Sunday, October 1, 2023

“The Journey is what makes it truly exciting” BRUNO SURDO

Bruno Surdo, "A Selfie, A Pink Unicorn, Paparazzi! What does it take to get noticed?" oil on canvas, detail

When I first met Bruno Surdo, he was a professor of illustration and animation at The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. Back then, his reputation for flawlessly rendering the human form was common knowledge. Not until roughly 2014 did I have an opportunity to experience his massively complex figurative canvases which referenced his personal impressions of contemporary society. That exhibition was presented at the Ann Nathan gallery in Chicago. Since the closing of the iconic Ann Nathan Gallery in 2016, Bruno Surdo has been represented by Nathan’s colleague Victor Armendariz, owner of Gallery VICTOR.

Bruno Surdo, "A Selfie, A Pink Unicorn, Paparazzi! What does it take to get noticed?" oil on canvas 79 x 108"

This past Saturday afternoon, as part of the Chicago Exhibition Weekend 2023, Gallery VICTOR presented an artist talk with Bruno Surdo—highlighting the artist, his process, and marking the conclusion of Surdo’s current exhibition. The exhibition offered both the massive compositions of interacting figures—imagery that Surdo has become known for—as well as a few amazingly intimate portraits, seemingly sketches for inclusion into larger canvases. It’s these brilliant studies that I gravitate toward. 

Bruno Surdo, "Reflection" oil on canvas 30 x 24"

“Reflection” offers the viewer a quiet moment to get lost in beautifully painted patterns of texture and surface. This single-figured portrait captures the interest of the observer by repeatedly offering new and exciting details to explore. With the subtle highlights falling upon the subject’s sensual lips and eyelashes, to the detailed complexity of her hair, “Reflection” ensnares the viewer into a corner of the mind where time becomes irrelevant. Even the background creates brilliant secondary interest with a uniquely random pattern, which Surdo explained, was inspired by the observation of aluminum foil.

As Surdo discussed his inspirations and process, he shared that the preliminary drawings for each painting are key to the final work. He defined stacks of renderings for a single canvas—and that the drawings are resolved on the canvas before beginning to paint. He also pointed out that, if an area of a painting wasn’t working, he had no problem wiping it away and beginning again. As he put it... “The Journey is what makes it truly exciting.”

Although the exhibition has concluded, works by Bruno Surdo are still available through Gallery VICTOR located at 300 West Superior Street, Chicago IL 60654. Gallery VICTOR is open Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 5pm. Learn more at

BRUNO SURDO (b. 1963, Chicago)
Bruno A. Surdo is a true native of Chicago. He studied drawing and art history and pursues the mastery of the human form with inspiration from the Renaissance masters. His provocative works center around the human condition and are known for their allegorical imagery. Bruno has had numerous shows and commissions, and his work is held in many prestigious art collections around the world. He lectures often and is a teacher who believes in nurturing others. The artistic forms he has created are images that communicate a personal commentary on the issue or question in mind. These shapes are then arranged in a pictorial space using the human form. Surdo strives to communicate a message to the viewer - to engage the person in a conversation between what he puts forth and what he or she can then interpret. The interchange of response and curiosity are goals the artist set when composing his ideas. Surdo believes art is a continual form of expression and he feels committed to search for a language that brings his thoughts and feelings to the surface.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

EXPO CHICAGO 2023 - Humanity

Holly Wilson, Paper Wings: Fearless (detail), cast bronze with patina, 21 x 23 x 13” 

EXPO CHICAGO 2023—The tenth anniversary edition of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art—opened this weekend at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The event includes artwork from more than 170 of the most prominent international galleries—featuring work produced by thousands of fine artists currently working throughout the world. Countries represented at the 2023 exposition include: Argentina, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.

As I began to explore the exhibition, I found myself looking for common themes. Conceptual content was varied but the predominant subject was the human form. It seemed as though artists were tapping into our societal need to hold tightly to humanity. 

Holly Wilson, Paper Wings: Fearless, cast bronze with patina, 21 x 23 x 13” 

Holly Wilson’s Paper Wings: Fearless, seemed to set the tone for the work I was about to experience. The cast bronze sculpture presents a masked figure with wings as arms. Massive feet stabilize the form as it steps onto a beam which protrudes out into the world. But Wilson’s intention is much more significant than the beauty of the detailed surface textures. She points out our collective fear... The fear of the unknown—both that of the outside world and the inner mind. The mask hides our identity, for we lack the courage to take a leap of faith. Wilson points out that... “In that moment, we must be fearless to take the leap.” 

