John Vlahakis Engages The Kenilworth Garden Club

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

John Vlahakis talks about his photography.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Vlahakis' Instagram postings of street life.

John Vlahakis’ Instagram postings of street life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Own Nature" by John Vlahakis edition of 10

“Own Nature” by John Vlahakis edition of 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Hughes, "Dark Night" soft pastel

Anne Hughes, “Dark Night” soft pastel

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

Detail of "The Golden Circle" by Anne Hughes

Detail of “The Golden Circle” by Anne Hughes

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

"Wish List" by Anne Hughes

“Wish List” by Anne Hughes

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

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

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

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

Wolfgang Krol, Associate Professor, Studio Arts (retired)

Concordia University, Montreal, Que., Canada

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.

Photographer Kimberly Schneider’s Haunting Depictions of Nature by Shannon Gallagher

New York City-based photographer Kimberly Schneider’s abstract landscapes are haunting depictions of nature left untouched by man. The desolate land and seascapes, frequently shot with infrared film, somehow transplant complex feelings of peace, stillness, melancholy, and the endurance of time into the viewer’s mind.

"Undercurrent" by Kimberly Schneider

“Undercurrent” by Kimberly Schneider

The work, for Schneider, is essentially a form of self-portraiture. She immerses herself in the environments she aims to document and employs meticulous hours in the darkroom perfecting the images. The artist connects deeply with Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the coastal California town of Carmel, (where famed photographer Edward Weston lived and worked), and feels compelled to create as a result of her time there.

"Wave Study" by Kimberly Schneider

“Wave Study” by Kimberly Schneider

“I haven’t connected to anything the way I have with Carmel,” she said. “Since my first photography class, before I even knew that I was a landscape photographer, the plan was always to go to Carmel and make work. It all began when I took a trip to San Francisco. A friend of mine hooked me up with a stay in the Weston cabin, which was completely unexpected, and turned out to be everything I could possibly dream of. I had seen the cabin in photographs; and when I got there, I watched my dreams come to life. I just felt that I was always meant to shoot there,” she said.

"Point Lobos" by Kimberly Schneider

“Point Lobos” by Kimberly Schneider

Schneider went on to explain that much of the work is instinctual, and she tends to discover the subconscious aspects of her art while developing the images in her studio. “I shoot what I’m inspired by, but I’m not overthinking it.” When she begins to print the images, she discovers that the level of connectivity to her own life is obvious. “As I work, I realize how tied I am to my photos; there is no separation between my work and my life,” she said. “It’s sort of a zen thing. I just go with it.”

"Memory 2" by Kimberly Schneider

“Memory 2” by Kimberly Schneider

Living in New York provides the network necessary to pursue art as a career, but leaves Schneider longing for a place to escape the hurried nature of the city. “The goal is to be bi-coastal,” she said. “I’ve lived in California. I can’t be there full time, I need a big city… but I want to shoot in California. I have Pacific withdrawal right now,” she went on.

"Entanglement" by Kimberly Schneider

“Entanglement” by Kimberly Schneider

When she needs to get away from the city, but doesn’t have time to get to the West coast, Schneider visits the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, or takes the train to the Upper East Side. “I have a friend that lives by the edge of the water. There’s a walking bridge right on the water, and I’ll shoot and have fun, but I don’t take it as seriously, and I don’t often wind up printing the images. It doesn’t compare to California. I love the eroded feel of the rocks and terrain out West. It’s been a long time since I’ve been highly inspired locally. I cannot have a camera in my hand and not shoot, but in order to invest in printing something, I must feel connected to it,” she said.

Installation view of exhibition at ZIA Gallery

Installation view of exhibition at ZIA Gallery

The artist works from a custom-built, fully functional home darkroom that fits five 16×20 steel trays. “I live in New York, so it’s a very tight space. It can be challenging at times, but it works… and it’s necessary to have it at home,” she said. To get in the flow of creation, Schneider listens to loud music while working, including blues and jazz. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Judith Hill,” she continued. “I discovered her by accident, but she makes awesome printing music.”

"Whisper" by Kimberly Schneider

“Whisper” by Kimberly Schneider



As for what Schneider has planned for the future, her goals are to stay productive, continue making work, and to go back to California with a large format 4×5 camera. A photographer friend of Schneider’s gifted her a Graflex Crown Graphic that had been converted to a field camera, which she plans to use it on her next trip out West. “I’m not sure if it’ll be the end-all-be-all, because eventually I will want to use lenses that are too heavy for it, but I’m planning on making some new work with that,” she explained excitedly. “The more I print this work, the more I realize that it’s time to go large format. The next phase of this series needs the amount of detail that only a large format negative can provide. I am preparing to return to California to start the third phase of my ongoing body of work, which I hope will be the strongest I’ve made thus far,” she said.

Kimberly Schneider and some of her infrared photography

Kimberly Schneider and some of her infrared photography

Kimberly Schneider and Clyde Butcher are currently exhibiting at ZIA Gallery through June 18th, 2016. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 5 pm and by appointment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ted Preuss master of varying photographic processes and techniques

Ted Preuss master of varying photographic processes and techniques

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

Jacqueline Baerwald's sculptural paintings.

Jacqueline Baerwald’s sculptural paintings.

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

Works by Ellen Greene

Works by Ellen Greene

Pamela MacGregor’s handmade felt sculptures,

Pamela MacGregor felt sculpture.

Pamela MacGregor felt sculpture.

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

Work by Rose Camastro Pritchett.

Work by Rose Camastro Pritchett.

Opening Reception Melissa Jay Craig engages with attendees.

Opening Reception Melissa Jay Craig engages with attendees.

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

Join Exhibition Openings at ZIA Gallery

Join Exhibition Openings at ZIA Gallery

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

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.