Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fluidity: The 4th Annual Bridgeport Art Center Competition

The 4th Annual Bridgeport Art Center Competition opened last Friday night with an energetic, well-attended reception. The Exhibition—Juried by Mary Ellen Croteau and William Lieberman [Zolla/Lieberman Gallery]—is one of the best group exhibitions that I’ve seen in awhile. With a balanced array or imagery from abstraction to realism—including both two and three-dimensional work—the show presents a visual consistency with fluid transition from one end of the gallery to the other. The audience is engaged with each work-of-art offering a new adventure… yet—visually—connected to the pieces prior and post. Due credit should be given to Curator, Lelde Kalmite.

I was taken with the show from the moment I entered the forth-floor gallery. I did a quick scan of the room… said hello to some colleagues and then went off to explore. I circled the room once—to get an overview—then again, more slowly, to intently examine each piece.

Included in the exhibition is a wonderfully ornate canvas by Zachary Williams, titled “The Ocean’s Wide”. Combining the ideas of the horror vacui—reminiscent of Dubuffet—with the surrealistic melting clocks of Dali, Zachary Williams creates an elaborate composition of unrecognizable objects that make the unreal, real. An unusual seascape, Williams presents a tightly knit wall of mesmerizing elements that encourage the continued exploration of his unconventional world.

Zachary Williams, The Ocean's Wide-Detail, 2015, oil on canvas, 24" x 78"

Also included in the exhibition is a 40-inch square photograph [on canvas], titled “Adieu! [Greta Rupeika]” by Carol Estes. The image is startling, yet oddly beautiful. It presents a woman hovering in a shallow pool of water… her seemingly lifeless hand visible just below the surface. She wears elegant horns and dried foliage in her braided blond hair. The beautifully haunting image is reminiscent of a still from a Julie Taymore film.

Carol Estes, Adieu! [Greta Rupeika], 2015, framed photo on canvas, 40" x 40"

One of the more poetic works in the show is an untitled handmade paper, ink, thread, and fabric piece by Yoonshin Park. With a history of book art and creating works-of-art with paper, Yoonshin Park offers a series of conceptual pieces as metaphor for the chapters in a life… the ebb and flow of memories like waves in the ocean. From a recent artist statement, Park explains…
“…As the water rises and falls, pages of our daily experience add and subtract to and from our memory. Our daily life permeates our memory just as the ink is absorbed into each page and creates new shapes and patterns onto what once was a clean slate of a blank page.”

Yoonshin Park, Untitled 2, 2015, handmade paper, ink, threads, fabric, 16" x 10" x .5" [set of three]

The show includes some beautifully fluid sculptural works as well: A floating steel and chain piece by Michael Grucza, titled “Ball and Chain”, A burlap, wood and wire, wall piece, titled “Arpillers” by Marcus Alonso, and an intestine-like fiber piece titled “Polyps” made of steel, organza and plastic, by Molly Ann Wood. There are also two intimate hand carved limestone pieces by June C. Flnnegan that are exceptional. Both sculptures embrace the stone material of their creation and evoke a soothing visual sensitivity. “Grounded in the Garden” is the flatter of the two and “The Butterfly’s Garden” the more dimensional. These forms present the organic characteristics that are found in nature and tempt the caress of the onlooker.

The artists included in the 4th Annual Bridgeport Art Center Competition are: Anthony Abboreno, Macus Alonso, Iman Alsaden, Aviva Alter, Kristin August, Mike Bale, Pedro Basantes, Carol Block, Rose Blouin, Fred Camper, Javier Chavira, Rick Cortez, Jennifer Cronin, Eoin Cullen, Andrew Ek, Carol Estes, Arielle Estrella, June C. Finnegan, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Tracy Frein, David Anthony Geary, Charles Gniech [myself… full disclosure], Michael Goro, Peter N. Gray, Michael Grucza, Daniel Guidara, Andrew Hall, Russell Harris, Clifton Henri, Marilyn Hollander, Jon Hook, Jesse L. Howard, Carolyn Cronin Hughes, Andrew Kim, Beth LeFauve, Judy, Lipman Shechter, Renee McGinnis, Jane Michalski, Shirley Nannini & Candace Wark, (collaborative), Jack Nixon, Yoonshin Park, Gerry Santora, Steven Schwab, J. Michael Taylor, Nancy VanKanegan, Noah Vaughn, Derek Walter, Rebecca Wolfram, Molly, Ann Wood, Reisha Williams, and Zachary J. Williams.

Charles Gniech, Symbiotic, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40"

The 4th Annual Bridgeport Art Center Competition continues through April 1 and is located in the forth floor gallery at 1200 W. 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 8am – 6pm and Sunday, 8am – 12noon.

About the Jurors:

Mary Ellen Croteau received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990 and a MFA from Rutgers University in 1998. She has lectured and exhibited internationally. Croteau has won numerous awards and has been reviewed and reproduced worldwide in books, magazines and on television.

