Friday, February 22, 2019

Flashes of Brilliance: Illinois High School Art Exhibition at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport


Hazel Mcclinton, Rockford Jefferson High School

Life seemed relatively easy when I was seventeen. It was a time before cellphones, social media and the 24/7 news cycle. People interacted differently. Relationships were built on gradual discovery and respect was learned through an attempt at understanding differences through experience… There was no hiding behind a text or a tweet.

Well, last Friday I found myself exploring what it’s like to be seventeen in 2019. I spent much of the afternoon previewing the Illinois High School Art Exhibition currently on display in the second-floor gallery of the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport [Chicago]. The exhibition includes more than 600 works of art created by high school artists from around the state. The collection offers a snapshot of the seventeen-year-old’s reality. The associated angst is apparent in many of the works, but the show presents a new perspective from the next generation’s worldview.

I found myself wondering slowly through the show. The work—hung salon style—is a curatorial choice that offers something new to explore with a slight turn of the head. 

Natalie Wess, Adlai E. Stevenson High School

The show includes imagery that is “safe” and typical of the age—showing the skills of a future illustrator or designer—but there are also new and unexpected expressions. I found pieces which seemed to be created specifically for shock value. But then I questioned… Was the image solely meant to be shocking or was the content the new normal in our quickly changing society?

Throughout the show, there are special flashes of unique beauty and thoughtful brilliance. The exhibition includes a number of courageous young artists who are not afraid to speak their truth—sometimes with startling effect and sometimes through skillful symbolism. The visual vocabulary found throughout the gallery even offers a learning opportunity for those of us who have been around for a while longer.

Brianna Bischoff, St. Charles North High School

At the conclusion of several walks through the exhibition, I began assessing the mission for which I was attending. I reconvened with Cheryl Jefferson and Richard Laurent, colleagues of the Breaking Criminal Traditions initiative who were also exploring the show. We were looking for artwork that spoke to various human rights issues. You see, the BCT initiative will be presenting an award for relevant work [intentional or not] at a ceremony this Sunday afternoon [2:30pm] at the Bridgeport Art Center—a couple of blocks west of the Zhou B Art Center IHSAE exhibition.

Jennifer Branch, Downers Grove South High School

Please join us this Sunday for the IHSAE at the Zhou B Art Center , Sunday, February 24th from 10-4pm. The event will also include a College Recruitment Fair from 10-2 [BAC], Vendor & Career Expo 10-4 [ZBAC] and an opportunity to visit artist studios at both locations. This is a free event and open to the public. Please remember to come by the IHSAE awards ceremony which will be held at the Bridgeport Art Center from 2:30-3:30pm. The Illinois High School Art Exhibition runs through March 9th. 

Special thanks to Assistant Director, Chris Sykora [Deerfield High School] and Executive Director, John Zilewicz [Niles West High School], for producing this enriching event!

Download the schedule of events


ABOUT: The Illinois High School Art Exhibition:

The General Exhibition is one of Illinois’ premier high school art exhibitions featuring student visual artworks from some of the top city, suburban, public and private high schools. The General Exhibition is a “Best of the Best” competition, developed by teachers, to recognize high school students’ artistic excellence.

Each year, over 100 high schools register to participate in the General Exhibition in Chicago. High schools digitally submit up to 25 artworks into 8 categories: Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media, Design, Photography, Pottery, Sculpture, and Time Arts. 

The IHSAE receives well over 2500 submissions for consideration for the General Exhibition. All entries are curated by the IHSAE Board of Directors and guest jurors, who select works by over 500 student artists for exhibition. Students have an opportunity to compete against their peers for over $15,000 in IHSAE awards and scholarships, including the IHSAE Visionary Award. Students also have an opportunity to receive Early College/Summer Intensive scholarships offered by representatives from select art schools, colleges and universities across the country.

Learn more about The Illinois High School Art Exhibition at ihsae.org



Saturday, January 12, 2019

The exhibition catalog... The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions at The Gallery at Penn College



Opening January 15th, at The Gallery at Penn College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is an elaborate new version of The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions. This unique exhibition boasts a beautiful thirty-six-page color exhibition catalog highlighting each of the exhibiting artists, a beautifully-written introduction by executive producer, Cheryl Jefferson, and my curator notes. These notes simply offer insight into the exhibition with a brief overview of some of the included works of art. I have chosen to share those note here. 

