Neighborhood strolls

It’s picture day today on the blog.

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I’ve enjoyed taking strolls around my neighborhood in the gorgeous weather we’ve had.

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Sunshine draws me out a lot.

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It feels luxurious to take a half hour to sit by the lake and reflect.

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The flora and fauna of the world can teach us so much.

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Perspective is important when life is full and busy and rich.

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Birthday Celebrations

Birthday week was such fun. Emergency Vehicle Night spawned an impromptu pub evening with two lovely ladies. Thursday was spent making party preparations.

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On Friday I went to Pritzker Park for a free concert with Ian Maksin. Pritzker Park hosts weekly Friday lunch events through the Chicago Loop Alliance and King Art Collective.

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King Art Collective curates music, performance and art every Friday at noon in Pritzker Park for the Loop Placemaking Initiative.

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Free to the public, Pritzker Park—a small, scenic space located off State Street—will be activated through October with free performances, food trucks and family-friendly activities.

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Ian Maksin introduced us to Cello arrangements with pop songs by the Beatles and Ray Charles, then pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, and played his own compositions inspired by folk music and Sting.

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It was fun to watch the crowd react.

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Some window washers got mesmerized.

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Ian’s latest arrangements are recorded on his new album, Soul Companion. The album includes original compositions for cello solo as well music by Sting, Ilya Levinson, Seth Seth Boustead and Paul Yeon Lee.

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Ian will be releasing his new album at 8 p.m.  on September 20 at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

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The park, which was recently reimagined by the Chicago Park District, is conveniently located at the south end of the State Street corridor, in the intersection of several Loop universities and just north of the Harold Washington Library.

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The Loop Placemaking Initiative is an expansive series of innovative public space activations throughout the Loop supported by Chicago Loop Alliance. Check out upcoming activities by going to the Loop Chicago webpage.

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At home I was showered with flowers.

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Then I unwrapped presents.

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Being spoiled is such a delicious feeling.

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On Saturday I was pampered with a Facial and Massage, and then set up my table with munchies, including chocolate, of course.

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Friends came in bearing goodies and we had a lovely evening conversing into the night.

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It is good to have friends you celebrate and share with.

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On Sunday I enjoyed the weather at Emily Oaks Nature Preserve and was thrilled to see multiple Monarch butterflies frolicking in the sun.

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I’m looking forward to more flowers tomorrow at Platt-A-Polooza. Join me in Bloomingdale from 1-6 p.m. at Platt Hill Nursery!

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Emergency Vehicle Night in Lemont

Last Wednesday The Network of Entrepreneurial Women met in Lemont to peruse Emergency Vehicle Night.

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Organized by Lemont Legends, Cruise Nights are held during the summer on Wednesday evenings in Downtown Historic Lemont.

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We gathered at Aurora Rose Boutique for some small talk and browsing.

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Megan K’s dress also had an EMS theme.

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We then decided to have a beer at a local pub, since the weather called for it.

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At Nick’s Tavern, we also opted for burgers, which we could have split.

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After dinner, we browsed all the vehicles Lemont had to offer.

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The main attraction were the fire trucks.

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Other cars also gleamed in the evening sun.

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Police vehicles, old and new, rounded out the event.

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It is a fun and informative outing for families, so mark your calendar for next year’s series of events.

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NEW’s next event will be the September annual retreat in White Pines, Oregon IL. Join us as we recharge in the woods with restorative walks, campfire chats and cozy cabin conversations about business, life and health.

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Platt-A-Palooza this Saturday

Can you do me a favor? Would you do a sunshine dance for me on Saturday? I’ll be making bargains with the weather deities as I prepare for one more outdoor show.

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My next Pop Up will be on August 30 from 1 to 6 p.m. at Platt A Palooza. Platt Hill Nursery is hosting a showcase of handmade items from ceramics to jewelry, baby items to dish towels. They will also be selling hot dogs, chips, and drinks. Rumor has it Margaritas might be available, too.

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I will be spreading out my wares on one of the lovely tables at the Bloomingdale location at 222 W Lake Street in Bloomingdale, IL 60108. It will be nice to bask in the scent of flowers and explore the other local artisans’ wares.

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There will be specials on garden items, and the venue is lovely to behold.

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Baseball fans might be intrigued by these bird baths (I think that’s what they are).

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And the spiritually minded will find meditative and angelic spirits.

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Platt Hill Nursery also has a Carpentersville location which will feature other crafters, but I will only be able to do the Bloomingdale event.

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Birthday Musings

It’s my birthday today!

