Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Andrea Harris... From Nature

I've known Andrea Harris since my days at The Fine Arts Building Gallery. She is a wonderful artist and quite a prolific painter. Andrea has worked with a few different subjects but the most interesting to me are her landscapes. Most of her images are created on canvas with oil and wax. The above image, which is included in the "From Nature" exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, is twenty-four inches square and titled "Beyond the Clearing". This image has a loose, impressionistic feel yet created with muted earth tones. The image evokes a quite feeling of tranquillity. The painting is available for $1,200.

I spent some time, talking with Andrea when she dropped off her work for the "From Nature" exhibition. She has been compiling a book which documents this work. A book signing is scheduled for the fall to coincide with a show of her works at Homey Gallery, located at 3656 N. Lincoln in Chicago. If you haven't been to this gallery, make the effort. Being an avid gardener, I found a variety of indoor and outdoor pieces of which I had interest. One such piece was the rug shown below. It is a soft carpet of rock-like texture. I was intrigued.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One Last Detail...

As I went through my day—today—I kept thinking about my Ragdale experience and the images that I created of the grounds. I found this wall of stones on a path near a meadow which leads to the latest Ragdale studio addition.

Details of Ragdale

As a wandered around the tranquil grounds of the Ragdale estate, I found myself photographing the details of the environment. Ragdale is beautiful even on a gray day. There is something wonderful—to visually explore—no matter where you are on the grounds. The environment helps to quiet the mind, allowing introspection. The beauty of the surroundings is the source. I only spent an afternoon and had a wonderful experience. Imagine the benefits of a residency.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Benefiting Ragdale...

The Friday night reception for the "From Nature" exhibition at Gallery 180 was a wonderful event. Many of the exhibiting artists were in attendance. And—as always—the Culinary School of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, catered the event with amazing food and friendly service.

The exhibition was produced to help call national attention to the Ragdale Foundation and to raise money to support the Ragdale residency program. A little background from their web site... "Ragdale artists come from all over the country and around the world to create, write, experiment, research, plan, compose, rejuvenate, brainstorm, and work. Residents' uninterrupted time at Ragdale is their own. In this community of unique individuals, Ragdale also offers the possibilities of dialogue and connections with other artists."

Commissions from the sale of all work presented in the "From Nature" exhibition will be donated to the Ragedale Foundation. The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago is committed to supporting the arts as well as to supporting Ragdale by purchasing at least one of the exhibited pieces for inclusion into the school's permanent collection. Many of the works are still available. Please take a moment to review the work on line at gallery180.com

I attended another Ragdale benefit this rainy Sunday afternoon. The event was held on the fifty-acre grounds of the Lake Forest compound. I had visited a time or two before but I never had the opportunity to explore the surroundings. The environment is peaceful and spectacular... even in the rain. It's obvious why this space would be a wonderful place to create.

The main house

Monday, April 20, 2009

From Nature ~ A National Juried Exhibition to Benefit The Ragdale Foundation

I spent most of the day, on Saturday, hanging the "From Nature" exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. Hanging exhibitions are always like Christmas morning... opening boxes which have made their way across the country and you never know what to expect of the contents. Seeing the actual work—relative to the digital or slide representation—has always intrigued me. It's a lot like studying a painting in an art history book and then seeing that same painting hanging in a museum. There is often a disconnect. But each box that I opened this weekend resulted in finding a treasure.

All of the pieces in the exhibition are wonderful. I found myself shopping as I hung—or placed—each piece. In any case, the exhibition opens today with a reception this Friday, April 24 from 5:30-7:30. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Commissions from the sale of work will be donated to the Ragdale Foundation.

