Thursday, April 11, 2024

JAMES DEEB – The Other Art Fair – Chicago

James Deeb, Wallflower, oil on board, 14 x 17"

In 2014, I wrote the introduction for a catalog of work by Chicago Artist, James Deeb. The catalog, Masks & Other Stories: small works by James Deeb, highlighted a sampling of the artist’s intimate paintings, each produced with a heavy application of glistening oil paint. Although Deeb’s technique remains consistent and his imagery continues to be inspired by the mysteriously macabre, the artist is exploring new subjects and an expanded color palette. James Deeb’s artist statement lends insight into this most recent modification.

“...I use my work as an attempt to find empathy and pathos... no matter how “dark.” Empathy and pathos, however, have been hard to come by these past few years. As a result, many pieces in my new body of work are visual reports on the pervasive climate of fear and anxiety that I sense around me...”

The work of James Deeb is on view in Booth 79 on the second floor of The Other art Fair, which opens tonight at Artifact Events. With a new twist of the art experience, The Other Art Fair combines affordable artworks by 110 artists, immersive installations, performances, musical entertainment, and a fully stocked bar.

Artifact Events is located at 4325 North Ravenswood Avenue, in Chicago. The Other Art Fair continues through the weekend... Tonight, Thursday the 11th, 6-10 pm; Friday the 12th, 5-10 pm; Saturday the 13th, 11-7 pm; Sunday the 14th, 11-6 pm. Tickets are available online at:

James Deeb, Earthbound, oil, 20 x 16"

James Deeb, Rag Doll, oil, 18 x 24" 

James Deeb was born behind the wall in West Berlin in 1964. He remembers drawing a lot as a child and making animated movies with lumpy clay dinosaurs. He graduated from Indiana University at South Bend in 1988 and received an MFA from Western Michigan University in 1994.  Deeb’s work is darkly humorous and melancholy in roughly equal measures. He refers to it as art in a minor key.

Learn more about James Deeb at

Thursday, March 28, 2024

EXPO CHICAGO - April 11-14

EXPO CHICAGO 2024, is returning to Navy Pier from April 11th to 14th for its eleventh iteration. Expo will Showcase 170 of the world's outstanding galleries from 75 cities and 29 nations. The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art will showcase the work of more than 3,000 artists and—as aways—host a wide range of diverse programming.

This year's exposition will introduce specialized segments, including EXPOSURE—dedicated to solo and dual artist presentations from galleries in operation for less than a decade, PROFILE which highlights individual artist installations and thematic exhibitions presented by distinguished international galleries, Editions + Books which presents a curated selection of artist books, editions, and multiples, and—of course—Special Exhibitions offer meticulously curated displays by non-profit organizations. 

Kyle Flubacker, photo

Exhibitor information, scheduled programming, and ticket information can be found at
This is an annual event not to be missed!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Judging ...WHAT THE HECK??!!!

Bradford Purse, Detail, “Pop-Up Balloon Safari at Failing Wildlife Monument”, oil on canvas

Curating a group exhibition is always a challenge. Hours, days—even weeks—are spent viewing, re-viewing, and selecting work that tells an exceptional story with a visual throughline. Having curated more than a hundred exhibitions, I understand the process. Curators, Janice Meister, Claudia Craemer and Debbie Craemer embraced the challenge. Meister selected the wide range of art objects, and the Craemer sisters presented them exquisitely within the Tall Grass Gallery. 

The works in this show surprise, bewilder, and amuse the viewer with strange combinations of reality. I was able to preview the show and honored to select the award-winning work. The judging process is always completely subjective based on the judge’s life experience, knowledge, and personal bias. That said, here are my award selections. 

Award of Excellence
Bradford Purse, “Pop-Up Balloon Safari at Failing Wildlife Monument” oil on canvas.

Timely and beautifully painted, Purse takes an opportunity to make a powerful statement about the state of the world today. With a bit of dark humor and skillful brush, I found myself lost in the beautiful details of the composition. 

Award of Excellence
Jeanne Garrett, “Gold among the Ashes” archival pigment print on rice paper with gold leaking. 

Loosely reminiscent of the work of Jane Fulton Alt who photographed controlled prairie burns in the early 2000s, this intimate piece presents the silent elegance of the destruction and rebirth of the forest floor. Garrett explores various levels of depth within an abstract landscape. Perhaps a comment of the current climate crisis, the image offers many conceptual interpretations. 

