Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blog Installation No. 3: Ossia Fine Arts Space

This blog installation is part of Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project, showing through November 1, 2008, at Ossia Fine Arts Space in the Fine Arts Building. For the duration of the show, anyone coming into the gallery on Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. will be part of the blog.

Brenda Thomas, painter and mixed media artist, who happens to have a neighboring studio, which she shares with Karen Tichy, mixed media artist, stopped by to view the show. She said, "It's amazing that five people with such diverse approaches with their art hanging side by side can look wonderful together. They all relate. Maybe that's why the show is called Chicago Connection."

Jennifer Thomas, book and paper artist, visited the show this afternoon. She also said, "I'm amazed at how disparate the techniques are and yet they flow and connect in terms of color and form. I'm responding to the torsos [Iris Goldstein] because they're so beautiful -- they're organic and you can still see figures as well."

Jennifer grew up in small towns in North Carolina and Virginia before moving to Chicago, where she earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Art from Columbia College and spent a year at Landfall Press. She calls herself an interdisciplinary book and paper artist, making sculptural artist's books that are board games, cascading books that function as hangings and sculpture, and more traditional books and prints. Most of her work combines handmade paper and various printmaking methods, usually letterpress or screenprint. She showed me her fabulous interactive board game For Rent, which depicts the ups and downs a renter faces before home ownership.

Jennifer Thomas. For Rent. 2003. Handmade cotton/abaca paper, letterpress, screen print, 16" x 42" (open view). Edition of 10.

Influenced by pop culture and current social issues, she has recently exhibited in Sugarcraft, a group show at Kasia Kay Art Projects, with her I Do (I Don't) wedding cake / board game; and Fictional Characters, at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, featuring her wearable Harry Potter masks. Her upcoming solo show, featuring corsets, at Vespine Gallery in Pilsen is scheduled for May, 2009.

Jennifer Thomas. I Do (I Don't). 2004. Handmade cotton/flax paper, letterpress, 23" x 14" x 14" (closed view). Edition of 10.

Please visit the following websites to view more of her art.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blog Installation No. 2: Ossia Fine Arts Space

This blog installation is part of Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project, showing through November 1, 2008, at Ossia Fine Arts Space in the Fine Arts Building. For the duration of the show, anyone coming into the gallery on Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. will be part of the blog.

Today, Pat and Barbara stopped in for a gallery visit. Pat, who knows Darrell and Dale, said, "I really like the hanging of the art. The patterns flow, and the pieces have a conversation with one another. This is a really nice space."

In the meantime, Robert Minnerly, Brazilian singer/guitarist, stopped by to play a tune for us. Robert, who is part Brazilian, grew up in Chicago. He taught himself how to play the cavacinho, a 4-stringed Brazilian instrument similar to a guitar, when he was 3 years old. He later took clarinet lessons in grade school. When he was 5 years old, he taught himself how to play a 3/4-size guitar while listening to Segovia, the great Spanish classical guitarist. While Robert has worked as a horse groomer, tree trimmer, gardener, painter, and chef, among his many occupations, his first love is Brazilian guitar. He says it is classical guitar influenced by Portuguese, French, African, and Indian music. He plays and sings folk tunes, classical songs, and some of his own compositions. He has played his style of samba, bossa nova, macumba, jazz, and a mix of musical genres in various clubs in Chicago, New York, Portugal, Brazil, and Beijing. If you want to see him in person, he will be playing on Friday,Sept. 12th,from 6-9 p.m. at The 5 Artists Project in the Ossia Fine Arts Space.

Robert Minnerly, Ossia Fine Arts Space,
Chicago, Aug. 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blog Installation No. 1: Ossia Fine Arts Space

This blog installation is part of Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project, showing through November 1, 2008, at Ossia Fine Arts Space in the Fine Arts Building. For the duration of the show, anyone coming into the gallery on Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. will be part of the blog.

