Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Alter Ego- Mixed Media Painting by Chandrika Marla

The Beverly Arts Center is currently presenting a show by painter Chandrika Marla. Marla is originally from India and her work explores ideas of self-image and relationships. Her background is originally in fashion design, a fact made very evident in the work in her show "Alter-Ego". Her paintings incorporate vibrant depictions of garments and dresses on neutral toned backgrounds to exemplify ideas of a loss of body or the loss of self. All of the images incorporate empty garments floating in a space signifying a loss of self. According to Marla, the importance and use of the clothes and fabrics are pay with the idea of putting on a "social skin" akin to the act of putting on clothes every morning. She uses the paintings to empress upon the audience the idea of people today, covered in what is not their real skin, continually impressed by outside world to make us into something that we wouldn't actually be. Her paintings incorporate the images of clothing which she creates using techniques gained during her fashion career but she also uses imagery of buildings and structures that she remembers from her time growing up in New Dehli, which can sometimes be scene in the background of the images.

"Alter Ego" will be up at The Beverly Arts Center through March 10th, 2013.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

16th Annual Winter Bike Art Show

I encountered Galerie F in passing and promised myself to come back to check out the eclectic feel it gave from the outside. There is quite a bit of open floor and wall space to view the the newest show opening this Friday. My eye first went to the bike wheel display in the middle of the gallery, but quickly bounced around to the pieces on the walls. Every piece in the show has its own unique style using all types of mediums. One of my favorite pieces is a shadow box with some trinkets relative or not to biking that form the shape of a wheel. I also came across decorated hanging helmets, photography, sketches, and paintings on objects. Each artist successfully portrayed biking in their work with a freedom of expression and perhaps some happy accidents. The freedom felt from the show reminded me of street art. Another favorite piece was a painting of a dinosaur on a bike. The bright colors and comical feel was really enjoyable and striking. 

I do not ride a bike in Chicago but I see dedicated bikers throughout the year treading through snow or enjoying a ride along the lake front on a warm sunny day. I know how big the biking community is in Chicago and encourage these artists to continue to put their love of biking into their art. I think all of the artists involved have created a brilliant and cohesive show.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tony Fitzpatrick

No. 9, An Artist’s Journey, is a refreshing blog site of Tony Fitzpatrick’s body of works.   He delivers detailed stories regarding what inspired him to create each piece.  Fitzpatrick has a unique style of embedding phrases into his collages, which unfold amusing stories that are significant to his development as an artist.  Fitzpatrick’s page is enthralling with descriptions every bit as pungent as the details in his collage pieces.  Much like a narrative, he can set a scene using images and create a mood for the piece using words. 
Fitzpatrick’s art is autobiographical; his works are more than quirky, cartoon-like images, but explore the darker side of American life.  More specifically, life in Chicago rendered with a tattoo-parlor frankness and Catholic drama and pathos.  His vast range of subjects includes Chicago, baseball and memoirs of his father, New Orleans, street people, super heroes, Crazy Horse and Japan. 
Fitzpatrick is a unique asset to the pop art movement, a self-taught artist who combines collage techniques with intaglio prints.  As a former tattoo artist, Fitzpatrick’s line work is deliberate yet delicate.  The prints are merely one component of Fitzpatrick’s mixed media “drawing/collages” which often blend his cartoon-like images with found object art.  Playful and sentimental objects like baseball memorabilia and playing cards are paired with poetry written by the artist. 
Fitzpatrick typically uses a stimulating color palette that may include red, yellow, blue and green on a black back ground, colors that are captivating but only displayed on notebook-sized paper.  The end visual is a stunning arrangement of symbolic images. 
Fitzpatrick’s connection to the city of Chicago resonates in his works.  For the residents of this grand city, many of his pieces stir fond memories of extraordinary passages in time.  Fitzpatrick’s technical skills, wide use of materials and the experimentation of the presentation of his work inspire me.  Fitzpatrick created visual poems in which color, collage, and text play together to tell a story.  In this way, he conveys his memories like a highly decorative page of his journal.  

Linda Warren Projects

Ed Valentine’s exhibition “Someone’s Beauty” is currently presented alongside Michael Stillion’s show, “B.Z&C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked” at the Linda Warren Projects in the West Loop Neighborhood of Chicago. Both collections encourage the viewer to consider portraiture in new and ambitious ways. Stillion for example, inquires about how fabric contributes to identity by using oil on canvas to depict layers of clothing that completely envelope the wearer. Each of the fabrics are painted with lively colors which juxtapose their serene neutral backgrounds. Stillion favors hues of blue and orange and incorporates them into nearly every piece. By portraying mundane articles of clothing with such vibrancy, Stillion is successful in his endeavor to illustrate portraiture without painting the figure, instead allowing the objects to speak for themselves as the subjects.  Valentine’s work, on the other hand can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Unlike Stillion, Valentine does not make his artistic agenda clear. Valentine’s pieces depict abstract graffiti style designs created with aerosol spray paint in contrast with realistic eyes using oil paint. While most of the images were done on large scale canvas of approximately 96”x60” Valentine also included a collection of smaller portraits of 18”x24” using a variety of painterly aesthetics such as drips, clean architectural lines and scraping off the paint. Although the pieces of larger scale has less conclusive subject matters, I felt that these works overlapped with Stillion's exhibition as they allowed me to continuously interpret the definition of “a portrait”. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi": Industry of the Ordinary

 "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" is the thought provoking, sometimes shocking and always engaging art exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center created by the collaborative art team, Industry of the Ordinary. Industry of the Ordinary (made up of artists Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson) is a unique art duo whose mission and vision is to push the boundaries art and to question the ideas of elitism versus the everyday or the ordinary. "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" which loosely translates to "Thus Passes the Glory of the World", beautifully accomplishes the goals set out by IOTO using multi-media and performative pieces as a tool for destroying the line between art and everyday life. This exhibit uses music, sculpture, print, type and photography amongst other mediums to highlight both the fantastic qualities of the artwork with everyday objects and themes. At the entrance of the exhibit is an immense sculptural piece featuring a tower of brightly colored blocks standing on a bright red carpet that ascends up the back wall of the exhibit. Though the sculpture is massive and eye-catching, the shapes and colors are simple, sticking to black, reds and blues reminiscent of De Stijl; an incredible juxtaposition of the massive form versus the simplistic themes. Another piece, a striking photograph of the members of IOTO playing a game of table football against the backdrop of a dramatic wave on Chicago's North Avenue Beach, exemplifying the mundanity of table top football next to the power and wonder of Lake Michigan. There is an overwhelming room further along in the exhibit featuring simple portrait photographs of average people, household objects, toys and TV screens covering the floor and walls of the entire room, overpowering the viewer with what is commonplace.

"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" is an interesting and informative study on the average existence of an everyday person and their interaction with exceptional, beautiful art. One of the projects in the exhibit was a wall of photographs taken by visitors to the exhibit with paper bags that had the words "I want to be Ordinary" printed on the front. To me this wall of photos was the most striking of all the pieces in the exhibit because it showcases these simple , bland words amongst a group of vastly different people who were anything but ordinary. The exhibit was an excellent insight into the world around us; how we can find customary order in a massive sculpture and find uniqueness and beauty in simple portraits of people holding the same paper bag. "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" questions much, and leaves it's viewers with a varying amount of answers and some insight into art and the conventional world.

"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" will be up until February 17th, 2013 at the Chicago Cultural Center. You can find out more about Industry of the Ordinary and the artists involved here