William Lieberman maintains the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in the River North Gallery District of Chicago. Since the 1970’s, the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery has been a top venue for contemporary art in the Chicago and Worldwide. Zolla/Lieberman Gallery is located at 325 W. Huron Street in Chicago. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Unconventional Postage: The work of artist, Jordan Scott

Jordan Scott, "Old Glory" -detail, mixed media and resin on canvas, 36" x 60" 2016

The artist’s studio is a sanctuary. Maybe it’s just the voyeur in me but there is something intriguing about exploring another artist’s workspace. It’s enlightening… It not only offers insight into the artist and their inherent character but also their creative process.

With a long history as an exhibiting artist, gallery director, and exhibition curator, I visit artist studios regularly… always looking for unique work with substantial concept and meaning. Recently—on a sunny but very cold winter day in Chicago—I drove to the Ravenswood neighborhood to meet with Jordan Scott, an amazingly talented fine artist with a passion for life, meditation and the interconnectedness of the universe.

After breaching the steel door of a neighborhood warehouse building—converted into artist workspace—I was shown to Jordan Scott’s sanctuary. A wall of windows allowed the sun to drench the space with light, making it a wonderful environment to review some of his latest pieces. As I settled in, I scanned the room to find postage stamps everywhere… container after container, bowl after bowl. Mostly organized, the only mess was created by the few strays that had been discarded or had fallen to the floor beneath his easel.

With a love for unconventional materials, used out of context, Jordan Scott produces mesmerizing imagery through the repetition of postage stamps. He uses thousands of canceled U.S. postage stamps producing meditative surfaces that allude to communication and the interconnectedness of humanity. When seen from a distance, his technique produces beautiful surfaces of rich color, and as the viewer approaches the work, they are met with the surprising realization of unexpected intricacy.

Scott’s latest body of work introduces a meditative vertical grid-like pattern reminiscent of minimalist artist, Agnes Martin [1912-2004]. Like Martin, the imagery is comprised of a series of repetitive vertical lines that are produced with a monochromatic color scheme. The result is a soothing visual surface. Scott creates the lines by laying similar stamps adjacent to one another. Upon closer inspection, the viewer realizes that each stamp has a unique characteristic… the cancelation marks from somewhere around the world. The consistency of the stamps, contrasted with the uniqueness of the cancelation marks, become metaphor for our global population.

Jordan Scott "Amethyst" mixed media and resin on canvas 30" x 30" 2015

Jordan Scott has a fascination with Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and the interconnectedness of the universe. In past artist statements, he references the exploration of the parts to understand the whole… a global view… and the interconnectedness of the universe. From Scott’s artist statement:
“The postage stamp collages [are] each composed of hundreds or thousands of similar elements, … [creating] an interconnected and interdependent whole much greater than the sum of its parts.” …An idea clearly represented in his work.
With an upcoming exhibition at the Union League Club, Scott plans to exhibit two somewhat different bodies of work. The first is a single representation of the American flag—a theme he has revisited once each year, for the past seven years. With obvious references to patriotism, Americana and Pop culture, the iconic imagery gives a nod to the Abstract Expressionist painter, Jasper Johns [b. 1930]. The second body of work explores a patchwork randomness, which Scott defines as “landscape”. These pieces reference the farmland of the Midwest—as seen from above. Selected intuitively, the seemingly arbitrary color blocks also have a flavor bordering on American folk art… ironically, with a contemporary twist.

Jordan Scott "Old Glory" mixed media and resin on canvas 36"x60", 2016

Jordan Scott will present a solo exhibition titled “Canceled” at the Union League Club of Chicago, opening with a reception for the artist on Thursday March 3 from 5:30-7pm. That evening—at 6pm—he will discus his work as well as the pieces selected for exhibition. The exhibition will continue through April 1st. Keep in mind that there is a dress code at the Union League Club… it’s business casual, which means no blue jeans or gym shoes. The Union League Club of Chicago is located at 65 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago. Additional information can be found on the Union League Club web site at”

Also watch for Jordan Scott’s inclusion in a group exhibition titled “Words, Numbers & Symbols: An Exploration of Letterforms in Fine Art” at The Art Center of Highland Park. The group also includes work by Chicago area artists: Audry Cramblit, Katsy Johnson and Carrie Ann Bronkowski and Florida native, Tim Yankosky. Each of the exhibiting artists incorporates letterforms into their work to present a unique visual message. The Art Center-Highland Park exhibition will run from March 4 – April 7 with a public reception on Friday, March 4th from 6:30 – 9pm. The Art Center is located at 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park. Additional information can be found online at:

Jordan Scott’s work is also available at Artspace 8, located on the third and forth floors of the 900 North Michigan Building on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Additional information can be found online at: