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.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview: Turn the Other Eye

Les Femmes Folles

Women in art

March 22, 2016 with 2 notes

        tags: Rebecca george. les femmes folles. women in art. arts on elston gallery. Chicago art.

Rebecca George, artist

Rebecca George was interviewed last year on LFF; and is featured in Les Femmes Folles: The Women, 2015 anthology; she comes back now with a solo exhibit opening April 15, 2016 from 6-11 PM at Arts on Elston Gallery in Chicago, to share with LFF about her studio practice and latest work in the show including collaborations, what it’s like to be an artist in Chicago and much more…

 1) How would you describe you studio practice?

It is important for me to not play it safe with my work - seeking opportunities to tune into and try new ideas without fully conceptualizing them beforehand has allowed me to remain in a state of becoming, where invention and discovery are balanced on the edge. At the same time, I’ve learned that I’m looking for myself in every piece. Not in a literal sense, but in terms of ultimately recognizing myself by revealing a truth in the work.


2) Tell me about your upcoming show/exhibit and why it’s important to you. what do you hope people get out of your work?

Turn the Other Eye, A Curated Art Party is a solo exhibit of nearly 200 pieces created in the past 2 years. The work spans large-scale to the intimate in painting, drawing and printmaking. I hope the work shares my experience of the sacredness of everyday life and the impact paying close attention to each moment has on recognizing that. We make choices and in making them, we eliminate the possibility of others for a time. Through my choices. I create the structure of my day to day experience: commitments, obligations, chores, habits, routine. The artwork is honoring what I’ve chosen by consciously presenting it as a mirror.

3) Does collaboration play a role in your work - whether with your community, artists or others? How so and how does this impact your work?

 For this exhibit I am collaborating with quite a few artists: Artist and Designer Beth Borum is designing the exhibition materials and gallery layout, Arthur Connor (director of Arts On Elston in Chicago, the gallery hosting “TURN THE OTHER EYE) and artists Christine Connor, Mary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden and Ken Hogrefe are co-curating the 6 room exhibit. Virginia Voedisch wrote an introduction to the exhibition catalog; an art historian and adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ginny’s viewpoint on the body of work being presented in the show is intriguing and perceptive. I value their input and contribution very much - they are each thoughtful and skilled artists who work in multiple mediums and have witnessed my recent progression in the studio. Their influence is welcomed as I am confident in their insight and expertise.

4) Do you think you city is a good place for women in art/writing/etc? What do you think is the best thing about your city for artists, and how might it be improved?

Chicago, IL has a large numbers of alternative exhibition spaces for visual artists - people interested in curating, exhibiting and reviewing/interviewing visual art collaborate and provide opportunities to show work that don’t exist in the commercial gallery scene.

5) Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, examined the perspective of femininity and race in her work, and spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in you work?

 In the sense that I am a woman and I cannot separate my womanhood from my work, yes. Although being a women does not comprise the sole subject/content of my work. Feminism achieved so much for women artists, including space and freedom so they may move in and out of gender specific content, exploring other areas of self and the world with the established right of returning to it at any time.

6) Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What is your favorite advice you have received or give?

That the path or journey of life is fluid and impermanent - “this too shall pass” flickers through my mind often, reminding me that I am always in a state of becoming. Not seeking an outcome or solid definition for my work keeps me focused on gaining and maintaining liberation in my practice.

www.TheArtHouse.us
www.Rebecca-George.com

~Les Femmes Folles is a volunteer organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art from around the world with the online journal, print annuals, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including the award-winning Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014) and The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (Laura Madeline Wiseman/Lauren Rinaldi, 2015). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists.


2) Tell me about your upcoming show/exhibit and why it’s important to you. what do you hope people get out of your work?

Turn there Other Eye, A Curated Art Party is a solo exhibit of nearly 200 pieces created in the past 2 years. The work spans large-scale to the intimate in painting, drawing and printmaking. I hope the work shares my experience of the sacredness of everyday life and the impact paying close attention to each moment has on recognizing that. We make choices and in making them, we eliminate the possibility of others for a time. Through my choices. I create the structure of my day to day experience: commitments, obligations, chores, habits, routine. The artwork is honoring what I’ve chosen by consciously presenting it as a mirror.

