Not What You Expect

The Floral Show (not what you expect) now at ZIA Gallery

The Floral Show (not what you expect) now at ZIA Gallery

The exhibition “The Floral Show (not what you expect)” is in full swing at ZIA Gallery, bringing together artists of such talents and imagination evoking the wonder of our natural world. This exhibition follows “The Elephant in the Room” which centered on elephants in art. Now artists soar toward spring with uplifting color and invention derived from inspiration of flowering plants.

Kevin Veara's Whip-poor-wills and Mary Burke's Natural Cycles - color, movement and change

Kevin Veara’s Whip-poor-wills and Mary Burke’s Natural Cycles – color, movement and change

The late scientist and essayist Loren Eiseley revitalizes appreciation through his essay “How Flowers Changed the World.” The journey of flowering plants resulted, no less, in the emergence of us. Angiospems have developed such remarkable diversity of form, color and mechanisms to travel. Yet, we still have much to discover, learn, and to rouse our curiosity.

The exhibition begins "The Floral Show (not what you expect)"

The exhibition begins “The Floral Show (not what you expect)”

Visual artists, too, through flourishing creativity, re-energize the words “floral show.” They are stimulated and fascinated both directly and indirectly, as can be seen through the unexpected universes of Mary Burke, Melissa Jay Craig, Lisa A. Frank, Karina Noel Hean, Anne Hughes, Ted Preuss, Jonathan Ricci, Fumiko Toda, John Vlahakis, Carl Wilen and invited artists Kevin Veara and Phil Ponce.

Phil Ponce takes papel picado techniques to the max with his gorgeous "Insectos."

Phil Ponce takes papel picado techniques to the max with his gorgeous “Insectos.”

The exhibition includes beautifully executed artwork by guest artist Phil Ponce (host of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight) who takes inspiration from the traditional Mexican folk art technique of papel picado. To create his interconnected labyrinths of nature, Phil replaces tissue paper with durable black tyvek and represents insects native to Illinois – an ecosystem of plants and insects.

Kevin Veara's "Northern Flicker" surrounded by "unknown climbing asters"

Kevin Veara’s “Northern Flicker” surrounded by “unknown climbing asters”

Kevin Veara’s visual ecosystem combines unusually patterned birds, flowers and insects in striking scale and color combinations. Melissa Jay Craig contributes her amazingly inventive handmade paper sculptural pieces, some inspired by looking at the lacy cellular patterns of a stem such as Bloodroot, others by seeds.

Melissa Jay Craig's "Protector" -only Melissa could create such a sculpture!

Melissa Jay Craig’s “Protector” -only Melissa could create such a sculpture!

There is always a twist (or two or three) in her thought-provoking pieces. Her installation of (S)edition, sculptural book/mushrooms, growing up the gallery wall projects a sense of humor with much to engage and challenge.

Melissa Jay Craig's (S)Edition to left of Toda's diptych

Melissa Jay Craig’s (S)Edition to left of Toda’s diptych

John Vlahakis' stunning "Blue Velvet"

John Vlahakis’ stunning “Blue Velvet”

John Vlahakis photograph “Blue Velvet” mesmerizes as it saturates the eye with blue and yellow.

Jonathan Ricci's "Botanical 1 : Spike and Alice"

Jonathan Ricci’s “Botanical 1 : Spike and Alice”

Through his fanciful “Botanical 1: Spike and Alice” New Jersey artist Jonathan Ricci makes reference to the excitement surrounding a Chicago Botanic Gardens’ phenomenon that turned into an amusing story.

Mary Burke's "Summer Day," 12 x 36, acrylic, ink and other on canvas

Mary Burke’s “Summer Day,” 12 x 36, acrylic, ink and other on canvas

Mary Burke’s paintings reveal her love of nature where blooms are often the only representational elements of her abstractions.

Lisa Frank's Frank In the Shadow of Butterflies 40 x 40.

Lisa Frank’s Frank In the Shadow of Butterflies 40 x 40.

Lisa A. Frank uses her skill at layering her digital photographs to create lush compositions, while Fumiko Toda dazzles with mixed-media paintings. She holds dear childhood explorations in nature, growing up in Japan.

Blue Sky II part of a diptych by Fumiko Toda, 48 x 30.

Blue Sky II part of a diptych by Fumiko Toda, 48 x 30.

Through choice of materials, color and expression, Fumiko’s paintings evoke that curiosity of a child on an adventure of discovery in the wide out of doors.

Ted Preuss prints using platinum palladium on vellum for his "Vase." More features to be seen!

Ted Preuss prints using platinum palladium on vellum for his “Vase.” More features to be seen!

Ted Preuss uses historic photographic techniques on subtle imagery with new methods of presentation.

