Thursday, May 23, 2013

Roland Kulla ~ ZIA Gallery

St. Charles Air Line, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 60” x 40”

Save the Date: Saturday June 8, 5-7pm

For the past twelve years, Chicago painter Roland Kulla, has focused his attention on the complex structures of bridges. With an obsession for detail, his work has evolved from hyper real imagery depicting idealized nuts and bolts to the current exhibition of hyper real and gritty functional railroad bridges.

Roland Kulla began his career as a fine artist in the late 90’s after more than thirty years as a caseworker, administrator, researcher, teacher and consultant. His early paintings focused on the heightened reality of the mundane—causing the viewer to take a second look at an object that would typically go unnoticed.

 Fast Slow, 2003, oil on canvas, 36" x 40"

In 2003, the paintings progressed to consider the element of “rust”… the slow rot of the massive bridges. Time became a visual element within the work. Kulla utilized environment, blurred backgrounds, and the decay of previously hard edge metal forms. He defined the rust images as metaphor for his personal aging process as well as  making reference to the politics of the period.

By 2005, Kulla was working on a series of paintings that focused on tightly cropped bridge details with no true up or down. Most of the “Deco” images were produced so that they could be hung to the owner’s liking.

After 2005, Kulla began to explore bridge cities beyond Chicago. In 2006 he produced a series based on the bridges of Boston, 2007; New York, and 2008; Pittsburgh. By 2010 he created “Urban Patterns” an exhibition of paintings focusing on the bridges of New York and New Jersey. And by 2011; Berlin was the subject.

Tegeler II, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 45"

Roland Kulla's new body of work begins an exploration of railroad bridges. Kulla explains:
“…In contrast to transportation bridges—where civic pride usually requires elements of conventional architectural beauty—the railroad bridge is all about function. It has to be strong enough to carry the heavy weight of loaded trains. Movable railroad bridges add another layer of complexity. This focus on solving a problem with maximum efficiency results in some amazing forms. They do not need to look pretty; they just need to get the job done.”
RR: New works featuring railroad bridges by Roland Kulla will be presented at ZIA Gallery from June 8 through July 20, with and opening reception on Saturday, June 8th from 5-7pm. ZIA Gallery is located at 548 Chestnut St., Winnetka, IL 6009. Parking is free and abundant.

847.446.3970 •

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don Pollack ~ Perimeter Gallery

Don Pollack, Detail from "American Landscape" 2012
oil on panel, 7 panels each 9 x 7 inches

“34 Days to Washington” is the current exhibition by artist, Don Pollack, on view at Perimeter Gallery in Chicago. It’s an interesting exhibit that chronicles a recent 2046 mile bicycle journey that followed Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural train route from Springfield to Washington D.C. The exhibition consists of paintings, maps and significant objects that compare and contrast the parallel expeditions. From Pollack’s statement…
I propose that the time has come to recognize the human powered act of riding a bicycle as an artistic gesture. The form is about movement and the measure of place. Slow movement and long distance travel situates a rider in an intimate relationship within the landscape…
Pollack goes on to describe his touring speed in relation to that of a horse and buggy… offering a slower, simpler transition of the scenic countryside. He attempts to mimic the same perception that Lincoln would have experienced on his journey. The images are peaceful but not typical of landscape painting. He incorporates graphic elements to his imagery and offers interesting twists to the landscape theme.

Continuing through May 31st, this exhibition is well worth exploring. Perimeter Gallery is located at 210 W. Superior Street in Chicago. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 to 5:30.

Rhonda Gates, "Steeling Blue Away", 2011, oil on panel, 16" x 20

While you’re there, check out the lower level gallery. There is an exhibition of abstract modular paintings by Rhonda Gates that’s also quite wonderful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Carl Holzman ~ Gallery H

Carl Holzman, "Gallos Rojas" oil on canvas, 30 x 30"

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it's time for Chicago's elite to make their way up to Michigan to open their beach homes for the summer. Just across the Indiana / Michigan border, on Lake Michigan, is Harbor Country. Just inland, there is a wonderful little town called Three Oaks… And as you make your way through the center of town, you will find a beautiful Chicago-caliber gallery; Gallery H.

