Press Release: ART PARTY


Art Party Install Shot

Salon style exhibition featuring recent work by:

Sarah Berman

Stasi Bobo Ligon

Jan Fayhee

Rebecca George

Adam Gray

Ken Hogrefe

James Rosenbloom

Opening Reception: Sunday, December 9, 2018

3:00-7:00 PM

Exhibition runs until December 31, 2018

Contact the gallery for a private viewing:

Posted on October 21, 2018 .

Review: Formation, A Group Exhibition

Review: Formation

By Colin S. Smith

July 28, 2018

On a Saturday afternoon, Alderman John Arena of the 45th Ward cut a big blue ribbon to celebrate The Art House’s first show at their new home in Portage Park. The seven-year-old gallery, studio, and classroom was founded to give emerging artists a foundation, and now it is casting an anchor in the six corners community.

 Founder/Director Rebecca George accompanied by Artists in Residence Jan Fayhee, Ken Hogrefe and Sarah Berman

Founder/Director Rebecca George accompanied by Artists in Residence Jan Fayhee, Ken Hogrefe and Sarah Berman

 The Art House Studio Gallery Located at 4910 W Irving Park Rd in Chicago

The Art House Studio Gallery Located at 4910 W Irving Park Rd in Chicago

Each of the artists behind “Formation” obsesses over color. From Jan Fayhee’s abstract landscapes to Ken Hogrefe’s explaining the five different blacks he used for “Theme (Now I Understand)” or Steven Tritt purposely exploring the colors he had previously ignored — like green, on styrofoam.

Daniel Martin Sullivan likes to see a color vibrate. When talking about his piece “Defenestration,” he said Rebecca George’s love of color has him focused on the energy of the pigments.

"This exhibition showcased the individuality of each artist; the challenge to successfully curate this outcome with so many strong, large works is always a welcome one. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of artists." --Rebecca George

After overhauling a closed down liquor for store over a month, The Art House StudioGallery’s new location gives the community its own bona fide arts gallery. Given Alderman Arena’s blessing into the community and scores of visitors from the neighborhood, The Art House’s future in the community is just as exciting as the art itself.

Colin S. Smith is a freelance writer and communications specialist in Chicago. His recent projects include working with The Clyde Fitch Report, Twisted Oyster Film Festival, and music artist Cole DeGenova.

Posted on August 6, 2018 .

Press Release: FORMATION, A Group Exhibition

For immediate release: a group exhibition of new work at The Art House Gallery

Formation card front (1).jpg

FORMATION features recent work from John Collins, Jan Fayhee, Ken Hogrefe, Daniel Martin Sullivan, Steven Thayer Graham and Steven Tritt. Paintings, mixed-media and works on paper by the artists represented by The Art House Gallery is curated by Director Rebecca George. 

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 28, 2018

3:00-7:00 PM

4910 W. Irving Park Road

Chicago, IL 60641

Exhibition is on display until Saturday, August 25, 2018

Posted on June 3, 2018 .

Press Release: Artists in Residence, 2018

For immediate release: April 16, 2018

The Art House Artist in Residence Program offers emerging and professional visual artists with the opportunity to focus their involvement in the studio while receiving individual and community support. The program in in its 6th year and is very pleased to announce the awards for 2018.

2018 Artists in Residence, The Art House

Congratulations to the following five visual artists!

Stasi Bobo-Ligon: After completing a very prolific and successful 1st year, Stasi has reapplied and been accepted for a 2nd year as an Artist in Residence. Her mixed-media and oil paintings have been seen in recent exhibitions: Inside Knowledge, Nothing to Repeat and Modified Trajectory, among others. Follow Stasi Bobo-Ligon at @stasiboboligon.

Jan Fayhee: Jan maintains a studio in both Chicago and Michigan, and has achieved both solo and group exhibitions during her residency. Now in her 2nd year, Jan is a leader in The Art House community, participating in a rigorous curatorial, exhibition, workshop and painting course schedule. View her website: www.JanFayhee,com and follow Jan Fayhee on

Leah Hattendorf: Leah has been studying painting, drawing and printmaking at The Art House for five years, and maintaining an on-site studio space for the past year. Her work explores primarily abstract compositions in oil, both mid-large scale. Leah has demonstrated commitment to both her work and the community of fellow artists. Contact The Art House to meet Leah Hattendorf and view recent work; view the Exhibitions page to stay up to date on her involvement in past and upcoming shows.  Leah joins the Residency for her 1st year starting June 1, 2018. 

John Hart: John has  been engaged in various classes at The Art House for several years, most recently recognized for his symbolist portrait narratives. John's commitment and support within the community of artists earned him a Residency. John begins his 1st year in June, 2018. Contact The Art House to meet John Hart and view recent work; view the Exhibitions page to stay up to date on his involvement in past and upcoming shows. 

Ken Hogrefe: Ken has been a strong leader in The Art House community for two years and we are very pleased to accept his application for year 3. Ken has been very successful in his studio and professional development (see recent exhibition history) and we look forward to his ongoing progress and successes.Contact The Art House to schedule an on-site studio visit and meet with Ken. Follow Ken Hogrefe on, @kenneth.hogrefe.



Posted on April 16, 2018 .

