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“Synchronicity” Exhibit at The Water Heater

Opening night attendees take in the exhibit.
Opening night attendees take in the exhibit.

The Synchronicity exhibition opening for artists Bill (Billy Bob) Beamer and Pamela Rhodes was recently held at The Water Heater, nestled in the neighborhood of Old Southwest at 813 5th Street in Roanoke.  Synchronicity in this case explores the intersection of the two artists’ work with the intent to come together in a meaningful manner and to reveal surprise, investigation, and wit.

Beamer is a self-taught artist who retired from Virginia’s Department of Social Services after 30-plus years.  In the 1990’s he had grown increasingly ill and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome.  It was through biofeedback that he was able to “induce a trance-like state” by the act of repetitive drawing. These drawings or “messages” are approximately the size of a standard sticky note.   Beamer says that it is the process of creating the ink or pencil messages and the tiny interwoven lines that causes the trance-like state.

Referring to the value of art to those with chronic pain, Beamer (a distant relative to Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer) said psychologists told him that in addition to creating a distraction, the alpha waves in the brain are affected, thereby creating an alert but relaxed state, which reduces the pain.  “Thanks to art, these illnesses don’t have me [down],” added Beamer.

He has exhibited in over 50 solo, juried/curated, and invitational art shows.  Beamer’s works can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the Governor’s Mansion in Virginia and the Virginia Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley.  He also serves as a volunteer and teaches art classes at the Roanoke Rescue Mission, as a way to help people there deal with the pain in their lives. Beamer and Rhodes teach an orientation for his class, a launching pad for those that want to try new things.

Pamela Rhodes says Synchronicity derives from the fact that both she and Beamer are Christians, “and that they both have a heart to help others.”  Both enjoy contemporary, eclectic, and non-traditional art. Rhodes’ art is on small forms and her works, primarily watercolors, are portable to doctors’ offices and wherever else she goes. Her background includes dancing, primarily classical ballet.  She taught at Floyd Ward School of Dance in the early 80’s and returned in the late 90’s to dance with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre.

While she has been drawing and painting since childhood, Rhodes returned to school at age 45 and graduated from Hollins University in May 2002, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Arts.

Rhodes experienced a life-changing event when her only sibling died in June 2002 which “brought me to a screeching halt,” she noted. Both she and Beamer “have used our art as a release from pain.” After her brother’s death, she started doing smaller artwork patterned after her renditions of models with bigger eyes and “funkier” feet.  She went to work at the Roanoke Rescue Mission in February 2003 as Coordinator of the Arts Studio, where she also teaches.  The Roanoke Rescue Mission has “been a good place to seek restoration and to give back.”

Her “RutheBeth” character, who is described as ageless, has been a place to channel her pain, both physically and emotionally. Rhodes said the concept came into her life “at a time when she needed to be rescued.”  Ruthebeth “began life as a spindly little creature dunking around with designer shoes, with wild hair, wearing haute’ couture or a spunky dancer with the best tutu and worst hair.”

The more she drew her, the more personal it became.  Ruthebeth is a “wonderful amalgam of the three women in my life that have informed and helped to form the woman I have become,” said Rhodes. “Ruth, my mom…E is my mom’s sister and my true second mother [both strong women and caregivers said Rhodes], and Beth, my daughter, perhaps the most important of the three. You could always tell what the three [of them] were thinking by looking at their eyes.”

Synchronicity will be on exhibit at The Water Heater through September 19.  For additional information or to make an appointment to view the artwork, contact Beth Deel at (540) 314-0994, or see The Water Heater Facebook page.

By Susan Ayers
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