Award of Excellence
Patricia Stewart, “Wear Pills Meet Fashion” mixed media assemblage: medicine bottles, wood hanger, IV hanger. 

Stewart’s “Wear Pills Meet Fashion” is a statement that highlights the need for some to medicate as a daily ritual—like getting dressed. But the piece also—perhaps unintentionally—comments on the marketing campaigns produced by the pharmaceutical industry, that encourage the masses to accessorize with pills. The number of empty prescription bottles seems to underscore the issue. This unique assemblage is a conceptual version of Munch’s “The Scream.”

Third Place:
Richard Burd, “Elgin Joliet and Eastern Railroad, Park Forest” black and white digital print.

Beautifully composed, this photograph offers a nostalgic moment with a twist of humor. The lavish abundance of textures found throughout the image offer a range of tactile secondary focal points to explore.
Second Place:
Randy Buvala, Detail, “Staying Home to Watch the Rain” charcoal on paper with found objects.

Drawn to the honesty of the materials, this culmination of elements results in a fascinating encounter. The rich application of charcoal creates a soft and enchanting experience, like that of a childhood fable.

First Place:
Bradford Purse, “Ebbing Tides of the Heart” oil on canvas.

Beginning a unique visual conversation dealing with universal subjects, Purse presents luxurious imagery to challenge the audience into considering the world in which we live. He dares the viewer to spend time within his compositions, offering up expertly executed details that invigorate the canvas and entice the viewer. I found it difficult to walk away, and when I did, I found myself being pulled back to explore further. Brad Purse is truly a master of both concept and technique. 

The artists included in the WHAT THE HECK??!!! exhibition are, Jay Anderson, Marcia Babler, Judi Boehner, Richard Burd, Randy Buvala, Rita Dianni-Kaleel, Carol Estes, Mary Flynn, Jeanne Garrett, Janet Glazar, Nickie Gunning, Luis Gutierrez, Judith Hanacek, David Jagodzinski, Marie Karambis, Amanda Lorance, Lucy Mueller, Bob Nardi, Diane O’Connor, Bradford Purse, Tali Rachelle, Mary Schiller, Doug Stein, Patricia Stewart, Tanya Wingo-Brown, and Kelly Witte.

WHAT THE HECK??!!! will continue through March 16, 2024, at the Tall Grass Art Gallery located at 367 Artists Walk in Park Forest, Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am - 4pm. Learn more at

Friday, January 5, 2024

MEMORY - Christopher Art Gallery of Prairie State College

Frances Cox, Memory of Watching Plants, 32x32 in, oil on canvas

A juried exhibition titled Memory, opened this week at the Christopher Art Gallery of Prairie State College. The exhibition, curated by Gallery Director Beth Shadur, includes a variety of work addressing the ideas of past experience and nostalgia. 

The school’s gallery guide points out, “Our ability as humans to make and remember memories is what makes experiences rich and defining in our lives. Actually, all living beings have memory, and this is evident by the mysterious ways in which birds migrate successfully, our pets learn our requests for obedience, and how activities for living beings become habitual. But for artists, the ability to process and then elicit memory is particularly profound.”

Frances Cox was raised in a Chicago neighborhood where her parents owned the local bakery. Some of her earliest memories were of drawings produced on an unlimited supply of brown wrapping paper acquired from the family business. She remembers family drives from the city, exploring the countryside and nature. As her work as an artist evolved, Cox redefined landscapes and nature-inspired still-lives.

The work of Frances Cox defines beautiful abundance. Cox orchestrates the repetition of form, pattern, and texture creating lavish compositions with her unique visual vocabulary and a seductive use of jeweled color tones. Each canvas persuades the viewer to renounce reality and immerse themselves into a new organic world. The distinctive contrasting color patterns create a lavishly orchestrated composition suggestive of an abstract cornucopia. 

Other artist included in the exhibition include Joan Ackerman-Zimny, Marcia Babler, Wayne Bertola, Pate Conaway, Helen Dannelly, Jeanne Garrett, Leslie Hirshfield, Pauline Kochanski, Alejandro Lugo, Mary Lynn Maloney, Janice Meister, Betty Ann Mocek, Karen Musgrave, Carol Neiger, Julie Rivera, Jihye Shin, Aaron Sims, and Colette Wright Adams.

The Memory exhibition continues through January 25 at the Christopher Art Gallery. A reception for the artists is scheduled for Wednesday, January 17, 11 am- 1:30 pm. The gallery is found on the main campus of Prairie State College, located at 202 South Halsted Street, Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411. Learn more at