Press Release: Artists Selected for Representation by The Art House Gallery

For immediate release: April 16, 2018

In late 2017 The Art House Gallery announced the Contemporary Gallery Program, an opportunity for artists to apply for a one year professional development appointment that supports their career and business goals. The Art House received numerous applications and worked closely with the Artists in Residence to conduct individual application material reviews and interviews.

After careful consideration, The Art House has awarded the following four artists with the one year Contemporary Gallery Program representation:

John Collins: John Collins is an American painter working mid-to-large scale on canvas, wood and paper. Collins' approach is abstract, combining gestural and geometric compositional elements with an instinctual application of color theory. John Collins' work is influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, Francis Picabia and Mark Rothko, among others. Follow John Collins on

Steven Thayer Graham: Steven Thayer Graham is a contemporary American painter working mid to large scale in oil and mixed media. Primarily composed of geometric and gestural abstraction, Graham combines bold shapes with intricate line work. Influences include Arshile Gorky, Wasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Follow Steven Thayer Graham on and @steven.thayer.graham.

Steve Tritt: Steven Tritt is a contemporary mixed-media painter working in Sycamore, IL. Born in 1964 in Aurora, IL, Tritt attended Northern Illinois University where he earned a BFA and a MFA. Steven Tritt's current influences include Bernard Buffet, Pablo Picasso and Max Beckmann. Follow Steven Tritt on and @steventritt.

Daniel Martin Sullivan: Daniel Martin Sullivan is an emerging contemporary painter based in Chicago working primarily on abstract, mid to large scale canvases. Born in NY, NY, Sullivan earned a BFA in Philadelphia from Tyler School of Art. Sullivan maintains a professional studio in Chicago, currently exploring the relationship between figural and abstract painting. Daniel Martin Sullivan's influences include Cecily Brown, Gerhard Richter and Ad Reinhardt. Follow Daniel Martin Sullivan on

Check in with @thearthousegallery on Instagram and The Art House Gallery on Facebook for an invitation to the exhibition featuring these artists scheduled for the summer of 2018 in Chicago, IL. Stay up to date on artists represented by The Art House Gallery.


Posted on April 16, 2018 .

PRESS RELEASE: Inside Knowledge, A Group Show

 An Exhibition Curated by the Artists in Residence at The Art House

An Exhibition Curated by the Artists in Residence at The Art House

Join us for a group show of new work by the innovative and prolific artists of The Art House.

Hosted by: Arts on Elston

3446 N Albany, Chicago, IL 60618

Saturday, March 17, 2018

3:00-7:00 PM


Refreshments provided.

Curated by Rebecca George, Director of The Art House Studio and Gallery

Posted on February 24, 2018 .

Review: Modified Trajectory

By Colin S. Smith

October 7, 2017

A big block of letters spell out “ART” along the glass window of a storefront turned gallery in Avondale. Inside, nearly three dozen pieces of art hang on just about every wall, featuring a wide range of work by seven local artists who comprise a significant core of the dynamic community at The Art House.

The Art House featured the group show entitled “Modified Trajectory” on September 30th at their partner space Arts on Elston, located across the street from The Art House on Albany and Elston in Chicago. The exhibit debuted new works by artists who study painting with founder and painter, Rebecca George.

The colors and textures of the largely abstract expressionistic pieces ignited conversations. Dozens and dozens of people mingled along the art throughout the evening and night, interacting with the exhibiting artists, including participation in tours of the two on-site Artist in Residence studio spaces.

One Artist in Resident of The Art House, Ken Hogrefe, said it’s been an especially exciting year. They’ve added two new artists’ in residence, Julie Tierney and Stasi Bobo-Ligon, who he said both bring energy to the group with their diverse perspectives and fresh practices. He said it’s inspiring to see them grow, citing that they have made a serious commitment to daily practice.

Julie Tierney's work combines drawing and painting, a restrained palette juxtaposed with whole body marks in line and shape. Both Tierney and Bobo-Ligon also exhibited a variety of small scale oil mono and relief prints. Stasi Bobo-Ligon’s abstractions explore surface-quality, incorporating collage and found objects with strong movement and gestural compositions.

 Attendees enjoying the Opening Reception. Paintings in photo by Julie Tierney and Ken Hogrefe.

Attendees enjoying the Opening Reception. Paintings in photo by Julie Tierney and Ken Hogrefe.

Hogrefe has undertaken challenges, too. In one displayed work, Territory, he painted on a larger surface, which helped him sidestep old habits and tricks. Instead of relying on familiar approaches, he used an earth toned palette inspired from his youth, growing up in New Mexico and stripped away the work with broad, bold strokes. He said he wanted to keep things simple, which he attributed to The Art House and his teacher Rebecca George. “She helped me see that the painting is showing me what it wants to be.”

Following intuition is a reoccurring theme with The Art House Artists.

 Artist Christine Ann Connor describes painting techniques in this work on burlap.

Artist Christine Ann Connor describes painting techniques in this work on burlap.

Christine Ann Connor is in her third year as a Resident with The Art House. “Rebecca changed the way I paint,” she said, citing her application techniques — of actually physically picking up and moving around the painting after applying paint, for instance — particularly on her suite of works she created after she lost her mother earlier this year.