Today is the first Friday I'm sitting in gallery. Unexpectedly, I found a group of people here trying out cellos. The Fine Arts Building is putting in new sprinklers throughout the building, and Karen's friend needed temporary space to allow the tryout. I'm like a fly on the wall listening to their conversation about which cello to eliminate. The young woman trying out the cello sounds like an accomplished cellist, and she is being advised by her relatives and teacher. They're talking about the "curvature of the bridge" not being quite right. She's playing Bach and somehow it all seems to fit in with the art on the walls -- soothing, flowing, and captivating.

My friend Beatriz Ledesma dropped by and this is what she had to say about the show: "What I enjoy about the show is the quality of the work to begin with and the energy that emanates from the work. I'm touched by the three torsos on the far wall because I can see the creative energy moving, the intuition of it, and I can see the spiritual aspect of it. I like the installation in the front. It's the whole idea of cages and spaces, and constant tension between freedom and lack of it. She's giving us choices with stairs that go up. It's so inspirational. The entire show is so inspirational."

Torsos by Iris Goldstein

Stones Installation by Mirjana Ugrinov

Zakkuri Brown, painter and poet, and Serene Wise, painter, also stopped by.

I was supposed to meet Robert Minnerly today but he re-scheduled for next Friday. He willl be playing Brazilian guitar at The 5 Artists Project reception at Ossia on Friday, September 12th, 6 to 9 p.m. Dale Washington, one of the artists in the show, did a portrait of Robert in 0il.

Robert Minnerly, 2008. Oil, 18" x 24".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Faces Chicago Blog Installation

As part of The 5 Artists Project, I will be doing a blog installation every Friday from noon to 4 p.m. at Ossia Fine Arts Space from 8/15 to 10/31. Invited guests and any visitors on Friday will appear on Happy Faces Chicago. If you want to participate in this installation, please send me an email at This Friday musician Robert Minnerly will be stopping by the gallery for a chat.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Does Music Enhance Art?

Olga and Kristijan at the Opening Reception

At last night's The Five Artists Project opening reception, the soprano Olga Bojovic, accompanied by pianist Kristijan Civljak, gave a stirring musical performance. In the intimate setting of the gallery, we were close enough to touch them physically, but it was the virtuoso piano performance and Olga's singing voice that captivated us and touched our hearts instead. Someone came up to me later and said the performance elevated/complemented the art in the show.

A few weeks ago, I remember talking with Kristijan about their program,and I sent the following quick sketches of the artists to him.

If I had to describe the art for the show: They are all contemporary abstract pieces based on the themes of nature, landscape, cityscape, geography, and spirituality.

Frank at the Opening Reception

Frank Connet. He uses Japanese dyeing techniques and natural dyes on natural fabrics, so his colors are mostly indigo with grays and browns. He uses reds and yellows sparingly. His art consists of cut-up fabric pieces sewn together in geometric shapes, like a mosaic painting. The work is very meticulous and well thought out. The art looks very Asian, like a Japanese kimono.

Iris at the Opening Reception

Iris Goldstein. She creates low-relief sculptures out of wire screen and plaster. Her abstract pieces look very heavy like wood, ceramic, or metal, but they’re very light in weight. After she shapes her sculptures by hand and the plaster dries, she then paints the pieces with acrylic paint. She uses interesting color combinations and sometimes paints lines in different widths and creates different textures on the surface. The pieces look like they’re moving, flying, or transforming. Sometimes they look like alien creatures or places.

Darrell at the Opening Reception

Darrell Roberts. He paints canvases with oils with pumice mixed in. He uses very bright and vivid colors and paints several layers on canvas. When he’s finished, the paint looks almost sculptural. His paintings are bright, lively, and energetic.

Mirjana at the Opening Reception

Mirjana Ugrinov. She uses acrylic paints and mediums in her paintings. She is going to create an installation for the show. She will be using text from a poem about stones as her inspiration and will be adding real stones embedded in boxes. She uses contrasting colors on her canvas. They are usually very vivid but there’s a mysterious quality associated with them but not melancholy. She usually has what looks like a doorway to another world in her paintings.

