Sunday, October 22, 2017

Roland Kulla ~ "Industrial Strength" at ZIA Gallery

This past Friday, I drove up to ZIA Gallery in Winnetka to see the current exhibition of paintings by Roland Kulla. Unable to attend last week’s opening reception, I was excited to see Kulla’s latest work on the gallery walls.
Roland Kulla, Calumet Double Lift II, 40x53"

Roland Kulla has created a new series of large-scale acrylic paintings under the title of “Industrial Strength”. With a long history of utilizing the bridge as subject, Kulla begins to move past the cropped detail of abstraction to full-framed recognizable industrial landscape. But Kulla hasn’t totally discarded the abstract-complexity of industrial pattern; he has included it as a way to frame the scene. He presents a secondary subject—a speeding train or the yellow line of an unoccupied road—and surrounds it with patterns of steel. In a refreshing twist, the identifiable works are often flanked by canvases depicting just abstract pattern. Both versions offer the viewer an abundance of detail to explore.

ZIA|Gallery is located at 548 Chestnut Street in Winnetka, Illinois. The gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm and by appointment. The exhibition continues through November 11th.

Monday, September 18, 2017

"From Here – Desde Aqui" work by Pedro Javier Palacios and Rodrigo Montoya Ortiz at the Laura A Sprague Gallery of Joliet Junior College

Rodrigo Montoya Ortiz "Huitzil" Mixed Media

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 21st, 6:30-8pm

After I finished Grad school in the late 80’s—earning a terminal degree in Painting—I moved to Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. It was actually Buena Park but Uptown was just across the street to the north. I lived in a secure high-rise building with a twenty-four hour doorman. It was a “changing” area. On most weekend nights, the sounds of gunshots were a substitute for the crickets of my suburban upbringing. As I explored my new surroundings, I was intrigued with the graffiti-filled walls of the neighborhood. The paintings I had been making were nothing remotely related to Graffiti, but I was fascinated with the style, or maybe just the fluid shapes, use of color and dripping paint. And then there was the rush from the implied danger. 

Living blocks from the lakefront, I had this fantasy of publishing a “call for graffiti writers”—having them meet at Montrose beach park. I would supply them with all the required materials including stretched and primed wall-sized canvases to paint as they wished. When completed I would arrange for the canvases to be exhibited in one of the high-end Chicago Galleries—elevating the perception of graffiti from vandalism to intellectual social commentary. Well, I never brought that idea to fruition but someone did. Unknown to me at the time, graffiti-inspired work had begun showing up in New York galleries—beginning in the 1980s.

As I entered the Laura A Sprague Gallery of Joliet Junior College, memories of my past were triggered. The current exhibition presents mixed media works created by Pedro Javier Palacios and Rodrigo Montoya Ortiz under the title “From Here – Desde Aqui”. The pieces range from relatively large graffiti-covered canvases to smaller digital graphic explorations that seem to reference the timely subject of immigration reform. The objects within the exhibition include ornately decorated spray-paint cans and numerous wooden found objects laced with digitally reproduced drawings of religious iconography. This sort of found and re-purposed imagery is incorporated into most of the work on display. 

Rodrigo Montoya Ortiz "Emojis" Image Cut Out, spray Paint on Spray Can

A quick read of the artist statements highlights the influences of graffiti, faith, nature and cultural heritage. The unique combination of these elements—within a single show—offer the audience an unusual challenge… attempting to decipher disjointed and fragile through-lines. The exhibition is an interesting collaboration with some beautiful—and unique—pieces. It should be explored unhurriedly.

The opening reception of “From Here – Desde Aqui” will be held on Thursday, September 21st from 6:30-8pm at the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery of Joliet Junior College. The Gallery is located at 1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, Illinois 60431. The exhibition will continue through October 16th. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Corinna Button - Interfaces

Through this Sunday…
There are only a few days before the conclusion of “Interfaces” … Corinna Button’s exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center. If you haven’t yet experienced Button’s work, now is the time. 

Presented in the Cleve Carney Gallery of the Hyde Park Art Center located at 5020 S. Cornell Avenue—in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood—Button Presents a series of both two and three-dimensional works that interpret the multifaceted experience of being a woman. 