Both Hogrefe and Connor almost sounded like jazz musicians who let the notes carry them away. “The Art House has helped me stay out of my head and realize the painting will guide you,” Connor said. “The environment of painting in The Art House community has changed my life, too,” she continued, “I would consider myself a serious, dedicated painter now because I finally can call [creating] art part of my life.”

Commercial illustrator Michael Coon is familiar with this transformation into an artist, too. Coon exhibited several portraits in the group show. He finds studying painting with Rebecca George gives him the space to step away from his purpose-driven and goal-oriented work. Instead, he’s able to contemplate themes and practice painting daily. In a more figurative piece based on a photo of his mother when she was a child, he reflects on mortality — after all, he’s never met or known that child.

 Installation shot of Modified Trajectory; paintings in photo by Timothy Curtin, Micheal Coon and Christine Ann Connor.

Installation shot of Modified Trajectory; paintings in photo by Timothy Curtin, Micheal Coon and Christine Ann Connor.

Neither completely figurative nor abstract, exhibiting artist Tim Curtin’s work explores composition and color in pieces inspired by Chicago, like shapes of Alex Calder’s Flamingo in the Federal Plaza. Since he’s sandwiched between the more figurative Coon and Leah Hattendorf’s tonally vivid abstractions, Curtin said “this is a group that is both supportive and one that pushes you.”

Artist Leah Hattendorf, exhibiting for the first time in Modified Trajectory, has spent more than the past year in prolific art-making, generating a significant body of abstract oil paintings during classes at The Art House and in independent studio work. Her work explores a wide range of application techniques, with each communicating a different mood through her handling of color and shape.

 Installation shot of Modified Trajectory. Paintings in photo by Julie Tierney, Leah Hattendorf, Micheal Coon and Stasi Bobo-Ligon.

Installation shot of Modified Trajectory. Paintings in photo by Julie Tierney, Leah Hattendorf, Micheal Coon and Stasi Bobo-Ligon.

At The Art House, you don’t just look at paintings — you engage with them. You talk to the painters. You walk into their studios. You see their paints and their brushes. “Modified Trajectory” is the latest display of work done by artists from The Art House community, and the works show finesse, technique, and contemplation.


Colin S. Smith is a freelance journalist in Chicago who’s recent projects include Editor @Roots of Success, Communications Consultant @Illinois Humanities, Auditor @Newcity. 

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Press Release: Modified Trajectory, Group Show


 A Group Exhibition of New Work by The Art House Artists

A Group Exhibition of New Work by The Art House Artists

Join us for a curated exhibit of recent works by artists:

Stasi Bobo-Ligon (Artist in Residence)    

Micheal Coon

Christine Connor (Artist in Residence)     

Jan Fayhee (Artist in Residence)

Leah Hattendorf

Ken Hogrefe (Artist in Residence)

Julie Tierney (Artist in Residence)

Curated by Rebecca George, Director of The Art House

Hosted by Arts on Elston Gallery, 3446 N Elston Ave in Chicago


Opening Reception:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

6:00-9:00 PM


Refreshments served. Open to the public.     

Posted on August 21, 2017 .

Review: Intuitive Ink, Solo Show-Jan Fayhee

By Calley Nelson
May 17, 2017

Artist Jan Fayhee unveiled her latest solo exhibit last weekend. Fayhee’s show, represented by The Art House Gallery, will be on display at 3446 N Albany Ave in Chicago until May 20th. The 35-piece collection includes new ink and acrylic paintings on rag paper, cradled panel and canvas, along with older graphite works.

I attended the opening reception and viewed Jan Fayhee’s work extensively: many of her pieces evoke natural landscapes, the ink bleeding like lowering sunsets, crisp rains and full clouds. You can see the innate playfulness in many of her works-- tape marks and ink spots among contrasting color pigments spreading across the canvas.

 Front gallery view, Intutive Ink

Front gallery view, Intutive Ink


It's hard to believe that Fayhee became an artist later in life, after taking graphite drawing classes at the Botanical Gardens. When her classes came to a close, her family urged her to continue experimenting with her artistic inclinations by gifting her a set of acrylic paints. With acrylics, she built works with texture and color in ways that she couldn't with graphite. Inspired, she started attending classes at The Art Institute for more instruction, where she met Rebecca George, her mentor and founding director at The Art House.

While painting for an evening class, Fayhee ran out of her acrylics and decided to try using ink instead.

"Those pigments were just so happy on the surface," Fayhee says when recounting her first rendezvous with ink. “It moves differently each time you put it on canvas, so I had to learn to let my intuition guide me."

Today, acrylic ink is her preferred medium.

 Painter Jan Fayhee at her solo exhibit: Intutive Ink

Painter Jan Fayhee at her solo exhibit: Intutive Ink

With her years of professional interior and exterior design experience, Fayhee created her ideal workspace-- a well-lit private studio, where she keeps the windows cracked and classical music playing as she paints. 

Fayhee's first exhibit at the Art House in 2014. "Intuitive Ink" is her second one woman show, and she continues to be represented by The Art House Gallery at its physical location as well as on

Intuitive Ink
New paintings by Chicago artist Jan Fayhee, represented by The Art House Gallery. 
Curated by Rebecca George.
3446 N Elston, Chicago
May 15-19, 2017, Viewing by Appointment
Closing Reception: Saturday, May 20, 2017; 1:00-5:00 PM

Calley Nelson is a freelance journalist working out of Chicago. Previous articles can be seen here: Chicago Magazine

Posted on May 18, 2017 .

Review: Abstract Workhorses Group Show

Review: Abstract Workhorses

April 29, 2017

By: Amy Haddad

“Energy and motion made visible—memories arrested in space,” Jackson Pollock expressively wrote. On April 29 similar themes emanated from the exhibition, “Abstract Workhorses,” at Arts on Elston Gallery in Chicago. Visitors were immersed by Ken Hogrefe’s mural-sized painting, “On Arriving,” which contained rapid brushstrokes of paint; relished the dance of color in Christine Connor’s “Untitled;” slowed to contemplate Rebecca George’s “Atmung;” and grazed on the refreshments placed upon pieces of furniture made by Arthur Connor. The show underscored that art is not just about what you see, but what you feel.

“Abstract Workhorses,” comprised of abstract painting and furniture, featured four artists with decades of art practicing experience among them. Rebecca, who in 2012 founded The Art House, a professional studio school, has been painting for more than 30 years. Ken, a consultant and industry expert for DuPont, is a lifelong artist and Artist in Residence at The Art House. Christine has exhibited work in several group shows in Chicago and is also an Artist in Residence at the Art House; she has more than 25 years experience as a practicing artist. And Arthur began his art practice as a painter; now he makes furniture—an art medium in itself. Their experience gave credibility to the works displayed.

 Ken Hogrefe, “On Arriving.”

Ken Hogrefe, “On Arriving.”

Start with the front gallery, where Ken’s “On Arriving” commanded visitors’ attention by size alone: it spanned an entire gallery wall. Energy emanated from swift brushstrokes of yellows, blues, and reds, with large white swathes atop; it was also visible in the canvas itself. Instead of laying flat against the wall, small folds throughout the canvas mimicked a gentle wave-like motion.

 Rebecca George, “Clandestine.”

Rebecca George, “Clandestine.”

Adding to the conversation were several paintings by Rebecca and Christine that hung on the opposite half of the gallery. These pieces were smaller, but the effect was just as powerful. Some paintings, including Rebecca’s “In Congress with Myself,” confined the vitality of abstraction with a frame. Most notably, though, was her painting “Clandestine.” Its mostly darker color palette, exposed medium, and modest size proved to be the perfect complement to Ken’s painting. Together, they created a welcomed visual tension.

 Curated section of Christine Connor and Rebecca George's work.

Curated section of Christine Connor and Rebecca George's work.

Progressing through the exhibition, the side gallery contained several abstract works that required deep thought. Here, visitors found canvases with thicker and darker strokes of colors. An aptly placed couch was an invitation to sit and think about this work.

Visitors were richly rewarded in the hallway, as they traveled between galleries. Here, two contributions from Christine stopped people in their tracks. “Untitled” was visually arresting: a framed painting contained staccato movements of pink, yellow, and black colors with a hint of glimmer. “Burgeon” was similarly composed. A soothing dialogue resulted between them.


The back gallery offered an amalgamation of abstract paintings by Ken, Christine, and Rebecca. Moreover, sprinkled throughout the show were pieces of Arthur’s furniture, including a bench and chest. Several pieces were intentionally abstract, Arthur said, and influenced by artists from the 1930s, such as Ben Nicholson and Louise Nevelson.

 Exhibition shot with Arthur Connor’s pieces.

Exhibition shot with Arthur Connor’s pieces.

Arthur’s furniture served a crucial role by making abstract art relatable. Traditionally, people struggle with abstraction. It can be challenging to make sense of lines, drops, drips, or strokes of color on canvas. That said, mixing his furniture with abstract paintings created a home-like feel: visitors could picture living with abstract art.

The show’s abstract theme was helped by a plurality of voices. Individually, each artist conveyed their notion of abstraction differently, be it through color, medium, or scale, and thus gave visitors a breadth of interpretations of nonrepresentational artwork to consider. Collectively, however, they conveyed the power of abstraction: engaging the viewer to have their own personal experience.

The event was punctuated by two very talented guests who contributed their own art form to relate to the show: Amy Hogrefe of Maggie's Daughter catered the exhibition with inventive and delicious abstract artist-themed appetizers and desserts, while cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker graced attendees with a powerful and emotional performance. Clearly the hard work of all paid off as the show turned out over 100 guests during its five hour reception. 

 Teddy Rankin-Parker playing cello for a packed gallery during the Abstract Workshorses show.

Teddy Rankin-Parker playing cello for a packed gallery during the Abstract Workshorses show.

Amy Haddad is a writer at BigTime Software. She is also a freelance writer and blogger. Read her blog, Art Diversions, at And follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.