Carl Wilen's Almoro Castle 12 x 14.75 Watercolor Ink Graphite Cut Paper

Carl Wilen’s Almoro Castle 12 x 14.75 Watercolor Ink Graphite Cut Paper

Carl Wilen has often mentioned the fascination of flowers which he enjoys finding reason to include in his detailed wry, surreal paintings.

Karina Hean, "Field Notes V," Mixed media on vellum, 11x17

Karina Hean, “Field Notes V,” Mixed media on vellum, 11×17

Karina Noel Hean grew up by the Chesapeake Bay taking inspiration from nature that she would later reference in sophisticated abstractions. Anne Hughes expresses wonder and mystery using soft pastel in an unconventional manner. Much to discover at this “Floral Show” and not what you expect!

Anne Hughes' "Migrations" 36 x 24 x 1, soft pastel on layered paper

Anne Hughes’ “Migrations” 36 x 24 x 1, soft pastel on layered paper

The Floral Show – not what you expect runs through April 7, 2018 at ZIA Gallery, 548 Chestnut St., Winnetka, IL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Hughes, "Dark Night" soft pastel

Anne Hughes, “Dark Night” soft pastel

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

"Wish List" by Anne Hughes

“Wish List” by Anne Hughes

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

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

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

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

Wolfgang Krol, Associate Professor, Studio Arts (retired)

Concordia University, Montreal, Que., Canada

The Inventive Expression of Jacqueline Baerwald by Shannon Gallagher

Jacqueline Baerwald describes herself mostly as a painter, but her body of work encompasses a variety of genres, including mixed media, assemblage, and sculpture. Her current work combines painting, found objects, and poetry.

Jacqueline Baerwald's "Give Them Wings" Acrylic on Books

Jacqueline Baerwald’s “Give Them Wings” Acrylic on Books

The ‘My Melondy: Issues of Adolescence’ series is conceptual, featuring the recurring image of a young girl painted on stacks of found books. The books, which are entirely thrifted, found, or gifted from friends, are carefully curated and arranged so that the titles form a found poem, which ultimately becomes an integral part of the piece.

Jacqueline Baerwald's "What Little Girls Are Made Of" 48.5 x 48.5 x 3 Acrylic on Books

Jacqueline Baerwald’s “What Little Girls Are Made Of” 48.5 x 48.5 x 3 Acrylic on Books

The work explores the issues faced by young women today, including body image, abuse, and the effects of family dissolution. “The work isn’t based on my life as much as a handful of close girlfriends who experienced rather massive trauma in their lives. The darker paintings of the Melondy series, well… I can attach a name or several names to each one of them,” she explained.

"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“Melondy is this sort of cartoonish character I created. I started painting her in 2011, and for a long time, I really only associated her with the average teenage girl… I only personally related to her here and there,” she said. “It’s strange, because I used to feel very different from her, but now I’m realizing that she embodies a lot about myself.”

"All That Glitters" Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“All That Glitters” Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

Baerwald has enjoyed seeing how viewers relate to the work. “The work reflects a lot of pain,” she said, “but also hope- the idea that this isn’t the end of it.” I don’t know how comfortable I am with the word ‘activist,’ but the work is meant to instigate some sort of change. I don’t want to tell the viewer what that change is, but instead inspire them; to start a thinking process in their minds. I want art to be beautiful and interesting in technique, but also to make me stop and think about life, other people’s lives, the impact I have, and what I can do to make this world a better place, even in my small sphere of influence. At the core, that is what I’m trying to do with the ‘Melondy’ series.”

"Rock, Paper..." Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“Rock, Paper…” Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

Prior to this series, the artist had been painting in a more realistic manner. “I want children and young people to enjoy the work as much as adults. This is the first time I’d tried something more cartoon-like, more whimsical. It’s been an interesting detour to go down this road, and [the work] seems to resonate with a lot of people,” she said. “The concept and symbolism- the ideas that I am going to convey through the imagery come first.

"You Are My Sunshine" Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“You Are My Sunshine” Acrylic on Books by Jacqueline Baerwald

The work uses this cute little character that people fall in love with to address issues that they don’t want to talk about. But she draws you in, and you want to love her, and you think about how she’s experiencing a lot of pain, and decide, ‘Let’s stop brushing this under the rug.’”

"Birds of a Feather" Acrylic on books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“Birds of a Feather” Acrylic on books by Jacqueline Baerwald

Baerwald has no shortage of concepts for new work. “I have a long log of ideas. If I had more time, I’d paint all of them. I do a lot of reading on all sorts of subjects, and I have a huge interest in the human condition. I end up reading a lot of things that have scientific or religious components to them, looking at different worldviews, various societal issues and mindsets. Ultimately,” she said, “my work distills more about what is going on in the active mind, how we can monitor our own thinking, and how our actions follow.”

"Sealed Lips" Acrylic on books by Jacqueline Baerwald

“Sealed Lips” Acrylic on books by Jacqueline Baerwald

Jacqueline Baerwald’s work currently can be seen at ZIA Gallery.