Dale at the Opening Reception

Dale Washington. He’s a very versatile artist. He draws, inks, paints, collages, assembles, and uses different mediums. His series has to do with portraits of people but in different styles and mediums. He tries to capture their personalities in their art. His art is very natural, flowing, spontaneous, and energetic.

Based on my descriptions and considerations for their repertoire, Kristijan and Olga came up with a program that included selections from W. A. Mozart, F. Poulenc, S. Rachmaninoff, A. Dvorak, G. Puccini, F. Lehar, and G. Gershwin.

We were so impressed with their performance that we invited them back for the show's closing reception on Saturday, November 1st. Don't miss them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project Opening Reception

Tonight's the night for the opening reception for The 5 Artists Project. We spent hours in the Ossia gallery on Wednesday measuring the walls and art, hanging the art, and then re-arranging, adjusting, and trying to perfect the design, layout, and lighting. I think Iris has done an exemplary job with her museum-inspired hanging. And Karen, while wearing black embroidered house slippers and trying to balance on top of a 10-foot-high ladder to put hooks up on the groove near the ceiling, seemed almost acrobatic.

Since Olga will be singing with Kristijan accompanying her on the piano, we've had to think about where to put the baby grand -- not in a corner but near the windows and facing the door. The floor-to-ceiling windows on the east side of the gallery, located on the 5th floor, bring in natural sunlight during the day. Looking out the windows, you see the circular architecture hovering over a small courtyard below. In the evening, light reflected from the white walls of the neighboring studios bounce joyfully into the Ossia space.

One of the most interesting aspect of the Fine Arts Building, built about 1885, is the operator-assisted elevator. A man sits on a stool in the elevator, and he manually operates the elevator: He opens and closes the metal-gate over-glass doors, pushes the buttons, and adusts the elevator to meet the floor people want to get on or off. Traveling from the ground floor to the 5th floor to Ossia, you can see each floor go by and sometimes catch glimpses of people waiting for the elevator. It's as though you're on an amusement park ride and see life go by fleetingly.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project

I'm happy to be part of Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project, which has its opening reception Friday, Aug. 8th, at Ossia Fine Arts Space in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan. As the guest curator for the show, I've had the opportunity to work with Karen Schulz-Harmon, curator and owner of Ossia, and 5 fantastic Chicago artists: Frank Connet, Iris Goldstein, Darrell Roberts, Mirjana Ugrinov, and Dale Washington.

Here is the text for the catalogue I wrote to accompany the show.

Ossia Fine Arts Space

Karen Schulz-Harmon, professional cellist and educator, opened Ossia Fine Arts Space in the Fine Arts Building in December 2006. Located on the 5th floor, with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a balcony and courtyard, the space has been host to shows by primarily Chicago-based artists. As a member of The Chicago Trio, she uses the space as an art gallery/performance venue to showcase talented artists and musicians. Ossia also features other special events, which have included a fashion/jewelry show and an environmental lecture/discussion. And this Halloween 2008, Ossia will host The Vanishing Art: An Evening of Magic featuring Chicago magician Ryan Lawrence. See Ossia’s Website for details on current/upcoming art exhibitions, concerts, and events.

