John Vlahakis Engages The Kenilworth Garden Club

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

John Vlahakis talks about his photography.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Vlahakis' Instagram postings of street life.

John Vlahakis’ Instagram postings of street life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Own Nature" by John Vlahakis edition of 10

“Own Nature” by John Vlahakis edition of 10

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

Lisa A. Frank: ‘One Long Conversation’

By Shannon Gallagher

© Lisa A. Frank Feared Loved 40x40 Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Feared Loved, Digital Photography

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

© Lisa A. Frank Wildnight Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Wildnight, Digital Photography

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

© Lisa A. Frank Mushroom Diorama Digital Photography

© Lisa A. Frank, Mushroom Diorama, Digital Photography

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

© Lisa A. Frank Spiderwort and Prairie Smoke Digital Photography

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

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

Lisa A. Frank These I Sing In Spring Digital Photography

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

© Lisa A. Frank Farmers Market Madison WI Digital Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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