Referencing the Cubist movement and utilizing the female form as muse, Button’s treatment of the subject often incorporates multiple angles at once—suggesting the paradox of femininity and a multifaceted existence. Utilizing layered materials with embedded textures and scratched surfaces; she alludes to the encrusted complexities of a woman's reality. With a twisted dichotomy, each painting, print and sculpture addresses the beauty that women expose to the world—with fashion and pageantry—but the work also exposes the veiled layers of a darker reality. 

This is a “must see” exhibition. The Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S. Cornell Avenue in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. For additional information visit

Influenced by German Expressionism, interdisciplinary artist Corinna Button seamlessly incorporates printmaking techniques into her paintings and ceramic sculptures. She has had more than twenty solo exhibitions and has been featured in numerous group shows and fairs across the world, including Artists Interpret Shakespeare at Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst), and Chicago Invasion at Blue Rider Gallery (Taipei, Taiwan). Her artwork can be found in the public collections of the BBC, The University of Aberystwyth and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Button completed the Center Program at Hyde Park Art Center, where she reignited her interest in new techniques and forms in clay. While in Chicago (2010-2016), her practice was rooted in a studio at Zhou B Art Center. She holds a BA (honors) in painting from Leeds Metropolitan University School of Art and a postgraduate degree in printmaking from Croydon School of Art. She is an elected member of The Royal Society of Painters and Printmakers, London and currently lives and works in London, UK.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CURATORS CREATE continues through July 7th

Installation view: Charles Gniech, Untitled 40" x 60" 

The exhibition titled CURATORS CREATE continues at the Bridgeport Art Center through July 7th. The exhibition presents a diverse assortment of work produced by ten regional Artist/Curators, including: Mary Ellen Croteau, Charles Gniech, Sergio Gomez, Stano Grezdo, Lelde Kalmite, Alan Leder, Dolores Mercado, Betty Ann Mocek, Joyce Owens and Georgia Schwender,

The Bridgeport Art Center is located at 1200 W. 35th Street in Chicago. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 8am - 6pm and Sunday 8am - 12 noon. Parking is free and available on the north side of the building. The gallery is located on the 4th floor. Learn more at:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Igor & Marina at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

An exhibition of paintings by Igor Kozlovsky & Marina Sharapova—better known in the art world as Igor & Marina—is currently on view at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The show—titled Classic. Witty. Mysterious.—is a spattering of imagery, selected from various bodies of work that have been created over the past five years (2012–2017). The imagery remains consistent in technique with beautifully rendered porcelain figures presented against an array of gorgeous backgrounds—uniquely perfect for each individual canvas. Surprising symbolism is injected throughout the show.

Igor & Marina, Amulet, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48" 

Amulet, an oil on canvas painting measuring 36 x 48”, depicts two beautifully ghostly figures—standing back to back and connected by their flowing red hair—woven together and adorned with pearls. The wonderful shapes within the background, mimics the hair's frayed loose ends. The figures become apparitions, dressed in fashionable attire covered with gridded modules of transparent pattern. Each wears an amulet around their neck as a symbol of protection from an entity that seems to blow through them. 

Igor & Marina, Detail, Amulet, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48" 

Igor & Marina’s subjects seem to focus primarily on women and children. The paintings offer a re-imagined approach of classic paintings from which the compositions are derived. But this imagery becomes timeless through the hands of this prolific duo. The eternal characters are dressed in period fashion which at times, could vary well be surealist couture. Amazing imagery. 

Igor & Marina’s Classic. Witty. Mysterious. will remain on exhibition at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery—located at 325 W. Huron, Chicago, Illinois—through May 20th. Additional information may be found at: or by calling 312.944.1990

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Yale Factor: "4 Decades" at the Zhou B Art Center

In the mid 1980s, I was studying Illustration at Northern Illinois University. To my recollection, the program offered two professors with which to work… Jay Paul Bell and Yale Factor. Both were amazing father figures who had high expectations of their students and—as with most children—the students never wanted to disappoint them.

As well as being talented Illustrators, both Jay Paul Bell and Yale Factor were—and continue to be—fine artists. For most of his career, Bell has been producing beautiful large-scale paintings of rural landscape… not too strange considering NIU’s cornfield location. But Factor has moved through numerous subjects of passion—from beautiful graphite renditions of faces, to obsessively complex painted landscape, and personalized still life compositions that play with the viewer’s sense of reality. The work of Yale Factor presents a compulsively detailed exploration of the subject. And for the past five weeks, the evolution of Factor's career has been on display in a retrospective titled “4 Decades” at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. 

