John Vlahakis Engages The Kenilworth Garden Club

“For me, photography is a moment in time that I will never forget. It is the recorded history of our lives.” Recently at ZIA Gallery, John Vlahakis spoke about his work as a photographer to creative members of The Kenilworth Garden Club.

John Vlahakis talks about his photography.

Members of The Kenilworth Garden Club listen to John Vlahakis talk about his photography.

John first became interested in photography when he was in high school. Those early years awakened a concern for the environment and a fascination with human behavior, dual paths that proved to have staying power.  Throughout college he was known to carry a camera wherever he went. Years later when he picked up photography again, John pushed ahead with a quiet passion and studied observation, diving deep into his creative process.

"Periwinkle" by John Vlahakis, 30" x 30" edition of 5.

“Periwinkle” by John Vlahakis, 30″ x 30″ edition of 5.

Today John has embraced the digital camera while treating it as he would his analog equipment: taking time to compose, waiting until the optimum second to capture the light, the movement, the image; reluctant to waste “film” on a throw-away photo.

John Vlahakis with one of his digital cameras and tripod he uses for capturing nature in movement and low light.

John Vlahakis with one of his digital cameras and tripod he uses for capturing nature in movement and low light.

"Chicago's Winter Glory" 20" x 30" by John Vlahakis edition of 5.

“Chicago’s Winter Glory” 20″ x 30″ by John Vlahakis edition of 5.

Those two early paths of interest continue to show in his work.  Today John Vlahakis is noted for his clean, subtle landscapes that envelop the viewer – and his depictions of city life and the everyday person. More of John’s city images can be seen on his recent Instagram postings at https://www.instagram.com/johnvlahakisphotography/

John Vlahakis' Instagram postings of street life.

John Vlahakis’ Instagram postings of street life.

During the evening’s presentation to the garden club John was asked, “If you could wake up anywhere to photograph, where would that be?” John replied, ” For landscape, I would wake up in Iceland in a town called Vík with the beach of black lava sand.” There one is exposed to, “rain, sleet and snow; monstrous waves and the power of nature.”

"Stormcoming" by John Vlahakis 40 x 60 edition of 2.

“Stormcoming” by John Vlahakis 40 x 60 edition of 2.

On the other hand, for street photography, “In New York, I would wake up on an overcast day, with a little misty rain and lots of people.” In the street vendor, there you see the on-going story of “the immigrant trying to make a living. Fascinating people.”

"Night Noir" by John Vlahakis 26.5" x 40" edition of 5.

“Night Noir” by John Vlahakis 26.5″ x 40″ edition of 5.

Again of nature, John recalled a visit to the south coast of Australia where he realized no one else was there. “I was blown away by the solitude.”

John Vlahakis will have a featured exhibition this coming fall at ZIA Gallery, opening Saturday, October 14th, 2017, 5-7pm. Here he will exhibit work from his boxed portfolio project titled “Own Nature.” The introductory viewing was at AQUA Art Miami Basel in December where his work garnered many accolades. Some of the members of the garden club were also treated to a viewing.

"Own Nature" by John Vlahakis edition of 10

“Own Nature” by John Vlahakis edition of 10

The Creative World, and Transformative Experience of Anne Hughes’ Art by Wolfgang Krol

Anne Hughes' "Golden Circle" 44 x 30 soft pastel

Anne Hughes’ “Golden Circle” 44 x 30 soft pastel

When Marshal McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message” little did he know that there was an artist in the making by the name of Anne Hughes who would dedicate her life and creativity to intuitively making the medium and the message come alive through her art. In a strange and uncanny way, Anne would become a benevolent messenger of an artistic “stargate” that opens the door to other worlds and experiences that connect us through creativity, imagination, reality, fantasy, dreams, play, curiosity, magic, hope, joy, and wonderment. Anne transmits all of this with humility, and dedicated commitment through her art, and through the intuitive ideas she explores through various physical materials with highly skillful artistic techniques, that inevitably takes the viewer through numerous, and multiple visual, conceptual, and transformative experiences in each and every work.

