By Kevin Smith
Photo courtesty Mat Bevel
The Mat Bevel Institute presents "Horsey in the Round," which opens this weekend.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday November 14, 2002
Mat Bevel, a.k.a. Ned Schaper, is ready to unveil his newest creation to the world ¸ the world being the Tucson community at large, his creation being "Horsey in the Round." "Horsey in the Round" is a new piece of original performance-type art created by Schaper and delivered via the character of Mat Bevel, implementing a vast array of junk transformed into props and kinetic sculptures.
Previously considered under the radar, Schaper said his recent reception of the $25,000 Arizona Arts Award and his grant of $45,000 from the city to touch up the front of his building, the Mat Bevel Institute, with trees and sculptures has given long time over-lookers a reason to acknowledge him.
"A lot of people didn't really take me that seriously for a long time." Schaper said.
"And now they are. I'm more ignored by a certain kind of art community. That's not so much the case anymore, but it used to be that they just don't know what to say about what I'm doing."
Schaper utilizes his alias Bevel as an instrument through which he channels characters and opinions on topics such as family, politics, consumerism, culture and society in a way that seems explanatorily ambiguous at the very least.
"It's not really performance art," Schaper said. "It's basically a-historical. It's very humorous. It's jam-packed with poetry and original music. I have my own three-piece orchestra. The whole idea of Mat Bevel is that he transforms from one character into the next. It's all basically based on the contraptions I built."
Schaper/Bevel performs and creates at his studio/theater that was given to him by Solar Culture's Steven Eye, a long-time friend.
"Mat Bevel is pure scientific genius," Eye said. "He's out to save the world. Most people in the community really feel fortunate to have someone like him here in this town."
Complete reasons behind the Bevel facade remain dangling, but Schaper said the effect his work has on others, more importantly the local community at large, is a key motivator for him.
"It's all about inspiration and I call what I do being in the inspiration industry," Schaper said. "If you really want to know what art is about and why people want art in their lives, they need to be inspired because they go to work and they want to feel hope. It's about the word magic and when you see art and magnificently creative things, it gives people hope, they feel like there's still magic out there and that world isn't just totally overwhelming."
The new piece Schaper/Bevel will be performing is entitled "Horsey in the Round" and is "new original work" by Schaper, according to his sister and publicist Paula Schaper.
"New original work," because the performance will also incorporate previously performed skits into newer Bevel material, a process Ned Schaper refers to as a "huge evolved personal piece."
Most people are still probably unsure of what exactly a Bevel performance consists of, but Ned Schaper said it is something that must be witnessed to be comprehended.
"People usually say, ╬What is this about?'" Ned Schaper said.
"They go, ╬You just have to go to see it' because it's got a lot of levels to it."
Eye, a loyal attendee of many past Bevel performances, recommended attending the new show "if you want to be stimulated with words in ways that you never thought before or expand your horizons to what can be done with found objects or what most people might call junk."