3) Does collaboration play a role in your work - whether with your community, artists or others? How so and how does this impact your work?

 For this exhibit I am collaborating with quite a few artists: Artist and Designer Beth Borum is designing the exhibition materials and gallery layout, Arthur Connor (director of Arts On Elston in Chicago, the gallery hosting “TURN THE OTHER EYE) and artists Chris Connor, Mary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden and Ken Hogrefe are co-curating the 6 room exhibit. Virginia Voedisch wrote an introduction to the exhibition catalog; an art historian and adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ginny’s viewpoint on the body of work being presented in the show is intriguing and perceptive. I value their input and contribution very much - they are each thoughtful and skilled artists who work in multiple mediums and have witnessed my recent progression in the studio. Their influence is welcomed as I am confident in their insight and expertise.

4) Do you think you city is a good place for women in art/writing/etc? What do you think is the best thing about your city for artists, and how might it be improved?

Chicago, IL has a large numbers of alternative exhibition spaces for visual artists - people interested in curating, exhibiting and reviewing/interviewing visual art collaborate and provide opportunities to show work that don’t exist in the commercial gallery scene.

5) Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, examined the perspective of femininity and race in her work, and spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in you work?

 In the sense that I am a woman and I cannot separate my womanhood from my work, yes. Although being a women does not comprise the sole subject/content of my work. Feminism achieved so much for women artists, including space and freedom so they may move in and out of gender specific content, exploring other areas of self and the world with the established right of returning to it at any time.

6) Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What is your favorite advice you have received or give?

That the path or journey of life is fluid and impermanent - “this too shall pass” flickers through my mind often, reminding me that I am always in a state of becoming. Not seeking an outcome or solid definition for my work keeps me focused on gaining and maintaining liberation in my practice.

www.TheArtHouse.us
www.Rebecca-George.com

~Les Femmes Folles is a volunteer organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art from around the world with the online journal, print annuals, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including the award-winning Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014) and The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (Laura Madeline Wiseman/Lauren Rinaldi, 2015). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists.

Press Release: The Art Guide, Rebecca George, Turn the Other Eye

Rebecca George Solo Exhibition, Turn the Other Eye: A Curated Art Party

Visit Arts on Elston Gallery on April 15, 2016 to view a new solo exhibition of recent work by Chicago artist Rebecca George. Exhibition designed by Beth Borum. Co-curated by Arthur Connor, Christine Connor, Mary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden and Ken Hogrefe. Live music by the Windy City Guitarists. 3446 N Albany, 6-11 PM. RSVP: ttoe@thearthouse.us.

Posted on March 9, 2016 .

REVIEW: Far-Flung, Contemporary Art of the Midwest

Review by Stephanie Coate

December 10, 2015

FAR-FLUNG: Contemporary Art of the Midwest

This exhibition featuring 40+ Midwestern artists was a partnership event between The Art House and Arts on Elston and opened on Saturday, December 5, 2015. I went to the event alone, yet was approached and welcomed by many other individuals, curious to know who I was, and eager to converse. It was quickly made clear that this was a very welcoming space and just by being there you were friend/family. This welcoming environment consists of two living rooms with leather couches, a kitchen area where people of all ages casually conversed and introduced themselves, and five smaller surrounding rooms. Each of the rooms comfortably displayed a selection of the 40 artworks that were selected to participate in the exhibition, Far-Flung, Contemporary Art of the Midwest. Additionally, two of the surrounding rooms serve as studios for the two Artists in Residence of The Art House, Beth Borum and Christine Connor. Both had work on display which complemented the overall exhibition.

Rebecca George, founder and Director of the Art House, and Arthur Connor, Director of Arts on Elston uniquely partner their two spaces that are kitty-corner from each other on opposite sides of the Elston & Albany intersection in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. The two join their missions together to jury and curate exhibitions regularly, building the creative community. "These exhibitions are a lot of work for the few of us who take the project on, and as such, are a labor of love," stated Rebecca when asked about the selection and curatorial process. “As artists ourselves, we (Rebecca George and Arthur Connor) take artists very seriously and want to support frequent opportunities for the public to view the high quality work of these artists”.