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Round birthdays are fun, but the year after always feels a bit weird. I’d rather stay at 40 than become ‘early forties’.

My fortieth year was fabulous though. I didn’t really have a theme, but I feel a sense of opening. I trust more, I embrace more, I try more, I dare more.

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In return, life embraces me and has glowed with hope and joy. I’ve deepened friendships and turned into a social butterfly.

I pulled a card the other day that said “You are enough. … There are no missing pieces.” And that rings quite true. I feel a sense of completeness, of falling into place.

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I am truly settling into my home with the flurry of home improvement projects this summer. It represents an investment in myself that I deemed frivolous before.

Being worth it, truly acknowledging my worthiness as I am (right now without changes) has been a challenge. This era of Self-Improvement creates a sense of constant striving, rather than taking time to just BE. It is OK to float for a bit after mastering a challenge rather than immediately saying “Alright, I conquered that, what’s next?”

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I’ve had moments where I felt I was wasting my time, that I should be doing more, that I wasn’t fully living out the life I was meant to lead. There seemed to be an abundance of things I could be doing hat I wasn’t.

Yet at the same time opportunities presented themselves that I carefully evaluated, and I challenged myself into accepting things I was afraid of or didn’t feel ready for.

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I culled some naysayers out of my life which has freed me up for more affirmative uses of my time. I wallowed for a bit initially, because there is grief attached to the loss of any kind of relationship.

Proper grieving is something American culture struggles with. The National Day of Mourning in the Netherlands was a poignant remembrance of how desensitizing daily deadlines of death and violence can become.

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Adding exercise back into my life provided a lovely circle of encouragement and fellowship I didn’t anticipate.

Committing to me turned out to be wonderful. Self-care isn’t selfish. We have to nurture ourselves in order to be able to give to others, but it seems easier to focus on everyone else first.

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I may not have accomplished the monetary goals I had hoped for this past year, but progress has been made, lessons have been learned, and systems have been tweaked to garner more visibility and work out a steady growth plan. The past month has opened up opportunities that will enable me to keep pushing toward my goals.

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On the love front, I am not as wistful as I was last year. I do have loads of love in my life, even if romance was elusive. Turning 40 is confrontational on the hopes-of-having-kids end (biologically at least), but I am embracing the freedom this gives me to do what I want when I want, rather than wishing to turn back time.

The past few months have been so full that I am in an eagerly anticipatory giddy state, rather than a frustrated one. I joked with my friends last week that an imaginary partner is just perfect. Being available is full of opportunity and hope. Anybody could be that guy!

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So bring on 41. Let’s see what happens next.

Biomechanics and the World’s Fair

Last week I took another field trip to the Field Museum. I was supposed to meet NEW in the afternoon so I made a day of it.

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A seagull decided to pose at his best angles as I admired the glorious day and Chicago’s skyline.

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The Field currently has a Biomechanics exhibit called The Machine Inside (until January 14) which intrigued me. I learned lots of factoids about human and animal bodies, and of course honed in on the butterfly facts.

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Human body heat was explained as well.

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I visited the hall of gems for a look at my favorite treasures.

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It was Sue’s 24th discovery anniversary that week too.

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The Ladies of NEW perused the Wonders of the World’s Fair exhibit (closing September 7).

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I still have a hard time visualizing this giant White City, but the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field buildings give a glimpse of the magnitude.

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Reading Devil in the White City had me hooked on this era. I am reading about the Fair Women right now, but that book is filled with intrigue so I am not as fond of it as I want to be.

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Giant animals were on display, like this 6-foot-high Seal.

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We sure did some damage to the environment with our fashion sense.

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Chicago has an interesting history.

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NEW will be keeping with the nostalgia theme today, when we visit Lemont for Emergency Vehicle Night from 6 to 8 p.m.

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More Etsy newbies

I’ve loaded some new pieces to Etsy last week while reviewing what I have in stock.

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Anything created since then will debut at Platt-A-Palooza on August 30 and make their way to Etsy after that (if it doesn’t go home with someone).

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My newly loaded pendants include Lime-Green Abstract Circle, Peace be with You, Write in Green, Fiery Heart, along with Purple Waves Earrings .

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You’ll see these musical pieces go up after August 31.

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Take a gander at my earrings too.

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Blog Hopping

This month several FUSEDChicago artists are participating in a blog hop. I was asked to participate by Alicia Forestall-Boehm, whom I see at various FUSEDChicago exhibits. Her work is quite fascinating, as it takes encaustics to a sculptural level, and I love how she takes cheesecloth, wood and wire and turns them into abstract yet energetic works of art. Her pieces evoke atmosphere and make me rethink shape an texture a lot. You can see her work at my recap of the Hairpin Gallery show.

