The next show opening in the Bethel College Fine Arts Center Gallery comes during Fall Festival and is the second of three featuring Bethel art graduates.

“Chris Janzen: Recent Works” will open Thursday with a reception for the artist from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday outside the gallery.

The next show opening in the Bethel College Fine Arts Center Gallery comes during Fall Festival and is the second of three featuring Bethel art graduates.

“Chris Janzen: Recent Works” will open Thursday with a reception for the artist from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 4 outside the gallery.

Janzen, a native of Fresno, Calif., is on the faculty of studio art at Fresno Pacific University, where he teaches drawing and painting and leads the university jazz ensemble’s rhythm section. He has a bachelor of arts degree in art from Bethel, where he graduated magna cum laude in 2004 and received a Thresher Award in art, and he earned his master of fine arts in painting from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. He served as a teaching assistant at the University of South Dakota, as well as a gallery assistant both there and at Bethel. In 2004, he received a sculpture commission for the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska through the University of South Dakota Department of Art.

Janzen’s work has been shown in numerous exhibits, including, most recently, “In the World, Not of it: Recent Works by Chris Janzen,” a solo show at the North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church Gallery; “Marcos Dorado and Chris Janzen,” at Tower Mosaic, Fresno; “Paintings” at the McDonald Hall Gallery, Fresno; and “Conflict and Resolution” at Gallery 110 in Vermillion, S.D.

In addition to the Thresher Award at Bethel, Janzen also received the Chair’s Award (2005), Best of Show (2006) and Special Painting Award (2007) at the Stillwell Annual Student Awards Exhibition, University of South Dakota.

A musician as well as a visual artist, Janzen was recognized for outstanding musicianship as both a small ensemble and large ensemble soloist at the Wichita Jazz Festival in 2004. As a member of the Collegian staff at Bethel, he earned honorable mention for his cartoons in 2002 and 2003 from Kansas Associated Collegiate Press.

Janzen’s current professional affiliations include membership in the College Art Association, the Mennonite Relief Sale Art Exhibit Committee, the Fresno Pacific University African/American Heritage Celebration Committee and the Building a Culture of Peace Committee.

While he was at the University of South Dakota, Janzen’s skills and interest in jazz music led him to co-create and help lead Vermillion Jazz Destruction, a music ensemble dedicated to the evolution of creative expression, particularly through jazz improvisation. He was also a musician participant three times in The Color of Sound, a collaboration of Sioux Falls area painters and musicians on the same stage exploring commonalities in "the creative spirit of both mediums," and in the South Dakota Festival of Books twice. Each year, a different nationally renowned author speaks on her/his work during the final festival meeting to the accompaniment of live music broadcast statewide on South Dakota Public Radio.

“One major inspiration for my work comes from the mass media advertisements of television, radio, magazines and the Internet,” Janzen said. “Every day, our capitalist society is flooded with advertisements designed to make us feel empty. Remedies for this emptiness are presented in many forms — including clothing, hair products, fast food, prescription drugs and many others — in order to convince consumers they have not consumed enough.

“My paintings recycle the subject matter of advertisements into new visual contexts,” he continued. “Some images are inserted like collages in new arrangements, changed proportionally or chromatically to highlight different areas than the source material. Some are abstracted beyond immediate recognition, emphasizing shape, texture or color. As a result, my paintings create pictorial spaces more accurately reflective of the human experience than the content of capitalist mass media imagery.

“Life is complicated, containing multiple moments of both confusion and clarity, both of which are vital elements in my work.”

Janzen also noted “the process used to create each composition is influenced by the creative musical act of jazz improvisation. I apply oil to canvas during time periods of ‘performance,’ like a musician in a recording studio, painting forms according to interests that arise in the moment. Often the painting starts off with a specific direction, only to lead into visual directions I never considered. Each layer of paint is like another instrument being added to the sound recording, reacting to the colors and shapes like a pianist whose job is to complement an improvising saxophonist.

“This improvisatory exploration into the unforeseen continually energizes me [in] art creation,” he said. “My work is a reflection of the cluttered commercial landscape that surrounds us, full of excitement, mystery and confusion.”

Janzen and Bethel graduate Jesse Nathan, a Moundridge native now living in Berkeley, Calif., where he is an associate editor for McSweeney’s and a freelance writer, photographer and culture critic, will present convocation at 11 a.m. Oct. 6 in Bethel College’s Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center. The two have been collaborating on a project combining visual art, music and poetry that, in Janzen’s words, “pay tribute to 16 individuals throughout history who have led particularly eccentric lives, making the world an interesting place to live, each ... represented by a picture, poem and sound.”

Janzen’s work will be on display in the Fine Arts Center Gallery through Oct. 30. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays with special hours during Fall Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 4. The gallery is closed Oct. 19 through 21 for fall break. There is no admission charge. For more information or directions, call 284-5205.