The only requirement to submit work was geographic to the Midwest. "Many levels of experience are displayed. Some new artists, some developed in their career, are all juxtaposed together" stated Connor. "Not lacking in quality or originality." 

Upon entering the gallery, the variety of artwork is cleanly lined at eye-level across three walls in the front room. Works by Aurua, Il artist Domingo Parada, James Chrazn's "Self Portrait" and Margie Criner's, Felt Sculpture "Departure" were perfectly balanced together in a room of abstract styles.

Becca Homes’, "Birdcage" broke up the abstracts with a more figurative and surreal impact between the rooms just before entering the kitchen area. Featured in a recessed shelfRobert Skwarts’ "The Wish Box" was on display, made of glass and metals. A divine, transparent device. Just before entering the second living room of a more salon-style layout was a delicate drawing by Harnet Matzdorf titled "Sisters", complimented by an intriguing sibling portrait painted by artist and author, Carol Anshaw. Moving through the second living room, Chicago artist Lynn Basa was on display with a contemporary, thick, latex-like painting and vibrant colors with "Forget Me Not" among a lovely variety of paintings of dancers, abstractions, Radiohead tributes, self portraits and animals.  

When entering the back room my mood shifted from lighthearted, to curious and harmonious. Chicago artist Soo Shin, "Eye of the Beholder" had a large sculptural work with an open composition constructed of welded metal, and leveled weight and movement who's lovely counterpart to "Untitled" by Ann Blaas, a larger abstract painting with green and earthly palette. A meditative space was created between the two.

It was hard to leave the exhibition as I enjoyed walking into spaces and accidentally meeting artists during discussion over pie, or walking into various art-filled rooms where serious conversations about where the contemporary art world is headed took place. The art was both professional and approachable, filled with "color and balance", with the hospitality and character set by the space and curatorial decisions that enhanced the overall exhibition - very (Contemporary) Midwest.

Press Release: Far-Flung

Far-Flung: Contemporary Art of the Midwest

Exhibition Partnership between The Art House and Arts on Elston in Chicago's Avondale Art District

Over 40 artists from the collective Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin will be represented in this group show. The exhibition is juried and curated by Arthur Connor, Director of Arts on Elston and Rebecca George, Director of The Art House.

This 2 day exhibit is open to the public and will feature sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and mixed media.

Posted on November 9, 2015 .

REVIEW: Illuminating the Obscure & Works on Walls III

by: David Lineal, Obscuro Chicago

Fresh Art On a Hot Day On the Old Trail

Do you know unassuming Elston Avenue, which lopes through the northwest of Chicago along the river? People have been going on it since before our civilization, as a high ridge trail through the onion-y swamp, then a plank road. Today it is called after an 1830s businessman and houses a menagerie of mysterious old bulky spaces. Life has been walked into this path, and it feels like an apt locale for the type of magic seeing needed to produce art. Indeed on the 3400 block we find (looking to each other across the street) a gallery and an art school/gallery.

J. Faun Manne

J. Faun Manne


What happened at that gallery last Saturday only?

For the length of last Saturday only, Arts on Elston gallery (3446 N. Albany Ave) hosted a double exhibition sponsored by The Art House and curated by Rebecca George: the first solo show of J. Faun Manne, and also a group show of artists from the Art House advanced studio course: “WORKS ON WALLS III”. A selection of art to observe the length of this afternoon only, fringed in July sunlight slanting through the windows.

Works of J. Faun Manne numbered dozens, all of fresh 2014/5 vintage, images she netted in the dark of recent nights. In a massed crowd of Manne’s visions, we witness her mind’s eye seeing similar types of images, her heart speaking in the same palette. (A tan tea-stain color into ocher – this earthiness, this sickliness – the heart goes somewhere out in this dense band of feeling, hashed over with the distant smokiness of memory — and how this color wears blue around it!)

 J. Faun Manne at her solo exhibit, graduating from The Art House with a Certificate in Fine Arts. July 25, 2015
J. Faun Manne at her solo exhibit, graduating from The Art House with a Certificate in Fine Arts. July 25, 2015
Images of what? Ladies, bodies, mouths, hair. Often a solitary figure, but sometimes many more. Animated in acrylic, with playful grit of texture and fabrics. Sensuality hangs heavily to the figures — their curves shoot beams. But clearly the figures are totems and not people; they do not quite live in our world.