Anne Hughes "Natural Worlds" 43.5 x 29.75, soft pastel

Anne Hughes “Natural Worlds” 43.5 x 29.75, soft pastel

Many individuals are concerned, and to some degree, obsessed with definitions, and labels in art, related to realism, abstract, modern, post modern, etc. In the end all this labeling is nice for those who are more concerned with the history of art than with a timeless experience, communicating, interacting, and experiencing the art itself. If you are willing to forgo the labels, and are open to just experiencing the art, Anne will take you on a visual and emotional journey that will be remembered for a very long time. For those individuals who are fortunate enough to own one or more of Anne’s works, they will be able to experience this visual journey on a daily ongoing basis. The wonder of Anne’s magical creativity is that every time one engages with her work one experiences something new and enlightening. Just when we think we already know a work, we begin to see new relationships in the images, or gain new insights into her creative mind, or into our reality, and perception.

Anne Hughes "Reading Time" 12" x 12" oil on panel

Anne Hughes “Reading Time” 12″ x 12″ oil on panel

Anne’s work is about experiencing. Everyone who engages with her work, and imagery may see something similar, but will not experience things in the same way, because we are all different, and experience things uniquely. We may see playful images, images that seem to be out of place, out of time, or out of reality as we know it. We may see images that interact in a space that is foreign to their natural environment: like a “fish out of water”. Anne transforms the natural environment and brings all environments together into one space, or frame. This may be hard to imagine in reality, but Anne’s work transforms reality, takes us on an imaginary journey, and while we are on this journey she shows us a new reality, a new way of seeing with many surprises, and new answers to the visual and conceptual questions that we may have. Anne’s work is not about linear logic, it is about a multi dimensional experience that redefines logic, reality, space, perception, and allows us to engage in new questions, experiences, and perceive new “logics”.

Anne Hughes, "Dark Night" soft pastel

Anne Hughes, “Dark Night” soft pastel

To really experience Anne’s work, or other work, for that matter, it must be seen in its actual physical configuration, and not in a photo, or on a computer, iPad, or cell phone screen; the so-called new social media “art gallery”. The real actual size, media, materials, configuration etc., is what brings her art works to life. When we approach a work, we already start our experience, and engagement.

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

As we move closer, our experience, and perception start to change, transform through the interaction of the colors, images, materials, and what we personally bring to the work.

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

Then, when we stop in front of Anne’s work, and journey visually through all the materials and imagery, we begin to see and experience the magical tour that Anne is taking us on.

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

We, as the viewer, have to find the correct distance or position from the work so our personal experience can take place. Even moving to the right or left of her work changes what we see and experience. In some art works this happened by default. In Anne’s work the changes in perception is by design.

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

Looking at her work on a computer or other technical device, for that matter, will NEVER give the true impact or power of the work. The character of the materials used ie. paper, wood, canvas, cardboard etc., the colors added, the strokes of the brush, pencil, pastels, etc., interacting with each other, all bring the work to life, transforming the original material(s) into a new identity opening the mind of the viewer giving new insights into ones perception and reality.

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

The phrase “seeing is believing” is very true after seeing the creative work of Anne Hughes; believing takes on a new meaning. As with all art we have to approach it with an open mind. We have to leave our prejudices, and biases at home, as much as possible, and experience each work on it’s own terms and merit /relationship as if we were talking to, or engaged with the artist personally; and before we know it we have developed a new friendship that will last a lifetime.

"Wish List" by Anne Hughes

“Wish List” by Anne Hughes

Those that are fortunate to see Anne Hughes’ work will experience things, like they never have before. But it must be remembered like all relationships, it takes time, engagement, and nurturing. However, even if one does not have the time to develop a “real friendship” or relationship with Anne’s work, just simply passing in front of a work, one just begins to feel as if Anne is stretching out her hand in a welcoming, friendly gesture encouraging us to engage in the exhilarating experience with her art.

