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.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Frances Cox – Hofheimer Gallery

Frances Cox, Summer, oil on canvas, 36 x 38"

A World Apart—the exhibition of vibrantly colorful oil paintings by Frances Cox and Michael Noland—will open with a reception at the Hofheimer Gallery on Friday, April 5th from 5-8 pm. 

I’ve followed the career of Frances Cox for the past decade. I was first introduced to her beautifully-organic imagery, while curating exhibitions for a small upscale gallery in Three Oaks, Michigan. At that time, she was working on a series of paintings related to a recent tsunami disaster. The imagery was powerfully haunting yet beautiful—composed of teal, blue and green organic shapes adorned with elaborate patterns. These luminous elements alluded to the tragedy that occurred in a paradisiacal environment normally bursting with an abundance of brilliant color.

Over the years, I’ve work with Cox on a variety of exhibitions. Generally, her work is botanically-inspired figurative still life, with clear references to Art Nouveau—highlighting organic design motifs including vine tendrils, flowers, and the human form. Cox’s canvases are gracefully composed, offering the viewer layer-upon-layer of detailed nuance. But the beautiful forms that emerge from the complexity are never subtle. They are bold, direct, and demanding of the viewer’s attention.

Cox explains, “When I look at plant forms, I view them as botanical singularities having the characteristics of other living things. I transfer to plants, metaphors for human feelings and appearances.”

As I previewed the exhibition, I found myself drawn to the beautiful complexity of the canvas titled Summer. This 36 x 38-inch composition plays with a variety of contrasts; the use of a complementary color pallette, large open areas juxtaposed with highly detailed modeled patterns, and a popping of light and dark.

In much of her work, Cox utilizes dark outlines to build form and distinguish shape. This technique presents a visual trail leading the captivated viewer through the composition, introducing quiet details. From a distance, yet another surprise emerges. Each canvas melds into the sum of its parts, becoming a completely new and unique abstraction.

Frances Cox, Dancing Tree, oil on canvas, 40"x40"

Dancing Tree is another gem in this collection. The 40-inch square canvas seems to be channeling the essence of Winged Victory with its flowing Grecian gown and wings raised in triumph. But the fluidity isn’t lost on me. References to Art Nouveau and the work of Will Bradley come to mind. Bradley’s poster for The Chap Book, 1895 offers similar forms. In both samples, billowing shapes seamlessly flow into one another—defining edges where none exist, repeating shape for complexity, and challenging the viewer’s perception.

A World Apart, featuring the work by Frances Cox and Michael Noland, opens Friday, April 5, with a reception from 5-8pm. The artists will be in attendance. The Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen in Chicago [60625]. Gallery Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11-5 and by appointment. For additional information contact the gallery at 847.274.7550 or visit …A World Apart continues through April 25, 2019.

Frances A. Cox was raised in Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Marquette University and attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited nationally, earning Cox well-deserved recognition and numerous awards.

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

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.

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.