Des Moines
Des Moines

this week

weekly art forecasts from Central Iowa

Who’s exhibiting and opportunities for artists

Tribute to twenty plus years of "paint anything, on nearly anything"

Shawn Palek, Ankeny Art Center

June 1-July 26, 2012

Shawn’s Jacket

Review by Chad

June 12, 2012

Shawn Palek’s show at the Ankeny Art Center Main Gallery, on display through July 26th, is a tribute to the artist’s diverse subject matter and exceptional technical proficiency. His family friendly pieces drew a favorable response from every member of my family including my wife and three young children who enjoyed the Spiderman and Dragon pieces, respectively. The show also reveals a promising new direction for the Ankeny Art Center, a venue which has historically preferred safe, conservative exhibits typically featuring watercolors and garden scenes. For too long this venue has remained on the perimeter of the rising art scene in the greater Iowa community, to the point that one of the artists in attendance, a member of Art-A-Holics, a group of complementary local artists on display in the Ankeny Art Center Side Gallery, mentioned it was his first visit to the Art Center. I sincerely hope it will not be his last.

Portraits of Spider-Man, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn now on view at the Ankeny Art Center

The opening reception was well attended. (I was forced to park in the grass.) This should come as no surprise, however. Palek, an Airbrush Instructor at DMACC since 1996, has a resume filled with twenty plus years of magazine publications, art exhibits, and awards. He has demonstrated a propensity for turning his art into a career, willing to “paint anything, on nearly anything” – as proven by the cement truck displaying his work in the parking lot. In addition, he has invested in the community around him through his mentorship of other artists and numerous public art exhibitions, including a large painted sign of Salvador Dali on the lawn of the Ankeny Art Center which he completed in 1 ½ hours the afternoon proceeding the opening. Even on a night tailored to celebrate his work, Palek gave back to those in attendance by offering a miniature (numbered and signed) version of this same Dali painting to every guest in attendance.

Crowd at the opening reception

When I finally found my way through the crowd to congratulate Palek, I also took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. “What do you want me to know about your work?” Palek singled out a shredded Megadeath jean jacket simply labeled Shawn’s Jacket, one of several on display, the others belonging to friends who provided the artist with his first commissioned works. “This is where it all started,” he states as I snap a photo. That isn’t where it ends, though. Palek’s show offers its viewers everything from horror and sci-fi to abstracts and portraits – all of it free of social commentary, so plan to leave your interpretations at the door. This is a straightforward enjoy it for what it is…and just try to paint this well type of show. More impressive than the work, however, is the craftsman behind the airbrush. He is having fun, and we are the beneficiaries!