Anne Hughes' "Iceland Inspired" 11 3/8" x 11 3/8", soft pastel

Anne Hughes’ “Iceland Inspired” 11 3/8″ x 11 3/8″, soft pastel

So welcome all to the creative world, and transformative experience of the unique art of Anne Hughes, and be pleasantly surprised, and elated with the message transformed by the media; and for all the above, Anne Hughes deserves to be recognized and acknowledged in a category among the best, and most creative artists.

Wolfgang Krol, Associate Professor, Studio Arts (retired)

Concordia University, Montreal, Que., Canada

Final Week- ‘Of Materials, Fiber and Book Arts’

ZIA Gallery’s latest exhibition: Of Materials, Fiber and Book Arts brings together an exciting variety of artists who choose to incorporate and transform diverse materials and techniques into amazingly inventive expressions.

Sculptures by Pamela MacGregor and large air brush paintings and quilting by Kathy Weaver

Sculptures by Pamela MacGregor and large air brush paintings and quilting by Kathy Weaver

The exhibition features gallery artists Melissa Jay Craig (sculptural handmade paper and book arts),

Melissa Jay Craig shows her brilliant talent in sculptural paper making.

Melissa Jay Craig shows her brilliant talent in sculptural paper making.

Ted Preuss (platinum palladium photography printed on skeleton leaves and contemporary wet-plate collodion tintypes),

Ted Preuss master of varying photographic processes and techniques

Ted Preuss master of varying photographic processes and techniques

and Kathy Weaver (air brush painting and embroidery on fabrics, stitched and quilted); and introduces new gallery artists Jacqueline Baerwald (paintings on sculpturally assembled found-books)

Jacqueline Baerwald's sculptural paintings.

Jacqueline Baerwald’s sculptural paintings.

and Paula Kovarik (drawing with stitches on fabric). PKinstallIn addition, ZIA Gallery has invited Alice Berry to show her wearable explorations in color, Ellen Green’s tattoo paintings on vintage gloves,

Works by Ellen Greene

Works by Ellen Greene

Pamela MacGregor’s handmade felt sculptures,

Pamela MacGregor felt sculpture.

Pamela MacGregor felt sculpture.

and Rose Camastro Pritchett’s sixfold narrative-abstraction composed of numerous collage and sewing materials.

Work by Rose Camastro Pritchett.

Work by Rose Camastro Pritchett.

Opening Reception Melissa Jay Craig engages with attendees.

Opening Reception Melissa Jay Craig engages with attendees.

The opening reception brought in admirers from Chicago and surrounding areas and, by all accounts, was a stimulating evening. Go to http://www.ziagallery.net/contact.html to sign up to be on the email list in oder to keep abreast of upcoming openings.

Join Exhibition Openings at ZIA Gallery

Join Exhibition Openings at ZIA Gallery

Of Materials, Fiber and Book Arts: Featuring Gallery artists: Melissa Jay Craig, Ted Preuss, Kathy Weaver, and introducing Paula Kovarik and Jacqueline Baerwald. Invited artists include Alice Berry, Ellen Greene, Pamela MacGregor and Rose Camastro Pritchett.   The exhibition runs March 19th – April 30, 2016.

Lisa A. Frank: ‘One Long Conversation’

By Shannon Gallagher

© Lisa A. Frank Feared Loved 40x40 Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Feared Loved, Digital Photography

Lisa Frank, whose intricate, layered digital photo collages combine her passions for the environment, the outdoors, and photography, began her art career in a different vein. At the young age of 22, after completing her degree in Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Frank moved to New York City and pursued a career as a working artist. First, she worked as a scenic painter for theater and opera, later moving on to more decorative, surface paintings for high-end restaurants and other hospitality venues, as well as wallpaper and textile design. “In 1988, there was a stock market crash. People started spending less money on decorative painting, which tends to be a luxury item. At that point, I saw the need to retrain myself, because digital imaging was quickly overtaking the need for hand-rendered design,” she said. Frank attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC and took courses in Photoshop. She bought a camera and a scanner and taught herself how to use them.

