Black History Education at the Cultural Center

Last week I commuted downtown and decided to stroll over to the Chicago Cultural Center.

First, Angel and I passed the Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet.

I walked in on a prototype of the story chair from the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, which apparently doubles as a table and turns into a throne as stories are told.

Then I decided to start my exhibit exploration upstairs, where Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College are on display.

This exhibition features all 32 doors painted by Eugene Eda for the stairwells of the original, now demolished Malcolm X College. Painted in 1971 they are considered a landmark of the Black Arts movement in Chicago.

The doors are thematically distinguished in 4 categories, based on their original stairwell locations.

  • A: Egyptian Hieroglyphs
  • B: West African and Sankofa
  • C: Black Aesthetics, Black Family
  • D: Black Power and Survival

Eugene Eda started with ancient Egypt as the foundation of his works, and then narrates the history of African culture and heritage with the other door themes. I was fascinated by all the symbolism represented in stairwell B, and want to learn more about Adinkra symbols used in West African culture.

Fortitude, unity and community are themes for stairwell C, showing scenes representing the various areas of study at Malcolm X College (currently arts, general studies, science and applied science), along with depictions of family. In Stairwell D, according to Michelle R. Perkins, the doors are to remind those passing through to “rise above anything that imprisons the body and the mind.”

Part of the interior design of the walls in this room had the inscription “lūx et vēritās”, meaning light and truth, which was very appropriate for this particular exhibit. As a European, I have a cursory acquaintance with American History, and even my world history education was quite Euro-centric, so learning more about Black History, African(-American) culture, Indigenous culture and what is essentially ‘non-white world history’ requires awareness and alertness.

I am grateful there is much activism to have these stories told and celebrated. Attending art talks and exhibits about marginalization is uncomfortable, but makes me a better human being who can hopefully respond better to the impact oppression has had on any group than be clouded by my own perceptions.

The next exhibit was 50×50 Invitational / The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities, with artists from various Chicago Wards represented to make statements on the current state of the world, ranging from a postcard exhibit in which people wrote an artist about their wishes to statements about the current political climate.

Then I wandered on to The Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and the Legacy of Black Power, where Eugene Eda was mentioned again. The history of this particular wall spoke of the difference in opinion even among a group that society at large tends to homogenize, and was educational in so many ways.

The activism on making voices heard about cultures and groups that have been oppressed, suppressed and ignored is important, and while it takes effort to gain understanding, it is vital to deal with the discomfort of historic inaccuracy and work to rectify it.

I wandered through a corridor that landed me in the ramp, where Passage by SO-IL from New York City, U.S., featuring photography by Iwan Baan from Amsterdam, The Netherlands is an ongoing exhibit.

From that window I also got a good view of the Piranesi Circus (Atelier Bow-Wow in Tokyo, Japan) in the Atrium, which intrigued me on all levels of the cultural center. Both these architectural masterpieces were part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, a global exhibition of contemporary architecture, showcasing the visionary ideas of 100 architects and designers from 30 countries.

It is certainly a playground for the imagination.

Of course the internal architecture of the Cultural Center is a feast for the eyes as well.

With its original intent as Chicago’s first central public library in 1879, the building was designed to impress with rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics.

This building is home of the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome.

Healy & Millet designed the other glass dome.

The workmanship is mesmerizing. You can learn more about the Chicago Cultural Center exhibits on this link.

I also came upon lovely quilts like this one by Laverne Brackens.

These quilts are held in library collections and loaned out for display after their cleaning before being placed in their conservatorship’s collections again.

With so much history and creativity to ponder, I left the Cultural Center to make my way home.

Chicago is such a diverse and vibrant city, and I strive to be more alert to the expression of voices that may not reflect my experience or point of view, but require me to get through some cognitive dissonance to grow as a human being and be a more compassionate citizen of the world.

Final Week of the Abstract Show

On Friday the Brickton Art Center had its exhibit opening for their fourth annual Abstract Show.

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Several FUSEDChicago artists were represented, so it was also a fun gathering of friends.

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Curated by Ahavani Mullen, the show had a variety of media represented.

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The show runs through July 29. The art center is located at 306 Busse Hwy, Park Ridge, IL 60068.

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Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm (closed on Sundays).

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I enjoyed the vibrance of color choices and the contrast of whimsy vs. more serious themes.

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FUSEDChicago artists represented are: Carol Hamilton, Rebecca Stahr, Carol L. Meyers, Pat Lagger and Cindy Lesperance.

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Representing other art mediums are Jordan Acker Anderson, Patrick Carr, Brian Franczyk, Jung J. Jae, Megan Woodard Johnson, Kathryn Kane, Guntis Lauzums, Julia Levin, Ara Lucia.

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As well as Mark P. McKernin, Jane Michalski, Bridget Mullen, Mark J. Palmeri, Adriana Poterash, Sara Risley, Kat Rodriguez, Camille Silverman, and Courtney E. Thayer.

