Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blog Installation No. 9: 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.

Leah Mayers, book artist and gallery manager, stopped by for a visit. Her comments about the show: "The abstract art is a nice way to bring the art together. I'm particularly drawn to Frank's work (textile hanging) and I like the mix of the poetry and installation(Mirjana). I love the space -- good lighting, wooden floors, interesting view, cushions, high ceilings. I like the hanging of the art and how the show is put together."

Growing up in Hyde Park and the south side of Chicago, Leah received an MFA from Columbia College's Book and Paper Center in Interdisciplinary Arts. She co-manages Vespine, an independent artist-run gallery in Chicago, which showcases book and paper art, installations, conceptual art, photography, and readings and performances. In addition to her gallery involvement, she is a part-time graduate faculty member at Columbia's Department of Education Studies, and she is a teaching artist in the public schools.

Leah Mayers. Memento Mori, Vespine Gallery, 2008. Installation.

Leah Mayers. November 8, detail of Memento Mori, Vespine Gallery, 2008. Mixed media, 7" x 9".

"I do concept-driven installations and artists' books. I include handmade paper, drawings, installation, and text in my art. The work I created for Memento Mori started as a meditative drawing-a-day project for a year. Three weeks into the project, my friend committed suicide, so I decided to dedicate the work to her and so the project evolved into commentary about our relationship. I did a drawing a day from Sept. 1, 2006 to Sept. 1, 2007, and recently showed the drawings in a continuous format on the walls at Vespine."

Leah has been influenced by artists including Melissa Jay Craig, Kiki Smith, Eva Hesse, William Kentridge, and Charlotte Simon; writers including Charles Johnson, Raymond Carver, and Toni Morrison; and psychologists including Ernest Becker, and Otto Rank.

Her interest in the dissolution of the line between public and private space has resulted in a video project "C(el)L," involving six months of riding the Brown Line and recording loud cell phone conversations and taking pictures with a disposable camera of the view looking out the window. She showed her sound art video project at Vespine last month.

For more information on Leah and her art, please visit

At the last minute, Johannah Silva, an abstract painter, dropped by the gallery to say hello. She shares a studio in the Cornelia Arts Building with one of the 5 Artists, Darrell Roberts. Her comments on the show: "I like the relationship among the artists. There is a preoccupation with patterns, textures, gestures, and colors, and I like the mix of sculpture and painting dialogue. The hanging flows nicely, and the lighting and space are good for the show."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Installation No. 8: 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.

Sallie Wolf, artist and writer, stopped by the gallery. Her comments on the show: "I like the way the work is hung. There is a beautiful flow to the work, and people should come to see it. You have some nice juxtapositions going on -- poetry and art; color, scale, and modular groupings; contemplative and active art. I work a lot in grid, and the whole show appeals to me because I can see the wonderful grids in the art."

Starting watercolor painting at a young age, Sallie majored in Anthropology in college and then went back to school after many years to earn a BFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Working in watercolor, mixed media, and collage, she focuses on landscape painting. She writes and illustrates children's books as well as conducts workshops for children and adults in both art and writing. Her new book, The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound: A Birder's Journal, based on her daily journals, will be published by Charlesbridge in 2009. For the past 14 years she has been studying the moon, charting it in her journals, and making "astronomical" art based on her observations. Two Moon Charts are on display at the Science in Art Exhibition, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science, University of Chicago, 929 E. 57th St., Chicago.

Sallie Wolf. June 10, 2007, Sketching Diary.
Watercolor, pen and ink on paper, 5 1/4" x 7 1/4".

"Whenever I travel, I make sketches in watercolor and sometimes with ink. These sketches themselves make up a 'Sketching Diary,' and others are in my journals. From these sketches I choose compositions to turn into multi-sheet, mixed-media panoramic landscapes. I usually make a charcoal grisaille drawing and then begin working into it with clean water and with watercolor. Sometimes I add acrylic white. The result are watercolor paintings that have a deeper surface, paintings which have been worked over time in a way that traditional watercolor is not."

Sallie Wolf. View From Clay. 2008.
Watercolor, charcoal, graphite on paper, 20" x 42".

Influenced by her degree in anthropology, she uses the same methodology -- taking field notes -- to develop her art. Her subject matter is inspired by anthropology as well. Artists who have influenced her include Alfred Jensen and Joseph Campbell.

Sallie Wolf. Daily Moon Music, Dec. 21, 1999 - Dec. 22, 2000, wall installation at the Art Gallery of the Fermilab, Batavia, IL, 2006. Screws, wire, colored paper, Teacher's Tape on wall, 9' x 23'.

"This wall installation is actually a musical score based on one year of observing what I call the north-south shift of the moon. Each note represents one day in the year. The notes begin with December 21, 2003 and continue through December 22, 2004. Each row ends with either the equinox or solstice, so the rows represent the seasons in this order: Winter; Spring; Summer; Fall. The colors of the notes are coded to the toy piano so you can play this musical score yourself. The black diamonds represent days when I did not see the moon. I suggest for those "notes" you (gently) bang the top of the piano with your fist. My intention is to compose more years of moon music and compare one year to the next to see how much the music differs."