Previous exhibitions at Ossia Fine Arts Space include:
-The Cello Series. “Musicians give you sound; I will give you my images.” Works by Eric Mecum.
- Spring. “Like each earthly spring, there is anticipation, then wonder anew as colorful new life bursts forth.” Works by Christine Ilewski.
- Initiation. “The fire-treated works embrace the volatility of life. They testify to the truth that all of our perceptions of beauty lie in the imperfections of man.” Works by Josh Garrett.
- Text and Time. Chicago-based composer Drew Baker and his brother Brett Baker, a New York-based, Guggenheim-winning painter, join forces to bring us Text and Time. Their collaboration seeks to overcome apparent barriers between the spatial and the aural/acoustic through that which is both – language.
- Snapshot. Can a snapshot be a remembered second of anyone’s life? Photography as fine art. Artists: Liza Berkoff and Marc McGowan.
- the unknown. Guest-curated show by Rebecca Martin and Samaiyah Wright. This exhibition featured works by 12 undiscovered Chicago artists, who happen to work together as employees of the Art Institute. Together, these 12 diverse artists are the “the unknown.” Individually, each is an undiscovered painter, photographer, sketch artist and sculptor. Artists: Steve Archer, Ruth Barabe, Amber Brown, Libby Burnette, Kristin Hulka, Boris Lucero, Jamie Medeiros, Casey Murtaugh, Tim Swezy, Pilar Tena, Christopher Wanklyn, and Jen Welsing. This show also featured undiscovered singer/songwriter Tovi Khali and her band (Jen Na Sais Quoi).
- UNTITLED. A study of contrasting styles and how they overlap. Artists: James Basile, Deborah A. Doering, Richard Laurent, and Eric Mecum.
- Coffee and Windows. Views of surrealism and social realism. Artists: Beatriz Ledesma and Anita Miller.
- Group Show. Focus on the juxtaposition of various painting styles of four Chicago-based artists. Artists: Jill McLean, Eric Mecum, Mie Tamura, and Sigfredo VĂ©lez, Jr.

Ossia Fine Arts Space Fine Arts Building 410 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 537 Chicago, IL 60605 773.220.2356. Gallery owner: Karen Schulz-Harmon. Email: Website: Hours: By appointment. Call or email. Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. (call 312.506.7723) Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. (call 312.506.7723)

Art Opening, Ossia Fine Arts Space,
Fine Arts Building, Chicago

Chicago Trio (left to right, Mirei Hori,
Christie Abe,Karen Schulz-Harmon)

Guest Curator, Amy A. Rudberg

I created the art blog ArtStyle Blog, A Voice for Artists in Chicago a year ago to interview promising artists in an e-zine format on the web. My goal was to make their art more accessible to the public. Now, while I am no longer involved with the blog, I believe that the works of these five contemporary Chicago artists should be showcased together in a public forum.

I have talked and met with these artists in their studios and homes and asked them hundreds of questions to get an idea of how and why they create their art. I have inquired about their lives, education, families, backgrounds, philosophies, beliefs, influences, techniques, practices, choices, and dreams. And yet, with all of this information, it is difficult to describe definitively how they create their works of art, but I do know that all of them are at the height of their artistic powers.

These five artists – Frank Connet, Iris Goldstein, Darrell Roberts, Mirjana Ugrinov, Dale Washington – have lived and worked in the Chicagoland area for most of their adult lives. Their work reflects the rhythms, patterns, and nuances of urban life and its natural surroundings, as well as inflections of social and cultural diversity. As professional artists, educators, and arbiters of their own unique styles, they create works of art that some may describe as “inner-directed” art, stirring something within the viewers to question something within themselves. These artists create contemporary art in hand-dyed textiles, relief sculptures and color-pencil drawings, abstract oils that are almost sculptures, abstract acrylics and textiles in installation pieces, and abstract ink drawings, mixed-media paintings, and assemblages. While each artist’s pieces reveal a unique style, the show conveys a sense of cohesiveness in terms of artistic vision, narrative content, and appeal to the senses.