Press Release: The Art Awarded for Excellence

 The Art House Awarded for Excellence

The Art House Awarded for Excellence

For immediate release: January 13, 2017


The Art House selected for 2016 Chicago Small Business Excellence Award Chicago,IL - January 13, 2017 — The Art House has been selected for the 2016 Chicago Small Business Excellence Award in the Art Schools classification by the

A special thank you to all the artists who have studied at The Art House. It is a privilege to work with you. Rebecca George, Founder/Director

Review: No Rest Group Show

Review: No Rest
By: Amy Haddad

December 17, 2016

The six artists that made up the show “No Rest,” which debuted on December 17 at Arts on Elston, had different aims. Ken Hogrefe* was interested in “non-traditional painting formats.”
Mary Dorrell* focused on abstraction in order to have a better understanding of color. Others mixed their own paints or tried new materials. However, one theme governed this show: experimentation. Each room of this three-room show tackled this theme differently.

The front room created a dialog between the familiar and unfamiliar. It was refreshing to see the influence of eminent twentieth-century artists applied in new ways.The rapid brushstrokes and dribbles of paint in Merrill Ehrenberg’s “Woman on a Chair” called to mind Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. According to Christine Connor,* Jasper Johns inspired her two graphite and pastel pieces, both titled “Flora Study.” Other pieces recalled Franz Kline and Robert Rauschenberg.


The show’s theme continued in a neighboring room. Here, direct influences from established art luminaries were less obvious. Rather, the exhibiting artists turned inward on their own practices and challenged themselves by restricting their color palette, for example, or mixing their own colors. The results were laudable. 


Visitors gravitated toward Connor’s abstract painting, “Elevation,” and it was easy to see why. The viscosity of paint—created from a limited color palette of predominantly blues, grays and creams—and exposed linen resulted in a textured surface that was visually captivating. Elizabeth Wojcik’s nearby “Memoria De Cumpleaños,” another abstract piece, was a worthy juxtaposition. Teal and blue-green colors bled into the canvas, and created a softer, yet effective, response to Connor’s piece. These works were joined by Michael Lewis Bennett’s flower drawings, which were a welcomed visual variance in a room of abstraction. 

In the last room, and in the open space leading up to it, visitors saw paintings and drawings from all six artists. The experimental theme radiated, as the artists engaged with specific aspects of their art practices. Dorrell mixed figuration and abstraction in four paintings of her family; Wojcik deviated from rapid brushstrokes and incorporated clean, smooth lines in her painting, “Opening;” Bennett’s drawings incorporated a variety of subjects, such as a toy robot, figure studies and more flowers, and relied more heavily on shading.

The quality of work in “No Rest” was commendable. People enjoyed seeing Hogrefe challenge established painting practices: “violatingthe typical rectangular ‘picture window’ format that is commonly found in oil and acrylic painting,”described the artist.It was a point made clear by his collage, “Requiem and Elegy,” which consisted of large, geometric shapes adhered to a gallery wall—freed from the confines of a rectangular canvas.Others delighted in Ehrenberg’s large-scale abstract works. Above all, this show, curated by Rebecca George (Founder and Director of The Art House), was inspiring. The exhibiting artists moved beyond their comfort zones and experimented with specific elements of their art practice. Entering the unfamiliar is unnerving at times, but the results are usually well worth it—as this show attests.

*This artist is an Artist in Residence at The Art House.

Amy Haddad writes for Veritas Health. She is also a freelance art writer and blogger. You can read her blog, Art Diversions, at and follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.

Posted on December 23, 2016 .

Review: In Partnership with S.H.E. Gallery


December 9, 2016

By: Jorie Senese

In a pleasant encounter with a new and developing organization, an enlightening and refreshing mission emerges. The mission and intent of S.H.E. Gallery is palpable and felt from the moment guests arrive at its most recent project. In this juried group show, Director Dulce Maria Diaz has curated a sense of communal inclusivity in the exhibition titled “Soular System” and its unity is immediately apparent. 

Walking through the door of Gallery 35, who so graciously provided the venue for this exhibition featuring artists represented by S.H.E. Gallery, a nonprofit founded and directed by Dulce Maria Diaz, visitors are greeted by small paintings of interpretations of the Chicago skyline and images of the CTA floating in space. One can safely assume that the artist of these works is a Chicago native, as the solidarity in hometown pride is clear. It is as if the city is within the artist's very being, yet the haunting composition leaves the viewer with a sense of loneliness. These details were the first clue to the aforementioned united atmosphere. Passing through the narrow hallway and into the main space, it is delightful to find artists from as far as California, New York, Canada and even Austria and Bolivia. Still the bonds of the exhibition are felt.  Chicago guides the visitor in but taking a further look and learning more about where these artists come from and why they create the work they do is enriching. The walls are scattered with cosmic scenes and figures floating in space; personal stories inhabit the canvases and surreal, contorting sculptures sit strongly on pedestals. The different cultural significances and pride are inspiring. What adds even more distinction, is Diaz seeks out artists who perhaps have never exhibited before and shows them right alongside established career artists; and with such fluidity that it is not evident who is a new comer and who is seasoned. She is truly taking leaps in driving forward who and what she believes is important and what will have a quality, lasting effect.

