One morning, Gerald Zwers stood in his driveway. He took 100 mindful steps and ended up in front of a neighbor’s house. Looking left was “a great wall of green,” the hedge of a neighbor, and to his right, Zwers saw an intersection full of life and his own shadow stretching across it. “My immense, long shadow across the intersection,” he said, “That’s life. We have no idea how far we stretch.” Zwers has been stretching himself as an artist and an organizer of art shows for decades.
A prolific painter, Zwers is hoping to augment visual art through collaboration with poets. Ekphrastic poetry is poetry based on a visual image. Zwers hopes to display the images and the poems side by side in venues that stretch across Ventura County.
By including poems in his shows, Zwers hopes to do two things. First, he wants to give artists and poets an “increased awareness of the breadth of creativity” that inspires new creativity. Second, he hopes to “broaden the audience, to expose [the audience] to creativity and get them to look at things differently.”
The addition of poems to the art pieces, he hopes will “slow people down and get them to look and see…with a fresh set of eyes.” It is the relationship between the two pieces that Zwers feels will intensify the effect of both pieces and deepen the experience.
By putting shows in places that intersect daily living — banks, hotels, and possibly hospitals, Zwers believes they will attract an untapped audience. It is his goal that the conversation created by the artwork and the poem will inspire viewers to “think deeply about art to take a second glance.” As he says, “When they see it, they’ll understand.”
Both the first floor of the Crown Plaza hotel in Ventura and CBC bank in Camarillo are confirmed sites for upcoming shows. For now, the organizer is planning for each pairing of art and poem to be up for at least 3 months in the, during which time they will be for sale. He believes that the artists, poets, organizers and the venues will benefit from the experience. For venues, he says exhibits will be “a feather in their cap,” giving them a cultural edge.
New to organizing and relating to poets, Zwers has reached out to Ventura County Poet Laureate Emeritus Phil Taggart for his experience and understanding of the county’s poetry community.
Each piece of art will be matched to a poet and Zwers is excited to see the results.“These are phenomenally creative artists and exceptional poets,” says Zwers, who sees this experience as “seeding” for future renditions of the process, which he sees continuing to rotate art and poetry through sites into the foreseeable future.
“I am in awe of other people’s work,” says the Camarillo based artist, writer, and organizer, “I’m overwhelmed with love and awe at this whole thing.”
On poetry, he says, “It’s about the resources poets have, the craft to take 26 letters and turn them into this thing that celebrates and captures what is ineffable,” he says.
At this point the deadline is still flexible. Interested poets can take a look at the submitted art, and sign up for an image at the link below.
Have questions? Feel free to contact Gerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or Phil Taggart at email@example.com
Sign up Spreadsheet: