Writing this is bittersweet. It will likely be my last studio visit for a while. And I will be forever grateful to Gregory Stallmeyer for making it so memorable.
It started with a picture perfect day for a drive out to Stallmeyer's Monticello home-adjacent studio and ended with excitement, inspiration, and lots of love from the artist's rescue dog and cat.
It was to be a profile of the artist behind the 2020 Boneyard Arts Festival's signature image. And now, with the event postponed, it is a profile of an artist who is the perfect antidote to the troubled times we find ourselves in.
Stallmeyer is a born teacher, a master of non-traditional materials and techniques, and a generous collaborator. Committed to reuse, he finds inspiration where others may not. His work is meditative, as is the peace and quiet of his space and its natural surroundings. As a 3D artist, working mostly with resin, automative paint, and repurposed metals, his work takes time. And while the beauty of his work is immediately apparent, the more you learn about his process and his intention, the deeper your understanding and appreciation runs.
After marveling at the amount of natural space surrounding his studio, I entered into a room filled with work at various stages and well-organized groupings of curated materials for future repurposing. Standing in the center of it all feels a bit like a convergence of past, present, and future. Stallmeyer has worked with automative paint for decades, first as a creator of award-winning custom cars at his now shuttered G.S. Customs Studio, as a now as a 2D and 3D artist. When he's not in the studio, or out supporting or being supported by friends from the local Art Nerds group, he teaches welding and repair at Parkland College's automotive program.
I quickly make my way over to the now famous "Nexus," the 2D piece which was selected to represent this year's Boneyard Arts Festival (see top image) most likely because of its exquisite technique and energetic compositive, but also because of what it says him, and about our arts community.
This piece has been in process for over three years and comes from the search for the connection between the spontaneity of the fluid process and the deliberate fine line work reminiscent of my automotive graphics. The lines create structure amongst the chaos. The many coats of resin and paint combined with the fine line work create a depth in the painting that makes it feel like you could almost step into it. This painting results from the connection of my inspirations and life, and having it chosen for the Boneyard Arts Festival signature piece is such an honor. Boneyard is all about connection – the connection between the artists, the artists and the public, the artists and the venues, and the public and art/culture throughout our community. —Gregory Stallmeyer
Stallmeyer described coming back to "Nexus" each day as being like a meditation, or a journal where he could both observe and record changes in both his interior and exterior landscapes.
Working in this style, and with these materials, requires a certain amount of Zen. There is only so much of the outcome that you can control. And that is a message we need right now. Learning to go with the flow often leads to happy accidents. As I admired a series of richly colored resin pyramids, Stallmeyer told me that they had been part of larger piece that cracked. He saw the opportunity to create something anew and chose to refine broken pieces into intentional forms. 3D work takes time. Perhaps if it had been a canvas, it might have been easier to discard. But I for one am glad that it wasn't.
Image: Photo of 3D resin pyramids, in various colors on a wooden shelf with squares of burnished metal behind them. Photo by Debra Domal
Despite the surrounding quiet there was a dynamic sense of sound and movement eminating this work. Perhaps it is the result of the hand pouring techniques, or of Stallmeyer's inherent attunement with both motors and music. It is also there is in his predilection for circles, which always come back to where they began.
Image: Photo of current work in progress featuring a metal sheet with dozens of circles, most filled with multicolored combinations of resin and automative paint. Photo by Debra Domal
People are also an important part of Stallmeyer's story. After deciding to seriously pursue art here in Chambana, he gradually became aware of the vital art scene surrounding him. Billboards for 40 North and Boneyard Arts Festival provided breadcrumbs along his journey. And then he joined the Art Nerds, a local artists group that meets monthly (now online) to offer feedback and support This was a gamechanger. He soon found himself collaborating with other Art Nerds and this helped him see his work, and its potential, in new ways. The piece below is a detai from a collaboration with photographer Fraya Replinger. It began with a photograph she took of the pattern emerging from bits of leftover resin on his work surface. It soon begame a conversation between them, with him creating over her original, and back and forth again. Stallmeyer has the openness that makes his collaborations true to their name.
Image: Photo detail of a collaborative mix media project by Gregory Stallmeyer and Freya Replinger using photography resin, and automotive paint. Photo by Debra Domal
More recently he collaborated with fellow Art Nerd Carol Farnum on an Exquisite Corpse project for the 40 North Double Take exhibition. The two shared some ideas before going their separate ways to create. Stallmeyer's work, on the left, while clearly in his wheelhouse, boasts a style and color scheme that is unique. And Farnum's work, on the right, provides a perfect counterpoint in terms of movement, energy, and composition. There is a magic that occurs when the two pieces come together. And it reflects the artists' level of trust, respect, and willingness to learn from each other. Our community is capable of this type of creative alchemy and if this virus brings it online for awhile that's okay. We need to keep that fire burning.
Image: Photo of two paintings from 40 North's Double Take exhibition, Stallmeyer's pale blue, pink, yellow, and white circles on the left and Carol Farnum's multi-colored abstract circle and pale blue background. Photo by Gregory Stallmeyer
On the way out, I stopped to admire these sculptures that live outside Stallmeyer's studio. These human-made flowers, grown from repurposed materials, seem perfectly at home in nature. In fact, Stallmeyer hopes to someday create a sculpture garden here. And I defnitely think he should.
Image: Photo of two metal circles on metal stands filled with multicolored resin and automative paint starbursts planted outside the artist's studio like flowers. Photo by Debra Domal
Image: Close-up of detail of one of the above-mentioned sculptures highlight yellow, red, white, and orange splatter patterns. Photo by Debra Domal
My last view before my final goodbye is this piece of potential art. Beautiful as it is in its use of negative space, I look forward to seeing it recreated. I look foward to the seeing the work I know Stallmeyer is working hard on as he practices social distancing.
Image: Round metal circle with interior circle cuts supported by a metalic arc-shaped stand, placed outside of the artist's studio. Photo by Debra Domal
So in this difficult time, find inspiration in Gregory Stallmeyer. Slow down. Take time to revisit your work. Go out in nature. Embrace the quiet. Engage in a conversation with your own creative mind. Take what you know and love and share it however you can. Create connections when, where, and how you can. Seek out ways to repurpose and create less waste. Contemplate the comforting qualities of the circle. Use your art, whatever it may be, to balance this current chaos with order, purpose, and mindful meaning.
And until we can all meet again in a public art space, follow Gregory Stallmeyer on Instagram