© Lisa A. Frank Wildnight Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Wildnight, Digital Photography

“Everything I do basically comes down to drawing and painting,” she said, “but throughout the decades, the context and scale have changed. Technology has changed; my interests have changed, as has what I am physically able to do. Working in theater is very physically demanding. If I was doing that now, I’d be able to do nothing else.” She described her evolution as an artist as “one long conversation.”

© Lisa A. Frank Specimen with Eucalyptus Turtle Shell Honeycomb Digital Photograph

© Lisa A. Frank, Specimen with Eucalyptus Turtle Shell Honeycomb, Digital Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon the completion of her undergraduate degree, Frank moved to NYC for an internship at Juilliard followed by graduate school at the Yale School of Drama . “I stayed on the east coast for 25 years, and then decided that I wanted to be closer to my family. I have nieces and nephews that I really love. My sister’s family is here [in Madison], as are my parents. My brother’s family is in Chicago.”

© Lisa A. Frank Mushroom Diorama Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Mushroom Diorama, Digital Photography

In terms of how she began to work photographically, Frank adopted a German Shorthair Pointer puppy 14 years ago. “He had a tremendous reserve of energy, and in order to live with him, I had to spend a lot of time outdoors. It is fun because I love the outdoors which is good for both of us. He has been a very patient photographer’s companion,” she said. Although spring and fall are her favorite times of the year, she takes photos in the woods during all four seasons. Several of her works feature patterns comprised of images of icicles. “I don’t go out when it’s below 10 degrees,” she said, “but all other times, I go out with my dogs. I don’t stop taking photos.”

© Lisa A. Frank Spiderwort and Prairie Smoke Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Spiderwort and Prairie Smoke, Digital Photography

The artist, who spends countless hours exploring nature and taking photographs, visits several places for inspiration. “In Wisconsin, there’s a national trail that has similar status as the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Segments of the trails are nearby, and I go there regularly. The Nature Conservancy owns some truly wonderful wilderness areas within an hour from Madison. I also go to an arboretum and conservation park close to my home.” The artist listed Olbrich Botanical Gardens as another favorite spot. “Wherever I go, I take my camera as a course of habit. Lately, I’ve also been going to a lot of zoos, because I’m beginning to use more animals in my work.”

Lisa A. Frank These I Sing In Spring Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, These I Sing In Spring, Digital Photography

When asked to describe what she finds frustrating about the artistic process, Frank listed technical problems. “It mostly has to do with printing, color management and having enough memory space for the work that I do. My work is very layered, complicated, and large, so in order to do versions, which I do, it takes up an incredible amount of memory. I’m always up against this task to create enough space for it, backing everything up, and protecting myself adequately,” she said. Frank also has an archive of over 30,000 photographs which can be difficult to organize. “The taking of the photos and the actual making of the work is something that I love and it feels like a truly authentic part of me,” she said. “Organization and getting it to the point of putting it out in the world is where it can get problematic.”

 

Conversely, the most rewarding part of the artistic process for Frank is when people tell her something in her work resonates with them. “Also, I love being able to bring attention to things that many people cannot or do not see.” For instance, Frank often finds herself in the woods, closely examining the environment. “I take photos of mushrooms, moss, and rocks,” she said. “Not everyone is able to go out and explore like that, so I am very happy that I can use those objects as subject matter and show people that they exist.”

© Lisa A. Frank Jack-In-the-Pulpit Berries with Bolete Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Jack-In-the-Pulpit Berries with Bolete, Digital Photography

Last summer, Frank was accepted to and attended a prestigious residency at the MacDowell Colony, located in New Hampshire. The residency is over 100 years old, and has been host to some very successful artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and architects. “It was intimidating to be on the same property as some of these people,” she admitted. Frank went there with the intention of working on a specific project that she proposed during the application process. “I had a wonderful studio in the woods,” she said. “I worked and hiked and took a lot of pictures.”

© Lisa A. Frank Farmers Market Madison WI Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Farmer’s Market Madison WI, Digital Photography

There were about 25 people in residency – writers, architects, artists, etc. We had communal dinners after which everyone took turns giving presentations.” The goal of the residency is to give creative people an opportunity to work on their projects in a way that is undisturbed. “It’s beautiful there, and the solitude is quietly enforced. At noon, they deliver picnic baskets so that you don’t have to take a break to find something to eat. It was wonderful, just an incredible opportunity,” she said. Frank also takes pride in having been an instructor at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. “In a similar kind of way, it was a wonderful chance to really focus on one thing,” she said.

