Saturday, April 24, 2021

Nova Czarnecki - Bloom at Hofheimer Gallery

It’s the details that make life interesting.

I teach my students, that what they see in art, is based on their life experience. Their reality is grounded solely on their personal experience of the world. In beginning drawing, the student is taught to see… literally. Nothing is taken for granted. Every detail is a new discovery. The student is trained to see how light moves across a surface, exposing the nuance of every object, surface, or subject, within their view. 

As I walked into the Hofheimer Gallery for the opening reception of Bloom, I was instantly drawn to the beautiful complexity of Nova Czarnecki’s paintings. The subject of each canvas is a gorgeously rendered female figure, entangled in foliage and flanked by an array of regal birds and animals. The beautiful dabs of pigment are transformed into an emotional expression of unique storytelling—a subtle message in each detail. The viewer can spend hours exploring the subtle nuance of each bit of the canvas. The symbolism found, is unique for each encounter… again, based on the viewer’s personal history. Quiet moments for observation are required for a poignant journey.

Bloom closes this afternoon at Hofheimer Gallery. The collection hosts a number of beautiful images relevant to the title. Take some time to experience this beautiful exhibition and explore the work of Nova Czarnecki—the newest addition to this amazing stable of Hofheimer gallery artists.

Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, Chicago, Illinois 60625 847.274.7550
Learn more at:

Friday, March 12, 2021

There’s always a story… "Tattoo Tattoo" at Hofheimer Gallery

Dianne Mansfield, SuzAnne

The weather in Chicago has finally become comfortable—perfect for getting outside and seeing actual people. With a sunny sky and high temperatures in the 60’s, I couldn’t wait to venture out. And that’s just what I did—this past Saturday—when I visited the exhibition titled “Tattoo Tattoo” at the Hofheimer Gallery. “Tattoo Tattoo” is a group show anchored by the work of George Klauba and Eleanor Spiess-Ferris—two of my many favorites at Hofheimer. 


As I explored the space, I came upon a group of black and white photographs documenting full body tattoos. And they seemed to be just that—straight forward documentations. As I continued through the space, I found a second series of photographs, set aside in the back of the gallery. These seemed to be done by the same artist, but they were different. They radiated emotion. The images captured an unabashed reality—a personal moment of self-empowerment. The images are the work of Dianne Mansfield. I asked if Dianne was attending the reception and she was pointed out. Within a minute, we were involved in conversation. 


After a brief introduction, we stepped away from a small group, to have a more private exchange. Discussion of the exhibition quickly transitioned into stories about the people represented in her imagery. With sparkling eyes and some colorful language, Dianne revealed another gift—her amazing ability to tell a good story. 


A photographer and educator, Mansfield has spent a good portion of her life photographing the world in which she lives. The tattoo culture is an important segment of her world and she has documented the unique personalities within that sector. 

Dianne Mansfield, QM KTK 083, 1982

Referencing one of the images from the show, Mansfield told me of a friend who supported herself as a fully-inked stripper. In the image, a gorgeous woman is presented wearing a sweeping silk robe—exposing her everlasting markings like a hand-painted bodysuit. Incredibly comfortable in her embellished skin—she is dignified, daring judgement from anyone.

Mansfield told many stories that afternoon. In fact—at one point—we stepped outside so that we could continue our conversation without masks. A colorful character with an amazing history, I look forward to our next meeting.

“Tattoo Tattoo” will continue at Hofheimer Gallery through March 27. The group exhibition includes work by George Klauba, J. Adams, Ivan Soyars, Leo Zulueta, Mario Desa, Chad Koeplinger, Danny Reed, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, and—of course—photographer, Dianne Mansfield. Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, Chicago, Illinois 60625  847.274.7550 

Learn more at:


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Hofheimer Gallery - The Salon Show

Frances Cox, Brown Tree, oil on canvas, 48″x30″

On Friday, June 12, Hofheimer Gallery opened an exhibition titled, “The Salon Show” featuring a collection of work by gallery artists. Playful, obsessive, and thought provoking, the work included in this exhibition presents an array of elegance with a bit of quirky—highlighting each artist’s unique voice.


