In the Midst of January, Art Transports

Now that the holiday season is over, come enjoy an afternoon of art and refreshments on Saturday, January 16, 1-5pm at ZIA Gallery. Allow yourself to be sensually, emotionally and intellectually transported.

A variety of ever-changing art at ZIA Gallery.

A variety of ever-changing art at ZIA Gallery.

2016 begins with an ever-changing exhibition including works by all 25 gallery and thirteen invited artists of varying disciplines and styles.

"Shoreline" is one of Beverly Zawitkoski's new acrylic paintings on mylar.

“Shoreline” is one of Beverly Zawitkoski’s new acrylic paintings on mylar.

New paintings by Beverly Zawitkoski and photographs by John Vlahakis have been added.

John Vlahakis' "Night Noir" is one of his latest photographs.

John Vlahakis’ “Night Noir” is one of his latest photographs.

Lisa A. Frank's "These I Sing In Spring," digital photography

Lisa A. Frank’s “These I Sing In Spring,” digital photography

As admirers carry away artworks, more works arrive, ready to be discovered.  A stunning garden of delight by Lisa A. Frank goes out the door and an equally intriguing photograph comes on view.


















Many visitors will be disappointed that one Mary Burke they were considering has found its home.

Mary Burke's 48" x 48"  "Uplift" on right. Original works on paper on left.

Mary Burke’s 48″ x 48″ “Uplift” on right. Original works on paper on left.

Therefore, take note, follow through with the others being circled before those, too, are gone.

The remarkable Tim Liddy who is busy with a steady stream of important commissions, has left us three power-works of trompe l’oeil, sculptural painting.

"circa 1966" is one of Tim Liddy's trompe l'oeil paintings on formed copper.

“circa 1966″ is one of Tim Liddy’s trompe l’oeil paintings on formed copper.

His star continues to rise, and we congratulate him on his accomplishments.

Melissa Jay Craig’s tiny handmade paper and steel wire sculptures are disappearing fast.

Melissa Jay Craig's "Luminal (Stage Two)" miniature sculptures.

Melissa Jay Craig’s “Luminal (Stage Two)” miniature sculptures.

Their color and amusing forms stimulate the imagination, as do her other works inspired by cellular patterns of plant forms. Melissa’s (S) Edition made the best of 2015 top ten choices by My Modern Met. Instead of just seeing the work all over the online-world (the book-arts works have gone viral and re-blogged with commentary in many languages throughout the world), you can see them in actuality…remember that? Actual vs. virtual?  From plant to pulp to molded, cast and dyed sculptural form, these artworks are handmade by Melissa to go in a real space. Dare to make your space special with unique expression.

Top: Melissa Jay Craig's hand made paper forms based on cellular patterns of cut-through of stems. Below: Lisa A. Frank's stunning digital photograph "Feared Loved"

Top: Melissa Jay Craig’s hand made paper forms based on cellular patterns of cut-through of stems. Below: Lisa A. Frank’s stunning digital photograph “Feared Loved”

Master of diverse photographic processes, Ted Preuss continues to sensitively explore still life, nature and the female figure. New to the gallery is photographer Kimberly Schneider displaying intimate, romantic black and whites of nature. ZIA Gallery is pleased to announce that artist Michael Cutlip has decided to continue sharing some of his remarkable mixed media paintings and collage with the Chicago public while other works head to L.A. Jonathan Ricci has a variety of his colorful paintings, both large and small, on paper, stretched and un-stretched canvas, along with his distinctive ceramic birds. …And there are many other gallery artists’ works on display showing the eclectic processes and expressions embraced by the gallery and its artists.

Gallery artist Kathy Weaver with her gouache on paper.

Gallery artist Kathy Weaver with her gouache on paper.

The exhibition also includes thirteen invited artists.

Ceramicist: Jacqui Worden (Her bowls reflect a threesome: functional, beautiful and affordable.)

Earrings by Diana Ferguson and Ceramic Vase by Jacqui Worden.

Earrings by Diana Ferguson and Ceramic Vase by Jacqui Worden.

Chicago Fashion Designer: Alice Berry  (She’s back! And her lovely scarves and silk-screened shawls are just the ticket to spark up a winter’s day.)

Designer Alice Berry with her signature scarves and shawls.

Designer Alice Berry with her signature scarves and shawls.

Chicago muralist Anne Farley Gaines contributes an imaginative screen.

Two sided screen by Anne Farley Gaines. Opposite side not shown. See it in the gallery.

Two sided screen by Anne Farley Gaines. Opposite side not shown. See it in the gallery.

Expressionist painter Bill Klatte adds his personal flair.

Giclées by Mark McMahon (expressing city life and sports with high quality, signed reproductions.)

Jewelers: Diana Ferguson, Terry Ross, Amy Taylor and Lisa Williams -each with her own personal vision. Definitely, here is something special for every taste.

A variety of small works by Jeweler Amy Taylor, Ceramic bowls and vases by Jacqui Worden, original works on paper by Mary Burke, necklace by Diana Ferguson, Ceramic birds by Jonathan Ricci.

A variety of small works by Jeweler Amy Taylor, Ceramic bowls and vases by Jacqui Worden, original works on paper by Mary Burke, necklace by Diana Ferguson, Ceramic birds by Jonathan Ricci.

Muralist and Street Artist: Joseph “Sentrock” Perez (What a joy to meet this personable street artist with a touching and inspirational message. Don’t miss!)

Joseph Perez (Sentrock) 's work on paper "Peace Squad"

Joseph Perez (Sentrock) ‘s work on paper “Peace Squad”

Diane Rakocy in front of one of her paintings.

Diane Rakocy in front of one of her paintings.

Painter: Diane Rakocy (She brings her love of color and paint to put the vibrancy in Chicago.)

Photographer: Barry Cain captures the unexpected meeting of two lions and an enjoyment of the natural world.

Barry Cain with his photograph of lions. Ted Preuss' small figure photograph below.

Barry Cain with his photograph of lions. Ted Preuss’ small figure photograph below.

Printmaker: Michael Bond conjures mood and light through drypoint, aquatint and “etching.”

Michael Bond's "Rainy Day Michigan Ave" Drypoint and aquatint.

Michael Bond’s “Rainy Day Michigan Ave” Drypoint and aquatint.

So much to see and appreciate in this confluence of varied genres by talented artists. The exhibition is now in progress and runs through January 30th Tuesday – Saturday 10-5pm at ZIA Gallery, 548 Chestnut St. Winnetka, IL.

ZIA Gallery

ZIA Gallery

Of Marvel And Mystery: The Art of Anne Hughes


“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.

Beverly Zawitkoski’s Process Toward Beauty

By Shannon Gallagher

Zawitkoski Figure-Red 43 mixed media on paper 7 x 4.25

Zawitkoski Figure-Red 43 mixed media on paper 7 x 4.25

Beverly Zawitkoski got her introduction to fine art through a career in design. She was first interested in fashion design, and then theater design. She worked in theater after graduating from Concordia University in Montreal, and continued her theater design studies when she won a Commonwealth scholarship to the Slade in London. During her time there, she was working directly next to the printmaking department, which piqued her interest, and she was simultaneously growing a bit weary with the hours associated with working in theater. “The lifestyle is very difficult,” she said. “I love the design aspect, and it’s a very sociable lifestyle, but it takes you away from home for 14-18 hours a day sometimes, which was inappropriate for me, because I’m a homebody.”

Her last theater project at Slade evolved into a printmaking project because of both the proximity of the printmaking studio to where she was working, and her fondness for the medium. “I love printmaking- the quality of ink on paper and the deep richness that can be achieved.“ Printmaking led simply to creating works on paper, using a variety of media. She has a fondness for charcoal and pastels, particularly chalk pastels. “The matte quality reminds me of printmaking, and I love the powdery earthiness of the pigments.”

Zawitkoski Figure-backview(6) mixed media on paper 8.25x6 LowRes

Zawitkoski: Figure-backview 6, 8.25″ x 6″ pastel and mixed media on paper















As Zawitkoski turned to working more and more in painting, she looked for other materials to suit her needs.

Zawitkoski- "A Passing Moment" 17 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski- “A Passing Moment” 17 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

“When you are putting paint down and removing it, paper is not the most logical choice. I switched to Mylar because I liked the idea of translucency. I was first introduced to the material at a Jim Dine exhibition. He had a few works on Mylar, and I thought to myself, ‘What a wonderful paper for me to experiment with.’ I was using a lot of watercolor and gouache at that time, so I had to change my painting medium as well, which is how I got started in acrylic.” Zawitkoski, who now does a lot of painting on Mylar, calls it again “transitional” as she added working on rag papers to Mylar to canvas and hard board.

Zawitkoski "Sail" 36x46 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski “Sail” 36×46 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski "Gestural Rhythms" 36 x 48 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski “Gestural Rhythms” 36 x 48 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski uses a variety of tools to achieve the marks in her work. She utilizes paintbrushes, squeegees, and scrapers to get the initial marks down on the surface. “That’s the key- I don’t usually have any idea in mind other than an ambiguous visual, which is not very tangible. By putting down marks on the canvas or paper, it allows me to start developing the image,” she said. “Of course, it doesn’t look anything like the finished product, it’s a stepping point to set me off in the direction I need to go in.” She describes illustration as “controlled because it has to work with the manuscript.” Moving from that vein to abstraction was an adjustment.

Zawitkoski "Draped In Red" 6.75 x 6.75 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Draped In Red” 6.75 x 6.75 Acrylic on Mylar

“My work flows best when I completely let go and avoid thinking about what I’m going to paint- I just get my paintbrush or scraper and put paint down on the surface, move it around until it looks interesting, let it dry, repeat. It builds, and I push and pull the paint to develop the image. Sometimes, you have to let go of those beautiful, spontaneous marks that you started with in order to benefit the whole.”

Zawitkoski "Break Away" 40.5 x 27.5 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Break Away” 40.5 x 27.5 Acrylic on Mylar

The artist admits that she sometimes has difficulty letting certain pieces go. “There are times when I finish a work and it encompasses a world I’ve tried hard to achieve, and when that happens, I want to hold onto it forever. Those pieces seem like a mystery to me, and their evolution is almost cryptic.”

Gallery installation view of "Changing Spaces" and "Fall"

Gallery installation view of “Changing Spaces” and “Fall”

Sometimes, the works become reference studies for future paintings, and others she keeps because they have successfully captured the mood she so desperately strives for. “My goal as an artist is always to create my idea of beauty, in whatever form that may be. My painting process and finished works are an escape from all I see as being harsh, cold, and sterile in the world. My objective is to intuitively develop ambiguous worlds that, through imagination, encapsulate that experience and vision into one that hopefully connects with others. When a work transports me on many different levels, it becomes difficult to part with.”

Zawitkoski "The Little Stream" 24 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “The Little Stream” 24 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Making art can sometimes cause frustration, as Zawitkoski is familiar with. “My inability to just trust on a daily basis causes some issues,” she says. She conjures an image in her mind, and feels the need to pursue it and bring it to fruition. “Sometimes, in process, the painting sends me in a completely different direction. There’s some part of me that finds it hard to be free enough to just trust what comes out, but the work is more successful when I don’t think, just do.”

Zawitkoski "Entrance" 6.75 x 3.25 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Entrance” 6.75 x 3.25 Acrylic on Mylar

Conversely, the moment that the image is actualized creates a feeling of elation within her. “When it all pulls together, which doesn’t always happen, and you’ve worked so long on it and achieved what you intended, it is magical. There are rare days when I pick up my brush and it feels as if everything is out of my control, the brush is moving and it’s just as much a mystery to me as it is to any viewer. Those days are amazing.

ZIA Supports McCausland Scholarship


Andrew and Sandy McCausland, Sarah’s parents, visited the gallery along with Sarah’s dear friend Maxine


John Vlahakis – Phantoms

Efforts to support the McCausland family in their aim to raise both awareness and funds for the annual Sarah McCausland Scholarship continue. More magnets of Iceland are again at ZIA Gallery, ready for distribution. One of John Vlahakis’s photographs of Icelandic horses sold, and his donation to the scholarship fund has been made. Three photographs are currently left in the edition. The horses entitled “Phantoms” continue to attract admirers, as does the rest of the display.

Fellow Iceland Inspired artist Jonathan Ricci is once again spending July at the artists’ residency in Skagaströnd making new paintings. More of his ceramic birds will be revealed this Friday and Saturday during Winnetka’s summer community sidewalk sale.

Ricci Cold Heat Midnight Rainbow 12x9 Acrylic and Mixed Media copy

Tonight Andrew and Sandy McCausland, Sarah’s parents, visited the gallery along with Sarah’s dear friend Maxine. We talked of Sarah, Iceland, and the upcoming trip to that beautiful country which was a source of much curiosity and inspiration to Sarah. The family’s visit to Iceland no doubt will be bittersweet, but our thoughts are with them along with hopes for a beautiful and rewarding journey.

To learn more about Sarah McCausland and how ZIA Gallery became involved with the family and their endeavours, please read the following article written about six weeks ago:

Sometimes the confluence of events brings a community together in unexpected ways. This is the case with ZIA Gallery’s recent exhibition Iceland Inspired and the untimely death of a much-loved, young woman.  Enthusiastic Bard College student and New Trier High School graduate Sarah McCausland embraced all things Icelandic. She took it upon herself to study the language in anticipation of visiting Iceland this summer. Tragically, only a few months ago, she and a friend lost their lives when hit by a drunk driver.   During the exhibition of Iceland Inspired, members of the Winnetka community approached ZIA Gallery and told us about Sarah, her family, and the desire and need of the community to share the story of Sarah and her fascination with Iceland. Provided by the family, a small display in the gallery window honors Sarah. Now a new display is underway to further honor Sarah and encourage support of her family in their newly established scholarship: The Sarah C. McCausland New Trier Performing Arts Scholarship awarded through New Trier High School.

On Thursday, June 5th, 2014, the first annual scholarship was awarded. 

As soon as Iceland Inspired artist John Vlahakis learned of the scholarship, he offered to donate to the fund 20% from the sale of the remaining available prints in the edition of his Icelandic horses photograph “Phantoms,” pictured above. John shares a fascination with Iceland and its natural features. These Icelandic horses are tough, sturdy, friendly animals unique to the island and protected by their country.  As word spread of the pending scholarship plans, other of the artists equally wanted to participate.  Jonathan Ricci spent 2 months last summer in Skagaströnd, Iceland painting his joyful, colorful abstractions he aptly refers to as COLD HEAT: Painting under the Midnight Sun.  In addition, his “Migration Project” of ceramic birds continues to grow and move through the Winnetka community, and around the world. He left ceramic birds in nooks and crannies of the landscape in Skagaströnd as a thank-you to the people of the town for hosting the residency. Now Jonathan requests to donate 20% to Sarah’s scholarship fund from the sale of his painting “Midnight Rainbow” pictured above. This summer Jonathan returns to Iceland for the month of July, again to paint and be inspired by this remarkable country.

Anne Hughes spent a refreshing 9 days in Iceland and returned with photos she calls “research materials” to be used toward the development of a body of work. “Variations,” pictured above, is one pastel inspired by the geological features of Iceland. Through directly meeting several of Sarah’s warm family members, Anne has been touched to learn about Sarah.

Anne Hughes - Variations

Anne Hughes – Variations

Sarah’s parents and sister will fulfill Sarah’s dream through traveling together to Iceland this summer, as intended. In addition, their determination and strength will bring good to a deserving student of New Trier High School through the Sarah C. McCausland New Trier Performing Arts Scholarship.

Donations to the scholarship fund may be sent directly to the high school, payable to:

New Trier High School

Add Sarah McCausland‘s name written in the memo portion of the cheque.

The address is:

385 Winnetka Ave.

Winnetka, IL 60093

Here is what Sarah’s family says about the scholarship:

Sarah C. McCausland New Trier Performing Arts Scholarship


$750 Annually


The Sarah C. McCausland New Trier Scholarship for the Performing Arts is a scholarship of which students apply and faculty selects a finalist. Eligible students are those who have participated in two, preferably three of the following arts departments: orchestra, choral, and theatre. The student should have a financial need and exhibit the following qualities:


1. Charismatic leadership


2. Individuality of character


3. Kind support of fellow arts students


4. Standards of excellence 


Sarah loved New Trier’s performing arts. Her scholarship affirms her singular personality, her quest for learning and her passion for life and friends.


ZIA Gallery is pleased to participate in this worthy cause. We extend our support and sincere wishes toward a successful campaign to fulfill the McCausland family’s goals in creating a positive legacy in their daughter and sister’s name: Sarah McCausland.




Toda’s Calming Infusion Of Color

By Shannon Gallagher

New York City artist Fumiko Toda’s paintings and prints launch the viewer into a enchanting, mysterious environment that is simultaneously calming and intriguing. The artwork is the result of an infatuation with color, pattern, and texture. Toda, who works from her light-filled home studio in Harlem, mixes elements of drawing, printmaking, and painting to create works that envelop the viewer with a sense of optimism and curiosity.

Toda A Letter To Canada 24x24 mixed media painting

Toda’s work is extremely intuitive, as she rarely begins with sketches. “Sometimes I have an idea, but most of the time, I don’t start with something specific in mind. Even if I begin a piece with one idea, it usually ends up as something else by the time I’m finished.” Recently, she has been experimenting with thicker layers of paint. Although Toda enjoys the quiet tranquility brought on by some of the flatter elements in her paintings, she said, “Lately, more than ever, I’m interested in making the work a little more sculptural. I’m in a place in my life now where I want to be excited more than calm, so I apply a lot of paint on the panel so that certain parts come out more than others.” Toda finds that push-and-pull exciting, and is delighted by the properties of the paint. “More than the actual image I’m working on, the paints I apply inspire me to continue working. I don’t know what my work is about, but the more time I spend painting, the more comfortable and confident I feel about the process of painting. I’m trusting the process more and more these days,” she stated.

Toda Background of a Dream 48x48 mixed media painting

That process, according to Toda, is crucial, even when she feels that what she is working on isn’t amounting to anything. “Even when I’m not inspired or motivated to work, I just have to stay in the studio,” she said. “I stay and experiment. I try to be open about what’s happening on the canvas, and I will play around with materials and mediums, and try to get inspired by what I discover.”

Toda Flowers in a Vase 35x30 mixed media painting

Toda grew up in the Japanese countryside, and spent a lot of time as a child near a pond burgeoning with biodiversity. The long hours of warm summer days in the countryside were spent collecting insects, leaves, and other pieces of the environment to combat feelings of isolation. Although New York City does not offer the same kind of environment thriving with various plants and animals, she does spend as much free time as possible in Central Park, and goes hiking whenever she has the chance.

Toda, who did not speak any English when she left Japan for NYC, found the cultural differences to be an exciting challenge. Although living in a large city does sometimes lend itself to feelings of disconnection, she also does not view isolation as a negative experience. “I think everyone deals with isolation at some point and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing,” she said. “It’s a part of our human experience, and working alone or being alone helps me to nurture myself and better understand myself and others.” She compared the role of an artist with that of a musician. “When I was in high school, I played flute, and I wanted to be a flutist. When you’re playing music, you jam with other musicians, but when you’re painting, well… of course artists can collaborate, but mostly you’re in the studio alone, and you talk to yourself, or your cat, if you have one,” she said, smiling.

Toda Leaking Moonlight 50x20 mixed media painting

























In addition to spending her free time outdoors, she enjoys visiting museums like the Metropolitan Museum, and her personal favorite, Neue Galerie, a museum devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design. The museum houses a large collection of Kandinsky, Klee, Schiele, and Klimt, the last of which is often cited by others as similar to Toda’s work. “I get that a lot,” she said. “It’s funny, but I don’t mind at all. For me, the most important thing is the process of making art, and while of course, the finished work does matter, it’s not as important to me. If the work looks like this or that, well… it doesn’t really concern me. “ Although she is always influenced by artists, there is not one in particular that she tries to emulate. “I recently started a flower series, which was inspired by Redon, but it’s not that I want to be like him.”

Toda Seiko's House 48x48 mixed media on panel


Although she now has her own printmaking press in her studio, Toda used to spend time working at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC. She said that although she enjoyed working alongside the “wonderful community” of artists there, she loves the freedom that having her own equipment has given her- “I do whatever I want,” she said. Toda bought the press about three years ago, and also uses it to teach classes. Her favorite method of printmaking is etching, because of the quality of line that can be achieved. “I also cut [my prints] apart and collage pieces of them into my paintings,” Toda said. “I use it as a mixed media medium. The printmaking really forces me to be open and spontaneous, because there are a lot of ‘accidents’ that happen, and that is really exciting.”

Toda 1892 48x36 mixed media on panel


One thing she wishes she could do is work much larger. “There is a lot of physical work involved, I wish I could work ten times bigger, but I paint on panels, and I physically cannot lift such heavy things.” Recently, Toda completed a triptych, approximately 48” x 96”, but said that working on one solid panel of that size would be difficult. “I like the fact that it is a triptych, but wish I were a little more macho and I could deal with the physical part of it. If I could do that, I’d probably be sculpting, too. There are a lot of things I want to do. Sometimes, I get frustrated with my studio space, because I wish it were bigger- but at the same time, I’m very satisfied and happy to be working with what I have,” she stated.  As far as what the future holds for her, Toda said, “I have no idea where I’m going. I know that the painting is going to take me somewhere, but I’m not taking it.”

Fumiko Toda has an exhibition of new work opening at ZIA | Gallery on Saturday, September 7th, 5 -7pm. Her work will be on display in the main gallery from September 7th until October 12, 2013.


Framing With ZIA|Gallery

By: Shannon Gallagher

Recently, it has come to our attention that some of our gallery patrons are unaware of the custom framing aspect of our business. ZIA|Gallery specializes in a variety of custom framing practices, and can assist you in achieving the perfect aesthetic for your artwork, needlework, custom mirrors, family photos, travel souvenirs, children’s art and other personal mementos.

From contemporary to traditional, ZIA carries one of the largest selections of frames in the Chicago area by local, national and international designers, in a multitude of shapes, styles, finishes, and colors. We carry both chops and finished-corners, wood, metal, and gold-leafed frames in a variety of price points; and we gain great satisfaction from helping customers select the right molding to accent their pieces. Our small skilled staff assists both area designers and the general public.


In addition to only using conservation quality mats and glass, ZIA specializes in dry mounting, canvas and silk-pin stretching, needlework framing, shadowboxing, and French matting and lines. We understand the deeply personal nature of aesthetics, and aim to assist you in choosing the right mats, fillets, molding, and glass for your particular piece.

To illustrate our versatility and high level of skill and precision, we want to share with you a few examples of what we are capable. ZIA has assisted customers in framing everything from Grammy and Super Bowl tickets to historical documents, Indonesian shadow puppets, antique baseball equipment, Indian wedding quilts, special occasion invitations, vintage posters, and artwork by the likes of Ed Paschke, Hollis Sigler, George Bellows, David Hockney, Ben Shahn and Ellsworth Kelly to name a few. We often find ourselves working with local artists and photographers who wish to frame their own pieces for upcoming exhibitions, or simply to achieve that polished, professional finish to their work. We are flexible, and often work with customers who have unusual projects or are on a deadline.

The level of personal attention is unparalleled at ZIA. We do not operate in the same model as big box stores with framing departments. In addition to having a significantly larger selection of frames to choose from, ZIA is a small, locally-owned business that holds customer service above all else. We strive to make our customers’ faces light up when they pick up their pieces! Although personal tastes and aesthetics may change over time, all of our work is done in a manner that ensures long-lasting, professional results that protect, preserve, and complement your pieces. We are not intimidated by difficult projects, and if there is anything that we cannot do here in our workshop, we will refer you to a trusted professional who can!

We would also like to note that any individual who makes an artwork purchase of $300 or more is entitled to 15% off framing for an entire year!

Mary Burke’s Accidental Marks

By Shannon Gallagher

“Often times, it’s a strange thing: the things you do in your youth stick with you,” said painter Mary Burke. “On the other hand, though, artists get better as they age and gain more experience. They really start to hone in on their particular iconography or way of looking at the world. Although the application of paint has not changed much, my work is quite different from what it was in the past. Now, it’s more fluid, more natural in appearance, ” she said.  The way in which Burke works these days is very intuitive. “It’s a give and take, I throw down marks on the paper or canvas, and then I work with them. I let the work talk to me and entertain me.” She then works with these “accidental” marks, as she refers to them. She enjoys the idea of seeing something out of nothing, like watching the clouds and forming images in one’s mind. “I go in and make marks that are more controlled, and then there is a dichotomy of accidental versus controlled. That seems to be a major theme in my work, putting two opposite things next to one another to create an interesting diversity.” She enjoys making references to the natural world, including flowers, animals, patterns, and circles. “Nature is a very strange thing,” she said. “Part of it is very chaotic, but if you look at the way things grow, there seems to be quite a bit of organization, and even a certain geometry to it. I like to include both aspects in my work, haphazard meanderings of nature, and the very organized way it all works.” Some of these visual references are used repeatedly throughout her body of work, and they are all derived from nature in some way.

Burke started to realize that she possessed creative talent around the age of 9, when she began receiving praise from teachers for her advanced work. She always enjoyed making art, and seemed to excel in it, so it became a constant throughout her childhood and adolescence. Immediately after high school, she enrolled in Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, where she spent two years studying. However, she found that for her, the unstructured environment was not conducive to the learning process. She felt that in some ways, she was learning, but in other aspects, the lack of academic structure was problematic. Burke transferred to the University of Chicago, where she began studying art history, but soon began to miss making art. She started working at Midway Studios there, got her BA (U of C does not offer a BFA), and a few years later, she was accepted to the University of Minnesota’s MFA in painting program. Burke sees some similarities in the work she created while in college and her current body of work. “The paintings I made in college are somewhat related to what I’m doing now, but the new work is a little more structured and architectural.”

Burke uses acrylic paint because its fumes are less intrusive and its drying time is shorter. “I like oil paint, but I really just can’t use it,” she said. She has recently gotten into watercolor because she enjoys “the fluidity of it, the way it spreads on paper, and the accidental qualities you can get out of it.” She also uses ink, crayon, and pencil in her works on paper and canvas.  The artist, who divides her time between Michigan and Chicago, is very affected by her environment. The influence of nature is obvious in Burke’s paintings, as her studio in Michigan is surrounded by nature. “I don’t see any buildings around me, only trees. I find the forest really inspiring. Sometimes I use photographs I’ve taken around my house and studio, and I incorporate it into the works on paper. Chicago is a totally different thing. I don’t work much when I’m in Chicago. I visit, I have a place there, but there is a different feel to it. I just seem to work better in Michigan.”

 Burke finds inspiration in a variety of 20th and 21st century artists. “When I was younger, I thought Dadaism was silly,” she said. “Now, I understand that it’s almost like an ultimate freedom, you have no agenda, you’re not trying to bring forth even an idea, it’s just… BINGO! Intuitive, subliminal thinking: that’s what I like about the Dadaists: in my estimation, they really opened up the ability of the artist to free-associate. Not everything has to have some big meaning, sometimes taking disparate things and putting them together without rhyme or reason gives the artist an incredible freedom of expression, and that mindset has spanned the decades. Artists like Joan Snyder, Antoni Tàpies, and Manolo Valdés seemed to inherit that modernistic view.”

As for the future, Burke envisions her work experimenting with the qualities of paint. She has been playing with the idea of pouring paint directly on canvas. “I just want to let it do its own thing, and then embellish that. I don’t like to be in full control, because I enjoy watching things manifest themselves. When you give up initial control over something, you can be amazed by the results.”


Kathy Weaver’s Energetic Visual Storytelling

By Shannon Gallagher

Kathy Weaver’s visually stimulating, imaginative mixed media artwork playfully juxtaposes colorful imagery with references to politics, violence, technology, personal relationships, and memory. She is a multi-media artist who often works on fabric, airbrushing and hand-embroidering the material to create intricate, multi-faceted works on satin, cotton, silk, and velvet.

Her work incorporates layers and multiple mediums, and she works in a variety of sizes. The large quilt pieces are generally a long-term process from conception to completion. “I quilt by hand because I find that I can get more gradation in color with this method. I often work 12-14 very long days on one quilt. It can be very labor intensive,” she said.  Weaver, who taught for over 30 years at all grade levels, admits that the brazen approach to her artwork is heavily influenced by children and their lack of defeatist attitudes. “Children just go for it. They never seem to say “I can’t do it.” A major influence, to me, is the ‘can do’ attitude of children; their spirit, zest, and total willingness to become immersed in their creation process. When the kids were ‘in the zone,’ they would literally be dancing as they were painting, just loving it!” However, the approach is not the only thing about children that inspires Weaver. “The use of bright colors lends happiness to the images, regardless of the subject matter. It draws people in. Also, children experiment. They just try whatever materials or media they have available until it works. Whether I use sculpture, clay, print, ink… it’s all the same. It’s all about trying to just make something. The very act of being in a classroom with a bunch of people making things is just an amazing feeling; it must be like what our ancestors felt like in a room making things for utilitarian or spiritual purposes.”

The artist fell into airbrush painting because she was working on a lot of robot imagery and wanted to render the “skin” of her robots without the presence of an artist’s hand. Airbrush offers a smooth, even coating of paint, but requires steady concentration. Of the process, she said, “It’s simply tedious. I don’t really enjoy airbrushing when I’m painting something from a sketch. When I have a pre-conceived idea of the image I want to get across, it’s a lot of mechanical and tedious work to make it happen. First I make the sketch, then I enlarge it, razorblade it out, and number the pieces like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You have to make it look like it is kind of spontaneous, and you have to remember the color as you go. On the other hand, if I start with a blank canvas and just begin painting with various layers of stencils, I’m working intuitively and I enjoy it a lot more. You don’t know where it will take you.”  Weaver’s work explores themes of humor, irony, human relationships, and contempt for society, although these themes sometimes manifest themselves subconsciously. “I often try to make deliberate statements in my work, but if I’m working on a blank canvas, I might have an idea in mind, but not know where it’s going to go. It’s similar to an author, who has a cast of characters, but not necessarily a story. There may be plot twists and surprise endings.”

When asked what she has learned about herself as an artist over the years, Weaver indicated that one of the most important lessons she has learned is to keep an open mind. “You have to just go for it, go as far as your imagination will take you. I’m constantly learning not to hold back or censor myself. I just try to keep following through with the ideas I have, to follow the little alleys of my mind and see where they lead.” One such alley led Weaver to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. One day, she just decided that she had nothing to lose, and contacted them. “I wanted to learn more about what they were doing with victims of traumatic injury, and specifically, war victims. I was really upset about it, and wanted to learn more. I had heard that they were using robotics and neural pathways to control prosthetic limbs, so I got in touch with them and asked if they would be interested in having an artist draw some of what they were doing in the lab.” She had first become interested in robotics as mechanisms after attending a world conference at Indiana University that discussed all of the different fields that go into the study of informatics (including physics, robotics, and cellular biology). After the conference, she had a whole new perspective on robotics, which are “doing both bad and good things in the world.”

The RIC was very interested, and has been very supportive of her. After getting to know some of the patients and staff, Weaver got the permission necessary from lawyers and patients to sketch them. “I’ve only had one person who requested not to be drawn. I have a form that they must sign, to make it clear that [my presence] in no way influences their treatment. I’m more of a witness. It has been pretty humbling, because some of what these patients are doing is physically difficult, and excruciating for me to watch. It has been a privilege to draw these people, and I always show the patients the drawings afterwards, as well as sending them copies of the sketches.”  When asked about the future, Weaver hinted at a future collaborative project about drones, an upcoming three-person show at Prairie State, and a new body of work concerning neural pathways. She plans to continue working on a series of large-scale drawings that she started during a recent artist’s residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois. She also has no plans to stop working with the RIC. “I can really produce,” she said. “I’m a hard worker, but it is because making art is a joy to me. It is the one thing I absolutely just forget everything else and do.”

Kathy Weaver is represented by ZIA|Gallery in Winnetka, Illinois. She is exhibiting in a two-person show there, running from January 18th until March 2, 2013.

Q&A With Artist Melissa Jay Craig

Q&A Session with handmade paper/installation artist Melissa Jay Craig

By Shannon Gallagher

Melissa Jay Craig creates and exhibits her intricate fiber sculptures, handmade paper books, and impressive installation pieces at the international level, most notably in North and South America, Denmark, South Korea, Costa Rica, and Mexico.  She has received recognition for her artistic achievements in the form of numerous grants and artist residencies. In addition to making art, Melissa Jay Craig is also a curator, writer, and award-winning professor who continues to travel the country giving lectures, workshops, and classes at schools and art centers. Of her work, she says,


“In my work, I imply narratives authored by our beleaguered planet, set forth in a language long overlooked by humanity’s intellectual arrogance. I perceive this as a language of dichotomy, of adaptation, of infinite cyclical renewal, of double-edged humor, of fierce, disturbing beauty and, always, of the ultimate triumph of time. When I was a child, the first time I had the intriguing feeling that the planet carried messages (for those who were curious enough to look), was when I came upon a group of the fungus Amanita Muscaria, huddled together in a dark, secret space under tall pines. Fungus is an agent of change. I’m fascinated with its myriad forms and colors, and I love to go in search of it. I can become more excited by discovering a beautiful fungal growth than by perusing artwork ‘discovered’ for us by curators in contemporary art museums.”Craig Intrinsic Hand Made Paper 48" in Diameter




  1. You talk about your interest in fungi as an “agent of change,” how does the
    work itself change/grow/evolve throughout the creation process? Do you find
    that the process in which you create your work is as important as the end


The end result is always the focus but it does not exist without the
process; they’re inextricably linked. You could say that the end result is
the public part of the work and the process is the private part, except that

achieving the end results is also an ongoing, lifelong process. In terms
of the physical process of making the work, there is always a dialogue with
the materials, refinements to the ideas and unforeseen discoveries that are
part of the process and something that keeps working with paper fresh and
exciting to me. The process re-shapes the end result, and the goal of the
end result keeps me adapting, researching and attempting new processes.



  1. How has your career evolved with the advancement of the internet and
    technology? Do you find that utilizing social media sites like Facebook is


I have received opportunities strictly through my web site ever since I
built the first one.  I am nearly deaf, so the internet and technology are
essential communication tools for me; you can’t pick up a phone and contact
me unless you text (and it often surprises me how many people do not use
text). I’m not sure if it would be the same if I was a hearing person, but
there’s no way to find that out.

I like Facebook, but I’m not sure how much – or even if – it has added to my
career.  So far, I have resisted Twitter…with two blogs, the web site, and
personal and public Facebook pages, I have enough difficulty coming up with
content at slower times, and then always have the paradox of having no time
to publish when life is interesting and busy.

Craig Incident 48"x12"x18" Hand Made Paper



  1. In your artist’s statement, you discuss unspoken nuances, subliminal
    messages, body language, and heightened senses. Do you find yourself
    incorporating hidden messages or subtle themes into your work?


Definitely, the work utilizes unconventional, nonverbal communication; it’s
about that, in large part.  But, as a deafened person, I would argue that
these methods of communication are, in fact, not ‘hidden’ and definitely are
not always subtle either. It’s just that when you rely solely on spoken or
written language, they can escape your conscious notice; you’re responding
to them whether you realize it or not. We all do, constantly. That’s
something I want to point out with my work: that our communication methods
and our intelligences extend far beyond the accepted province of linear,
verbally-expressed intellectualism

Melissa Shows Fibers In Light


  1. You frequently teach workshops around the country. How does this
    influence your work? Do you learn more about yourself as an artist as a
    result of seeing how your knowledge and imagination inspire your students’
    creative endeavors?


I learn more about myself as a person, and this person is an artist and
teacher.  Traveling also lets me see how all the different studios and
communities work, try out all the different equipment used, benefit from the
results of different types of research, and all that definitely contributes
to my work. I am always learning, and teaching is an exchange that brings
everything full circle. Particularly because my studio practice is solitary
and because I am deafened, the intense exchange involved in teaching is an
important part of the whole.

Book Mushrooms Hand Made Paper


  1. What do you find to be the most challenging and/or frustrating part of your
    artistic process?


Getting the time to focus solely on the work.  I’m always several ideas
ahead of what is being worked on! Though I work as much as possible in my
studios at home, it’s a much more difficult situation than when I am on a
residency; life intrudes constantly.

Also, trying to overcome public perceptions about paper; folks naturally
think of the paper they use every day: weak, fragile commercially produced
wood pulp sheets.  When it’s made as many other artists and I make it, it’s
a sustainable, environmentally responsible medium that can be incredibly
strong and durable; only its appearance is delicate.