The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions is an exhibition addressing a variety of human rights issues. These atrocities include acid violence, stoning and honor killing as well as the more common tragedies that we see on the evening news... human trafficking, child marriage, and the rise of Fascism. This collection of work has been brought together with the intent of beginning a dialogue about these hard-to-discuss topics. 

Each object in this collection offers multiple levels of interpretation. Most of the pieces were not created specifically to represent the criminal traditions, yet they were chosen because the content alludes to the issues at hand—offering an opportunity to begin a non-threatening dialogue, create understanding and seek resolution.

As the exhibition’s curator, I interpret the criminal traditions based on works of art that offer conceptual, symbolic, and metaphorical content. For example, the typical viewer might see In the Middle by Teresa Hofheimer, as a painterly study of a crouching male in a minimal, high-key setting. The freely painted nude is placed in the upper portion of the composition with the illusion of space only implied through subtle tonal changes of an almost white background.

Teresa Hofheimer, In the Middle, oil on canvas, 60 x 48"

But Hofheimer’s image is more than just a passionate representation depicting a love for the male form. The image speaks to the psychological pain inflicted on the perpetrator of an honor killing. Honor killing is the murder of a family member by relatives who believe that the victim has shamed or violated the family’s honor. The murderer is typically a young man who is expected to defend the family’s pride. In the Middle is symbolic of the psychological torture imposed on the executioner. The figure’s pose amplifies the impossible choice—torn and confused by the horrifying request of his family. 

Honor killing may be the result of common behaviors. Outside of Western cultures, women and girls have been honor killed for wearing makeup, using technology, reading, or any reason the men of the family may choose. Gay men have been victims as well. In some Middle Eastern countries, men are thrown to their deaths from rooftops based on the presumption of being homosexual. The stark background of Hofheimer’s painting may be interpreted as the intended cleansing—or at the very least—symbolic of the attempt at reestablishing purity. 

By taking the legal stand of “defending the family’s honor,” killers typically go free. Those imprisoned are treated as heroes. The psychological effects on all involved result in a society immersed in shame and fear. But in the 21st century, can murder truly be justified by beliefs passed down from a repressive male-dominated society?

Joyce Polance, Fault, oil on canvas 30" x 24"

Joyce Polance addresses personal authenticity in her work. She defines it as a willingness to be vulnerable and exposed, revealing the experience of inner chaos. Her paintings express pain and suffering on a visceral level. Although not addressing a specific criminal tradition, Polance’s imagery conveys the agony of repression. Her painting, titled Fault, is an image of pure emotion and inner rage. The intimate canvas presents a distraught female nude emerging from darkness. Perhaps in shock, the figure is almost lacking facial expression. Her vacant eyes suggest that she is numb to her surroundings. She embraces her legs—tightly holding them to her chest—seeming to be contemplating her predicament. She mutely stares back at the viewer, silently screaming to exist. Desperate slashes violate the image, ripping at the pigment’s surface. This imagery seems to address the debilitating fear, imposed anguish, and brutal repression of people—of women—throughout the world.

Anne Smith Stephan, Cold Ice, oil on canvas, 30" x 48" 

Interpretation is somewhat expected when approaching abstract art. Both splendor and agony are found in the abstract paintings of Anne Smith Stephan. With thinly dripping paint that sometimes builds to heavy impasto, these beautiful canvases offer unique environments to explore. A calming ethereal atmosphere is created with numerous layers of pigment that conceal a deeper message. Like an archaeologist, digging and scraping, the artist seems to be excavating—uncovering elements of a not-so-distant history. The rich and compelling multi-layered surfaces can be interpreted as exposing the physical and psychological wounds of life.

The works included in this exhibition may be interpreted on many levels. Although all are beautiful at face value, this collection is intended to touch the viewer’s mind and soul by highlighting the challenges faced by our global community. The hope is that these paintings, drawings, and sculptures will inspire discussion that supports positive social change.