© Lisa A. Frank In My True Love's Hands Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, In My True Love’s Hands, Digital Photography

As far as future plans and projects go, Frank is working on several interdisciplinary projects that include virtual reality content. In addition, this summer she will be teaching a course about exploring nature through technology at Peters Valley in New Jersey.

Lisa Frank’s work is currently on exhibit at ZIA Gallery. See http://www.ziagallery.net/frank.html for more information.

Of Marvel And Mystery: The Art of Anne Hughes

HughesMigrations36x24x1PastelAndCutandTornPaper

“Migrations” 36x24x6 Pastel on cut or torn paper © Anne Hughes

By Shannon Gallagher

Anne Hughes’ artwork embodies a sense of marvel and mystery. The viewer is left awestruck by her imaginative 2d and 3d works, which use a rich color palette and employ a variety of mark-making techniques. Hughes describes the process of working on a piece of art as meditative. “That’s what I feel when I’m absorbed in my work. I get lost in the act and watching it evolve. I lose all sense of time,” she said. “I never want to be pinned into one way of working,” she went on. “I like the idea of being able to break so-called rules, that it is possible to resolve difficulties and make something work. Challenge is enjoyable. If, in the end, I achieve a sense of wonder and mystery, of being surprised, then I am happy.”

"Plato's Cave" 52 x 30 x 6 pastel and cut paper ©Anne Hughes

“Plato’s Cave” 52 x 30 x 6 pastel and cut paper ©Anne Hughes

Much of her art revolves around ideas of nature, ecosystems, wonder, and the element of surprise. “We think we’re in control. We aren’t. Life and nature are so complex,” she said. From both an environmental and global point of view, the artist is greatly inspired by variety, diversity, and interconnectedness. “As humans, we don’t necessarily know how we effect the next person and the world, but connections are everywhere.”

"Formations 2" 5 x 5.5 pastel and sequin © Anne Hughes

“Formations 2” 5 x 5.5 pastel and sequin © Anne Hughes

The artist, who has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Indonesia and Iceland, is unsure as to whether her travels influence her art or her art makes her more inclined to roam.

"Red Formations" 7 x 7 pastel ©Anne Hughes

“Red Formations” 7 x 7 pastel ©Anne Hughes

“To me, it’s both. I don’t know what comes first, because they go hand in hand. I like being exposed to new environments, learning about different cultures.” She enjoys educational travel, and isn’t one to lie on a beach soaking up the sun. “That’s boring to me,” she said. “I’d rather walk along the beach, be in the water, and observe the environment- that’s what I find fascinating.” When asked where she would like to travel to next, Hughes laughed and said, “I’m not so choosy. I try to take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way.” She would love to visit the Sequoia National Park in California. “I saw redwood trees in Muir Woods in California, and they’re amazing. It’s just stunning. The hush of the park -so peaceful- and the fragrance, unforgettable!”

"L'Opéra" 49 x 42 x 4 Oil on Panel and Wood ©Anne Hughes

“L’Opéra” 49 x 42 x 4 Oil on Panel and Wood ©Anne Hughes

This vested interest in the world originated from Hughes’ childhood. She considers herself lucky to have been able to grow up outdoors, in all seasons, exploring the woods near her house and playing games with friends.

"The Garden" 24 5/8 x 17 3/8 Pastel ©Anne Hughes

“The Garden” 24 5/8 x 17 3/8 Pastel ©Anne Hughes

“I have always valued play. A lot of teenagers are eager to leave play behind. That is unfortunate. Valuing play is where the sense of wonder comes from in my art. I’m curious, and curiosity feeds my work.” Hughes was the type of student that really enjoyed school, every subject from literature to history, government and philosophy. She found that art was a way to tie all of her interests together. “Anything can be a direct or indirect inspirational source.”