Arguably one of the more memorable moments could be work by established Chicago based artist Eduardo “EA” Alvarado. His interactive work encourages the viewer to take a crayon and draw directly onto the canvas using their non-dominant hand. Inspired by his daughter when she was young, Alvarado enjoyed the “honest, raw, and pure” childlike way she would experiment with materials. In this way she got to participate and feel included, and in turn has inspired Alvarado throughout his career. The inclusivity also speaks to the curation of the exhibition in a truly beautiful manner. Juxtaposed to an artist like Eduardo Alvarado is a first time exhibitor, Sandra, from California. Her eye for composition and imagination for adding creative photo shopped edits to her shots were a strong highlight to the entire exhibition. The sophistication in the content of what she captures translates beyond a young fresh artists view and into the depths and significance of what Diaz is aiming for.

S.H.E. gallery is taking active strides to push objectives like equality and opportunity to the forefront of their mission. Director Dulce Maria Diaz is using her platform to focus attention on the content of work and ensuring that the voice of the artist is not lost in the ever-spinning carousel that is the contemporary art world. Art can speak to everything throughout all cultures and Diaz is making sure that everyone who has something to say gets heard. She has taken on the task to operate as the voice and legs for artists who might not otherwise find opportunities to exhibit their work, and therein lays the importance of what she is doing. 
S.H.E. Gallery partnered with The Art House Studio and Gallery for this exhibition, including artwork from their Artist's in Residence Program and the work of the Founder/Director, Rebecca George, among others. More information about The Art House can be found at For more information on S.H.E. Gallery, visit their website at

Jorie Senese received her B.A. in Art History from Northern Illinois University in 2013. After graduating she began working at an arts organization in the suburbs of Chicago called Water Street Studios. It was there where she initiated the WSS art blog where she was the sole contributor. She currently works at Linda Warren Projects in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood where she acts as Exhibitions Administrator and Registrar. Jorie now writes on a freelance basis. 


Posted on December 18, 2016 .

Interview with Art House Artist: Olena Marshall

Les Femmes Folles


Originally published on May 20, 2016


Olena Marshall shares with LFF about her One Rabbit project, and ANEW, her collaboration with artist Itala Langmar on examining the legacies of women who made significant contributions as artists and style icons, and much more…

Where are you from? How did you get into creative work and what is your impetus for creating?

I live in Evanston, just outside Chicago with my two children who are twelve and fourteen. It was the end of my fifteen-year marriage that led me to making art. A few months into my divorce in May of 2010, I was looking for “a place to be” on the nights that my children spent with their father. An abstract painting course at the Evanston Art Center offered a refuge and an expression to the dormant need to be around art and artists.

 Olena Marshall:  One Rabbit  (24x50), oil on canvas

Olena Marshall: One Rabbit (24x50), oil on canvas

Tell me about your current/upcoming show/exhibit/book/project and why it’s important to you. What do you hope people get out of your work?

Last summer I met artist Rebecca George who taught my painting class at the School of the Art Institute of ChicagoHer paintings and drawings depicting animals were intimate and expressive but devoid of kitsch and sentimentality, and pointed me to an entirely new way of seeing animals through fine art. I continued studying oil painting with Rebecca at the Art House, a school for emerging artists that she founded, and undertook a series of large-scale paintings of my daughter’s rabbit, Bean. The idea behind my One Rabbit project is to amplify the image of a small animal so a viewer is compelled to still and see the animal’s emotional states and agency, beyond the surface cuteness. Read more...

Posted on July 27, 2016 .

Review: Deliberate Impulse, Group Exhibition

Review: Deliberate Impulse for The Art House, at Arts on Elston Gallery
By: Amy Haddad

July 15, 2016

Expect the unexpected. This is a truism in life and art—underscored by five artists making up the show, “Deliberate Impulse.” On July 15, visitors delighted in an exhibition that cohesively brought together different artistic styles, culminating in a visual dance between abstraction and representation. 

The front gallery, which featured all five artists, packed the biggest punch. Upon entering, visitors were immediately drawn to Lisa Sulkin’s four-part piece, “My Four Weddings.” This is partly because of the unusual diamond hang. But,the distinct narrative scenes—one canvas for each of the artist’s four weddings—kept visitors lingering.

 Lisa Sulkin, “My Four Weddings.”           


Ken Hogrefe, “Cohesion” 

Ken Hogrefe’s “Cohesion” was a welcomed visual response to Sulkin’s work. It consists of four abstract panels, also arranged in a diamond shape. The juxtaposition was laudable. “Cohesion” encourages careful study of the hypnotic, gestural lines filling each panel. Together, the two diamond-shaped pieces, placed diagonally across from each other, created a dynamic, magnetic pull.

Christine Connor, “Red and Gray.”

The interplay between representation and abstraction was repeated throughout the space, albeit in different ways. Mary Dorrell and Christine Connor, an Artist in Residence at The Art House,both used distinct techniques suggesting stasis and movement. Dorrell captures the same inert empty city scene with two different color palettes: a warm one in “Acoma, A City in the Clouds,” and cool one in “Near the Stars.” At the same time, the colors imply temporality, as day turns to night. In contrast, take Connor’s abstract piece, “Red and Grey,” across the gallery. A deep red color stains a sizable portion of the canvas implying permanence; blue and red staccato dots indicate movement.