Timothy Cummings, Night Spirit of the Adriatic Sea, 2022, acrylic on panel, 24 x 18" 

As I continued through the show, I came across the work of Timothy Cummings, a self-taught artist represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery (New York). Cummings creates haunting surrealistic impressions that typically reference religious iconography, death, or martyrdom. The intimate and obsessively detailed images transport the viewer into a world where anything is possible. 

Cummings’ Night Spirit of the Adriatic Sea offers a single centralized figure bound in a foliage sarcophagus. An orb of warm light levitates above cupped hands and hovers in front of the heart. The figure is found at the waters edge as the sun is trapped behind repressive clouds directly overhead.

Alyssa Monks, Between Here and There, 2022, oil on linen, 43 x 63"

Finally, I found myself mesmerized by the classic work of Alyssa Monks and the other exhibiting artist of Forum Gallery. Monks’ painting, Between Here and There, presents the image of a woman in the protective posture of the fetal position. With her face expressing pure exhaustion and her body marred with plant life, she is presented as a manipulated object amongst a sterile background. Monks creates vulnerable intimacy through the powerful composition and classic rendering of the figurative form.

EXPO CHICAGO has much to experience. The exhibition continues through Sunday April 16 at 6pm. Tickets are $35 [$50 with tour]. Parking is available on site. For additional information visit:

HOLLY WILSON of the Delaware Nation, Lenape and Cherokee Nation is now based in Mustang, Oklahoma. In 2001, she graduated with an MFA in sculpture; in 1994, she earned an MA in ceramics from Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas; she received a BFA in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1992. Holly Wilson is exhibited with the Center for Native Futures, a non-profit Native and Indigenous gallery space in the city of Zhegagoynak (Chicago)

TIMOTHY CUMMINGS was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1968 where he grew up in the midst of Spanish Catholic and Native American culture, fertile with religious imagery and iconography in the churches. Murals and retablos he saw depicting death, martyrdom, and Day of the Dead imagery influenced him. Cummings is completely self-taught. Timothy Cummings is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York.

ALYSSA MONKS was Born 1977 in New Jersey. Monks studied at The New School in New York and earned her B.A. from Boston College in 1999. During this time she studied painting at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence. She went on to earn her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in 2001. Monks completed an artist in residency at Fullerton College in 2006 and has lectured and taught at universities and institutions worldwide. She continues to offer workshops and mentorships and lectures regularly. Alyssa Monks is represented by Forum Gallery, New York.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

EXPO CHICAGO 2022 - Meditative Obsession

EXPO CHICAGO—The International Exhibition of Contemporary Art—opened this weekend at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The show presents artwork from more than 140 of the most prominent international galleries—highlighting an array of fine art created by some three thousand artists. The event offers the opportunity to experience the fine art currently being produced around the globe, while revisiting some of the iconic artists from the past.  

EXPO is substantial—seeming to fill every square foot of Festival Hall. I approached the exhibition in the same way I approach the first visit to a new art museum… Walk until something stops you. This has always been a successful technique when approaching an overwhelming quantity of work. As I wandered the corridors at a slow and scrutinizing pace, I found myself repeatedly standing in front of meditative works—fixed on the result of obsessive technique. 


New to me, was the work of Anne Lindberg, represented by Carrie Secrist Gallery in Chicago. Lindberg’s visually meditative work is composed of thousands of individually placed graphite and colored pencil lines. Beautiful from a distance and uniquely engaging when approached—Lindberg’s complex imagery, pulls the viewer into a seemingly fragile illusionary environment intended to reflect the human condition, yet Lindberg’s world is emotionally powerful. 


As I continued through the show, I came across the Aboriginal paintings of Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, represented by the Smith Davidson Gallery in Miami and Amsterdam. The paintings are stunning. The scale forces engagement. The imagery submerges the viewer into a field of dotted line that occasionally shifts to generate unexpected—but comfortable—transitions. Each segment of the canvas is a meditative moment, but in its entirety, a reminder of the sacredness of nature and our world. 


Finally, I found myself enthralled with the paintings of Ashanté Kindle, represented by the Latchkey Gallery in New York. Kindle achieves sophisticated beauty through an intricate and thickly laid, fluid impasto. Her elaborate abstract color fields generate a level of meditative introspection—offering the opportunity to get lost in glistening movement. For Kindle, these paintings are personal. The created wavelike forms define the natural textures that occur in Black hair. Kindle’s Artist Statement defines the work as “…a form of personal healing… and the desire to celebrate the history and beauty of Blackness.” 