This show commemorates J. Faun Manne’s reception of a Certificate of Fine Arts from The Art House, the art school and gallery space at 3452 N Albany Ave.

WORKS ON WALLS III, the other half of the exhibition, showcased the diverse artists of the Art House. These adult students of art study with Rebecca George, who supports the fruitful flow of their images. Their 2-D works, though of many dissimilar hands, had a coherent spirit of the passion and wholesomeness of emerging artists.

Artist Charles Echols at his group show: Works on Walls III, June 25, 2015

Artist Charles Echols at his group show: Works on Walls III, June 25, 2015

At age 80 Barbara Hopkins takes up the brush to paint realistic portraits of her grandchildren (an image of yourself from the past rendered in the hand of your grandmother and given to you by her as a gift: here is a magic object). Timothy Curtin brings wry humor, as a vision of the city in gray stripes of cloud; Bev Borum scratches in the paint, digging feelings into it with words. And Charles Echols goes between large-scale colorful abstraction, and gray-scale pop art, vectorized enough to look screen printed but in fact painted free hand. The joy and vividness of life sounded through the whole show, for this one afternoon only in the dog days of Chicago summer.

Posted on August 4, 2015 .

REVIEW: Art by America

Art by America at The Art House: Trends and Traditions in Two-Dimensional Contemporary Art 

By: Amy Haddad

The list of great 2-D artworks over the past two centuries is endless, from Paul Cézanne’s “Mont Sainte-Victoire” to Jackson Pollock’s “Number 1 (Lavender Mist).” Increasingly, 2-D contemporary art competes with art that comes off the wall—inhabiting visitors’ space or tacitly asking for physical interaction. Yet 2-D art was the focal point in the June 6 opening of “Art by America 2015 Juried Exhibition: A National Review of Two-Dimensional Art,” co-sponsored by The Art House and the Arts on Elston in Chicago. The 2-D theme, along with a size constraint (20” x 20” x 4”), unified the 250 artworks submitted by 145 accepted artists from around the United States, including Texas, Oregon and New York City.

The Art House, a Chicago-based art organization that offers studio classes, professional practices, support and exhibition opportunities for the visual arts, initiated “Art by America” to assess America’s tendencies and practices in 2-D contemporary art. Rebecca George, Founder and Director of The Art House and co-curator of the exhibition, also explained its focus on the artist: this juried exhibition “provides exposure for a wide range of artists, including those who may not have sufficient opportunities for recognition due to limitations to exhibit or present their work locally.” That said, “Art by America” offered artists of all levels the chance to have up to two pieces of art reviewed by jurors, win cash prizes in four award categories and have their work professionally curated and exhibited. Undoubtedly an extraordinary experience for artists, the show’s opening was a joy for more than 300 attendees.

Exhibition opened at 2 PM on June 6, 2015

Exhibition opened at 2 PM on June 6, 2015

Upon entering The Art House, one of two locations where the show was on view, visitors delighted in hand embroidery, ink and charcoal, watercolor and graphite pieces, among a host of other 2-D artwork. The Art House provided a fitting location—quiet and intimate—to view these more fragile pieces. And its emphasis on space added to the experience. Visitors took in the detail and quality of the work, given the generous space allocated between the pieces and ample room to stroll in the gallery’s open environment.

Ginger Ware, “4 Friends.”

By way of contrast, Arts on Elston, where the exhibition continued diagonally across the street from The Art House, offered a different experience in an eclectic space. Visitors crowded in its front gallery, enjoying nearly thirty pieces of art—such as abstract, figurative and still life paintings on a variety of media—that hung side-by-side. Chief among them was Ginger Ware’s oil painting, “4 Friends.” Through this scene, Ware, who received a Certificate in Fine Arts from The Art House, recalled the love and affection four teenage boys had for each other during her travels in Africa. She shared this front gallery space with works by Christopher Cosnowski, Teresa Eck, and Stephanie Holtnecht—all of whom received awards in the four prize categories and were recognized by the jurors at the opening. Intermixed among the winners included a mélange of other top works that captivated visitors; so did the room itself. Contemporary art in a traditional room—complete with elaborate crown molding, a patterned ceiling and a dark wood floor—was a satisfying juxtaposition, while the light-gray walls softened the mood. Quickly put at ease by the atmosphere and pleasantly surprised by the quality of the contributions, visitors continued on.

