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