A reception for The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions will be held at The Gallery at Penn College on Thursday, February 7 from 4:30-6:30pm. I will be presenting some additional insights in a gallery talk which is scheduled for 5:30pm. The gallery at Penn College of Pennsylvania College of Technology is located at one College Avenue in Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701.

Special thanks to Penny Griffin Lutz, Galley Director of The Gallery at Penn College and Emily Kahler for The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions logo design. Cover image by Joyce Polance, Pull, oil on canvas, 24" x 24"


The Penn College version of The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions, includes work by: Carol Brookes, Corinna Button, James Deeb, Sheila Ganch, Clare Girodie, Charles Gniech, Sergio Gomez, Suzanne Gorgas, Teresa Hofheimer, Lelde Kalmite, Pauls Kloczkowski Luberda, Richard Laurent, Kathy Liao, Zurich Miller, Joyce Polance, Nancy Rosen, Lorraine Sack, Dominic Sansone, Barbara Simcoe, Anne Smith Stephan, and Neil Tetkowski.
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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Nancy Rosen - Frankly Mine at Studio Oh!


Nancy Rosen, mixed media on paper, 50x50"

This past Friday evening—fighting the remnants of a holiday cold—I was excited to attend the opening reception of Nancy Rosen’s latest solo exhibition titled, “Frankly Mine” at Studio Oh! When I arrived, I was inundated by the crowd of Rosen’s passionate collectors—many who have been made aware of Rosen’s work due to the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie.” The show's producers found Rosen’s work and continue to utilize it as that of Frankie’s—the character played by the iconic Lily Tomlin.


Rosen—a highly prolific artist—has been working in her current style for more than a decade. I believe that I first became aware of Rosen’s work in 2009 when I juried one of her large works on paper into an exhibition titled “Red” at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. A solo exhibition followed shortly thereafter. Since then, I’ve been honored to curate many of her pieces into the ever-evolving human rights exhibition, “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions.” The show offers unique presentations for each new venue. 


Rosen will tell you that painting—for her—is like breathing… it’s just what she does. She will also tell you that, what you see in her paintings is your own reflection. I agree with her. When you look at any piece of art, you bring your history to that moment. Your personal reality—created by your past—is what you experience.

As a curator, I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring Rosen’s imagery. Seemingly influenced by the organically-abstract style of Egon Schiele—the early 20th century Austrian painter—Rosen creates her figures with irregular lines, generally understated color and beautifully-obsessive background patterns, which result in highly emotional compositions. Mostly the void of men, in my mind, her work is about women and their supportive relationships with other women. Rosen’s imagery defines the beauty and the pressures of the female experience. The beautiful background patterns seem to be  symbolic of humanity disappearing into visual chaos.

If you have not had the opportunity to experience the work of Nancy Rosen, make the time to visit Studio Oh! Located at 4839 N. Damen Avenue in Chicago. Gallery hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1-6 pm and by appointment. The exhibition continues through February 15th.
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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Robert Lostutter - Corbett vs. Dempsey


Robert Lostutter, Kyosei 3 (detail), Graphite on Paper, 10 x 10"  2016

I studied painting at Northern Illinois University in the late 1980s. As a graduate student, preparing to transition into the art world, I spent many Saturday afternoons exploring the River North Gallery district. I was intrigued by the variety of work being presented. It seemed as if there were hundreds of galleries, showing every kind of work imaginable. 

I believe that I was first introduced to the beautifully-obsessive watercolor paintings of Robert Lostutter at the Dart Gallery. At that time, Lostutter was creating portraits of stylized men with beautiful feathers emerging from their faces. The figures—sometime singular and sometimes paired—were tightly painted in rich jewel tones. It's my understanding that Lostutter worked with a minuscule brush to obsessively apply the nearly dry pigment to the surface of the paper. The images that he produced were a combination of colorful pageantry and the concealment of identity. I was both captivated and intrigued by his notion of the permanent mask. 