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



ANNE LINDBERG’s work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Venues include:  The Drawing Center (NYC), Tegnerforbundet (Norway), SESC Bom Retiro (Sao Paulo), The Mattress Factory, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Arts and Design NYC, Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, US Embassy in Rangoon Burma, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Akron Art Museum, Cranbrook Art Museum, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati, and the Omi International Art Center, among others. My work is in collections of the Nevada Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Howard and Cindy Rachofsky Collection, Collection of Kristy and Bill Gautreaux, Federal Reserve Bank Kansas City, Niwako Kimono Company, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics among many others. Lindberg is the recipient of the 2011 Painters & Sculptors Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, a Charlotte Street Foundation Fellowship, two ArtsKC Fund Inspiration Grants, a Lighton International Artists Exchange grant, the Art Omi International Artists Residency, an American Institute of Architects Allied Arts and Crafts award, and a Mid-America National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. I hold a BFA from Miami University (1985), and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (1988). Lindberg works out of her studio in Ancramdale, New York.



ASHANTÉ KINDLE characterizes her practice as a form of personal healing: creation driven by a desire to celebrate the history and beauty of Blackness. As a multi-disciplinary artist working in abstraction, she creates abstracted wave forms that resemble the natural textures that occur in Black hair through a range of styling techniques. Kindle currently resides in Mansfield, CT as an MFA candidate at The University of Connecticut. She received her BFA from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. She has exhibited at FALSE FLAG (New York), Red Arrow Gallery (Tennessee), and Center on Contemporary Art (Washington) among others. 



WARLIMPIRRNGA TJAPALTJARRI was born around 1958 east of Kiwirkurra in Western Australia. In 1984 the international headlines were filled with the ’discovery’ of the last group of Australian Aborigines who until the late 20th century had managed to retain their traditional lifestyle in complete isolation. These so-called ’last of the nomads’ or ‘lost tribe’ of nine Pintupi walked in from the bush west of Lake Owen that year and for the first time came into contact with western civilization. Six of these nine Aborigines became artists. From these six, Warlimpirrnga was the first who started painting after carefully observing other artists from the community at Kiwirkurra. Within three years, Warlimpirrnga transformed from a nomad with a traditional lifestyle into one of the leading artists from the Papunya Tula Artists corporation. In 1988, he held his first exhibition in Melbourne. Warlimpirrnga paints primarily in two styles, he makes extensive use of geometric shapes to depict the stories of the Tingari (ancestors), or he uses lines made up of carefully placed dots in his dreamings that depict holy Lake Mackay, a site of which he is one of the custodians. Warlimpirrnga uses the same dot technique as other Pintupi artists like his brothers, Walala and Thomas, but also George Tjungurrayi.


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Joyce Polance - Landscapes

Joyce Polance, Uprising, 2021, 30x36"

I’ve been curating fine art exhibitions for roughly twenty-five years. During that period, I’ve worked with literally hundreds of artists. One of the most prolific and inspiring has been painter, Joyce Polance. I was thrilled to see that Polance's work was selected for exhibition by curator, Suzanne Gorgas of the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery.

Currently on (virtual) exhibition at the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery of Joliet Junior College, is "Landscapes," a vehemently powerful exhibition of paintings by fine artist, Joyce Polance. The exhibition features twenty-one bending, twisting, and flowing compositions that blur the definition of landscape. Each canvas forces the viewer into a chaotic yet texturally-beautiful reality, weaving a visual story of emotional turbulence.

Joyce Polance, Tumbles, 2020, 36x36"

Polance’s abstractions begin with a specific reference. She explains, “once the image is initially laid in, I cease looking at it. Instead, I engage in dialogue with the painting, letting it lead me to unknown places. Objects begin to change shape; planes become distorted, crashing into one another, melting. I often paint upside down in order to view the subject as an abstract composition, enabling me to focus on color and movement rather than on representation."

And Polance isn’t afraid to destroy imagery that she has created. She explains, “In becoming willing to destroy my work, I allow for something entirely new to emerge. These processes occur multiple times during the creation of a piece, removing the image even further from reality.”

Joyce Polance “Landscapes” continues through February 25—with a virtual artist talk scheduled for Wednesday, February 16th at 1pm via Zoom Media. Additional information may be found on the home page of the Joliet Junior College Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery

Joyce Polance, Ticket, 2019, 20x28"

About Joyce Polance: 
Joyce Polance is a New York-based painter working in oils. Her work consists of expressionist portraits and landscapes which explore the chaotic inner worlds of their subjects—both as depiction of the subjects' own vulnerabilities and of their connections to the tumultuous political atmosphere we are currently living in.