AliciaForestallBoehmAlicia’s “encaustic and fiber sculptures reduce larger images and concepts into elegant simplified forms.  By paring down basic elements of color, shape and movement I am able to acknowledge another kind of space. Ultimately they become symbols of incompleteness that come together in works of art that are complete and whole. My work elevates the humble cheesecloth.  When married with encaustic it becomes surprisingly malleable allowing for a broad range of sculptural treatments.  The resulting works are abstract representations of urban history that often explores the physical and mental boundaries of public and private spaces we inhabit.  I am currently working on an encaustic and fiber sculptural installation for a solo show at Art on Armitage in Chicago December 2014.” Alicia’s blog is at www.afboehmnews.blogspot.com

1) What am I working on/writing?

I’m preparing for my next trunk show at Platt-A-Palooza in Bloomington, August 30 from 1-6.  It is time to implement ideas I have had simmering for a while and stock up on popular jewelry designs. I’ll be showcasing a few new jewelry pieces as well as new collage art. I’m also evaluating some Fall exhibit options and stretching my possibilitarianism as I apply to events I don’t quite feel ready for.

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2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

The FUSEDChicago scene is quite varied in and of itself. The encaustic artists I know have a very distinct style and color palette that make them distinguishable among each other.
My twist on encaustic painting is that I add photo collages into the mix which are taken during my nature jaunts. There are still many techniques I have learned that I haven’t worked with enough to truly make my own, but I look forward to practicing and creating.

My wire jewelry grew out of a workshop with Crystal Neubauer and then just kept moving forward. Thus far I have challenged myself to create each wire piece out of a single piece of steel wire, without soldering or attaching separate pieces of steel wire. This has resulted in coils becoming part of my work, and some people consider the coil, which sometimes gets interpreted as a violin clef as my trade mark. I am still studying the wire wrapped jewelry landscape, but my pieces tend to be more rounded and less angular than what I see on a comparative level.

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3) Why do I write/work what I do?

When I am in the studio I feel at peace. Time enters a different dimension and the materials and colors fill me up with joy and gratitude. I like infusing each piece with happiness and positivity, and my hope is that that energy translates to new owners. The look of wonder as people examine my work at fairs makes me happy, and knowing that they will own something truly unique that cannot be replicated.

As someone who never quite fit into a mold, I like the quirkiness of my creations, and how even if I try, no two pieces are ever the same, just like humans. In spite of the tendency toward conformity, it is important to hold on to one’s individuality and be aware that what makes each of us different is the special gift that makes us unique and one-of-a-kind in this world.

The necessity of using a heat source in encaustics helps me let go of my inner perfectionist and allow the wax to flow. I cannot be as precise as one would be with a pencil, and yet this aspect frees me tremendously. Likewise, the heavier gauge of the wire forces a more ‘rugged’ look rather than the delicate precision of different kinds of wire. Learning to balance my vision and precision with the energy and ‘pushback’ of the materials is a lovely analogy of life in general.

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4) How does my writing/working process work?

I absorb a lot of stimuli and inspiration both in my head and captured on paper, a memory stick (what used to be film), and in other objects. Eventually something in particular will bubble up and come out during my studio session. My studio is filled with inspiration pieces that help me visualize what I want to create.

Sometimes the materials and I work in harmony, and at others the wire and encaustics will nudge me into their own direction, where my vision doesn’t always match the outcome.
I cut up lengths of wire and prepare them (sand and hammer them) for bending into pendants, earrings, bangles or collar necklaces. Then I pick out the beads, decorative wire, papers and other ephemera I want to embellish them with. This determines the shape and form of each piece.

For wall collages, I research images and words and prepare collage sheets ahead of time and print these out. Then I fire up the griddle to warm up the color palette of the day and melt the wax. I layer on the medium and pigments and then fuse the materials to the wooden substrate. As the layers come together I cut up the collage sheets and lay out the pieces to see how they fit the with photographic centerpiece. With each layer the layout takes on more permanent form, and eventually all parts of the collage are fused together.

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Avid readers of my blog know Lauren Levato Coyne taught me how to draw. Our shared love for Moths and Butterflies provided initial conversation fodder, and now we enjoy sharing delicious foods on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing her upcoming show.

HeirloomLevatoCoyneArtist and writer Lauren Levato Coyne is a collector of exotic and unusual specimens with a focus on the entomological and anatomical. Lauren’s work comes from the intersection of wonder and memory and how the body itself becomes a wunderkammer, amassing all manner of mysterious and confounding issues, dramas, revelations, and dilemmas that either touch us as a fleeting corporeal moment or take up permanent residence in the body’s collection. The themes of body as wonder, memory, and curiosity have been the foundation of Lauren’s on-going series of self-portraits. She is preparing for her upcoming solo exhibition, Wolf Peach, at Packer Schopf Gallery which opens September 5. Lauren’s blog is at http://laurenlevato.com/home.html where you can read her blog hop next week.

I met Lisa Wilson at Shawna Moore’s encaustic workshop and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I enjoy the Oracle Card deck she participated in on a daily basis, and love the insights Being Breath has to offer.

LisaWilsonBeingBreathLisa Renee Wilson is a mixed-media artist, teacher, and blogger at BeingBreath.com. She practices, inspires, and guides others into awakening to life As It Is though Mindful Awareness and Creative Engagement with the stuff of the everyday.
Her art isn’t meant to match the couch, rather to be a reminder of a life fully lived. Her teachings aren’t meant to provide answers, rather, to show doors to walk through. And her writing isn’t meant to instruct or explain, rather, to cause a pause in thought and a deepening of breath.
You can learn more about Lisa at BeingBreath.com where her blog resides, or find her on Facebook.

I’m supposed to have 3 artist links but Alicia beat me to the punch in snagging a few blog hoppers (and some of my alternates are too busy preparing for solo shows), so I will revert back to her post to link you to those talented artists, including Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Robin Samiljan, and Ahavani Mullen.

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Pendants of the Summer

I haven’t been taking many jewelry selfies lately, though I always get compliments on the Maraviglia I am wearing.

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Earlier this summer I wore Blessed are you among Women out paired with my favorite twinsy spirals.

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At NEW’s anniversary party I wore my bangles, which pretty much go with all my outfits and can be custom-ordered.

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The Make by Megan K. dress was combined with my Amazonite collar and swirly pearls at my trunk show.

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Aurora Rose has a set for sale, which you can view here:

At other NEW events I wore Orange You Dancing with Smashed Earrings and a brown version of this green wax and wire triangle along with another set of abstract earrings.

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On a sunny day I adorned my lace sundress with a wax and wire butterfly and the smashed earrings.

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The other day I opted for just earrings and no necklace with this purple wire-wrapped pair that hasn’t been listed yet.

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Message me if you are interested.

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I felt the need for some inner peace one day and paired blue scribble ball earrings with this wax and wire peace symbol pendant. In the background is the jellyfish lamp from Peaceful Parlour.

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I wore the lace dress to Evanston’s Lakeshore Art Fest with a caged feather butterfly similar to this one and added the pink scribble ball earrings.

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Check out my Etsy store and see which piece would make a great adornment for you or someone you love.

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I also make custom pieces year-round for any occasion.

Unbound(ed) at Morpho Gallery

Some calls for art are best for others, as was the case with Morpho Gallery’s latest encaustic showcase.

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I had seen the Unbound(ed) call for art, but in spite of my freewheeling summer felt too confined in my work to create a piece for it. So I let the deadline pass, and instead got to enjoy the works of other encaustic artists.

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Submissions from all over the country were accepted, and the show is a wonderful showcase of creative techniques and inspiration. Juried by Kathy Blankley Roman and Kathleen Waterloo the show’s title refers to the term “Unbound” and all of its meanings.  The show opened August 1 and is up through August 30.

Exhibiting artists include:

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Carol Hamilton, Norman Soskel, Cheryl Holz, VA de Pintor.

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Cat Crotchett, Laura LaRue, Daniel Hurley, Barbara Fredericks Miner, Martha Robinson, Robin Samiljan, Ahavani Mullen, Sandra C. Pence, Karl Kaiser, and Kathy Blankley Roman.

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Kathy Cantwell.

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Carol Flaitz, Amy Van Winkle, Barbara Walton, Ginny Krueger, Caitlin Edgar Bielata and Robin Samiljan.

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Carol Flaitz, Nicole Prigan, Eileen P. Goldenberg, Jennifer Terpstra, Kathleen Cosgrove, Rodney Thompson, Patricia Lagger and Yvette Kaiser Smith.

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Bill Oistad.

I look forward to playing with some of this textural inspiration.

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Morpho Gallery prides itself in seeking talented artists who are on the cusp of being discovered by the mainstream art community.  The gallery is located at  5216 North Damen Avenue Chicago IL 60625 and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 1-6 p.m. And by appointment Sunday-Thursday.

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