Frank Connet

6140 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639
Phone: 773.637.7007

- Textile restorer and artist with more than 20 years of professional experience
- BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO
- Teaching experience: Penland School of Craft, 2008; Visiting Artist, Kansas City Art Institute, MO; Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL; Southern Illinois University, Fiber Department
- Gallery representation: Textile-based work, Douglas Dawson Gallery, Chicago; works on paper, Kate Hendrickson Fine Art, Chicago; Jane Sauer Thirteen Moons Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
- Exhibiting since the mid 1980s; started showing textile work in 1998

Selected Exhibitions
Material Difference, Group Show, Chicago Cultural Center, 2007; Clamped and Bound, Solo Exhibition, Douglas Dawson Gallery, Chicago, 2007; Silk Road Oasis, Illinois Artisan Program, Chicago Tourism Center, 2006; Frank Connet & Jiro Yonezawa, Jane Sauer Thirteen Moons Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 2006; Fiberart International 2004, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA, 2005; Gift, Bequest, and Purchase: A Selection of Textile Acquisitions, 1998-2003, the Art Institute of Chicago, 2004-05; Fiberology: Six Extraordinary Contemporary Fiber Artists, Montgomery College Art Gallery, Rockville, MD; Museum of Arts & Design, New York, 2004; SOFA Chicago 2003, Heltzer, Navy Pier, Chicago

Artistic Process
As a textile conservationist, Frank Connet has had the opportunity to study, analyze, and restore museum-quality historic textiles. With this knowledge and his interest in natural dyeing techniques, he creates abstract textile wall hangings that are “quilted” paintings, reminiscent of natural hand-dyed Japanese kimonos or West African strip woven textiles.

His artistic process starts with natural dyes and fabrics, which he sews and pleats and then dyes on average thirty to forty times to achieve the desired colors and patterns. He uses the Japanese Shibori process: “A series of hand-sewn stitches are drawn tightly to bunch or pleat the fabric into a dense mass, which is then dyed. The process permanently alters the surface of the wool, hemp or cotton, creating lines, ridges and washes, both of color and texture. Layered natural dyes create a limitless palette of hue and depth.” After the dyeing process, the fabrics are dried, cut, sewn, and pieced into textile hangings. He also creates Shibori “sculptural” pieces, which are many yards of dyed fabric pulled tightly into a three-dimensional form.

Many of his pieces are inspired by nature – transitions, cycles, patterns, symbols, and structures. His compositions are a series of mainly geometric shapes in monochromatic blues, grays, and browns, sometimes enlivened with a dash of red or yellow. What makes his pieces come alive is his instinctive layering of monochromatic blues, showing hidden depth in the background, and on top of that, a series of rectangles with different colors and line patterns, almost symbolizing windows into the unknown if one dares to look through them.

A thought-provoking piece Estuary II is surely about nature with its watery and reflective blues and lines that look like ripples on the surface. But, one could also easily say that the piece symbolizes a cityscape, an urban jungle with tall buildings and stacked windows featuring zebra-pattern blinds.

Frank Connet. Estuary II. 2007.
Hand-dyed wool, cut and sewn,
50 ¼” x 84 ¼”.

Iris Goldstein


- Painter and sculptor with more than 20 years of professional experience
- MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; AB, Smith College, Northampton, MA. Studied sculpture with Leonard Baskin, also with Cosmo Campoli at the Contemporary Arts Workshop in Chicago
- Taught children’s film making classes after school, University of Chicago Lab Schools
- Artist-in-Residence, Haguro-Machi, Japan
- Member, ARC Cooperative Gallery, Chicago
- Exhibiting since 1979

Selected Exhibitions
5' by 2', Members Exhibition, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 2007; Muses and Musings, One-Person Show, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 2006; Open Studios, Exchange Exhibit, La Genie de la Bastille, Paris, France, 2005; W.A.S.P.S Chicago Exchange, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh,Scotland, 2005; EastWest, Group Show, Liu Haisu Art Museum,Shanghai,China, Catalogue, 2005; Small Objects, Group Show, TZ Gallery, Chicago, 2004; Articulations, Two-Person Show, Atelier Art International, New York, 2003; 30th Anniversary Exhibition, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL, Exhibition Co-Chair and Installer of the work, Editor of the exhibition catalog, 2003; A Capitol Commute, Gallery 10, Washington, D.C., 2002; ARC in Japan, Matsugoaka Gallery, Haguro-Machi, Japan, Atelier Gym Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2001; Wer Weiss Wozo es Gut Ist? GEDOK Gallery, Hamburg, Germany; Art of the Third Coast, Red Head Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 2001

Artistic Process
Observing Iris Goldstein’s plaster-relief sculptures, one wonders how the pieces stay upright on the wall, as they look like dense twisted pieces of wood, clay, or stoneware. Using plaster-covered aluminum screening, she creates relief sculptures that not only seem to defy gravity but also have an extra dimension to them with their wave-like and curved formations, similar to organic forms in nature or even wormholes in space.

