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Benchmarks in Beachwood

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Originally from Israel, Gadi Zamir is a Cleveland-based artist and founder of Asian Town Center's Negative Space Gallery. In 1999, Zamir moved to the U.S., and Cleveland's cold winters inspired him to begin working with flame throwers and wood burners.

"In the past, I worked with acrylics and pastel, but I really came into my element when I started wood burning," Zamir says. "I fell in love with the process, and it was easy for me to illustrate my thoughts through this medium. I love the smell of the wood burning. Each wood has its own unique scent. This is also how I supplement my Vitamin D," he jokes.

Zamir's compositions are influenced by each piece of lumber's unique characteristics: grains, knots, imperfections, etc. With these characteristics inspiring his composition and theme, Zamir uses woodburning techniques, dyes, oils and more to manipulate the surface into complex, symbolic and narrative imagery.

For his latest series, Zamir salvaged nearly 25 church benches from a local abandoned church. Fourteen of these benches will be part of his new exhibition, premiering this week in Beachwood.

"All of the benches were salvaged from a single ruined church in what used to be known as Little Hungary," Zamir says. "The building had been abandoned for some time, so we don't have a paper trail for the exact age of the seats, but I've been told that they are mid-century or older. Like so many things in Cleveland, their history has been lost. However, as I was working, I came to realize that many churchgoers chewed a wide variety of gum."

Benchmarks opened at the Beachwood Community Center on Dec. 5. Zamir will be on hand to discuss the work during a closing reception from 1 to 3 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 11. The exhibition can be viewed Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., prior to the closing reception.

The Beachwood Community Center is at 25325 Fairmount Blvd., in Beachwood.

Additionally, Zamir's work is always on view in his studio next to Negative Space Gallery in Asian Town Center, at 3820 Superior Ave. Learn more at negativespacecleveland.com.

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