by Mabel Suen
Since its inception in March of last year, BANK Projects (3240 Iowa Avenue; 314-799-0881) has offered unique, inventive programming, garnering accolades as our Best New Art Gallery in 2013. Lately, the space has opened its doors to more music-related events -- everything from experimental concerts to exhibits such as Crime & Punishment, a zine release featuring prints, show posters and more.
This Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m., it will host one of its most thought-provoking installments yet: FAMILIENWERTE, a series of paintings, drawings, sculptures and modern-art pieces based entirely on nu-metal puns.
"Familienwerte is German for family values as an artistic and menacing twist for the late, great family values tours of the '90s," says contributing artist Reuben Hemmer, claiming that BANK commissioned the project to enrich its calendar.
Utilizing mixed media, Hemmer pays homage to hard-hitting, genre-blending alternative artists including Limp Bizkit, Mudvayne, Puddle of Mudd and System of Down with fellow artist Seaby Bess. Together, they have accumulated more than a dozen works to display this weekend.
RFT Music: Reuben Hemmer and Seaby Bess sound like names of mythological viking warriors. Who are you guys, anyway?
Reuben Hemmer: Seaby is actually an amazing artist with incredible talent, but luckily he usually only uses it for events such as these for his output. He has also tattooed a personal drawing of a pizza slice throwing up the horns and stabbing my butt with a knife on my left butt cheek.
Seaby plays his own music and has played at Venice Cafe many times in exchange for free drinks. I believe he will also be doing some nu-metal covers this night. I, on the other hand, am just an avid nu-metal fan and part-time microphone stand for the Black Panties Project.
How exactly did the idea for FAMILIENWERTE come about?
Biography: When I was thirteen years old, my grandpa asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I replied, "I want to be the guitarist of Limp Bizkit." That dream never came true. I feel like with this, I can at least get a taste of that dream.
I never went to art school. I have only taught myself by channeling the whirlpool of emotions that nu metal brings to me. But I am not always dark, as nu metal can be. We want to show the lighter side, through puns.
What were your initial impressions of nu metal, and how has your perception about the genre as a whole evolved over the years?
I think nu metal is the greatest genre of music there ever was and will be coming back one ball-chain necklace at a time. I'm hoping with this show we will be the forefront of that return. I am pretty sure we will be heroes -- art heroes.
What personal experiences with so-called "aggro-metal" have informed your artistic direction the most? What valuable lessons did you learn along the way?
I once saw Slipknot in Germany. Their member, "the Pig," couldn't be there, so they brought his head out on a stake. That really taught me that this counterculture was all about family and being there for one another, too. That had a lasting impression and is the reason why I am the really great person -- and artist -- I am today. That was probably the only thing I didn't teach myself.
Powerman 5000 and Korn are both stopping through St. Louis this summer. What reactions do you figure your exhibition would generate on their behalves?
I will be front row at both Korn and Powerman 5000 shows. I'm sure they will get word of this and put me on the guest list and ask us for artistic direction.
What sort of environment lends itself best to your creative process?
The primary source of my artistic energy comes from sitting in my room, cranking up "Broken Home" by Papa Roach and just blacking out. When I come to, art is just there.
The opening reception for FAMILIENWERTE is free and open to the public, with sponsorship by PBR. The event will also feature an album release by a super-secret band. To learn about more happenings at BANK Projects, check out the BANK Projects Tumblr and follow it on Facebook.