Ragdale is an artists' retreat located on the grounds of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw's 1897 summer home in Lake Forest, Illinois. The artists' community, which is situated just 30 miles north of Chicago and overlooks 50 acres of prairie, now hosts over 200 emerging and established artists of all disciplines each year. These writers, artists, and composers come from around the country and the world to work and experience Ragdale's remarkable gifts of community, tranquility, and creativity. Additional information on the Ragdale residency program can be found at: ragdale.org

Image: Sheila Ganch [sculpture], Deanna Krueger, and Renee McGinnis. Exhibiting Artist Information, Images and Pricing can be found at: gallery180.com/nature.html

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looking at History

Last week, I took a drive to The Steeple Gallery to drop off some work. The Steeple Gallery is in the heart of St. John, Indiana about 45 miles south of Chicago. The building is an old church that has been renovated into an upscale gallery. The gallery is hung salon style with areas dedicated to individual artists. The styles of work range from hyper-real still life to abstraction... truly, something for everyone.

I met Sam [Samantha] the gallery owner, a number of years ago, during a reception at the Fine Arts Building Gallery. She came to visit me in my studio this past winter and was interested in representing some of my older abstract works. She contacted me again—a few weeks ago—to request additional pieces from that series to be included into a group exhibition opening Mother's Day weekend.

Other then pieces that I wanted to retain for my personal collection, most of the work from the series, had been sold years ago. I began looking through the stacks of paintings which line my studio, hoping to find a piece or two that I had forgotten about. What I found, was a portfolio containing a number of hand-pulled lithographic prints from the same series of work. I sat down on the studio floor, looking through prints like flipping through a photo album. The images brought back the memories of some twenty-five years ago, and yet—visually, they seemed timeless.

The prints will be included in the group exhibition at The Steeple Gallery during May. A reception with the artists will be held on Saturday, May 9th from 2-5pm. Additional information can be found at thesteeplegallery.com I hope you are able to attend.

Image: Power Tie, 7.5" x 5", hand-pulled lithograph, edition of 30
Additional work can be found at gniech.com

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nancy Rosen... A Studio Visit

Yesterday morning, I spent some time with Nancy Rosen, reviewing work for her upcoming solo exhibition at Gallery 180. We met at her Chicago studio. The space is an artist’s playground. Its walls are covered with drawings of figures at various stages of completion. The exposed surfaces revel the marks of past work. The space is so comfortable and I had been looking forward to our visit. At our last meeting—this past fall—I found Rosen to be genuine and delightful.

I first met Nancy Rosen a few years back when she entered—and was included into—one of the school’s annual Acquisition Exhibitions. I knew at that time that I wanted to stay aware of the work she was producing. Rosen is a prolific artist who typically paints the female form. Her figures are stylistically reminiscent of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele but her content is much tamer. While Schiele would present imagery focused on masturbation or sexual encounters, Rosen focuses on the intimacy, friendship and compassion between women.

At times her figures are singular with a slight hint of another presence. Most recently, the figures have become flanked by repeating patterns. These patterns interact with the figure and at times they even meld onto the surface of the forms. A color shift is used to stop the figure from fading into the wallpaper, a reference from Rosen's history with textiles. The seemingly symbolic imagery is intense and thought provoking.

Rosen writes on her web site: “I am a painter. For me this does not require much thinking, it is like breathing. What you see in these paintings is your own reflection...” I find her words insightful, for we can only see—in a painting—what has been created by our own experience. Take a moment and review Rosen’s work at nrosen.com. Realize that the site doesn't include Rosen's most current work, but it still presents a wonderful sampling of her imagery.

The work of Nancy Rosen will be on display at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, July 27 –September 11 with an Opening Reception on Friday, July 31 from 5:30-7:30.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

James Walker... Centered

I receive an amazing number of exhibition proposals each month. As they arrive, they are opened and neatly placed in an organized pile in the corner of my office... waiting for me to put aside some time to focus on the contents. Well—for some reason— I was wide awake at six o'clock this morning and it seemed as though now was as good of a time as any.

