Mike Boynton and Steve O'Shea

Robots and Watercolors  - March 28 to April 28

By: Marisa Quirk

This month’s Gallery at the Park exhibit, presented by Michael Boynton and Steve O’Shea, epitomizes what makes the art world so imaginative and unique. Bring your whole family for a fun day at Howard Amon, and be sure to stop by the Gallery to enjoy Boynton’s “Robots” exhibition and O’Shea’s “Kid’n Around Cover Art” show.

For the past 13 years, Boynton has taught art classes at elementary and middle schools throughout the Richland area. He works with his students on a “Robots” project, where they create found object sculptures. Boynton and his students also discuss robots in history, news and pop culture, and they contemplate various philosophical robotics questions: “Can robots replace humans?” “Will robots become self-aware?” “Do robots have rights?”

As society continues to develop technological innovations, these questions become more and more relevant. Boynton cites an economic report from 2016, in which the Obama administration predicted that 83% of future low-wage jobs (referring to jobs that pay less than $20 per hour) would be replaced by automation.

“One area of concern is the use of robots for military purposes and enforcement of political ideologies,” Boynton states. “A portion of my art in this show attempts to struggle with that question and the morality surrounding it.”

For the exhibit, Boynton presents his Victorian-inspired steampunk work. Steampunk describes a sub-genre of speculative fiction that takes place in an alternate history where technological advancement happened sooner. Boynton has created a series of unique steampunk sculptures that depict robots doing jobs from the 19th century.

The other portion of the Gallery showcases the art of Steve O’Shea, an illustrator, graphic artist, watercolorist and architect from Portland, Ore. His watercolor images appear on the covers of Kid’n Around, a Seattle-based monthly publication for children.

The Gallery at the Park show features more than 30 of O’Shea’s original Kid’n Around covers, each one unique, whimsical and filled with bright colors and hidden details. O’Shea uses watercolor, colored pencil and ink to create these beautiful works of art. The themes of these pieces include imagination, learning, play, oceans and friends and heroes.

Boynton and O’Shea’s exhibit will be on display from March 28 to April 28. The reception will be held on April 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.