Our Visual Abstraction


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 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 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 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



Urban Landscapes

Landscape has always been and will continue to be a source of inspiration for artists of all kinds. From Monet’s plein-air paintings to Ansel Adams’ black and white photography of Yosemite National Park, the natural world has enthused artists of all mediums and styles. However, there is beauty in the developed, industrial world as well, which highlights the theme of urban landscape. Three of our artists illustrate this concept exceptionally well.


 Rick Dula specializes in photographing, then painting in meticulous detail, run down and decaying industrial outskirts of various parts of the United States.

Seattle Gravel Yard 30 x 42 Acrylic on Canvas

He is interested in the idea that once-bustling factories and plants are now near death, victims of deterioration and desertion. He is fascinated by dramatic light, corrosion, rust, and urban putrefaction. This curiosity reflects the idea that American buildings do not have the deep history that much of the Old World possesses, causing what Dula describes as ‘patina envy’ in our culture.  His large-scale paintings have been shown all over the country, and his work resides permanently in the Denver Art Museum, the Oakland Museum of Art in Oakland, CA, Rutgers Archives, Zimmerman Museum of New Brunswick, NJ, Springfield Art Museum of Springfield, MO, and the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.


John Musgrove is an illustrator, designer, and painter.

Moraga Clouds

His cityscapes attempt to capture the fleeting moments of beauty, splendor, and drama in everyday life. He is attracted to lesser known areas of San Francisco and other parts of the country that are “off the beaten track.” Musgrove’s goal is to evoke a distinctive sense of place and provide the audience with an alternate view of the world. He is attracted to compositions in which structure, form, color, light, and shadow work together to create balance and contrast. His work often features powerlines, which suggests a sense of interconnectedness between technology, humans, and our natural environment.


Roland Kulla’s artwork also centers around the theme of cityscapes and the urban environment, specifically focusing on bridge structures.

Joliet 1

He is interested in the built environment, and what it says about the creators, inhabitants, and the interaction between the structure and the natural environment over time. Kulla visits “bridge cities” such as Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh for sources of inspiration, combing the urban landscape to find a compelling structure/image to work with. He is also very fascinated by out-of-the-way structures and lesser known bridges. Like Rick Dula, Roland Kulla also uses photography to capture the images and then works to re-create the beauty of the constructed form through photorealistic painting.

Rick Dula, John Musgrove, and Roland Kulla use their artwork to shine light on the magnificence of the constructed world. They provide an alternative to traditional landscape paintings, while encouraging the viewer to find beauty in unexpected places. ZIA Gallery is proud to represent artists whose work transcends various themes and styles, and these artists are no exception.

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 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 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’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 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 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

Gallery Artist Group Exhibition August 3

ZIA Gallery’s Artists Summer Group Exhibition is fast approaching, so we thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss the effort that goes into a group show and the positive effects of exhibiting one’s artwork alongside the work of other contemporary artists.

It is no easy task to organize and execute a successful group exhibition! There is a lot of foresight, planning, curating, editing, communication, and collaboration involved. ZIA Gallery’s staff has been working hard to put together a fantastic show. Our last opening was a great success, with nearly 150 attendees! We hope to attract a similar number of art admirers to check out work from internationally known artists such as Clyde Butcher, Mary Burke, Dulce Pinzón, Nevada Wier, Fumiko Toda, and Carl Wilen, just to name a few. The show will include a wide variety of mediums, including photography, drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and handmade paper. The subjects and imagery vary widely, so there is sure to be a piece of art for everyone to fall in love with!

Nevada Wier

The beauty of a group exhibition is that it has the power to widen the scope of an art lover’s appreciation. Individuals might attend a group show because they are interested in one artist’s work, and then discover five other artists whose work they enjoy just as much. It is beneficial to the artist because group exhibitions can serve as a source of inspiration, as having his or her art hanging next to another artist’s work can create new meanings in the piece or spark a dialogue.

Burke - Grove 36 x 48

We hope to see you at the opening of our Summer Group Exhibition on August 3rd, 2012, from 5 until 7:30 pm. ZIA Gallery is located at 548 Chestnut Street in Winnetka. Come out and unearth a new admiration for our visual artists!