“Brown Tree” by Frances Cox is composed of painterly strokes of pigment that convey the fluttering of reverberating motion. This fluid abstraction of muted tones manipulates the space in the manner of the Cubists. The use of Implied shadow alludes to the third dimension while the translucent application of paint, infers the sound of rustling sun-soaked leaves. This technique exposes the artist’s journey—revealing areas of underpainting that chronicle the form’s evolution. 

Teresa James offers a new spin on the concept of the glass ceiling, with “My Spirit and I Are One”. James creates the surrealistic image on the inside of a book cover, using mixed media; drawing, watercolor, and collage. The image presents a number of winged hands—a reoccurring symbol in James work—in battle with a pair angry birds, blocked from their given right to soar above the clouds. The unresolved conflict results in the loss of feathers, yet the determination of the birds seems unending. 

Teresa James, My Spirit and I Are One, drawing collage with watercolor on inside book cover, 7 3/4” x 10”

George Klauba uses the style of tattoo art to create intimate canvases that address curious topics. His obsessively painted “They Shall Take Up Serpents” references Mark 16:17-18 and comments on that gospel’s misinterpretation for use as spectacle in religious theatre. As the story goes, in 1910—after preaching this gospel—an illiterate Tennessee preacher pulled a large rattlesnake out of a box with his bare hands. He handled it for a few minutes and then demanded members of the congregation do the same—or burn in Hell. This snake-handling practice became commonplace in the Church of God throughout Appalachia. 

George Klauba, They Shall Take Up Serpents, acrylic on panel, 18″x14″

Referencing this unusual life-threatening custom of the Pentecostals, Klauba defines the narrative through the symbols of tattoo culture. Along with the serpent—representing wisdom, rebirth, and temptation, we find the tortured Christ figure, a dagger—symbolic of betrayal or sacrifice, and a skull—referencing death or mortality. Beautifully painted, Klauba uses a variety of flat color areas, patterns and implied textures, which entice the viewer to continue exploring the charmingly quirky content of his compositions… each one with a unique theme.

All of the work in The Salon Show exhibition can be reviewed online and on site, by appointment. Hofheimer Gallery is planning to reopen to the general public after the Fourth-of-July holiday. Face masks will be required, and social distancing will be practiced.

Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, Chicago, IL 60625 | 847.274.7550
View the exhibition at:

The Salon Show includes work by: Betty Cleeland, Colleen Cox, Frances Cox, Charles Gniech, Teresa James, Mary Jones, George Klauba, Catherine Maize, Michael Noland, Karen Perl, Mary Porterfield, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, Fred Stonehouse, and Chuck Walker. The exhibition continues through July 31st.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Zaria Forman at EXPO CHICAGO

Zaria Forman, Wilhemina Bay, November 23rd, 2018, 2019, soft pastel on paper, 40 x 64"

EXPO CHICAGO—The International Exhibition of Contemporary Art—opened this past Thursday evening at Navy Pier. The show presents artwork from 135 galleries—from 24 countries—highlighting the creations of some three thousand artists. It’s an opportunity to see a cross section of the art being produced around the world—and in some cases—revisit amazing works from the past.

The show was substantial. As I wandered through the corridors, I saw a splattering of contemporary art from the past 70 years although most of the work was fairly current. Represented were familiar favorites; Philip Pearlstein, Robert Lostutter and Clair Zeisler. But there was beautiful new work that was unfamiliar to me. 

The work of Zaria Forman, represented by Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York and Seattle, was a clear standout. Her large-scale pastel drawings are globally relevant and powerfully beautiful. Signage appears with each of the gorgeously executed compositions, defining the project… 
Forman’s latest work is an aerial exploration of some of the most rapidly changing places on our planet. Over the past two years Zaria has travelled with NASA’s science missions to track shifting ice, producing a collection that faithfully captures the range of ephemeral landscapes she observed while flying just hundreds of feet over Antarctica and the Arctic.
While her previous drawings are often recognizable as icebergs and glaciers, Zaria’s proximity to NASA scientists inspired work that is highly precise in its technical execution and yet visually more abstract. With an eye toward communicating the alarming rate that our polar regions are melting, Zaria portrays the vulnerability of thinning ice and heat-absorbing inkiness of the seas with profound detail and inherent drama. Each piece is rich in nuance, imbuing this series with great variation and thematic cohesion. In the sharpness of these birds-eye views drawn in her characteristic large-scale format, Zaria has created deeply intimate portraits of the environments we stand to lose.