Earlier in her career, she worked on labor-intensive wood sculptures and then discovered the plaster-over-aluminum-screening method from a friend. The process involves cutting pieces of aluminum screening and shaping them by hand and then using wire to hold the shape, stretching cheesecloth over the shape, painting several coats of plaster on the surface, and then painting and adjusting the shape as the plaster dries. As the piece starts to dry, she sands the surface for a smoother look, carves the surface, or leaves the paint brush texture. Sometimes the shapes are stapled onto a wood backing. After the piece is completely dry, she applies a protective coating on it. In the end, the piece is very durable, light weight, and easily transported.

With a palette ranging from earthy browns and grays to iridescent jewel tones, she explores the “connections between surface form and an emotive exploration of color.” The curvilinear geometric and natural shapes draw us in to take a closer look at the shifting colors, forms, and textures. Providing an almost meditative quality, the shapes sooth us with their undulations and repetitive patterns. Some of the pieces exhibit a subtle aura of sensuality and magnetic energy, and one has an urge to run a finger along the surface to connect to it.

Gesture 11 illustrates the artist’s ability to depict the flowing patterns found in nature in an abstract piece. Resembling a body of water with geography intermingling with the flowing tides observed from above, this piece provides a reminder of the beauty of nature and one’s own inner rhythms.

Iris Goldstein. Gesture 11.
Figures and Ground Series. 2008.
Aluminum screen, plaster, acrylic paint
on wood, height 16” x 9” x 2”.

Darrell Roberts


- Painter with more than 10 years of professional experience
- MFA, BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; BA, Art History, University of Northern Iowa
- Teaching experience: Taught painting at Hyde Street Art Center, Chicago
- Grants: Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, career development, 12/07; George Sugarman Foundation, purchase of paint and career enrichment, 11/07; Dedalus Foundation, full fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, 11/24-12/21/07; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, 3/07
- Represented by Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago
- Exhibiting since 1997

Selected Exhibitions
Fresh Paint - a group exhibition of Chicago Painters and Abstraction 2008: Summer Group Show, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, 2008; Luscious, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, 2007; i feel good, i feel great, i feel wonderful, L2 Kontemporary Gallery, with Ana Fernandez, Los Angeles, CA, 2007; Texture and Tone, with Meredith Brickell, Joe Pintz, Lillstreet Art Center, Chicago, 2007; The Texture of Change, with Robert Putnam, Brickton Art Center, Park Ridge, IL, 2007; material + light, with Ana Fernandez, Paola Cabal, Bill Morrison, mn gallery, Chicago, 2007; Urban Landscapes, Noir Gallery, Jacksonville, IL

Artistic Process
Growing up in Eldon, Iowa, Darrell Roberts has lived and worked in Chicago since 1997. Influenced by art critic Harold Rosenberg and artist Hans Hoffman, he reveals that his painting process is similar to the “push and pull on the growing metropolis” – the never-ending construction and re-building of buildings and roadways in the city. He started his profession as a figurative painter and then found more enjoyment as an abstractionist.

Working with small canvasses (usually 12” x 12”), he uses oil paints mixed with pumice to build layer upon layer of color, lines, forms, and textures. Inspired by construction sites, nature, and found objects, he takes photos daily with his cell phone during his walks through the city. In his studio, he begins painting with a brush and then progresses to layering with a knife, which is also used to apply the paint-pumice mixture thickly. He constructs/deconstructs his paintings and builds layer upon layer of swirling paints in low relief -- sometimes extending to the sides of the canvas.