The organization of the four galleries, hallway and open spaces that followed was broadly thematic. According to George, themes included portraiture, pattern, texture and abstraction. One portrait worth noting was Carol Anshaw’s “Rotogravure,” a profile of Vita Sackville-West, an English novelist and poet. This piece is part of larger series about this woman’s notorious life. Anshaw reveals the woman’s flawlessly styled black hair, rosy cheeks and prominent jawline against a bold red background. 

Interspersed throughout were tables created by Art Connor, Owner and Director of Art on Elston and co-curator of the show. These tables added a 3-D presence to the show’s 2-D works. Take the second gallery on the left. Connor’s table, measuring the length of the gallery’s end wall, added stability to a room otherwise filled with mostly abstract art containing bright colors, movement and energy. Sandi Miot’s “My Insanity,” which depicted tightly wound swirling circles, and Bernard Bahr’s dance of lines in his “Hurricane In Spring” were two such examples. The 20 artworks that filled this space work better in tandem, rather than in isolation. The vivacity of each piece amplified those of a similar style.  

artsonelston

Partial exhibition shot at Arts on Elston.

When moving between galleries, visitors could not miss the framework of a re-purposed pool table, also created by Connor, leaning vertically against a wall intermixed with the exhibition’s 2-D artwork. The curators’ decision to combine 3-D with 2-D was a welcome addition. It was a creative means to display a number of pieces, while adding visual variance to the show.

As the exhibition progressed, the quality of work was maintained. The sole gallery on the right side of Arts on Elston offered a contemplative environment to look, consider and reflect on Georgie Cunningham’s “Red Leaf Falling,” an intricate design consisting of handmade flax paper with paste. Or visitors may have studied the variety of antique stamps from around the world in Peter Bullock’s “Blue Star.”  

marysaran

Mary Saran, “Abstract Cluster A.”

So, what are the trends in 2-D artwork in the 21st century? “Exhibitions such as Art by America are not curated in the usual sense of the term, they're an exercise in selecting the best and most interesting work from a pool of applicants,” said James Yood, Director of the New Arts Journalism program and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the two jurors. This being so, there were two key insights from the show. The first was the subject matter. “I was struck by the number of artists working with pure abstraction, which suggests to me a more general re-engagement with the practice,” observed the second juror, Ginny Voedisch, art historian and Adjunct Lecturer at The Art Institute of Chicago. To her point, Mary Saran’s aptly titled “Abstract Cluster A” was just one of many abstract works filling the galleries. A centralized ball of sorts contains brushstrokes of various colors, including white, black, taupe and teal. Bits of color burst out to the edges of its red background. Second, the majority of artworks included in this show used traditional materials, such as oil on canvas, rather than digital ones. In a world inundated with digital technology, an exhibition with little of it proved refreshing.  

“This exhibit is the first time I've had the opportunity to co-curate across two gallery spaces, each with its own strengths and unique elements,” George shared. This curatorial approach worked well. George and Connor effectively used two different spaces to facilitate one show: the openness at The Art House complemented the distinct galleries at Arts on Elston. To that end, “Art by America” achieved its aim of uncovering the trends and traditions in 2-D contemporary art. At the same time, the show visually and intellectually engaged visitors. The artists benefited, too: not only from the process, but they also received the sale proceeds. Indeed, “Art by America” is a compelling show for visitors to see and artists to participate in.

“Art by America: A National Review of Two-Dimensional Contemporary Art” is on show through June 30, 2015.  Exhibition is by appointment only. To set up an appointment, please email Arthur Connor, Director of Arts on Elston: decorativeworkinc@att.net

See photo album on Facebook

FAR-FLUNG, Contemporary Art of the Midwest” is the next juried exhibition featuring works from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin in October. Please see The Art House’s website for participation details (www.thearthouse.us). Also please check this website for studio classes, local and long-distance studio/professional instruction, artist in residence program and the certificate in fine arts.

Amy Haddad is a Chicago-based freelance art writer. She currently writes for Newcity and the Evanston Art Center, and has contributed to the Columbus Museum of Art and NTQ-Data Limited..  
 