I was captivated by the exhibit. Forman’s imagery was stunningly beautiful yet sadly horrifying. And I wasn’t alone. I found myself interacting with other observers having a similar emotional reaction. If the intent was to begin a dialogue, it worked. Winston Wächter Fine Art can be found in booth 414.

EXPO CHICAGO continues through Sunday at 6pm. Tickets are $30 [$50 with tour]. Parking is available on site. For additional information visit:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Mary Porterfield - Hofheimer Gallery

Mary Porterfield, Alice Begins, oil on layered glassine, 36 x 36"

It’s not a secret that Americans have an issue with growing old. Botox, Restylane, Kybella, Chemical Peels… we’re a youth-obsessed society fearing the natural deterioration of the body. In other cultures, elders are honored. Wrinkles are a sign of a life well lived. They signify knowledge and wisdom. When we embrace our elders, we find ourselves honored with the gift of wisdom.

I visit my ninety-two-year-old aunt on a regular basis. When I was a child, she lived in the house next door. A kind and sweet woman, I see her as a second mother. When we talk, the details of her life unfold into a vaguely familiar history with moments of insight—moments that might have been lost forever. 

Mary Porterfield, Waiting, oil on layered glassine, 24 x 60"

This brings me to a wonderful solo exhibition by Mary Porterfield, currently on display at the Hofheimer Gallery in Chicago. The show titled “in:dependence,” fearlessly examines the later stages of life, Inspired by Porterfield’s experiences as a caretaker. Her kind and gentle demeanor is authentic—And that sensitivity is reflected in her imagery.

Porterfield paints her subjects in oil on layered glassine, layered on top of Yupo [Synthetic Paper] and Vellum. This process produces a hazy dreamlike effect which seems to reference fleeting thoughts or foggy memories. Porterfield’s ghostly figures emerge in and out of sterile environments, questioning perception and reality. Is assistance needed? What if it’s not wanted? 

The Hofheimer Gallery will be hosting an artist talk tomorrow, Saturday, September 21 from 2-3pm. Porterfield’s exhibition continues through September 28. Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen Avenue, in Chicago 60625. Learn more at

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Saint Kate Hotel: For the Arts Enthusiast

Deborah Butterfield, Big Piney, 2016, Cast bronze with patina 93 x 112 x 50"

If you’re in Chicago and looking for an easy weekend getaway, this is it!

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to attend the Grand Opening of the Saint Kate Hotel in Milwaukee. After a bit of research, I found that the Saint Kate—named for Catherine, the patron saint of artists—is being touted as the nation’s newest and most immersive arts hotel, showcasing both fine and performing arts. I was intrigued. Unlike most of the country’s art hotels, the Saint Kate’s mission is to—not only—highlight two-and-three-dimensional visual art, but also dance, poetry, and theater. I eagerly accepted the invitation.

The drive from Chicago to Milwaukee was quick and painless—a little more than an hour. Making my way from the intestate to the hotel, I noted the absence of heavy traffic and the beauty of the city’s architecture.

The afternoon began with a preview tour of the hotel’s unique facilities. Curator, Maureen Ragalie, brought attention to some of the work found in the Saint Kate’s permanent fine art collection. The collection is comprised of works by numerous internationally known artists including, Damien Hirst, Alex Katz, and Deborah Butterfield (above). But the splendor of the Saint Kate is the opportunity to experience fine art created by renowned artists in proximity to amazing regional works—all of superior quality, demanding equal attention.

Brema Brema, photographic drown image

The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) is collaborating with the Saint Kate hotel, as such, creating MOWA | DTN (downtown). The inaugural exhibition—titled Downtown—features work by ten artists who live and/or work in Milwaukee. The collection attempts to produce a visual conversation about Milwaukee as a city in the twenty-first century—offering diverse perceptions, highlighting tradition and bringing attention to current social challenges. The included artists are: Mark Brautigam, Brema Brema, Adam Carr, Portia Cobb, Mark Klassen, David Lenz, Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, Lon Michels, Keith Nelson, and Nathaniel Stern.

