Award-winning artist’s work will be on display for the month of April. A lifelong artist, educator, and patron of the arts, El Dorado’s Gay Bechtelheimer will present an exhibition of new works at the South Arkansas Arts Center. On display in the Merkle Gallery April 8-29, the exhibition is entitled “Expansion Diffusion” and is sponsored by W. Paul Burns DDS. It will open to the public with a reception on the evening of Thursday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m.

“Expansion Diffusion” is comprised of work in a variety of media, including watercolor, pastel, painting with paper, and reclaimed palm shards. Bechtelheimer’s current work builds upon her previous exploration of the horizon line, in both representational and abstract forms.

“I have focused on the symbolic and subjective nature of the horizon line over several creative periods in my work,” says Bechtelheimer. “To me, the subjects of mystery, intrigue, wonder, and adventure are all manifested in my work through the realist and abstract portrayal of the horizon line.”

When Bechtelheimer began working on the pieces for this exhibit, during the COVID-19 pandemic period, she started experimenting with a new medium: paper. By tearing and layering strips of color from printed materials, she developed a technique she calls painting with paper.

“These pieces are really like sketches,” Bechtelheimer says. “And they began outlines for larger pieces in watercolor and pastel. But as I worked, I found that representation of the horizon line began reappearing again and again. The shape and idea expanded into the paper pieces, and diffused throughout the new media, as well.”

Bechtelheimer, who retired from a career in public arts education a few years ago, has spent her life bringing the arts to children and advocating for the arts on the local and national level. She has served on the Arkansas Arts Council, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and as president of the South Arkansas Arts Center. A lifelong learner and graduate of Louisiana Tech Univeristy, Bechtelheimer enjoys teaching adult classes at SAAC and continuing her own arts education around the world.

“Expansion Diffusion” will be on display in the Merkle Gallery at the South Arkansas Arts Center 9a.m.-5p.m., Monday through Friday.