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Shari Zimmermann Collection

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Meet Shari Zimmermann
Shari is inspired by weathered surfaces that show a history of human touch and evidence of time passed. Using acrylic paint, collage, stencils, brush and palette knife, her paintings draw on a variety of subjects connected to visual culture and the natural world. Shari’s paintings use bold colors and textures to suggest energy, movement, the passage of time and personal memories that complement more traditional forms with an improvised, playful technique.

The Matchbook series began with a visit to her family home in Stevens Point, Wisconsin shortly before it was put up for sale. Clearing out the garage, Shari found a small tin of matchbooks from the 1950s in a box of her dad’s stuff. These tiny, graphic gems advertising northern Wisconsin resorts, small town bars, and an idealized, nostalgic past were clues to her dad’s world as a young man and young husband. Names and places like Eagle Waters Resort, Deer Park Lodge and Jack’s Place provide insights to a part of his life never shared with Shari when he was alive, their names suggesting easy, casual establishments in sylvan settings. Bold mid-century typography and simple, graphic imagery of everything from pinup girls to sunsets on the lake make these small-scale designs come alive. This series connects Shari not only to her dad, but to her own childhood spent at the tail end of this era, and generally an era in which even mass-produced commercial objects had a charming, eccentric handmade quality she seeks to replicate.

Shari begin with high-resolution scans of the matchbooks, and begin to reassemble elements from both sides into a larger-scale image in Photoshop. Doing this allows her to retain some of the idiosyncrasies of the original designs, and the visual delight of a slightly out-of-register 1.5” x 2” print blown up to poster size. Elements of the design are then cut up and reassembled as collage, then overlaid with her own thick, textured application of acrylic paint, using a brush and palette knife. Individual brush and knife strokes complement the contours of the original shapes and forms, but Shari also adds her own improvisations, adding or subtracting without having a specific end result in mind. The brushwork and application of the paint suggests the sort of vernacular techniques one might have found in these establishments: faded exterior signage, paint-by-number kits on the wall, and peeling lead paint on knotty pine. These techniques introduce Shari’s own hand into the design, making for a sort of collaboration with these unknown graphic designers and industrial manufacturers who invented a visual language that permeated the culture of the Upper Midwest of the postwar era. This is a world in which Shari’s own dad was clearly an active participant, and these improvisations and reimaginings allow her to connect to that part of his life in a way that may feel familiar to anyone who has snuck into their parents’ room when no one was around and looked through their dresser.