Another joy of the show was studying five different artistic styles. Alena Ahrens’s painting, “Untitled,” reflects her dance background. The movement of paint is soothing with a dramatic jolt of a yellow curved line. “Untitled” gives credence to the artist’s claim that her artwork is an “artifact of performance.” The show continued into a small side gallery, where visitors relished in abstract works by Connor and Ahrens; representational pieces by Dorrell and Sulkin filled the hallway connecting the two galleries. 

A common theme links the artists together. “[They] are all exploring the balance between invention and discovery in the painting process,” explained Rebecca George, the exhibition’s curator and Founder andDirector of The Art House. Instead of planning a painting out, Dorrell added, the artists responded to impulses as their painting developed. Each artist did this differently. Hogrefe, also an Artist in Residence at The Art House (“Deliberate Impulse” was the first exhibition of his residency), explained his process. In “Cohesion,” he deliberately chose thetools, colors and technique, but the brushstrokes themselves depended on impulse: “feeling and intuition.” The result was a show that radiated with energy, with a tacit reminder that letting go of preconceived ideas and relying on impulses can have unexpected, but worthy outcomes.

Amy Haddad writes for Veritas Health. She is also a freelance art writer and blogger. You can read her blog, Art Diversions, at and follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.


Posted on July 24, 2016 .

Review: An Education, Solo Exhibition by Sarah Rieser

Review: An Education at Arts on Elston Gallery

By: Amy Haddad

July 15, 2016

Most people can attest to an influential class, teacher or educational experience. Artist Sarah Rieser credits The Art House. “Without The Art House, I wouldn't have an art practice,” she admitted. Rieser, who received her Certificate in Fine Arts from The Art House in 2013, is currently finishing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her solo exhibition on July 15, “An Education,” reflected her artistic journey during the past four years.

The 50-piece show suggested two major themes: Rieser’s development as an artist and her confidence to explore different media and subjects. First, Rieser reflected on her artistic growth. “I was unable to draw hands and feet that weren't plain awful, so I rarely attempted them,” she explained. Now, they are “some of my favorite subjects to paint.” Her charcoal figural drawings “Roger” and “Ecstasy” echo this development; they are drawn with grace and ease.

Second, the show’s range of artwork pointed to Rieser’s unabashed mode of experimentation. Paintings, drawings, found objects and fiber-based pieces are among the media used to explore various subjects. “Suburban Wunderkammer,” for example, is a cabinet filled with objects—including repurposed small pieces of art, trinkets and handmade handkerchiefs—that Rieser purchased, salvaged or reclaimed. “I am questioning what remains when we decide something is no longer art worthy, folk or otherwise,” she explained.

“An Education,” exhibition shot.

In contrast, “Quilt For A House Divided” evoked a handmade quilt made from politically-based pieces of junk mail complete with buttons on top. It is a response to smear campaign flyers being “forced upon” her, Rieser said. Its central placement on a wall before entering the gallery emphasized today’s inescapable political culture and constant flux of information. Indeed, the show’s diversity proved beneficial: keeping visitors engaged both visually and intellectually.

Although it has been a few years since Rieser studied at The Art House, she recalls its value and impact on her practice. “Studying with Rebecca [Founder and Director of The Art House] has afforded me the skills to succeed and the confidence to try everything, even if I fail.” Attendees to this exhibition would undoubtedly attest to the value of an education.

Amy Haddad writes for Veritas Health. She is also a freelance art writer and blogger. You canread her blog, Art Diversions, at and follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.


Posted on July 24, 2016 .

Third Coast Review: Rebecca George

Rebecca George: Turn the Other Eye at the Arts On Elston

By Nicole Lane on April 20, 2016

He could tell by the way animals walked that they were keeping time to some kind of music. Maybe it was the song in their own hearts that they walked to.”

― Laura Adams Armer

The solo exhibition, Turn the Other Eye, which featured 75 pieces created by Rebecca George, invited viewers to engage with the artists ability to work with various mediums and the strength in which she has to compose pieces in a multitude of styles. From more traditional and realistic, to figurative and abstract, George’s vast oeuvre from 2011-2016 is incredibly diverse, while her subject matter remains rooted in her compassion and connection to the relationship between animals and humans. Georges work is infiltrated with the theme of loss and its expressive nature is represented through painting, printing, drawing, and sculpture.

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Curatorial Interview: Turn the Other Eye

By: Amy Haddad, Arts Journalist

April 15, 2016

Rebecca George—artist, adjunct faculty member at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago and founder and Director of The Art House—opened her one-night solo exhibition, “Turn the Other Eye,” at Arts on Elston Galleryon April 15. In addition to seeing nearly 75 pieces of art, guests enjoyed food and drink, along with music by Shaun Zimmerman and Matt Woodhead of Windy City Classical Guitarists.

The interview that follows, which provides details about George’s newer works and the exhibition, includes comments from art historian Virginia Voedisch, who wrote the show’s catalog essay; the show’s designerBeth Borum; and curators Christine Connor, Mary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden, Arthur Connor and Ken Hogrefe.


Rebecca George’s “Turn the Other Eye” exhibition at Arts on Elston Gallery.