"Mutable Sphere" 25 7/8 x 18 1/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

“Mutable Sphere” 25 7/8 x 18 1/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

Hughes’ work can be described as dreamlike, and she works on an intuitive wavelength. “I might start with a kernel of an idea or image, but I don’t know where I’m going to end up. I like to break out and let process take over,” she said. Working in this manner has allowed her to surprise herself and enjoy the journey of making a piece of art.

"Pull of the Moon" 30" x 23 7/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

“Pull of the Moon” 30″ x 23 7/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

“But working intuitively doesn’t mean that you avoid making choices or being critical. At the beginning, I allow myself more freedom. I don’t make hard and fast decisions too quickly to avoid stymieing myself.” Often, while working, she will begin to see little connections, which lead to a heightened consciousness of what the work is about. “Sometimes a title will pop into my head. When that happens, I know I’m not far from the end,” she explained. Once Hughes is beyond that point, she begins to eliminate weak areas and emphasize strengths in the work. When she does not have any particular image in mind, she sets out to simply make marks. “You just start putting color down,” she said, “and see where it leads.”

"Molotov Cocktail" 54 x 34 x 4 Oil on Panel, graphite on wood © Anne Hughes

“Molotov Cocktail” 54 x 34 x 4 Oil on Panel, graphite on wood © Anne Hughes

She gravitates towards painting on panel, because she can re-work things in ways that would be impossible to do on stretched canvas. “I rub it off, scratch into it. If I’m working with pastels on paper, I apply color, wipe it away, then add more. I attack the surface.”

"Yo-Yo" 12" x 12" Oil on Panel © Anne Hughes

“Yo-Yo” 12″ x 12″ Oil on Panel © Anne Hughes

The artist uses abstraction, realism, and stylization, sometimes all within the same piece. When painting, she uses brushes, rags, and her fingers to apply or remove paint. Several years ago, her dentist gave her some dental tools to use when sculpting with clay, but Hughes has taken to using them in painting, somewhat like a printmaker would use an etching needle- she will go into the surface of the paint with the fine point, draw into the paint, or scratch it away. As for the type of paint she uses, Hughes tends to stick to oils. Acrylics dry much more quickly, and can change color once they do so. “I’ve been more of a purist lately with oils,” she said. “I like to be able to have some working time, so that I can wipe away paint, work thinly, and add layers.”

"Dance" 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

“Dance” 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 Pastel © Anne Hughes

When drawing with pastels, she prefers to use a small-tooth paper to avoid the texture of the paper becoming a dominant feature of the work. “I prefer to control it, to create texture rather than allow the paper to determine it,” she explained.

Installation view of some of Anne Hughes' work, currently on exhibit at ZIA|Gallery through April 18, 2015

Installation view of some of Anne Hughes’ work, currently on exhibit at ZIA|Gallery through April 18, 2015

Hughes has a surplus of ideas to work through within her artwork, so many that she could never delve into them all during her lifetime- although many of the thoughts she explores become recurring themes throughout her body of work. Having a unique artistic style allows the viewer to immediately identify the work as hers, while also unifying the collective grouping. “Once you’ve touched your core and you have a certain confidence in what you are doing,” she said, “that’s what starts to determine your individual style.”

Anne Hughes’ work is currently on display at ZIA Gallery.

Michael Cutlip’s Dream Inspired Landscapes

By Shannon Gallagher

Michael Cutlip’s paintings seem to be plucked straight from a dreamscape, a pleasant, fantastical place where many elements converge in a pool of nostalgia and wonder. He combines vintage-inspired imagery, a bright color palette, repetitive texture and pattern, and loose, gestural marks to create paintings that evoke feelings of happiness, optimism, awe, and sometimes, wistfulness.

 

The path to becoming an artist was not a direct one for Michael Cutlip. He was nearly finished with a business degree from California State University in Hayward when he took an elective art class that inspired him to create, and shifted his perspective on the future. He decided almost immediately that art was the avenue he wanted to pursue. “Once I made the decision- that was it. Everything else just unfolded naturally. I had basically lived my life up to that point not really knowing who I was, what I’m about, what I want to do in this world. In my mid-20s, when I took that class, it made complete sense. I was very close to graduating in another discipline, and I just dropped everything and took another three years of college.”

