Creation Maddness!

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Spring is the most amazing time of the year in the arts, especially if you are a botanical based artist.  The orchid shows are done and the other flower shows are just heating up.  All the sensual colors and the twisted silky petals seeking my attention…it’s such a rush of adrenaline for me!

The other fabulous thing that goes on this time of year is college student art shows.  It has become one of my favorite times of year because of the ability to see, and be inspired by, what the future holds for art.  Here is a sampling of the offerings (and I will surely be at as many as I can get to):

The School of the Art institute of Chicago’s fashion departments annual The Walk.  Nick Cave and the fashion department’s annual runway show never disappoints!  I usually attend the 9am dress rehearsal to get the insider point of view.  The sophomore class in the past offers up their visions in monochrome style using cream and greys…words cannot begin to describe the textural impacts of this palette as well as shadow effects and the lines!  Wow.  I know they are beginning their journey in fashion, but the limits their display is given makes these creations even more interesting!  The Juniors and Seniors have no limitations and it shows!  I have seen their designs range from Carnivale to Armageddon.  The Walk will be held this year on Friday, May 2nd and you can find more information HERE!

Also in Chicago, Columbia College is offering an Open Studio event for the Seniors of their BFA program.  On Tuesday, April 15th you can join in with food and beverage along with the fabulous artwork.  This is such a great event to not only support the future artists but also view and purchase great artwork!  You can find more information HERE!

And finally, my ultimate favorite event of the young artists is the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Undergrad and Graduate exhibitions.  This year’s MFA show is starting April 26th and running through May 14th.  Being an alum of this amazing school, I love to wander around the Sullivan Galleries (located on State Street – “that great street” for anyone as old as me) to see all the yummy offerings!  You can find more information on that HERE!

Today is a lecture on Modern Metaphors at the Rockford Art Museum and next week I’m off to the Art Institute of Chicago to attend the lecture on the new Modern Masters exhibition along with the sneak peek of the show itself.  I love this time of year!

A day of art….

Gerda Meyer Bernstein - Self Portrait

Yesterday was a fabulous day of art.  Not only did I get to spend the day in my favorite art city (Chicago), but I got to spend it with my friend Amanda who was in town from Scotland.  We decided to take in as much art in the loop that we could in 3 hours. 

First we headed over to the Jim Nutt show at the MCA, which is quite a collection of portrait work.  Sadly, I don’t share the excited impact of the Chicago Imagists artwork that was done by the Hairy Who group in the 60’s as much as others.  Not that I don’t appreciate the movement and the embodiment of the artwork, because I DO.  However, the imagery (while fun and courageous) doesn’t leave a lasting impression on me.   But to see Jim Nutt’s painted heads is another story.  These pieces are amazing with fine detail work that  you have to see in person and up close.  The colors (albeit acrylic) are luscious with undulating colors that from a distance look one way, but from up close question what you saw from afar. 

There is also a companion exhibition that was thrilling to me, to say the least.  You can see artworks by Wangechi Mutu, Francis Bacon, and a piece from Carol Dunham that I would have never thought he had done.  There is also artwork in the companion piece from some of Mr. Nutt’s peers such as Ted Halkin and Gladys Nilsson.  On some of the companion artwork, the artists write about how Jim Nutt’s work has personally influence their own work. 

 Don’t forget to see the haunting piece on the same floor by Susan Phillipsz.

After that we treaded over to a gallery that I never even knew existed in the loop.  The James R. Thompson Center has a gallery named the Illinois State Museum – Chicago Gallery.  We learned that it has various exhibitions that range from artistic to historic.  Amanda had heard of the current exhibition titled “Luminous Ground – Artists With History”.  This features Ralph Arnold, Morris Barazani, Fred Berger, Gerda Meyer Bernstein, William Frederick, Ted Halkin, Thomas Kapsalis, Vera Klement, Ellen Lanyon, Elizabeth Ruprecht, and Leopold Segedin.  These eleven artists have created artwork for over 50 years and while creating have influenced generations of other artists with their insight and their work. 

In this show (open until 8/26) you can witness the mesmerizing color usage of Elizabeth Ruprecht, be moved by the vast empathy and voice of Gerda Meyer Bernstein, be swept away by the gorgeous figurative work of Fred Berger, and jump inside the small assemblage boxes of Ralph Arnold.  This show is such a feast for the eyes and the soul…you have to get there if possible.  If for no other reason, than just to see the vast work of these amazing figures in Chicago’s rich artistic history and bask in the amount of experience and knowledge these artists possess.

Lastly we galloped over to the Chicago Cultural Center to see the “Off the Beaten Path” – exhibition focusing on Violence, Women, and Art.  While I found this artwork to be moving and disturbing, I was a tad disappointed in the continual slap in the face some of the images caused to me.  I believe this show is a cathartic exercise for some of the artists in view.  There were some disturbing images, so be aware, however there were also some amazing pieces that will inspire you and stay with you with positive impacts.  The one I felt had the greatest impact was a two video installation by Yoko Ono.  The first one was done in 1965 at Carnegie Hall in New York.  She sat on a stage with a black dress on and invited others to come up and cut pieces of it off of her.  It was beautiful and poignant.  There was also another version of the same performance, but done in 2006 with a much older Yoko Ono.  For me this one seemed to have more impact, perhaps because she wears the lines of fame and loss on her face more than from 1965.  For me, it appears as though the “cutters” are like vultures taking pieces of her away.  Pretty great stuff.  The exhibition features artists from all across the world and consist of varying ages.  It is rich in what it offers, but personally I would rather see women portrayed as stronger individuals rather than victims. 

I was really hoping to get to the Wangechi Mutu lecture last evening at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I am fascinated by Mutu’s artwork as I believe it relates to my own work of questioning what exactly makes a woman a woman.  I am disappointed to say that I missed it, but instead I chose to spend that time with a friend talking about our art and the things we were feeling from all that artwork we had seen in that one day.