Sallie is represented by Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery in New Hampshire. Sallie's recent and upcoming exhibitions include: Department(Store) exhibition, Sullivan Galleries in the former Carson Pirie Scott Building,Chicago,(Sallie's case will be on display Nov. 4 to Dec. 11, 2008); The Moon Project, Professors, USAFA Art Gallery, US Air Force Academy, CO, 2010; New Work, Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery, Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, 2009; Oak Park Sketching Diary, Oak Park Hospital, Oak Park, IL, 2007; The Moon Project, the Fermilab Art Gallery, Batavia, IL, and Adler Planetarium, Chicago, 2005; Drawing on Experience, juried group show, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago; Color + Pattern + Shape = Camouflage, an exhibition of Sallie Wolf's and Art Start Students' work, Village Hall, Oak Park, IL, 2008.

For more information on Sallie and her art, please visit the following websites. Sallie has a working studio in the Oak Park Arts District, which people can visit. Her hours are by appointment.

Personal website:
Books: and

Friday, October 3, 2008

The 5 Artists Project: Quiz

Now that you've had an opportunity to view some of the art in the show and read about the artists, would you be able to recognize their art based on their styles? Here is a quiz for you. Match the artists with their work. The answers are listed at the end of the blog.

1. Frank Connet
2. Iris Goldstein
3. Darrell Roberts
4. Mirjana Ugrinov
5. Dale Washington






1. D
2. A
3. C
4. E
5. B

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The 5 Artists Project: Dale Washington

Dale Washington. Installation. Mixed media, 2008.

I first became acquainted with Dale Washington and his art through an exhibition, and I interviewed him for ArtStyle Blog in December, 2007. For The 5 Artists Project, Dale carries over his theme of Chicago's art community from his current exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center.

Dale Washington. The Morning After Sunday. 2008.
Mixed media, 18" x 24".

Some of the visitors to the gallery have described his installation as art that conveys music and energy through his flowing ink drawings, rapid brush strokes, and vibrant hues. While his work ranges from minimalist ink drawings to abstract paintings of representational subjects, he generally focuses on people and how they function in their everyday environment. Those who know Dale say that he is able to capture the essence of the person he is drawing or painting, including himself.

Dale Washington. Self-Portrait. 2004. Ball point, 9.5" x 14".

Dale Washington. Self-Portrait. 2004. Ball point, 8" x 8".

Dale Washington. Portrait of Tracy Simmonds. 2008.
Mixed media, 8" x 10".

"The power of creation is the act of doing. The work for this exhibition reflects the vibrant present history of Chicago's art community."

Dale Washington. Billy Branch. 2008. Brush/ink, 8" x 10".

Dale Washington. Robert Minnerly. 2008. Oil paint, 18" x 24".

The following is a write-up in the Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project catalogue, which was published in August, 2008.

Dale Washington

Background - 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

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. (Robert Minnerly image)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 5 Artists Project: Mirjana Ugrinov

Mirjana Ugrinov. Stones Installation. 2008.

I first met Mirjana Ugrinov, an interior designer and artist, through the Cool Globes Project, promoting environmental awareness of global warming through art. I interviewed her on ArtStyle Blog in September, 2007, and she eventually blogged for ArtStyle. For The 5 Artists Project, Mirjana has created an installation to represent her collaboration with poet Cynthia Hogue.

Mirjana Ugrinov. Summer Draught. 2008. Mixed media, 60" x 38".

For her Stones Installation, Mirjana incorporates real stones into her mixed-media paintings -- putting some in cages and freeing others -- as a literal interpretation of Cynthia's poem, as well as providing symbolic escape routes such as ladders and perhaps doorways. Mirjana and Cynthia will continue to collaborate for the upcoming Poetic Dialogue project, curated by Beth Shadur, at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2009.

Mirjana Ugrinov. Purified. 2008. Mixed media, 36" x 24".

Excerpt from STONES, a poem by Cynthia Hogue

"I have a friend who imprisons stones.
How do you do that? I ask.
I build little cages and put them in.
And why do you imprison these stones?
They are immoral stones. I oversee
The purification of petrified beings

Mirjana Ugrinov. White Stone. 2008. Mixed media, 24" x 24".

"By using contemporary poetry as an inspiration for imagery, I continue to explore the surface and composition of my paintings. I welcome the challenge of another art form to guide me in visual expression by inviting new approaches to color, texture and materials I use. The emotional content of the poem becomes a vehicle of imagination and expansion."

Mirjana Ugrinov. Parthenon Stone. 2008. Mixed media, 10" x 10".

Mirjana Ugrinov. Petrified. 2008. Mixed media, 10" x 10".

The following is a write-up in the Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project catalogue, which was published in August, 2008.

Mirjana Ugrinov

Background - 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

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.