 

Cutlip, whose work is inspired by vintage finds, childlike imagination, and the mysterious qualities associated with animals, does not set out with a plan for each painting, but rather, starts working and allows the painting to develop in the moment and become its own entity. “I don’t [cultivate new ideas for work], I just start working and let the piece happen. Whenever I do have an image in my head, I’m always chasing the idea, and it never becomes realized as I imagined. It’s hard for me to plan imagery, especially before I begin the piece. I’d rather just start working and let it tell me where it wants to go. It seems to work out better that way, for me anyway, and is more true to the painting. It’s impulsive.”

 

Although he may not have a specific vision for each new painting, Cutlip does draw from various pools of inspiration. He goes to flea markets, looks through old books and magazines, and finds inspiration in objects and images from the past. “Some of it goes into my work, some of it doesn’t. The process itself is inspiring. A big part of my work is about the found objects, so that’s my constant source for imagery. I also get a lot of inspiration from children. Their energy, their excitement- it’s pure. Adult artists search their whole lives to find the energy they possessed as children.” This is why much of his work takes on a playful, optimistic persona, although he says that the work is not necessarily reflective of his personality. “My studio time is a time for me to sort of play around. It’s fun, and I’m very optimistic about it. However, in life, I don’t think I’m quite like that. It comes out in my work, but in my life, I’m a lot more serious. If someone met me and had a conversation with me, they might expect my artwork to be a lot different.”

 

 

As far as knowing when a piece is finished, Cutlip relies on his instincts. He knows he’s completed something when he’s got a smile on his face. “You just have to trust your gut. The piece could be worked over and over, it can take on many different lives, but when you’re happy with it, and you can’t think of anything else to add or change that would improve it, you know you’re done.” He loves being an artist, making a living creating art. However, he admits that it is also a lot of work. “Making a painting or an object is a lot of problem solving, so the act of trying to make it succeed is a lot of work. It’s fun, but it’s not easy. Keeping the work ‘fresh’ can be quite difficult. The longer you work as an artist, the more you realize the importance of keeping things new and different. You don’t want to finish a piece and think, “Oh, I’ve done that before.” All I want is to prevent the work from getting boring. I don’t want to make the same painting over and over. It has to be exciting to you, or else why would anyone else find it exciting?”

 

 

 

Gallery Artist Group Exhibition August 3

ZIA Gallery’s Artists Summer Group Exhibition is fast approaching, so we thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss the effort that goes into a group show and the positive effects of exhibiting one’s artwork alongside the work of other contemporary artists.

It is no easy task to organize and execute a successful group exhibition! There is a lot of foresight, planning, curating, editing, communication, and collaboration involved. ZIA Gallery’s staff has been working hard to put together a fantastic show. Our last opening was a great success, with nearly 150 attendees! We hope to attract a similar number of art admirers to check out work from internationally known artists such as Clyde Butcher, Mary Burke, Dulce Pinzón, Nevada Wier, Fumiko Toda, and Carl Wilen, just to name a few. The show will include a wide variety of mediums, including photography, drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and handmade paper. The subjects and imagery vary widely, so there is sure to be a piece of art for everyone to fall in love with!

Nevada Wier

The beauty of a group exhibition is that it has the power to widen the scope of an art lover’s appreciation. Individuals might attend a group show because they are interested in one artist’s work, and then discover five other artists whose work they enjoy just as much. It is beneficial to the artist because group exhibitions can serve as a source of inspiration, as having his or her art hanging next to another artist’s work can create new meanings in the piece or spark a dialogue.

Burke - Grove 36 x 48

We hope to see you at the opening of our Summer Group Exhibition on August 3rd, 2012, from 5 until 7:30 pm. ZIA Gallery is located at 548 Chestnut Street in Winnetka. Come out and unearth a new admiration for our visual artists!