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:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Susan Aurinko - Hofheimer Gallery

Susan Aurinko, Two and One, Paris, digital photography

A few months ago, I was asked to curate an exhibition of recent photographs produced by Susan Aurinko. Aurinko is known for her photographic self-portraits—the hazy reflection of self, amidst artifacts found in storefront windows throughout the world. The reflections—at times—quietly allude to an unknowing passerby, while other images only explore the abstract reflections glistening in the glass. 

In preparation for the exhibition, I reviewed more than three-hundred of Aurinko’s never-been-seen before images. The process was an ideal opportunity to delve into the artist’s evolving creative vision. What I found was an expanded concept of “reflection” referencing private moments of contemplation, introspection and meditation. But there was more.

Many of these images explore the geometry of life as visual vocabulary for these serene moments. Aurinko embraces line, shape, pattern and texture—the repetitive texture of foliage, the sparkling spray of water droplets, the unique patterns of dappled sunlight… all brilliantly presented in what becomes a significant flash in time. 

Susan Aurinko, Idyllique, Paris, digital photography

Aurinko captures these moments, causing us to stop and take notice—a reflecting pond distorting the ornate formality of a park setting; a sea of decorative statues randomly huddled together in a flea market; an aerial perspective of a sun-filled atrium producing shadows of unique shapes and patterns. These compositions force a glimpse into an actual reality which is typically missed. They remind us of the surrounding beauty—often neglected—in a hectic world.

Susan Aurinko, Café Society, Berlin, digital photography

The title of Susan Aurinko’s upcoming Hofheimer Gallery exhibition is europa europa—referencing the continent on which the work was created. The show will open this Friday, May 3—with a reception for the artist—and continue through May 30, 2019. The reception runs from 5 to 8pm. 

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

Susan Aurinko, Selbst, Vienna, digital photography

I will be joining Susan Aurinko at Hofheimer Gallery for an artist talk on Saturday, May 18 from 2-4pm. Please join us for a relaxed discussion about the artist and this wonderful collection of imagery.

SUSAN AURINKO, a photographer and curator, has shown her work in solo exhibitions in France, Italy, and India, as well as in the US. Her exhibition about India, entitled STILL POINT INDIA, opened at Kriti Gallery in Varanasi, India in February 2013, is touring India’s largest cities, and is now available as a book, STILL POINT INDIA, the cover image for which won both a Jury Award and a Public Choice award from Px3 in Paris. Aurinko’s work appears on several book covers, including The Stranger Among Us, Ariel, Scar Tissue, and Slut Lullabies, in the US and UK, and four of her photographs are included in the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s permanent collection. Her photographs hang in private collections in France, Italy, India, Monaco, the UK, and the US. Aurinko is on the Advisory Committees of the International Photography Awards (Lucie Awards) and has been an IPA and Px3 Juror for several years and is on the Advisory Board for Filter Photo Festival.

Aurinko’s preview exhibition for her series SEARCHING FOR JEHANNE –The Joan of Arc Project, at Takohl Gallery in Chicago, was named among THE FIVE BEST PHOTOGRAPHY SHOWS OF 2014, by New City Magazine.

As a curator, Aurinko has created over 250 exhibitions, both at FLATFILEgalleries, the gallery she founded and directed for 9 years, and in a variety of other gallery and museum venues, including IIT and CAC, and exhibitions for both the Japanese and Danish governments. She has led workshops for photographers and artists in the US, Canada, and India. Aurinko is on the Boards of Directors of Universe of Poetry, Chicago Artists Coalition, Apprentice Lab, and the Advisory Board for Chicago Photography Center, for whom she also curated the gallery’s 11 annual exhibitions from 2010 until 2013. Aurinko is also the founder of the f8collective. Aurinko is represented by HILTON/ASMUS FOTO in Chicago and Kriti Gallery in Varanasi, India.