An Opus in the making in Salem

This article was published 2 year(s) and 11 month(s) ago.

Artist Heidi Kepnes has artwork being projected on the wall behind Opus in Salem for diners to enjoy and observe while they eat. (Spenser Hasak)

SALEM – Take one local bar, add an artist, and what do you get? Intimations: An Illuminated Art Installation.

Opus in Salem has been transformed into a wall-sized canvas through the remainder of the month in order to present the surrealist work of local artist Heidi Kepnes. 

Currently displayed using projection mapping onto the Salem Five building behind the bar’s back patio, Opus general manager Cassandra Delp said the mini exhibit has brought back a touch of local culture to a restaurant/bar known by many pre-COVID for its frequent and lively music performances. 

“We were really excited to have a visual arts project that could add to guests’ experience when they come in October,” Delp said. “We know the world is a little bit tough right now and there’s not a lot of fun out there, so we wanted to create the most fun experience that we can for people, and also create an experience where anybody who appreciates art can come while we’re not doing as much on the music side as we have in the past.”

On her website, Kepnes’ artwork is described as “encapsulating a moment in time,” wrought with symbols and metaphors that “echo a time of apocalyptic destruction as well as creation from chaos.”

The works themselves are shaped using a mixture of encaustic, collage, paint, string, and found objects. 

Lyn Burke, founder of LuminArtz, a nonprofit that supports local and regional artists who create artwork with the use of light and technology, said her organization was contacted by Opus representatives who expressed interest in featuring a Salem-based artist at the bar.  

“Our collective missions decided that we wanted to project onto the back side of Opus where there’s a lot of area and space,” she said, adding that the collaborators eventually landed on Kepnes because they felt her otherworldly designs offered audiences something different than what they might normally see in Salem during the Halloween season. 

“It had a very different feel for this time of the year,” Burke said. “It’s not your typical Halloween cats and witches and pumpkins. This is something that’s very esoteric and very surreal. We just thought she was a great fit for what we were trying to do.”

Delp added that so far, visitor reactions to the display have been overwhelmingly positive. 

“We’ve had great, positive feedback from all of our guests, and even from people just walking by,” she said. “Everybody has been extremely receptive to the art and the way that it’s projected.”

Intimations: An Illuminated Art Installation will remain on view at Opus through October 31. 

Guests who dine on the patio and inside the restaurant have a full view of the show. All restaurant seating is in accordance with Massachusetts and Salem guidelines, and visitors are required to wear masks when moving to and from their tables. 

“It’s definitely been something that all of our guests appreciate, and many of our regulars who are a part of the local art community really appreciate it as well, so it’s been a great addition to our establishment,” Delp said. “While it isn’t presented in a traditional way, it’s definitely been appreciated and pulled people to come into our establishment.”

Elyse Carmosino can be reached at [email protected]

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