The colors in his paintings are very vivid and bring his compositions to life. Influenced by colors in his environment, he sometimes tries to duplicate interesting manufactured colors to include in his pieces. When he works in a series, which he usually does, and arranges the paintings side by side, one immediately senses a lyrical cohesiveness of the entire group. The pieces are tied together like a compelling narrative of the urban landscape. The conscientious viewer is immediately drawn into the paintings to get a closer look at the layers of paint and to uncover the mysteries that lie beneath.

This painting is part of his series Sidewalk Voyages. One is struck by the depth of the painting -- not just by the physical layers but the textures, colors, forms, and lines as well. Knowing that he is inspired by his surroundings in his daily walks, one senses the ebb and flow of nature, perhaps debris blowing in the wind, and life happening all around us.

Darrell Roberts. Untitled. Sidewalk Series.
2008. Oil and pumice on canvas, 8” x 6”.

Mirjana Ugrinov


- Interior designer and painter with more than 20 years of professional experience
- Studied art history, Case Western Reserve Graduate School, OH; BFA, Studio Art, Kent State University, OH
- Teaching experience: Instructor of studio and commercial art and art history, Cooper School of Art, Cleveland, OH; Co-Director of Interior Design Department and Instructor, Virginia Marti Fashion Institute, Lakewood, OH.
- Director of Coventry Art Gallery, Cleveland, OH, 1978-81; Consulting Board Member, ARC Cooperative Gallery, Chicago
- Gallery representation: Art Metro Gallery, Cleveland, OH; Bonfoey’s Galleries, Cleveland, OH; Brenda Kross Gallery, Columbus/Cleveland, OH; Teresa De Chant, Art Consultant, Cleveland, OH; Center of the Earth Gallery, Charlotte, NC
- Exhibiting since 1980

Selected Exhibitions
Free art for your wrists, mixed media bracelets, TransCultural Exchange Project, London Bienniale 2008; Contemporary Art by American Women, Art in Embassies Exhibit, Belgrade, Serbia, 2008; Poetic Dialogue, installation with Robin Behn, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 2008; Le Genie de la Bastille, Francois Cosson Studio, Paris, France, 2005; Edinburgh Art Festival, Patriothall Gallery, Scotland, 2005; A.I.R. Gallery, New York, 2005; Eyelounge Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, 2005; University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL, 2005; Chicago Cultural Center, 2003; East West Gallery, Cleveland, OH, 1993-1997

Artistic Process
Working as a designer of commercial interiors with her husband, Branislav, at Ugrinov Associates, Inc., a space planning and design firm, Mirjana Ugrinov finds the time to create her own fine art in her studio. She walks about twelve blocks from her home to her studio, located a stone’s throw from the beach where she goes for inspiration when she needs it.

Growing up in the former Yugoslavia and then living in Ohio, and Chicago since 2001, she has incorporated nature, geography, landscape, and spiritual themes in her art. Her paintings and fiber art vibrate with vivid expressionistic colors. Working quickly, she uses acrylic paints mixed with various mediums to build layers and textures on the surface of her canvas. Sometimes she adds fibers and sand-like textures to her paintings. Her bold, warm-cool color combinations complement her mark-making and forms, giving them added depth. Recurring themes appear in many of her paintings, including geometric forms that look like doorways to hidden worlds.

In addition to painting, she is also a fiber artist and uses acrylic and manipulated paper: She wrinkles the paper, sprays it, manipulates it, dips it into acrylic, and moves the paint around to create a dimensional collage. Another aspect of her art is digital -- she draws and paints using software, a stylus and tablet to create high-resolution art.

