the end of the show with my mind spinning, and trying to process all of the realities I have just taken in. As my attention shifts back to what is unfolding at Mr. Rains Fun House, I realize that nearly two-hundred people have gathered to experience Jeramie and his work. As I look around at all of the familiar faces, I am struck by the thought that I have not seen most of these people in the same place at the same time, since Give It Up nearly three year earlier. I pause for a second and take a moment to think how strange it is that on this night, things seemed to have come full circle. I suppose such things happen when you are in the presence of magical creatures.
Click here to visit Jeramie Bellmay’s Website
Photos from the Opening…
Robin Gunkel in front of “Will she offer you her garden?” Photo by Theresa Keil
Farida Shourbaji and Patricia Tamariz. Portrait by Philip Laubner
Chasz Sollmer. Photo by Philip Laubner
Jordan Faye Block and Susana Alcalá. Photo by Philip Laubner.
Ian Hesford. Photo by Larry Cohen.
Jason Sage. Photo by Larry Cohen.
Dushyant Viswanathan. Photo by Theresa Keil.
Photo by Theresa Keil.
Photo by Theresa Keil.
Michael Morstein and Brian Baker. Photo by Theresa Keil.
Photo by Theresa Keil.
Heather Joi holds a print of Jeramie Bellmay’s “Will she offer you her garden?” Photo by Philip Laubner.
Jeramie Bellmay behind “Facing Fiat”. Photo by Theresa Keil