In latest artwork, PCC’s Evertt Beidler becomes ‘man of steel’
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College video producer Erik Fauske really has to watch what he says around sculpture metals instructor Evertt Beidler. Especially when the two have just completed a video project showcasing Beidler’s art.
“I told him, ‘Hey, maybe next time do something where you’re magnetic and you’re stuck to the wall,’” said Fauske. “I was joking. And six months later he came to me and said, ‘Ah, I got this new project. I’m going to be metallic and magnetic.’”
And so Beidler’s new art piece and film, “Magnesis,” was born.
“Magnesis” is Beidler’s latest public performance video project and is premiering online now. The piece itself is a custom steel business suit that is equipped with a series of electromagnets. Fauske helped develop and shoot Beidler’s performance wearing the suit as he explored themes and ideas while walking downtown, the airport and local parks. In total, Beidler scored $10,000 worth of grants provided by the PCC Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts & Culture Council to fund this project. He is showing “Magnesis” at film festivals all over the world like in Spain.
“There was a lot going on,” said Beidler, who teaches at the Sylvania Campus. “This project really tries to blend the object, film and the performance. I’m proud of it.”
The project’s theme can be interpreted in many ways, but the aim of the artist at first was to create a sense he was invincible with the armor on. But after filming, new meanings took over such as being entrapped, vulnerable or restrained.
It took Beidler, who works as a part-time welder producing armored vehicle components for Service Steel, nine months to fabricate the steel suit. He said he had to seek out help from PCC instructors Pat Kraft (Machine Manufacturing Technology Program), Mike Farrell (Electronic Engineering Technology) and Mike Rasmussen (Welding Technology) to iron out complications in construction. The parts he needed to make it didn’t exist, he said, and Beidler had to fabricate everything.
Add in 24 hours of rigorous film shooting with a crew of 14 (mostly PCC students and staff) at five Portland locations, Beidler was physically drained. The shoot days were intense and produced lots of footage that he personally edited into the film.
The film shows Beidler moving through Portland while wearing the cumbersome steel suit. Expressionless, the artist makes his way through life, unable to burst from his suit of armor. There were issues during filming, such as people’s luggage getting into shots at the airport or a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a Santa hat stealing a few moments of a scene. Behind the camera, though, it was an ordeal for Beidler.“Once I was in the suit I stayed in it until we were finished for the day,” he said. “When I got tired they would get me up on the palate, put me against the metal stops and turn the magnets on. Then I could at least pull my body away from inside the suit and rest.”
Fauske, who would transport Beidler dressed in his armor in the back of his car to locations, agreed.
“He suffers for his art,” he added. “There is always a pain element to his work.”
But the pain has created a nice gain in “Magnesis.” A project that really struck a personal chord with the artist known for interactive art pieces like “Moves Manager” in 2011 that won him the Ox-Bow Residency Award at ArtPrize 2011 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It was hard for me to watch it initially because it’s like looking in a mirror,” Beidler said. “I liked it, but it really talks about issues I’m feeling. I think where I am is really kind of where the video ends – he still has his briefcase, but is stripped down completely. There’s still this willingness to hold on to some of those things and the future is uncertain.”
One thing is for certain – Erik Fauske plans to keep quiet this time.