Posted on June 18, 2015 .

Exhibition: Art House Artist Ginny Voedisch

2-Person Exhibition at The Celtic Knot, Evanston, IL

May 22-June 19, 2015

"YEARNINGS" OPENS MAY 22 AT EVANSTON'S CELTIC KNOT  Neither Susan Romanelli, of Evanston, nor Ginny Voedisch, an artist of The Art House who resides in Skokie, is of Scottish descent, yet each artist finds inspiration in Scotland’s terrain, history and legacy. Paired together, their paintings, though stylistically different, create a potent sense of longing for a place cloaked in myth, romance and an essential, primeval wildness. Titled Yearnings, the exhibition opens on May 22 with a reception from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Snug at the Celtic Knot, 626 Church Street, in downtown Evanston.     Prior to becoming friends, the women had explored Scottish themes in their artwork. Delighted to learn of their shared interest, the women decided to see what their paintings looked like side by side. They were surprised by the way in which the paintings resonated with one another despite the difference in their approach to the content. Working in acrylic paint, Romanelli creates landscapes that are simplified to their most essential, peopled by figures whose identities are veiled. Abstract and formal, Voedisch’s tartans look deeply at the mesmerizing play of color and line found in these iconic, woven designs.     The exhibition runs through June 19.

"YEARNINGS" OPENS MAY 22 AT EVANSTON'S CELTIC KNOT

Neither Susan Romanelli, of Evanston, nor Ginny Voedisch, an artist of The Art House who resides in Skokie, is of Scottish descent, yet each artist finds inspiration in Scotland’s terrain, history and legacy. Paired together, their paintings, though stylistically different, create a potent sense of longing for a place cloaked in myth, romance and an essential, primeval wildness. Titled Yearnings, the exhibition opens on May 22 with a reception from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Snug at the Celtic Knot, 626 Church Street, in downtown Evanston.

 

Prior to becoming friends, the women had explored Scottish themes in their artwork. Delighted to learn of their shared interest, the women decided to see what their paintings looked like side by side. They were surprised by the way in which the paintings resonated with one another despite the difference in their approach to the content. Working in acrylic paint, Romanelli creates landscapes that are simplified to their most essential, peopled by figures whose identities are veiled. Abstract and formal, Voedisch’s tartans look deeply at the mesmerizing play of color and line found in these iconic, woven designs.

 

The exhibition runs through June 19.

Posted on May 14, 2015 .

Interview with Rebecca George

Les Femmes Folles

WOMEN IN ART

May 11, 2015

Interview with Rebecca George by Sally Deskins

Rebecca George is exhibiting in Feminism Plural at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, opening Friday, May 15, 2015. She generously shares with Les Femmes Folles about taking her career in her own hands founding The Art House, feminism in her work, stellar advice for being an artist, and much more…


Where are you from? How did you get into art?
I’m from the south side of Chicago– I’ve been interested in drawing since I can remember. I pursued it throughout high school and college, which led to teaching art as well.


Tell me about your upcoming show and why it’s important to you.
Feminism Plural at Woman Made is an opportunity to exhibit with a group of talented and innovative women artists around the subject of being a woman. In recent years, my work has explored related themes of the female body, identity, cultural conditioning and impermanence. This will be the first show I’ve participated in where all the artists are women and the work is all related somehow to being a woman.

Continue reading...

Posted on May 14, 2015 .

PRESS RELEASE: Art by America 2015--Selected Artists

PRESS RELEASE ON ART WORLD CHICAGO: The Art House and Arts on Elston are proud to announce the artists selected by Jurors James Yood and Ginny Voedisch to represent the first annual Art by America: A National Review of 2-D Contemporary Art.

artbyamerica

The Exhibition will be reviewed by Amy Haddad, a Chicago-based freelance art writer with experience writing for Newcity, the Columbus Museum of Art and NTQ-Data Limited. She is also a contributing journalist for an upcoming edition of Sculpture magazine. Amy Haddad's review of Art by America, including an exclusive interview with the Jurors, will be published here, mid June, 2015.

