City of Columbus inspires art exhibit

By Hannah Poling
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Hannah Poling
Columbus artists Mike Fields (left) and Jim Siemer prepare for a art exhibit celebrating the city of Columbus.

Two artists, Mike Fields and Jim Siemer, are collaborating to create an art exhibit celebrating the city of Columbus.

Fields is a portrait artist and Siemer does landscape art. They will bring their different artistic perspectives together in one exhibit titled “The People and Places of Columbus.”

Both artists were born and raised in Columbus. Fields grew up on the eastside and Siemer on the westside. In their high school years, both pursued a love of sports, and it did not cross their minds that they would one day have a career in the arts.

Siemer went to Bishop Ready. His first art teacher was Sister Marie Miller. She taught him how to paint with water color. She pushed him into the arts.

“I won an art competition and she kept pushing me,” said Siemer. “I kept taking water color classes and drawing classes. Then she got me a scholarship. I didn’t even ask her to. I had nothing to do with it at all. She submitted my work to Columbus College of Art and Design, and the next thing I knew, I had a full scholarship.”

Fields’s first influence into the art world was similar. Artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson was the first person to tell Fields that he had talent as an artist. Fields said that they used to have summer programs in Columbus at recreation centers that would feature sports as well as arts and crafts. Robinson was one of the playground leaders at the summer program.

“She entered a piece of my art into a competition. It was a high school contest,” said Fields.

He was only about 10 years old and his art work placed in the competition.

Fields didn’t take art seriously until college. He attended Bowling Green State University and had taken a fashion class and for that class, you had to draw. He was told by many that his drawings were good, but he was under the assumption that anyone could draw. He took an art class and his professor told him that not just anyone can draw and that he had talent.

Columbus College of Art and Design was the next step for Fields. He only stayed at the college for 10 days. Fields took in his portfolio and everyone swore he had previous training. They did not believe he was a self taught artist with no prior experience. His tipping point of leaving the college came down to a freshman class.

“The statement that bothered me was ‘That no one here is good enough to get an A or B,’ and I said I’m out because that is not what art is about to me. Because to me, if something is good its good. It doesn’t matter who, what, when or where. You either like it or you don’t, but to tell me right off of the bat that it’s not going to be good, I was totally against it,” said Fields.

Siemer, on the other hand, got a scholarship to Columbus College of Art and Design right out of high school.

“I was 18 years old, and I was not ready for the rigamarole of art. Here I was, a jock who every now and then painted, and they wanted you to spend 18 hours a day on art and at that time I was not ready for that commitment,” said Siemer.

Siemer dropped out of college and got involved in politics. Through his involvement in politics, he moved to Washington DC and worked for a professor at Georgetown University.

It was at that time Siemer decided to move back home and go to college. He got a degree in philosophy from Ohio University.

While at Ohio University, he started taking water color classes that rekindled his passion for painting.

Siemer decided to organize an art exhibit as a fundraiser for President Barack Obama and that is how he met Fields. They had an exhibit at The Blue Stone and had about 50 different artists involved in the fundraiser. The pair clicked because they had extreme differences in their ideas of how to be professional artists.

“We could talk about the business of art and there would be very lively conversations because we came from two different angles, and even to this day we are still doing different things,” said Fields.

Fields and Siemer come from different perspectives and that’s what makes their collaboration unique.

Fields captures paintings of iconic athletes, musicians, old time Hollywood actors and more.

Through the portraits, he wants viewers to remember something – a character from a movie or the popcorn you were eating while you were watching it.

“That’s what art is supposed to do. It’s supposed to make you feel,” said Fields.

Siemer has a similar reasoning behind the landscapes and architecture he captures in Columbus.

“People want a painting of a particular place or a particular event that they have a fond memory of,” said Siemer.

“The People and Places of Columbus” exhibit will be Fields and Siemer’s first collaboration together. The exhibit will be held at the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower, 30 E. Broad St. in Columbus, Nov. 4-29. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday.

The exhibit includes about 60 images, 30 from each artist. There will also be a reception held at the Lincoln Cafe, 740 East Long St. in Columbus from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 7. There will be light refreshments served and a live performance by Otis Davenport.

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