Polance has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of multiple grants and awards including six Chicago CAAP grants, a George Sugarman Foundation grant, two Judith Dawn Memorial grants, and a fellowship at Spertus Institute in Chicago. Her paintings are held internationally in private and corporate collections.

Polance was born in New York City in 1965. She attended Wesleyan University and received a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is represented by Judy Ferrara Gallery in Three Oaks, MI, Elephant Room in Chicago, IL, Gallery 13 in Minneapolis, MN, and Hemley Gallery online. Her paintings may be viewed on her website, Follow her on Instagram: @JoycePolance.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

DAVID CARSON - MAD Arts Dania Beach

I spent a couple of hours yesterday morning, exploring the David Carson exhibition currently on display at MAD Arts Dania Beach. The collection chronicles Carson’s extensive body of playfully organic compositions, which—at the beginning of his career—challenged the grid-focused status quo of layout, and now has become a standard in expressive type & image design. 

The exhibition is presented in a series of adjoining rooms, beginning in a formal gallery setting showcasing a series of framed fine art collages—recently featured in projects for Macallan Whisky and Porsche. Produced in 2021, the collages are some of the latest works. These organic pieces call attention to the exploration of basic design—line, color, form, proximity, pattern, texture… and are the result of manipulating actual physical elements to produce cohesive compositions. 

As you move through the exhibit, one of the adjoining rooms features a large glass case displaying numerous books and periodicals. The surrounding walls are adorned with Carson’s iconic magazine covers for Ray Gun, Transworld Skateboarding, and Surfer Magazine. A few steps away—the room opens to a massive “mural” presentation, highlighting various poster and print samples for David Carson’s career.

Other rooms within the exhibit include graphically embellished surfboards, a beautiful series of pieces created from the single phrase “Your Wave is Coming,” a video interview with the artist, and a room of screens displaying a variety of mesmerizing NFT’s of Carson’s work. The work is beautifully presented and the exhibition is a "must see" for both artists and designers. 

XHBTN: THE ART + GRAFIK DESIGN OF DAVID CARSON is free and open to the public and will run at MAD Arts through February 19, 2022. MAD Arts is located at 481 S. Federal Highway in Dania Beach, FL.

On September 8, 1954, Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. He went on to study Sociology from San Diego State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He touched upon graphic designing briefly while attending a two-week commercial designing class at the University of Arizona, in 1980. Subsequently, he attended the Oregon College of Commercial Art to study graphic designing and a three-week workshop in Switzerland as a part of his degree. He also took up a teaching job at a Californian high-school where he taught for several years. Besides, his many talents include professional surfing and he was ranked 9th best surfer in the world, in 1989.

David Carson is a prominent contemporary graphic designer and art director. His unconventional and experimental graphic style revolutionized the graphic designing scene in America during 1990s. He was the art director of the magazine Ray Gun, in which he introduced the innovative typographies and distinct layouts. He is claimed to be the godfather of ‘grunge typography’ which he employed perpetually in his magazine issues.

David Carson's past client list includes Microsoft, Macallan, Armani, Porsche, Nine Inch Nails, Nike, Adidas, Bose, Budweiser, Carver Skateboards, Album surfboards, John Coltrane, David Byrne, Armani, Prince, American Airlines, Apple, Samsung, and many others.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Yasemin Kackar-Demirel - A Virtual Artist Talk - 09.15.21 @12 noon

Yasemin Kackar-Demirel, Windmills yin your mind, 2020, 19.25 x 19.25

Please join Suzanne Gorgas, Gallery Director of the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery of Joliet Junior College, on Wednesday, September 15, at 12pm (CST) for an Artist Talk with Yasemin Kackar-Demirel. Kackar-Demirel will be speaking about her Virtual Exhibition, titled Windmills of Your Mind, currently presented, virtually, at Joliet Junior College. The discussion will be presented via Zoom (Meeting ID 884 9298 6505  Passcode 476729). This is a free event sponsored by the Fine Arts Department of Joliet Junior College. 

A multi-talented artist, this exhibition focuses on the Kackar-Demirel's ongoing series of thread paintings.  In describing this mixed-media, textile work, artist Yasemin Kackar-Demirel's explains that this show includes a selection of thread paintings composed on upcycle fabrics. The embroidery is overlaid with image tracings, chosen from personal architectural photographs. With an obvious interest in abstraction, the artist seems drawn to unique and shifting perspectives. The imagery incorporates seemingly random stains of paint to reinforce architectural structure and guide new patterns and forms. 