I began with a proposal that landed in my mailbox weeks—maybe even months—ago. The materials were from James Walker, an artist who has been included in a past juried exhibition at Gallery 180. I believe two pieces were shown and both of them sold. His visually intriguing images are layered with collage, and then drawn into with oil, ink, and correction fluid. His elaborate drawings are a reflection of his surroundings. The imagery focuses on various segments of nature including birds, bone structures, and insects. Walker produces these studies as though documenting the anatomy of these creatures. They exude the impression of scientific illustrations pulled from a Biologist's journal. But Walker has recently begun to incorporate elements of Pop Culture into his imagery. Many of his recent works focus on skateboards... or are produced on actual skateboards. But Walker makes it clear that his work is a visual diary, a "documentary" about life... his life. He attempts to take nothing for granted, staying focused on every moment and documenting his journey.

In any case, take a few minutes to explore James Walker's web site. Be patient, the site is a little slow but the imagery is worth while.

Above Image: James Walker, Harmony, mixed media on vintage record covers, 36" x 36"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roland Kulla ...Wonderfully Obsessive

Generally speaking, I don't have a lot of free time on my hands. But I recently began a 15-week sabbatical from my teaching duties at The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, and what I've found is that I'm beginning to "catch up" with all of the things that I would try to accomplish while handling a rather intense schedule. So... I was sitting in front of my laptop trying to identify the next task to be addressed, and I realized that there was nothing immediately pending. Already at my laptop, I decided to spend some time exploring the numerous web sites which I've bookmarked in the past year or so... most of them containing works by artists that I wanted to review. And then I came across the site of an old friend.

I've known Roland Kulla for roughly fifteen years... basically from the beginning of his career as a fine artist. His work is amazing. His passion for the steel structure of a bridge is obvious. On his web site he declares "...I am fascinated by the functional dynamism of the bridge form. On the most fundamental level, the materials are arranged by engineers to get a job done. There is a rigid logic in the arrangement of bolts and girders... But while we use them, we don't usually stop to "see" them. I find beauty in this mundane reality and express it in my work."

Over the years, Kulla's work has become more and more obsessively detailed. His compositions have evolved to include hidden—or at least subtle implications of—secondary content. Kulla's love and passion for painting light, and the way that it changes in the evening sky, is an extra benefit for the viewer. Take a moment to review his web site. And if you have an opportunity to view the work in person, you won't be disappointed. You may be able to see some of these paintings this May at Art Chicago... most likely presented by the George Billis Gallery out of New York. Roland Kulla... Wonderfully Obsessive... And yes, the above image is a painting!

Image: "Riverside Parkway" 60 x 40" Acrylic on Canvas, 2007

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maggie Meiners... From Nature

I've written about the photography of Maggie Meiners in past posts. And her acceptance into the National Juried Exhibition, "From Nature", gives me yet another opportunity to point out the brilliance of her work. I always find Meiners' imagery to be is so engaging in a quiet, introspective way. Within her abstractions, the viewer is asked to look at a scene they may have experienced numerous times before, and now to look again but with a new set of eyes. These images are about looking at our surroundings and not taking life for granted. They are about focusing on a moment and finding one's self.

You can see "Snow Abstract" in the "From Nature" exhibition presented at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago from April 20-July 24 with an opening reception on Friday April 24th from 5:30-7:30. The show is free to the public and commissions from the sale of work will be donated to the Ragdale Foundation. Additional work by Maggie Meiners can be seen at maggiemeiners.com

Ted Preuss... From Nature

This Ted Pruess image, "Desert Oasis #9", is one of the amazing pieces selected for the "From Nature" Exhibition opening at Gallery 180 on April 20th with the Opening Reception on Friday, April 24th.

Preuss—creating beautiful photographs of women as subject as well as art form—produces these pieces using a Platinum Palladium process. I found a wonderful section on his web site were he explains a bit more about this process then I've discussed in previous posts. The process is intriguing but I believe the most interesting aspect of Preuss' work is the passion for formal elements from which the images seem to be created. In defining his work, Preuss reveals his love for the human form and admits that his images are simply "...studies in light and form which blend formal and sensual qualities...". Take a few minutes to review his "Oasis of Mara" series. I love the image titled "Home". It's clearly about the contrasts of line, shape, texture and color.