Yale Factor "Ruminations of a curious mind"

I visited the exhibition last night. It was beautifully staged with a central alter of paintings, which I believe were produced in the 80s. They offered ridiculously detailed, old-world renditions of the acquisition of knowledge… Opened books presenting scientific illustrations accompanied by various lab specimens, or wrinkled roadmaps defining a journey intertwined with unique personalized objects. The paintings are intriguingly unique. 

Yale Factor

But as I explored the room, I found—on an exterior wall—an intimate study of a gasping piranha. I was intrigued with this image: A beautifully rendered powerful animal, struggling to breath…mouth open exposing its razor sharp teeth—body wrenched… searching for the water from which it was taken. The incident takes place against a soft-focus surreal achromatic background—perhaps an oil stained beach or haze induced sky. Conceivably a comment on the current global climate crisis? 

The exhibition closed last night during a “Third Friday” event but the opportunity to view Factor’s work remains. He has a studio/gallery within the Zhou B Art Center, located at 1029 W. 35th Street in Chicago, Illinois 60609. Contact him at:, or by phone at: 815.762.5243

Friday, March 10, 2017

Joliet Junior College: Studio Art Faculty Exhibition

Foreground: Charles Gniech, "Breath" acrylic on canvas 60" x 72"

The JJC Studio Art Faculty Exhibition opened this week in the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery of Joliet Junior College, located at 1215 Houbolt Road in Joliet, Illinois. The exhibition includes a wide variety of media by thirteen of the fine art professionals, currently teaching at the college.

Exhibition director, Joe Milosevich, organized the compilation of diverse content expressed through assemblage, sculpture, painting and digital media. The exhibition includes work by Terry Adams, Susan Franker, Elise Kendrot, Todd Reed, Steve Sherrell, Lloyd Wassenaar, Ann Blaas, Margie Glass-Sula, Eric Gorder, Joe Milosevich, Gary Schirmer, Garry Vettori, as well as myself.

I am please to be included in the exhibition with two recent works… “Breath” a 60 x 72 inch, 2-panel acrylic painting on canvas [shown above] and an “Untitled” acrylic on canvas painting, measuring 60 x 40 inches, from 2016.

My work continues the exploration of meditative surfaces—inspired by the sacred and mystical stone circles found throughout Great Britain. With nature-inspired color harmonies, the once-fluid media weaves an ornate surface producing a mesh of complex tone and texture. The work has evolved into imagery of trickling formations that encourage contemplative introspection.

As I roamed the exhibition, I found myself drawn to the work of two specific artists… These are colleagues with whom I have yet to encounter. 

Margie Glass-Sula, The Pulpit, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 24

Exhibiting a number of intimate canvases—as well as a floor-standing wooden sculpture—is artist, Margie Glass-Sula. With beautiful forms inspired by nature, her work exudes a sense of peaceful harmony. Presented in quiet tints of color, the abstracted forms seem to be inspired by protective barriers found in nature. The work conveys the essence of seedpods, seashells, hives and nests but not with literal interpretation. The work takes us to another world… a world not commonly seen in our busy urban lives.

Researching the work further, I found Glass-Sula’s artist statement. It reads—in part, “My work explores the quiet simplicity of things….”.

Steve Sherrell, String Theory, Acrylic on panel, 36 x 24

Another standout in the show is a painting by Steve Sherrell titled “String Theory”. Drawn into the beauty of the interconnected organic cellular forms—created with both transparent and opaquely layered wet media—I was reminded of the sculptures of Jean Dubuffet. But Sherrell’s 2-dementional painting has greater depth then the 3-dementional work created by Dubuffet …clearly two artists with dissimilar intent. Sherrell presents a complex collaboration of flat shapes with loosely outlined quivering edges. Neutral tones with quiet hints of color, present a unique organic structure that seems to float—yet connects to distant forms of similar structure.

I looked down at the identifying label to find the title “String Theory”. Now, the study of physics is not my strong point but I have a recollection that string theory defines minute particles—not as we think they are but as vibrational energy. It’s the scientific version of new age thinking of the 1990’s. Steve Sherrell’s “String Theory” is a beautiful though-provoking piece.

The JJC Studio Art Faculty Exhibition is well worth the trip out to Joliet. The Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery is located at 1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, IL 60431. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm. The exhibition continues through March 31st.