Q: Virginia Voedisch, you write in the catalog essay: “Coinciding with the animal-themed works are lush, figural paintings that more deeply probe the issue of identity and transformation.” In eeping with the ideas of identity and transformation, the exhibition takes place during the spring—a time associated with rebirth and renewal. 

In your opinion, how does this transformational theme relate to George’s exhibition overall and to her newer works in particular?

A: Transformation plays an essential role in the exhibition. The show examines themes of transition between life and death through George’s animal works. It also reflects a personal transformation for the artist herself: the relationship with her animals as mother, guardian and caretaker.

Being an artist is to be immersed in transformation. In part this means transforming an idea into a visual image. It also refers to transforming as an artist—not only creating, but also learning how to manipulate your tools of expression. At the same time, there is the idea of bodily transformation: how we see our physical selves at different stages of our life; and determining whether our physical selves help or hinder us from our accessing our spiritual selves.

Q: Why is it important for some of George’s earlier rabbit pictures to be exhibited in conjunction with her newer works? How does this pairing advance the exhibition’s theme?

A: “Turn the Other Eye” is about George’s identity as a painter and person, according to Hogrefe.  The souls she shares her life and space with are going to creep into her work. Dorrell shares a similar view, acknowledging George’s exploration of identity and connection to her animal companions are not separate experiences.

Both Hogrefe and Dorrell recognize how the artist’s incorporation of animals has evolved. George’s last show, “Have Many Rabbit,” was more straightforward, whereas the current show integrates animals into a larger narrative. “Reveal Thyself,” for example, is a meditation on the passing a particularly loved rabbit, Ollie, where Rebecca recasts herself in the funeral pose of her companion. Moreover, Dorrell adds that visitors will find companion rabbits or cats woven into the canvas of George’s figural paintings.

Q: Beth Borum, how do you envision visitors moving through the space and experiencing the exhibition?

A: Arts on Elston Gallery feels like you are walking through someone’s home. There is a sense of intimacy as you weave from room to room, viewing George’s work. Each room is anchored with work that confronts the visitor, albeit gently. The closeness of the walls where the art hangs offer solace and privacy as visitors look, interact and experience the George’s work.

Exhibition shot of “Turn the Other Eye.”

Q: Given the variety of subjects and media making up “Turn the Other Eye,” how is George’s work organized within Arts on Elston Gallery?

A: Dorrell explains the exhibition's organization from the visitor’s perspective. Upon entering, Dorrell describes, visitors are introduced to Rebecca’s recent transitional and lush figural work, along with her large, transformative abstract ones. Visitors are then guided through George’s rich collection of paintings, prints and drawings in the remainder of the gallery. These pieces document her love and loss of animal companions, as well as a continued revelation of self in her figural paintings, Dorrell summarizes.

The five curators focused on the stylistic and emotional relationship in George’s work during the hanging process. Hogrefedraws a parallel between curating art and the act of painting on a canvas: in both instances “you look at what's happening and decide, based on what the painting is telling you, what the next move should be.”

Q: Arts on ElstonGallery consists of several small rooms—some of which have decorative accents, such as crown molding. The overall space looks and feels different from a “white cube” gallery. To what extent did the space influence your curatorial decisions?

A: Arthur Connor, Director of Arts on Elston Gallery, says the several rooms making up the gallery work to the show’s benefit. This is because each room offers a different feeling or sensation, thereby telling a different story. Hogrefe also comments on the space, noting that Arts on Elston Gallery offered a sense of discovery and opportunity for surprise.

Exhibition shot of “Turn the Other Eye.”

Q: Five curators were involved in this show. How did the curatorial team work together? 

A: Christine Connor and JoAnn Hayden both comment how the idea of community brought the curators and the show together. While the curators worked collectively and by consensus to curate and hang the show, Hayden explains there were also individual responsibilities. Hayden secured the musicians, for example; Christine, who is quite familiar withArts on ElstonGallery, offered expertise on lighting and the use of small spaces.Borum designed the invitations and exhibition catalog.

Q: Arthur Connor, some of the furniture you made is seen throughout Arts on Elston Gallery. How did you organize the furniture within the gallery, and how was it used?

A: The furniture pieces, such as small table-like pieces, work well in the gallery because of their neutrality and functionality. They do not take away from the artwork, but add something to the space itself: making the space more inviting. From an art perspective the furniture is like a still life, but it also served a purpose: as a gallery bench, for example.

Q: Ken Hogrefe, when curating “Turn the Other Eye,” how did you decide which artwork to include? 

A: George has been on a mission to reinvent her practice continuously over the past ten years; she has been almost relentless in exploring who she is as a painter. That said, it was foremost in everyone's minds to document George’s artistic evolution. Visitors can see the dialogue between personal meaning and expression countered by technical experimentation and expression in her painting style.

The show also has a number of smaller, more intimate pieces of art. These works round out George’s personality as an artist. Many of them are representational and exquisitely executed. These smaller works frequently depict details of George’s life with her companions—the rabbits and the cats. You feel a deep sense of love and gratitude for her "family" circle. It feels right to present both of these sides because, more than likely, you don't have one without the other.

Amy Haddad is a writer atVeritas Health. She also writes about art and technology on her blogs, Art DiversionsandTech Diversions, and contributes articles to Sculpture Magazine, Newcity and Create Hub.