Visit Amy Haddad's blog: Art Diversions www.artdiversions.com

The Art House: 3453 N Albany Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 & Arts on Elston: 3446 N Albany, Chicago, IL 60618

Posted on April 16, 2015 .

Review of Caristia

Discovering Art in Chicago

Group Exhibition Review, February 21-22, 2015  

by: Emily Alesandrini

State of Being (Hard on Myself), Oil on Linen, Rebecca George

State of Being (Hard on Myself), Oil on Linen, Rebecca George

The Art House founder Rebecca George participated in a richly diverse group exhibition in February at Arts on Elston gallery. Emily Alesandrini visited the show to interview the gallery's director, Art Connor, and the family of artists and friends who's art was on display. Caristia’s artists include: Heather Aitken, Celene Aubrey, Arthur Connor, Christine Connor, Elizabeth Connor, Mae Connor, Karl Fresa, Gordon France, Rebecca George, Eileen Madden, Dan Mullens, Vanessa Shaf. Read more...

Posted on March 17, 2015 .

Interview with The Art House & Rebecca George

March 9, 2015

Audrey Victoria Keiffer, Textile Designer, Artist, & Writer, gets to know The Art House through interviewing its community of artists, including founder Rebecca George

The Art House & Rebecca George
Finding opportunities in the art world for beginning and emerging artists can be vague, but The Art House, located in Chicago, provides both local and long distance artists support in developing both technical and realistic skills for their career. Artist Rebecca George formed The Art House after she graduated from SAIC with a MFA in Painting and Drawing. After her experience as a student, she realized that identifying resources and a unique education for beginning and emerging artists was difficult, “there are many avenues to navigate and many artists who haven’t experienced the specifics as they pertain to the market and community of their geographic area may not recognize how to align the steps they take with the goals they have for themselves.” Nurturing students, The Art House provides artists with innovative studio courses, critique, quarterly exhibition opportunities and professional development. Located in Avondale, it’s a place in Chicago that is truly one of a kind. Read more...

Posted on March 9, 2015 .

Interview with Art House Community Artist: Margaret Park

WUTC Public Radio

Margaret Park with Richard Winham, January 2015

Margaret Park has studied at many art institutions over her lifelong career as an artist. Her last 2 years in Chicago included an active involvement in The Art House where Margaret took classes, individual sessions, professional development and participated in multiple group exhibitions. Margaret Park has relocated to Chattanooga, TN and continues her connection to The Art House with long-distance participation while she establishes her career in her new home town. 

Reflections Gallery on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, TN has a new exhibition called “Artist’s Favorites.” Representing thirty different artists working in watercolor, wood and oil, the exhibition is a collection of each artists’ personal favorites. Richard Winham stopped by the gallery to talk to Margaret Park, a long-distance artist of The Art House community.  In this interview, Margaret discusses work on display in the Reflections Gallery group exhibition, discussing her process and purpose as an artist. Listen...

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Interview with The Art House Founder: Rebecca George

Parallel Planets, February 11, 2015

REBECCA GEORGE: AN UNFORGIVING LIGHT

A Parallel Planets piece by Nicole Lane

For six years, Rebecca George painted rabbits. In those six years, monoprints, screen prints, works on panel, oil paint and mixed media inhaled vitality and animation to the nose-twitching rabbits in Rebecca's work. The pilous pets of the artist are depicted with dense brushstrokes and realistic texture. Due to the medium of monoprinting, a method of printmaking, Rebecca's intimacy with her animals as well as the inherent connection to the medium, can be interpreted as an examination of the natural world in comparison to the human world. Emotional attachment, the Self, and immediacy can be concluded and observed whilst painting subjects that are incredibly familiar to the artist and the viewer. Rebecca states that caring for her "...companion animals comprises my household drama". Read more...

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Feature Article: Gaper's Block

An Interview with The Art House and Rebecca George

February 5, 2015

By S. Nicole Lane

"Pushing the paint around -- it's always in an attempt to get at something: something true, powerful, good. Paint is pure, innocent...it holds the potential to become an image that captures a facet of the elusiveness that is one's experience of being alive. In this way, the practice of art-making honors both the love and the suffering by keeping a record while always remaining vulnerable," states Rebecca George, founder of The Art House, a studio workshop and gallery based in Chicago. Read more...

 

Posted on February 27, 2015 .