I continued to follow Lostutter’s career and in 2012, Corbett vs. Dempsey presented Garden of Opiates. The exhibition offered both watercolor and graphite pieces that fixated on the floral aspect of the hybrid creatures. In this body of work, orchid petals replaced feathers. Petals are found growing from face—and regularly from the lower lip. The unique imagery was strangely beautiful, and I found myself eager to see what would come next… Which brings me to today. 

I stopped by Corbett vs. Dempsey to experience the latest exhibition of work by Robert Lostutter. Seeming to be a continuation of the Garden of Opiates, the Kyosei exhibition is a series of beautifully-rendered graphite drawings. 


As I entered the third-floor gallery, I was welcomed by an army of freakishly beautiful creatures—some preoccupied with their own thoughts and others staring back, passively disinterested. Powerfully confident, the array of extraordinary creatures, seemed to hold a common secret. Like visiting the lion house at the zoo—where the creatures endure a life behind bars—these beasts are bound only by their frames. Lostutter begins a conversation that will conclude only in the viewer’s mind—questioning what these creatures might be thinking as they glare back at us. 

I found myself walking back-and-forth along the long wall of contemporary masterpieces—reminiscent of an animal pacing in a cage. I lingered between images—carefully studying  the brilliance of Lostutter’s obsessive technique. This exhibition is a brilliant next step in the career of a contemporary master. 

Robert Lostutter, Kyosei 20, Graphite on Paper, 10 x 10"  2018

Robert Lostutter: Kyosei continues through December 19, 2018. Corbett vs. Dempsey is located on the third floor of 1120 North Ashland Avenue, in Chicago. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and by appointment. The gallery will be moving in the near future—making the Lostutter exhibition the last within this amazing space. 
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Amanda Gentry in "Earth Bound" at the Hofheimer Gallery



…CHASING PERFECTION

I think it may just be a personality trait… wanting to create perfection. I remember striving to create that flawless print piece, the perfect composition, the ideal image. It seemed impossible… in my own mind. There was always something that could be better. The idea of creating something—anything—that is flawless, seems flawed. But it’s not. It’s all about perception.

Last week, I stopped by the Hofheimer Gallery to experience “Earth Bound”—a group exhibition that includes work by Amanda Gentry, David Criner and Denise Bellezzo. The exhibition offers an array of unique visual voices that come together in a peacefully inviting environment.

I was greeted by a wall of—what seemed to be—white bed pillows floating in a grid formation... work by Amanda Gentry. Upon closer inspection, the pillows appeared to be subtly marked with ghostly impressions of artifacts—quiet remnants of a hidden past. And then it became evident that the soft floating pillows were actually earthenware. Each piece, the clay impression of a soul at rest. Each, the unique fingerprint of a moment in time. Together, the impression of a segment of society. The works became an archeological find, perhaps asking the question; What will we leave to those who survive us? Will they notice? Will they remember?

Brother John, Unglazed White Talc Earthenware Incised with Mason-stained Slip, 17"x14"x5"

Gentry also has some smaller pieces in the exhibition that reference unique artifacts. There are groupings of these smooth geometric forms, placed throughout the gallery—all pierced or indented with circular dimples that invite interaction. Each surface is smooth but reveals subtle imperfections.

Penland Studies Nos.1-5, 3.5"x5.5"x5.5" salt and charcoal-fired stoneware

I continued thinking about the Gentry’s work after leaving the gallery. I did a little research and found a wonderful story on the artist’s website. The story described a seemingly unsuccessful piece of work and a studio visit with an Artist Representative. Following is an excerpt of the story. You can read the story in its entirety at amandagentry.com

