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The Birds and the (H)Bees

Look into the void

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When local artist Heather Bauer--HBee to her former students--said, "I have a perfectly preserved crow in my freezer," it made absolute sense, particularly in light of her new exhibit, Corvus in the Void, which opens Wednesday, Sept. 3, at local eatery State and Lemp (2870 W. State St., stateandlemp.com). The exhibit will be comprised of about 24 beeswax encaustic panels--Bauer's first encaustic series--and will include Corvus works that recently hung at Woodland Empire, as well as new pieces, most of which are part of a diptych or triptych.

Along with being a visual artist, Bauer is also a poet and writer and often includes text in her encaustic works.

"Embedded in the show [is] the story of Corvus, a crow who comes to terms with the zen of death and the void and mystery that follows," Bauer explained. "It's about the life, death and rebirth of this crow."

Long drawn to art, Bauer suggested some of her talent may have been inherited from her grandfather who, as a graphic designer for the Bureau of Land Management, contributed to the creation of the Guberif ("firebug backward"), a character in the Keep Idaho Green campaign, which started in 1946--you can still find "Don't Be A Guberif" painted on Idaho highways. Though she had little formal training, Bauer worked as a graphic designer for a number of years before teaching art at Foothills Learning Center and Sage International School. But after experimenting with wax encaustic and a 36-foot triptych commission, she found her stride.

The Corvus series, Bauer said, is the "first time I feel I have really hit my own mark, and I am ready to kick some ass. I poured my heart and soul into the work for this show."

A self-described "boat rocker," Bauer explained that the Corvus series was also a way for her to explore a deep connection to birds (and bees), which are, for her, symbols of "taking back my own power" and "not letting the little things get crushed under the weight of progress" literally or figuratively. Bauer got the crow in her freezer from the Idaho Bird Rehabilitation Center after it was killed in an accident. She had originally intended to remove the wings for use in another art project and then bury the crow ceremonially under the medicine wheel at Draggin' Wing farm. But when Bauer pulled the crow out of the bag, it was in perfect condition, "a beautiful bird in repose." She took a photo instead and used that for the image gracing the cover of the Aug. 27 edition of Boise Weekly and said she plans to donate a portion of proceeds from future work to the Idaho Bird Rehabilitation Center and the National Bee Conservancy.