More recently, she has begun to work with poets and uses the actual text of some of their poetry as part of her installation pieces. In her collaborative projects, she has written out the text, transferred it onto paper or canvas, and then used paint, medium, and fabric to complement the text. She thinks of these installations as two people collaborating in a “very specific way – two art forms fused and existing together.” She celebrates and honors the beauty of poetry in her own art.

Her Stones installation, inspired by a poem by Cynthia Hogue, consists of mixed media paintings and constructed boxes with real stone elements. The poem talks about “immoral stones, caged and imprisoned, kept on the shelf, near the window.” She has an intuitive ability to capture the metaphysical elements of text and bring them to life in her artwork.

Mirjana Ugrinov. Stones. Installation, detail.
2008. Mixed media on canvas.

Dale Washington


- Painter, illustrator, and assemblage artist with more than 10 years of professional experience
- Attended Columbus College of Art and Design, OH, and University of Wisconsin-Madison; BA, Advertising, Columbia College of Chicago
- Teaching experience: Chicago Public Schools, ART Program; Hyde Park Art Center; Catalyst Charter School After School Program
- Grants: CAAP (Chicago Artist Assistance Program) Grant from Chicago Cultural Center, 2007, (used in his latest series of portrait work of Chicago’s art collecting community)
- 2003 Artist of the Year Award from Southside Community Art Center, Chicago
- Featured artist in the catalogue African Art: The Diaspora and Beyond, documenting the collection of Chicagoan Daniel Parker, Gallery Guichard, Chicago, 2005
- Exhibiting since 1996

Selected Exhibitions
Kiss on the Cheek: Portraits by Dale Washington, 2008; Sunrise, 2007, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Spirit of Sankofa, Group Show, Neleh Artistic Expressions, 2006, Chicago; After Qualls, Group Show, Southside Community Art Center, Chicago, 2006; Art Di Gras, Group Show, Gallery Guichard, Chicago 2006; Power of Creation, Francine Turk Gallery, Chicago, 2005; Color and Movement, Southside Community Art Center, Chicago, 2005; Reflections, Framing Mode Gallery, Chicago, 2005; 2004 Art Exhibition, Group Show, Steele Life Gallery, Chicago.

Artistic Process
Growing up on the south side of Chicago, where he now lives and works out of his home studio, Dale Washington has depicted in his art everyday people and situations in the urban landscape. His walls at home are covered with some of the art from his latest series – portrait paintings, drawings, and assemblages – of Chicago’s art collecting community.

His current work reveals the nuanced personalities of artists, collectors, and administrators in pen and ink, ball point pen, oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, and mixed media. Working in both figurative and abstract styles, he skillfully captures the essence of a personality in the natural pose of the body, facial expression, dress, and immediate surroundings.

A meticulous craftsman, he first takes photos of his subject and then does several sketches in ink. Working quickly, he then draws and paints different versions of the same subject one after the other, using different mediums. In his spontaneous style, he creates a languid pose of a collector with a ball point pen and just as quickly, a pensive portrait in colorful pastels. His compositions are well organized and carefully arranged with enough detail to make the subjects interesting, accessible, and compelling to the viewer. Even his skillful assemblages, made with found objects, come across as organic representations of the human figure.

Living and breathing drawing and painting, with sketch book in hand, he reveals, “There is a way of doing things in the right manner, being positive about it, being patient, trusting that the outcome of whatever aspect of what you’re doing will work through to everyone’s advantage. I approach my art in the same way.”

As part of his series on portraits of artists, collectors, and administrators in Chicago, he captures the essence of his good friend Robert Minnerly, a singer/guitarist of Brazilian and Portuguese music. The vibrant colors bring the musician and his energetic music to life.

Dale Washington. Robert Minnerly. Portrait Series.
2008. Oil on canvas board, 18” x 24”.

Copyright © Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project, 2008. All rights reserved. Text by Amy A. Rudberg. Cover design by Mirjana Ugrinov. Ossia Fine Arts Space and Chicago Trio images provided by Karen Schulz-Harmon. All other images provided by the individual artists.