Nancy Hoffman opened Gallery H some seven-or-eight years ago, presenting a variety of contemporary works ranging from abstraction to hyperrealism… from paintings and sculpture to mixed media and photography. Hoffman continues to represent many of the artists she began with, but she’s always searching for new and amazing works of fine art.

This year, Gallery H opens its season with the paintings of Carl Holzman. Holzman—a truly gifted artist—creates beautiful still life imagery using antiques as subject matter. His muted use of color tones and modulation of light and dark are intriguingly intoxicating—luring the viewer into the picture plane and offering an opportunity to explore the past with a new perspective. The pieces are enticing. If you have the opportunity to make in up to Harbor Country in the next few weeks, you should consider a side trip to Gallery H to experience Holzman’s work.

Gallery H is located in at 15 South Elm Street in Three Oaks, Michigan. Gallery hours are: Fridays 12pm-5pm / Saturdays 12pm - 6pm EST / Sundays 12pm - 5pm EST

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ginny Mangrum ~ Selections from the Collection

"Subway", digitally enhanced photograph from film, edition of 15, 16 x 20", 2009

Included in the current exhibition—"Selections from the Collection" at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago—is a digitally enhanced photograph from film by Ginny Mangrum, titled "Subway". The moody, high contrast image was purchased from the "photo '11" exhibition, for inclusion into the School's permanent Fine Art Collection. Mangrum's work from this series eliminates references to society, inviting the viewer into an unsettling environment. Mangrum explains...
“Subway”, is an image from the “Night Moves II” series. This series of black and white, digitally enhanced film photographs, examines the psychological associations existing within private and public places photographed without people. These voyeuristic observations are shot at night to emphasize an unsettling tension. Elements are isolated from surrounding activities, containing them within a portal and framed by a large darkened canvas. Because signage and identifying information has intentionally been eliminated, the image delineates the vulnerability of the space, and infuses it with suspense—waiting for something to happen.
"Subway" is just one of fifteen pieces selected to be exhibited in the final exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The exhibition is scheduled to continue through July 8th. Most of the collection can be viewed at

Gallery 180 is located at 180 N. Wabash—at the corner of Lake and Wabash—in Chicago’s Loop. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm. Admission is free.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Selections from the Collection ~ Gallery 180

Julia DelNagro Oehmke, "Back View" oil, 24"x18"

This past weekend, I installed my final exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The exhibition consists of work that has been shown and collected by the school, over the past decade. Fifteen pieces, make up the exhibition that tends to focus more on thought-provoking perception than literal subject. This is evident even within the figurative imagery included in the exhibition.

There are six pieces in the exhibition that use the figure as subject—some more obviously than others—but each conveys a message beyond the obvious.

Shown above, “Back View” by Julia DelNagro Oehmke, presents a beautifully painted semi-nude figure, abstracted through style and composition. The form is revealed through harsh lighting with deep shadows exaggerating a restricted pose that conceals the extremities. The tightly confined torso mimics the tension found in the subtle ripple of flesh in the lower back, the draped fabric grasping at the hips, and the tightly pulled hair. The image defines restriction and confinement… It’s not simply a painting of a beautiful woman.

Two photographs by Maggie Meiners are included in the exhibition. The figurative piece of the two—“Joe”—was acquired during the national juried exhibition titled “Photo 11”. The image presents the portrait of a shy—and heavily jeweled, bearded man—exposing only a collection of rings and a quiet smile. The repetition of the subject’s fingers, comprise a complex pattern of horizontal lines, interrupted by an occasional trinket of metal, a highlight on skin or an unusually bright fingernail. The photograph—a portrait—is something more than just a portrait. It’s a composition defined by line, form, contrast, and repetition.

Maggie Meiners, "Joe", Silver Gelatine Print

“Family Circles”, an oil painting by Janet Doroba, features flat roughly modulated shapes of color to define the human form. The blurred, faceless figures—mostly turned away from the viewer—create an image reminiscent of a distant memory or dream. The vague depictions offer an opportunity for the viewer to explore personal relationships as well as the relationships of color combinations. The complementary color palette utilizes orange and blue to intensify the perceived color of each… perhaps referencing the intensity of family relationships.

