Retrospective Show for Local Mixed Media Assemblagist

With a lifetime of art making, mix-media assemblagist and neon bender Joel Hegerle presents his first retrospective show in the Hotel Donaldson restaurant through the month of December.

Beginning at an early age, with parents involved in various forms of crafting, Hegerle was encouraged to pursue his creative impulses. He was originally interested in studying architecture, but the Vietnam War persuaded him otherwise.

In the early 1970s, Hegerle studied sculpture and painting from Minnesota State University Moorhead. He noted the caliber of students and faculty during that time, and how a competitive, critical yet nurturing environment developed in their shared studio space.

Similar to his work, Hegerle has held a variety of artistically driven careers throughout the years. He spent 22 years as a graphic designer in his native Fergus Falls, before learning how to bend neon, which he incorporated in his art making and resulted in a career in sign making.

Now that he’s retired, Hegerle is able to focus entirely on his art making. But that’s not to say he hasn’t dreamed up additional opportunities.

“If I could live another hundred years, I’d love to be an art therapist. But I don’t really have time for that right now,” Hegerle said.

Retirement has provided Hegerle with additional travel opportunities to Mexico, where much of his work is derived. The folksy and sometimes brutal presentation of Hegerle’s most recent work resulted from the primitive tools he used while in Puerto Vallarta.

The current show offers a variety of new and unseen works including the expected assemblages, lesser representation of the neon work and a few shrines. The shrines are additional evidence of the Mexican influence.

“The Virgin Guadalupe is my favorite lady, in case you’re wondering,” Hegerle said.

Hegerle mentioned lessened sensitivity to criticism of his work, and an understanding that all viewers perceive visuals differently.

“If I can make you smile or laugh with my work, then it’s accomplished what it’s meant to do,” Hegerle said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

With his vast body of work shown in a variety of local spaces, Hegerle’s exhibition at the Hotel Donaldson adds context for old and new viewers.

Ticket Info:

WHAT: Joel Hegerle Exhibition
Hotel Donaldson Restaurant, 101 Broadway N
Now – December
Free (unless you’re there for dinner)

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