Walking into the Jundt Art Museum, various paintings, drawings, posters, murals, enamel figurines, illustrations and more are scattered around the room. Leslie W. LePere, the artist, stands in the center of it all with a tool belt around his waist and a wide grin.
LePere and the Jundt Art Museum staff have spent the last week and a half setting up the newest exhibit, Magic of the Objects, which runs through Dec. 20. The exhibit is a survey art show that highlights 50 years of LePere’s work through multiple mediums and collaborations with other artists, including his sister Louise Kodis.
The museum’s exhibitions are free and open to the public Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be a free public reception for the artist Friday from 5 – 6:45 p.m. and a free public lecture from LePere following the reception at 7 p.m. in the Jundt Auditorium.
LePere grew up on a farm in Harrington, only 50 miles from Spokane. He attended Washington State University and received his bachelor of fine arts in 1968 and his master of fine arts in 1971. He worked with graphic design in Seattle before returning to the family farm in Harrington. His dual passion for farming and art is interwoven into the exhibit.
“Magic of the Objects is essentially about my fascination for objects,” LePere said. I’m interested in things that work because I grew up on a farm, but I connect this with abstract art and concepts that I learned about in my schooling. Each object has a life, a feeling, and thus, a magic.”
Asked how GU students could connect with his work, LePere said, “I think students will see art in here that will make them feel good, art that will make them laugh.”
Paul Manoguerra, director and curator of the Jundt Art Museum, echoes this connection to GU students.
“A lot of Les’ work is filled with imagery, some that is recognizable to the public and some that is personal to Les that he shares with us. It is a great exhibit for any student. For example, Les is involved in commercial aspects of art so any student in business or marketing should come over and they will learn something new,” Manoguerra said.
Particularly the graphic art LePere completed in Seattle may grab students’ attention as LePere’s commercial art highlights events that are still popular today. LePere created the first poster for Bumbershoot in 1973, a still-popular music festival in Seattle. He also created the first poster for Seattle’s annual Fat Tuesday event, which occurs during Mardi Gras.
LePere has also done illustrations for Tom Robbin’s novels, most notably Still Life With Woodpecker, in which LePere’s cover art was voted third best in the nation in 1980.
At the exhibit, there will be an edition of 100 horse pins that LePere has made using champlevé, an enameling technique for decorative art. LePere displayed one that was both beautiful and eccentric, encapsulating the premise of his exhibit for the audience to take home.
An audience connection is important to the Jundt Art Museum because “there is a long-standing tradition to highlight artists from this region,” said Manoguerra.
The exhibit in close proximity to LePere’s roots is significant because “students can come see the show if only to see how a young man, from this area, was influenced by his environment,” said LePere.
For more information LePeremm, check out his website, pencilfarmstudio.com.