“This piece (above) signifies some breakthroughs for me as an artist. This is the first piece that was not what I set out to make. I generally have a tight sketch or idea that I intend to realize. This piece originally was going to be oriented the other way (what is bottom was to be top). It was going to have a rocking, convex bottom with the two extensions coming to points twice the length they currently are. I realized as I was making this that I would need to rotate it and refine the bottom (now top) as I would not be able to do so once the two points were put on it. Upon rotating it and looking at it upside down I realized that it was perfect—that it needed to have the orientation it now has. It was the first time I had looked at a work from a different perspective and allowed myself to change my plans. It was the first time I truly listened to the work.
I had high hopes for this piece when I put it in the kiln. When it came out with cracks I felt defeated. I brought it back to my studio and tucked it away in my shelves. I was certain I would take a hammer to it in six months’ time. A few months passed, and an artist rep came for a studio visit. I had pulled all of my "good" work out onto the tables for her to see. 
After looking at everything she asked if she could look in my shelves. She pulled out my disappointment and said, ‘Oooh. Tell me about this one!" I promptly apologized for the cracks and she said, "Are you kidding me?! They follow the movement of this piece. They're perfect.’ I left the piece out on my studio bookcase and started to see it with new eyes. She was right. The cracks made the piece. And the piece then became beautiful to me. This perspective has changed the way I see my work now. The kiln always has the last word. And often times that comes in the form of cracks or spots I had not intended. I realize now that they are the birthmarks of the work. They are kisses from the kiln goddess.”

Amanda Gentry in “Earth Bound” continues at the Hofheimer Gallery through August 29th. 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.


HOFHEIMER GALLERY 
4823 N. Damen | Chicago, IL. 60625 | 847.274.7550


Work by Amanda Gentry

Thursday, July 5, 2018

SPATIAL AMBIGUITY - Hofheimer Gallery


Julie Karabenick, 22.2013, Acrylic on Wood 29x29" 

Color, tone and structure set the stage for the “Spatial Ambiguity” exhibition opening tomorrow at the Hofheimer Gallery. Hofheimer presents a two-person show highlighting a series of hard-edged precision-driven paintings by Marcia Fraerman and Julie Karabenick. The imagery includes a combination of gradient grids from Fraerman and optically pristine and uniquely dimensional structures by Karabenick. The show comes together with colorful pallets that invite the viewer into approachably-scaled formates. 

Spatial Ambiguity will open tomorrow—July 6th from 5-8pm. The 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.

HOFHEIMER GALLERY | 4823 N. Damen | Chicago, IL. 60625 | 847.274.7550

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Marcia Fraerman, Square One I, Acrylic on Canvas 20x20" 

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

PERCEPTIONS - Hofheimer Gallery

Julia Katz "Cache"

If you haven’t had an opportunity to experience the PERCEPTIONS exhibition at the Hofheimer Gallery, there are still a few days left. “Perceptions” will close on Tuesday, May 29th. The show presents the work of four Chicago area Artists—Julia Katz, Deanna Krueger, Rebecca Moy and myself. Each artist offers his or her own point-of-view of visual abstraction created through a unique physical or creative process.

Julia Katz [work shown above] is known for her bold use of rich color and fluid paint strokes. Through focused observations of the environment, Katz creates loosely-facetted forms of hues alluding to nature. She produces her imagery—documenting the details of light, shadow and subtle movement.


Deanna Krueger "Lichen at Brush Creek"

Deanna Krueger's work conveys some of the same visual elements of Katz but Krueger's work is much more about unique materials. Krueger manipulates medical diagnostic film to create large-format wall pieces that exist somewhere between a two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional sculpture. She applies loose layers of paint over the film and then shreds the visual evidence of the medical findings. The film is painted, torn, repositioned, and then stapled together to create beautifully semi-reflective multi-faceted surface. The surface creates a shimmering, gem-like appearance reminiscent of the flickering mosaics. The same visual complexity is also apparent in the work of Rebecca Moy.

Rebecca Moy "Carnivale II"

The fine line between graphic and fine art is explored in the lyrical work of Rebecca Moy. Her bold use of color is heightened by a flat linier element that flows through and around seemingly architectural structures. The interaction of bold flat shape with mystical color gradients, offers the viewer a unique environment to explore. 

Over the years, Rebecca and I have discussed a possible collaboration—merging our styles to produce a hybrid. It came up again at the Hofheimer opening reception. We'll see what happens. 

PERCEPTIONS will conclude on Tuesday, May 29th. The 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.

HOFHEIMER GALLERY | 4823 N. Damen | Chicago, IL. 60625 | 847.274.7550