Janet Doroba, "Family Circles" oil, 28"x22"

“From the Top Looking Down” by painter/sculptor/conceptual artist, Paula Kloczkowski Luberda is one of the larger pieces in the exhibition. The 48”-square, mixed media on wood image defines success …or perhaps failure. As in corporate America today, humanity is minimized. Each figure stands—or peeks over—the edge to evaluate their own success, unaware of the figures above and behind. The viewer seems to have the ultimate view.

Paula Kloczkowski Luberda, "From the Top Looking Down" mixed media on wood, 48"x48"

Michael Jankowski has two pieces in this exhibition that abstractly utilize the human form. With an aggressive drawing style displayed in “Letting Go”, Jankowski forcefully applies charcoal to paper and then gently erases into the surface to revile the likeness to the human form. The aggressive marks—seemingly referring to the chaos of life—are contrasted by a ghostly representation of skeletal remains. The image seems to represent the release of anxiety after leaving the physical form.

Jankowski’s second piece from the collection is titled “Untitled: He’s Number 8”. With a lighter, more delicate touch, this image subtly emerges from the page to invite the viewer into an environment of treasures. Diagonal lines mimic the aggressive marks of “Letting Go” but this quieter technique is less startling. With the implication of a figure buried within layers of random objects, Jankowski seems to be referencing the multitude of “things” that we collect and use to identify our selves. The quiet elegance seems to have a darker message… perhaps it’s an observation of the objects cluttering our personal environments. 

Michael Jankowski, "Letting Go", charcoal on paper, 1997, 25.25"x19.25"

Michael Jankowski, "Untitled: He's Number 8", charcoal on paper, 2000, 24"x18" 

All of the pieces in this exhibition have many layers of content. The images may be enjoyed for their obvious beauty but if you look a little further, deeper meanings will emerge.

The exhibition includes the work of: Janet Doroba, Gary Gordon, Jennifer Jackson, Michael Jankowski, Joe Killiea, Paula Kloczkowski Luberda, Roland Kulla, Diane Kunzler, Ginny Mangrum, Maggie Meiners, Julia DelNagro Oehmke, and RK Williams. I will be writing about other presented work in the coming weeks.

The “Selections from the Collection” exhibition will continue through July 8th. Gallery 180 is located at 180 N. Wabash—at the corner of Lake and Wabash—in Chicago’s Loop. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Final Exhibition at Gallery 180

Maggie Meiners, Flow" Silver Gelatin Print, 2004, 15"x15"
After more then eleven years as Exhibition Curator of the various galleries associated with The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, I will be stepping away to focus on other opportunities.

As the Michael Van Zeyl / Paula Kloczkowski Luberda exhibition closes, a show featuring select pieces from the school's fine art collection will be installed. These are among the works that have been acquired from exhibitions over the past decade. The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago has been a strong supporter of the fine art community—acquiring work created by local and nationally recognized artists. These pieces are regularly exhibited throughout the common areas of the college but will come together in Gallery 180 for ease in public viewing.

Included in the exhibition is "Flow" by Chicago area fine art photographer, Maggie Meiners. Her abstract works are strong statements of pattern, surface and texture. Composed in a masterly fashion, the works revile the subject when viewed with more than just a glance.
Mieners' elaborates: 
I am drawn to abstract photography because I have complete control over what it is I am trying to capture, nothing is by accident. I like to see form and art in something most people would not, and bring it to light in a photograph. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the subject is, but whether or not it is open for interpretation. I strive to give new information and provide the viewer with insight into a quality that they cannot ordinarily experience. 
"Flow" is just one of the pieces which will be included in the final professional exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The school's Fine Art Collection can be viewed at gallery

Gallery 180 is located at 180 N. Wabash—at the corner of Lake and Wabash—in Chicago’s Loop. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm. Additional information can be found at
In following with the corporate model, future exhibitions within the gallery will present student and faculty work, which will be selected and installed by committee.