Benjamin Wiemeyer: Painting the City Inside and Out
Interviews & Features
With his long, braided beard, Benjamin Wiemeyer is easy to spot in a crowd, and so is his art. Wiemeyer (who designed this month’s cover for SLUG) has been painting downtown for the past 25 years. Though his early marks were self-described as vandalism, Wiemeyer’s graffiti-style paintings are now paid for by the businesses they adorn—you may recognize his colorful work on Gallenson’s Gun Shop, Taco Taco and Alt/Space. His piece on the back of Alt/Space depicts a galaxy scene reaching down to meet a warm-toned sky lined with treetops.
Before his artwork plastered buildings, Wiemeyer started his life as a creator in his childhood home. He grew up painting alongside his grandma and watching his parents use other artforms (his dad built model homes and his mom worked in interior design). “They were really supportive of art and always encouraged me to make artwork,” says Wiemeyer. His parents offered a “woodshop” in the basement to combat boredom.
Despite this artistic childhood, Wiemeyer didn’t view himself as an artist until he studied Sculpture at the University of Utah. He began creating installation art by building machines that would destroy his paintings or make residue. During this time, he got into graffiti and fabrication, which he eventually turned into part-time and commission jobs. This included working in art museums such as The Leonardo, which he helped open in 2011. “I think everything in my life has kind of informed my style,” says Wiemeyer. His background in different mediums and styles has helped him to create images that are loud, evocative and attention grabbing.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a little looser in my approach. I’m trying to be a little bit more painterly.”
Wiemeyer creates layers and texture within his pieces that are apparent in every medium he uses. “I’ve just been stoked on mark-making for a while; manipulating the material over the medium,” he says. Rather than sketching and planning, he takes a freestyle approach, allowing him to follow the flow of whatever canvas is in front of him. He uses acrylic paints and aims to make large impacts with minimal effort.
This ideology has pushed him to experiment with a new method that resembles Rorschach Test images—folding paper and foil in half to push paint outward. Then, he adds on paint and different washes, sometimes using knives to manipulate the material. “I feel like I’ve gotten a little looser in my approach. I’m trying to be a little bit more painterly,” Wiemeyer says. “I’m not really pushing the boundaries and things in my mind; I’m just making really cool compositions with color and texture.”
Abstract compositions have become an identifiable component of Wiemeyer’s artwork. His design for this month’s cover includes geometric shapes layered over interesting textures. He takes inspiration from recognizable bike logos and uses Procreate to layer images over past pieces. “I don’t really sketch prior to making artwork, and I’ve been trying to use computers more this year,” he says. He hopes that Utahns will see his abstract vision and the symbol in motion.
“I’m not really pushing the boundaries and things in my mind; I’m just making really cool compositions with color and texture.”
Alongside new mediums and programs, Wiemeyer is pursuing new personal ventures to develop and indulge in his craft. Starting May 19, his work will be featured in his own gallery at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE titled Exorcise through Exercise.
The artist describes his new paintings as rowdy and expects the space to feel unique and lively to match the art on the large canvases he plans to hang, with Joshua Payne Orchestra performing at the gallery opening. Wiemeyer’s art is less about making a statement and more about making an impact. He relates his art to images found in comic books that jump out at you with intensity. “You want your piece to be big and loud and proud and feel good,” he says. “Good artwork is generally visceral.”
You can see more of his artwork on Instagram @benjamin_wiemeyer_arts.
Read more on graffiti-style art:
Tacos and Graffiti: An Interview with Anthony Ortega
Mike Brown: Graffiti!!!
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