MOWA’s Executive Director, Laurie Winters, was the point person for the Downtown exhibition. With her curatorial history at the Milwaukee Art Museum and her leadership at MOWA—Winters became the ideal consultant for the Saint Kate project. In conversation, Winters pointed out that Greg and Linda Marcus are the driving force promoting the arts in Milwaukee—and that she was thrilled to have an opportunity to work with them.

Exhibiting artist, Lon Michels also spoke highly of working with the Marcus’ and the Marcus Corporation. Michels pointed out that “…the bar has been raised by the Marcus Family in all of their endeavors—their love of the arts, passion and integrity.” 

Lon Michels, Canvas Room, Saint Kate Hotel

I spent some time talking with Lon Michels about his installation as well as the leopard-print room that he produced for the Saint Kate. Michels’ work induces a “wow” factor through repetitive patterns of intense color. The two installations created for the Saint Kate are overwhelming based on scale alone. Each experience offers a sense of mania, enticing viewers to loose themselves in the experience.

There is a similar outcome created when exploring the installation by Lisa Beck. Found in an intimate gallery adjacent to the Downtown exhibit, Beck creates a powerful experience for her audience. Curated by Maureen Ragalie, Beck’s inaugural contribution—titled Send and Receive—is both colorfully brilliant yet quietly introspective. The gallery incorporates two large meditative colorfield paintings—subtlety reminiscent of Mark Rothko—with a series of grouped transparent spheres “dripping” from the ceiling. The spheres distort the surroundings while reflecting the canvases and the other spheres. 

Lisa Beck, Send and Receive, installation view

I strongly suggest that you book a weekend at the Saint Kate. This hotel is perfect for anyone interested in the arts. The experience will be complete with theatre, dance and poetry performances, amazing fine art, wonderful restaurants, and a variety of drinking establishments. Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel is located at 139 East Kilbourn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Rooms start at $216 per night. Book at:

And make sure that you check out the Historic Third Ward (about a 15 minute walk). There's a wonderful Public Market, more great restaurants and wonderful galleries. I'm looking forward to my next trip to Milwaukee!

Deborah Butterfield’s horse sculptures are self-portraits in which she uses the horse as a metaphor for self. Each sculpture is cast from carefully selected branches, sticks, driftwood, and other found objects. She uses these materials to “draw” the horse -not just the outline, but the energy and gestures of the horse. She then casts these so called “ghosts” in bronze, burning away her initial creation.

Lon Michels: Additional works by Lon Michels can be experienced in a group exhibition titled Nature Morte at the nearby Tory Folliard Gallery through September 7th. The Tory Folliard Gallery is located at 2330 Milwaukee Street, in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ann E. Coulter in "Homage to Nature" at Hofheimer Gallery

Anne E. Coulter, Deeper in the Woods, oil on canvas, 20"x20" 

Tangled layers of twisted branches create a labyrinth separating the viewer from paradise in a short series of beautifully panted canvases by Ann E. Coulter. These mesmerizing images are just a segment of the works being presented in a group exhibition, titled "Homage to Nature,” opening this Friday at the Hofheimer gallery.

In her artist statement, Coulter expresses that she is inspired and overwhelmed by the vast panoramic views surrounding her home. She explains…
This particular place is an undeniable and intentional part of my life and my art. There is no ignoring it, I am completely immersed. It leads me to consider big issues like nature and time, landscape and history, and the part we play in it all…
I look at these exquisite canvases and see the challenges of life… conflict and struggle presented as the sharp underbrush deterring us from movement. The viewer is challenged to scour the landscape to find a suitable pathway through the darkness to the ultimate goal… light. The adventure is challenging but results in numerous moments of quiet introspection as our eyes continuously pause to explore another unique fragment of the complex composition.

Anne E. Coulter, Ridge Run #4, oil on canvas, 40"x40" 

The opening reception of “Homage to Nature” with work by Anne E. Coulter, Jennifer Presant, and Joel Sheesley, is Friday, July 5th from 5-8PM. The exhibition continues through July 27th.

Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, Chicago, IL 60625 …on the north side of Chicago in the Ravenswood area at Damen and Lawrence. The gallery is dedicated to introducing contemporary fine art in painting, drawing and sculpture from established and emerging artists. Through the year the gallery will feature provocative, engaging, solo and group exhibitions. Learn more at: