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
    result?

 

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.

Re-Morse

 

  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
    beneficial?

 

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

book-objects…

 

  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
    organic?

 

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.

 

Our Visual Abstraction

ABSTRACTION & NON-REPRESENTATIONAL WORK

Visual art does not have to present an image of something immediately recognizable in order to move the viewer or to be considered an important work of art. Mark Rothko’s calming color field paintings are a great example of the power that color, shape, and brushstrokes can have in a piece of artwork. Jackson Pollock created immersive environments with his large-scale drip paintings, evoking a sense of chaos and frenzy, while Piet Mondrian’s methodical grid paintings give the audience a feeling of stability and organization. ZIA Gallery is proud to represent three artists who work in an abstract or non-representational manner to create exquisite works of art that encourage creative interpretation.

CHARLES GNIECH

Charles Gniech finds inspiration in surface.

Rise 40 x 40

His latest work explores the quiet, meditative qualities of prehistoric stone circles in Great Britain. Many of these monumental stone structures possess fluid surface-patterns that convey a feeling of harmony and tranquility. The color schemes are based on observations of color in the natural world, and their calming effect on the human psyche. Gniech’s paintings, although representational in a sense, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. He says of his work, “I have taken some artistic liberties, in the replication, manipulation and abstraction of the surface patterns found on these massive stone slabs, yet the work continues to convey the serene qualities regularly associated with nature and inner peace.” This series varies significantly from Gniech’s earlier work, which consists largely of portraits and figures with a strong sense of light.  In addition to creating work and exhibiting at the national level, Gniech also teaches, consults, and freelances. He is both a Professor of Art and the Exhibition Curator for Gallery 180 at the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago.

 BEVERLY ZAWITKOSKI

Beverly Zawitkoski creates mixed media paintings from a purely instinctive, perceptive state.

Scape 24 Acrylic & Charcoal on Mylar

She does not create an initial plan or structure for her artwork, instead allowing the materials and mood to pilot her through the creation process. Zawitkoski seeks to express a particular mood, energy, and atmosphere within each piece, which she gradually builds by layering acrylic paint, charcoal, pastels, and other materials. Although the finished piece may not express a specific literal analysis, it is reflective of an essence of something. She primarily works from her imagination, creating surfaces that support and communicate a sense of ambiguity and emotional depth.  Beverly Zawitkoski has exhibited in over 23 group exhibitions across North America and Europe. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, in addition to receiving multiple awards and prizes in recognition of her outstanding work.

DEANNA KRUEGER

Deanna Krueger works abstractly, combining painting, printmaking, and sculptural elements.

Turbidite Small

Her work creates a visual aesthetic that is both primitive and technological, and evokes a different association within each viewer. Some works appear to resemble aquatic life, mountains or other geological formations, skies, stars, or scientific images of the miniscule. The process for Krueger’s current series begins with recycled medical diagnostic film layered with acrylic monotype prints. The film is then torn apart and the shards are reconnected into new configurations using thousands of staples. Of this body of work, she says,  “Serving as a marker of this time of transition, the materials speak to the recent evolution of information storage. When virtual documents replace paper, the lowly staple will become an artifact of an earlier information age. Modes of diagnostic imagery are shifting as well: X-Rays and MRI scans are increasingly being recorded solely in the digital realm.” Krueger strives for the obscure and mysterious, as her pieces explore the boundaries between what is real and what is unknown.  Deanna Krueger exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally, all the while continuing to teach art and design courses at Northeastern Illinois University.

The inspired, accomplished artists that we represent at ZIA Gallery work in a variety of styles, themes, and mediums. Come out to the opening of our annual Group Exhibition of Gallery Artists on August 3rd between 5:00 and 7:30 pm to see work by Charles Gniech, Beverly Zawitkoski, and Deanna Krueger, among many, many others!

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

 

 

Artists And The Environment

Throughout history, art has had the power to spark intellectual debate and cause society to question itself. From Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Andy Warhol’s serigraphs documenting the race riots of the 1960s to Jenny Saville’s work commenting on the female body and societal expectations of it, one purpose of art is to connect the artist’s thoughts with the outside world through aesthetics. We love the idea of art with a deeper message. Many of the artists that ZIA Gallery represents are greatly concerned with the state of our world ecological policies and practices, and seek to influence their audiences to be more aware of this widening crisis.

CLYDE BUTCHER

Clyde Butcher has fled to nature in times of distress.

Moon Rise

He views his time spent in the wild swamps of Florida’s Everglades as a spiritual experience that has provided a sanctuary from life’s troubles. It is for this reason that Butcher has become an advocate for the environment. Butcher photographs the intricacy and beauty of these untouched areas of landscape, voicing a desire to spread awareness about their fragile ecosystems. He has won numerous awards for his efforts, including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Conservation Award, which honors artists who not only display excellence in photography, but contribute to public awareness of the environment. Butcher has also hosted, starred in, and been featured in numerous nature documentaries about the aquatic preserves and estuaries in Florida.    Living on 13 acres of swampland, surrounded by wild alligators and rare orchids, Butcher sees the decimation of our nation’s swamps firsthand as excess water flushed out from the north carries pesticides and nutrients that cause strange flora to grow. These non-native plants devour oxygen, killing the fish and filling the once-clear water with tangles of foreign vegetation and little else (Smith). Butcher works tirelessly to expose the magnificence and vulnerability of these endangered waters, both through his photography and by lending his voice to numerous television and documentary appearances, first in 1985 with Peter Jennings on ABC. His collaborates with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and has published several books focusing on the Everglades and ecological preservation in Florida.

MELISSA JAY CRAIG

Melissa Jay Craig works primarily in sculpture made from handmade paper.  She uses fibers that she processes (and sometimes harvests) herself, specifically because of the minimal environmental impact that results from this method. She is interested in biology- plants, fungi, living organisms, and messages from the planet delivered through nature. She finds shamanistic spiritual beliefs interesting because most of these beliefs embody a modern-day environmentalist viewpoint. She is fascinated by the results of global environmental change, and her work often comments on the subject.

MARC DIMOV

Marc Dimov’s photography is a comment on our relationship with the Earth.

Gray Trigger Fish 20 x 30 limited edition of 10

He is concerned with the rampant use of natural resources, whether it be land use, pollution, water, or sustainable fishing practices. He views the decimation of our oceans as a moral concern, an epidemic that will inevitably alter the way that we live and rely on the food that the ocean provides us. Dimov hopes that his photographs will create a dialogue about the way we live and urge people to question their choices.

KARINA HEAN

Karina Hean was born and raised on Chesapeake Bay in Mayo, Maryland. Much of her childhood was spent fishing, crabbing, exploring, and swimming in the ocean.

Field Notes I 11 x 17

As a result of this, she is an advocate for the fragile and endangered underwater world. An early connection to the natural world, environmentalism and stewardship has provided Hean with an avenue to connect her work with her interests. She now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where her connection to and inspiration from nature has shifted from the ocean to the deserts, canyons, and mountains of the southwest.  When discussing her work, Hean reveals that her drawings are visual representations of both the pleasure she derives from spending time outdoors and her reaction to the human relationship with the environment. She comments on the changeable qualities of our ecology and humankind’s naturally influential relationship with our natural environment by drawing organic masses supported or bracketed by external structures. She is interested in the way we change the physical world to better suit our human needs. Hean describes nature as having two roles- the “divine, ineffable entitity characterized by change and omnipotence to which we belong and as a measurable, predictable resource capable of passive utilization that we comprehend and control.”

JOHN VLAHAKIS

John Vlahakis has always had a keen interest in protecting the environment.

Dead Coneflower 15 x 15 limited edition of 5

His work stems from a desire to create a dialogue about our place in society and the responsibility we have to protect our natural treasures. His photographs, the subject of which generally consist of living organisms, capture the innate beauty and drama of the natural world that we as humans have access to. They are a comment on human existence and the effect that we have on the world.

ZIA Gallery strives to serve multiple roles within the art world- including representing artists whose work responds to some aspect of contemporary global issues, all the while maintaining the utmost level of aesthetic appeal and creativity. We hope that the artwork on display at ZIA Gallery causes our audience to ponder important questions about our world and the way in which we inhabit it.

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

Benefit Of The Arts

It is not difficult to identify the positive effects of the arts at both the individual and community level. Arts and culture do more than bring disparate groups of people together for the sake of sharing a common experience; they excite the imagination, provoke discussion, and provide an alternate point of view. Simple audience participation in the arts has numerous benefits. At the social level, it brings together groups of people that otherwise might never interact, thus promoting diversity and acceptance. Arts and culture also strengthen the community and increase civic pride, as well as attracting revenue. At the personal level, cultural events relieve stress, increase the scope of participants’ social networks, support creativity and innovation, and foster trust between individuals.

These are only a few of the reasons why ZIA Gallery is dedicated to promoting the work of emerging and established artists from all over North America. In addition to sharing our love of aesthetics, we also want to encourage community members and local businesses to participate and/or collaborate with us on future events to support area involvement in the arts. It seems that this sentiment is echoed by numerous members of the community, as the topic of neighborhood involvement in the arts was on the forefront at the opening of our current exhibition, Superheroes and Vignettes of Day-to-Day Life on June 22nd. The exhibition, on view until July 28th, features the fine art photography of award-winning artists Dulce Pinzón and Maggie Meiners. It was a very exciting night for us, as we entertained nearly 150 guests throughout the three-hour opening reception.

Several guests who had not previously visited the gallery noted that they were ecstatic to have discovered a progressive art gallery within Winnetka that evokes the feeling of being in Chicago or New York City. Visitors also expressed their fondness of the festive atmosphere surrounding the opening, and a desire for increased numbers of Winnetka businesses to work together to participate in cultural events that encourage community and family interconnectedness. To illustrate this point, a local artist and gallerist who was present at the opening on the 22nd recently returned to ZIA Gallery with her two sons because she wanted them to not only enjoy the visual appeal of the show, but she felt that the ideas being addressed were part of a necessary dialogue about identity and culture that she wanted to share with her sons.

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

 

Collecting And Displaying Art

What type of art do you like?  Modern, impressionistic, mixed media, photography, sculpture, etc.  Most of our gallery visitors are a bit stumped by that question.

Michael Cutlip: Recycled 24 x 24 Mixed on Panel

A blank look tends to waif over their faces when asked the question.  Most gallery visitors unfortunately are looking for a piece to compliment their interior décor.  Does it match the paint in the bedroom?  Would it fit perfectly above the fireplace mantle?  It’s too small, or it’s too big may follow the comment about matching colors to the wall.  Price is always a consideration, and for some price is equated with the size of the artwork.  Some consumers equate price of an art piece to the size of the work.  Larger pieces cost more, while smaller ones cost less.  At his point we’re ready to pull our hair out.  In my opinion the best way to buy art is to buy what you like when you see it for the first time.  Your instinct will never fail you.

We’re always delighted when a collector visits.  Collectors are looking at the artwork.  They appreciate the work and effort that goes into creating the piece.

Carl Wilen: Dreams For Sale 14.5 x 15 oil painting

They normally do not buy to match the color of a wall, or to find something that fits the wall they are trying to over.  Collectors follow an artist or gallery, and look for something they can appreciate and intrinsically value.  Showcasing the artwork is the last thing on their minds.  They may have the homes or offices that allow for creating a gallery experience, or they may just hang artwork on every conceivable flat surface in their living space.  It’s not so much about the presentation, but showcasing the variety of work they love to collect to anyone that visits them.  Art is to be shown and appreciated, no matter how you like to hang it.  Keep that in mind the next time you visit us.