Jean Behnke - Smith and Vallee Gallery

Jean Behnke

My approach to making art is basically inventive and the start of this process is
most often motivated by my own innate bearings. I am drawn in by inherent
qualities of materials and gathered objects, followed by simple impulses
to combine things.
Bronze work made in the past five years, Thing of Things, Nurse Log, Red Fire
Walker, Blackened Walker, Marker at the Old Path, Device to Measure
What’s Left and Joe’s Slice began as collected and assembled wood elements.
These forms are objects of metaphorical utility suggesting acts of marking,
messaging and warning, and sometimes an invented poetic device to measure
with and at the same time is also the thing being measured.
I make graphite drawings and also unique monoprints on a large Ettan press.
The press brings unpredictable depth into the flat space of paper by merging
composite layers under 6,000 pounds of pressure. Each additional printed layer
brings a welcome departure from my own initial intention. I am encouraged by
the idea that the press always has something to say last in the process.
What I make in the studio seems to resolve itself on its own terms, somewhere
between any of my intentions and lack of that.  Although this resolution is not
possible to predict, I can place things in some kind of alignment where an
authentic work may happen.
Jean Behnke
January, 2022