Undercolor proves primer of life

By KatherineGamby

At some point in our lives, we would all like to know what is going on in the mind of someone else. For many, artists would be the usual candidates for “mind probing,” if such a thing ever existed.  A pair of Chicago artists have found a way for the public to peer into the minds and worlds of where few ever travel.

The Undercolor: The Primer of Life is the collaboration between artist Erik DeBat and filmmaker Brian Keller under their project, Elevation. The film and art exhibit is an artistic look into the minds of three characters who personify Americana themes.

“All three characters are basically one; what we were trying to achieve was a moving painting … the characters within this film are art or timely,” DeBat said.

Angela Eve,  a burlesque dancer,  and Becca Brown,  a model, are both characters in the film. DeBat and Keller, Columbia alumni, also have their own world of fun that includes fighting and painting with tennis balls.

“Angela Eve was more vintage … she kind of represented a more simple time … her colors were definitely warmer and bolder, whereas Becca was more modern, she had gold Reeboks on and bright yellow,” Keller said.

Along with the film, the piece also featured an art exhibit version of the film that was featured at the Johalla Projects, 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Saturday and by appointment after that. The exhibit includes paintings that were created during the course of the film. The film is the first official project by DeBat and Keller, who wanted to explore different aspects of creating art.

“Brian did some character studies of the girls and kind of the elements we wanted to see them in and I did some studies with shape and semetry,” DeBat said. “We tried to take it through every part of the creative process to get to the final goal we wanted and I think we reached that.”

The men said they enjoyed all of the processes, even the times when DeBat couldn’t decide between the ideas that he liked and did not. The most memorable thing for Keller and DeBat was seeing their artwork being enjoyed by both the film and art crowds, as well as having their own separate nights to present their work.

“For me, [it was] to see it in the gallery and all set-up … [just] appreciating both sides of it,” DeBat said.

The two men, who grew up together on the northwest side of Chicago, recalled fond memories of being graffiti artists and tagging around the city. DeBat, who took the name Risk, and Keller, known as Dream, came up with the idea for Elevation at that time in their lives. They said that idea was about inspiring others to continue with their dreams despite what others say.

“Wherever you’ve been met with adversity … you shouldn’t stop doing that because someone says that you should,” Keller said.

The Undercolor: The Primer of Life was sponsored by Grolsch, an international Dutch beer company that often works with artists. DeBat and Keller were recommended to do an event with the company by Anna Cerniglia, curator of the Johalla Projects.

“[They were] pretty ambitious artists from the moment on; they were very committed, wanting to create a new piece,” said Sue-Ann Kunath, brand activation manager for Grolsch.

She said that to date they are the only artists who she has worked with who have been very organized and prompt.

“It gave me good feelings that the artists were very committed and professional,” Kunath said. “I trusted that they would deliver good quality work, which they did.”

For more information on The Undercolor: The Primer of Life visit, JohallaProjects.Wordpress.com.