Yasemin Kackar-Demirel's exhibition, “Windmills of Your Mind,” will continue through September 17 at the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery of Joliet Junior College. You can also view additional imagery—in various media—on Kackar-Demirel's website...

Yasemin Kackar-Demirel, You will find your way, 2018, 16.5 x 18.5

Yasemin Kackar-Demirel was born in 1978, in Istanbul, Turkey. She works in a range of mediums from paintings to mixed media drawings and works on textiles. Her work is a manifestation of her lived experiences in urban and natural environments; remnants of her mental and physical presence in the various places she visits. Through abstraction, she explores an array of concepts including freedom, boundaries, belonging, adaptability, residuals, and memory. Kackar-Demirel has received her MFA and a Museum Studies Certificate from Northern Illinois University (2004), and her BFA from Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, Turkey (2001). She has had solo exhibitions at The Yard: City Hall Park, New York, Mooney Center Gallery, The College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY, C.A.M. Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey, Courthouse Gallery, Lake George Arts Project, Lake George, NY, and McLean County Arts Center, Bloomington, IL, among other venues. Her works have been exhibited in group shows across the United States as well as internationally in Israel, Italy, and Turkey. She has attended the residency programs at the SVA in New York and AreaOdeon in Monza, Italy. In 2006, she was the recipient of Moon and Stars Project’s exhibition award. Her works have been featured in various catalogs and periodicals including Dovetail, Pikchur, New American Paintings, The Woven Tale Press (Digital), Fresh Paint, INPA 2 by Manifest Gallery. She lives with her son and husband and works in Cortlandt Manor, New York.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sarah Krepp in "Relentless" at Hofheimer Gallery

Sarah Krepp, Detail - White Noise: Interference (614)

The group exhibition—RELENTLESS—opened at the Hofheimer Gallery last Friday evening. This uncompromising collection showcases the work of artists, Ann E. Coulter, Colleen Cox, Frances Cox, Nova Czarnecki, Sarah Krepp, Karen Perl, Joyce Marcus, Emily Rapport, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, and Eleanor Spiess-Ferris. With each artist presenting a sampling of their current work, the show offers a variety of powerful imagery connected with a subtle thread of darkness. In most cases, the artist’s personal truth is offered through symbol or metaphor.

As I drifted through the space, I was continuously pulled to an abstract mixed media work by Sarah Krepp. Titled “White Noise: Interference (614),” the painting is a culmination of found objects inferring the misfortune of a highway accident. Predominantly white with minute elements of black, red, and caution-tape yellow, the image includes wire, frayed tire treads, and recovered objects stitched or adhered to the surface. Glistening globs of silvery-white paint conceal areas of a background, composed of meticulously hand-written notes. Upon closer inspection, the words become random… symbolic of a message lost in translation. 

Lisa Wainwright of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago wrote an essay about Krepp’s work for a solo exhibition at the Rockford Art Museum in 2016. In the essay, Wainwright offers a bit more personal insight into Krepp’s work. After referencing similarities to the bold marks of the Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1960’s, she explains that instead of paint, Krepp creates her marks “…from the scraps of found materials holding personal meaning for the artist.” She goes on to explain that several years ago, Krepp witnessed a highway accident involving her son. “…and while the highway material has served as a kind of fetishistic tokenism ever since, the back story quickly gave way to a much larger viewpoint (Wainwright).

That viewpoint touches on an array of current social issues. The imagery highlights the sins of our society—missing the mark and drifting off course like a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. As a society, we’re closing our eyes to actual science and putting our faith in magical thinking, turning our backs on people who seem to be different, and ignoring uncomfortable topics. From the artist statement… “I seek to question our indulgent contemporary society, as well as present an aesthetically dynamic experience. And she succeeds.

Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60625. For additional information, contact the gallery at 847.274.7550 | The exhibition continues through July 30.

Sarah Krepp, White Noise: Interference (614), text, oil, mixed media on linen, 48″x60″

With an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Krepp has been a noted Chicago artist for more than 25 years. She has shown nationally and internationally, and her work is included in many corporate and private collections. She is a Professor Emeritus of Art and former Chair of the Painting Program in the School of the Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has over 20 years of teaching experience at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Southern Illinois University, the Burren College of Art (Ballyvaughn, Ireland), as well as the University of Illinois. She has taught freshman through graduate level courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, interdisciplinary and site-specific practice, and interdisciplinary critique. Many of her students have gone on to achieve significant success as practicing artists, art educators, and curators.