  1. What are you working on next?


Several things! The one that I’m most excited about (possibly because it is
the most difficult in terms of process and resolution) is a series of subtle
outdoor installations that has stemmed from the Listening series of works.
I’m also continuing that series, and working on a number of books or



  1. Do you have a particular fiber that you prefer to work with? If so, why?



I like experimenting with fibers, and I now harvest and process at least one
new fiber each year. But two favourites are abaca and kozo.  Abaca because
of its toughness, high shrinkage and its translucency when it is overbeaten,
kozo for its utterly unique appearance (and also toughness).  Kozo was the
fiber that turned me into a papermaker. Now I even have a kozo tree growing
in my tiny back yard, which was given to me by the lovely folks at the
Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio, a couple of years ago. This fall
will I will take my first harvest from it, and make a special work with it;
I want that to become a yearly tradition.


  1. Do you do studies/sketches before you begin a piece, or is the process more


It depends on the piece or series.  Some have a great many sketches and
studies and prior research, and others will generate drawings, tests and
internet searches and/ or trips to the local library during the process.
With others, it’s all instinctive, though that is somewhat rarer.



  1. How have your style or methods changed over the years?


I began as a painter, then did assemblages and outdoor murals and
installations, spent some time making prints, and then funneled all my
previous concerns into books.  Then, papermaking came in and solidified
everything further, changed the books and the way I worked with them.  The
one constant (besides my perpetual need to make visual work) that has
remained throughout is that eventually, almost everything becomes an
installation or part of an installation.


  1. When you begin an artist’s residency, do you have an idea of what you are
    going to create, or do the location/facilities/people influence your work?


My favorite residencies are the ones that begin without an agenda, but
that’s not always the case. Especially in the last five years or so, I’ve
arrived with works already in mind that (in the way I think of it) are
demanding to be made. And some residencies are granted in response to a
specific proposal, as well. The surroundings and my colleagues-in-residence
always add something to the work, even when it is a previously planned
project: I usually seek rural residencies that have environments I respond
to, like Ragdale’s fifty acres of virgin prairie, and I highly value the
exchanges with people I’m in residence with as well, especially the insights
from artists in other disciplines, particularly poets, writers and
composers.  It’s invaluable. And, inevitably, even if I am working on
something specific, new ideas occur: that is the beauty of time dedicated
solely to the work that residencies provide.



It seems that Melissa Jay Craig herself is an agent of change. Her work is influenced through her interactions with nature, collaborations with fellow artists, and the intellectual exchange between teacher and student. Her artistic endeavors will continue to transform over time as a result of these ongoing experiences, and we look forward to seeing whatever those changes may be. Melissa Jay Craig will be exhibiting new works with painter Jonathan Ricci in a two-person show opening at ZIA Gallery on December 1, 2012.


The Collective Impact Of Arts And Culture

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

Art has the power to propel our thought process to the next level. From the beginning of time, people have used art to communicate, express feelings, reflect on the past, and consider the future. The creation process forces the artist to discard assumptions, make connections, and create new meanings. It is obvious to many of us that art has immeasurable positive effects on both the creator and the viewer, but sadly, many people do not consider art to be something valuable and imperative to the growth of society.

Kathy Weaver Pandora Surprise

Arts and culture provide numerous benefits for both the individual and his or her larger community. These benefits are branched into five categories: cognitive, behavioral, social, economic, and health/wellness. Arts programming has inherent positive effects on the individual and society as a whole:

Cognitive: Improved performance/test scores, increased reading and math scores, notably higher SAT scores, overall promotion of the learning process.

Behavioral:The arts teach its participants important lessons that are crucial for those who will go on to work as adults- these include accountability, consequences, discipline, trust, and teamwork. Developing social bonds with at-risk youth through arts organizing has also had a positive effect on the children.

Zoriah Miller

Social:            The arts increase community organizing, volunteering, and community interaction, provide a sense of community identity, and increase social capital. They also empower the community to collectively organize for various causes.

Economic: Employment, tax revenue, spending (direct benefits), as well as the indirect benefit of attracting those who are interested in the arts to the areas where arts programs exist, and the “public good” benefit of increasing the overall quality of life within the community.

Deanna Kreuger Peridot Tempest


Bob Krist  Infrared Icelandic Church

Bob Krist Infrared Icelandic Church

Health and Wellness: The arts have been shown to lower stress and anxiety and increase overall mental and physical health. Arts participation has proven to help individuals suffering from varying diagnoses, such as dementia from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, depression, acute pain, and mental or physical handicaps.

Some of these benefits, although intrinsic, also impact the community by teaching community members valuable attributes, such as discipline, teamwork, pride, and responsibility. These benefits are most often reaped when exposure to the arts starts at a young age, as a “gateway experience” for school age children. Sustained involvement is crucial in building momentum and public worth for any arts related organization, and the arts in general.

The arts bridge social boundaries by uniting people of various ages, genders, ethnicities, and occupational statuses. They encourage trust, solidarity, and diversity. They increase individual and community assets and foster an environment where people collaborate and work together to imagine change and achieve goals. Arts advocacy is imperative, because the arts can assist in expanding social capital. Generally, community developers consider only the physical infrastructure and economic development of an area. The arts should be integrated, however, because we know that the arts are good public practice. They create jobs, attract homeowners, attract tourists, increase a community’s “walkability,” and promote independence and creativity.

Richard Laurent Heaven Or Hell

In other words, it is the duty of anyone interested in the arts to promote artistic programming, attend cultural events, and encourage community participation. It is our responsibility to ensure that the arts are a valued commodity for future generations, if not for ourselves.