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There was lots of texture to admire.

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Kenna Delmar’s work played shadowgames.

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Josh Anderson also incorporated shadow effects in his work.

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Tim Abel’s installation added a festive element.

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Established in 1997, Brickton Art Center is a non-profit organization serving the people of Park Ridge and surrounding communities through creative outreach services in art therapy, art education and exhibitions.

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In addition to exhibits, they provide art therapy programming for community organizations and diverse art education for adults, teens and children.

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Check out their Web site for future events.

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The Abstract Show

Abstract hard is a contentious topic, and I don’t quite understand it all the time. Nonetheless, I found myself submitting my Hexaptych to the Abstract 4 Show juried by Ahavani Mullen. One of my pieces, Infinity, was accepted into the show.

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I’ll be among familiar FUSEDChicago artists, including Carol Hamilton, Rebecca Stahr, Carol L. Meyers, Pat Lagger and Cindy Lesperance. I also look forward to seeing the other works in person: Tim Abel, Josh Anderson, Jordan Acker Anderson, Patrick Carr, Kenna Delmar, Brian Franczyk, Jung J. Jae, Megan Woodard Johnson, Kathryn Kane, Guntis Lauzums, Julia Levin, Ara Lucia, Mark P. McKernin, Jane Michalski, Bridget Mullen, Mark J. Palmeri, Adriana Poterash, Sara Risley, Kat Rodriguez, Camille Silverman, and Courtney E. Thayer.

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The Fourth Annual Abstract Show opens at the Brickton Art Center on Friday, July 15 from 7 to 9 pm, and will be on exhibit July 11 through 29, 2016. The art center is located at 306 Busse Hwy, Park Ridge, IL 60068 and gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm (closed on Sundays).

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Established in 1997, Brickton Art Center is a non-profit organization serving the people of Park Ridge and surrounding communities through creative outreach services in art therapy, art education and exhibitions. It began when a group of visionaries identified the arts as an important part of a healthy community and set out to establish a base for the visual arts in Park Ridge.

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Brickton Art Center draws operating funds from memberships, fundraising and classes. They provide:

  • Art therapy programming for community organizations
  • Diverse art education for adults, teens and children
  • Art exhibitions for students and professional artists

Maybe I’ll see you on Friday evening and we can explore this organization and the art together.

Hanging my Show

It’s been a fun few months preparing for Friday’s Show Opening.

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After creating all the substrates and bending the shapes to go on top of the pieces I had to attach the hanging hardware before fusing everything together.

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Then I fused the wire to the encaustic backgrounds and did the hanging test to make sure the shapes would stay put.

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Meanwhile, Downtown Evanston promoted the show in their newsletter, right above Ayla’s Bead’s upcoming event.

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Next came the challenge of transporting dimensional art to its destination.

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My bouncy heart of Communicating Love had to ride shotgun so I could keep the springiness at bay.

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Then came the daunting task of filling up a giant wall.

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I have hung art, but I have never hung an actual show before, and having a vision for how to hang it is much different when faced with the blank wall in actuality.

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But I hammered in nails, and eyeballed the spacing as I went.

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I learned a new vocabulary word, hexaptych, in time to describe the 6 piece grid I made.

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I like how the angles are reflected in Melanie Deal’s mixed media collages as well.

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This one might be my favorite, but I haven’t looked too closely at the other ones yet.

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Such fun details!

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To bookend Communicating Love I added triple heart collages next to the re-wired Piano Scrolls Diptych.

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Tomorrow I’ll also be popping up with my Jewelry pieces for one night only.

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The art show remains on display through the end of the month.

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So come on out to 922 Davis Street for some wine, good company, and colorful art from 5 pm to 8 pm. Creative Coworking is a fabulous space to peruse.

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I think we complement each other well.

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Here’s hoping for a good turnout tomorrow!

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NEW at Good Dog, Better Art

June’s Wine Women and Wellness will involve some canine therapy, of the visual kind. We will gather at Sidetracked Studio, a brand-new Evanston-based gallery co-owned by artists Lauren Levato Coyne and Rory Coyne in partnership with collector Michele Mahon Jahelka.
Good Dog, Better Art is a Group Exhibition to Benefit Trio Animal Foundation, featuring the work of 16 canine loving artists.

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If we were to bring along our furry friends, they might be more inclined to look at portraits of their counterparts than their humans, according to a study by Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki) and referenced in Science Daily.

Conversely, numerous studies attempt to validate the attribution of human behavior to dogs, and continuous to keep scientists engaged: “This search for common psychological processes in humans and dogs has been motivated by the fact that humans and domestic dogs have shared a common environment and similar selective pressures for tens of thousands of years.

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Anthropomorphism-the attribution of human characteristics to animals, deities and objects has been around since ancient Greece: “humans are predisposed to perceive shapes, sounds, and other things and events in terms of human form or action, both in unconscious thought and in the conscious thought to which it gives rise.”

“Over the last 100,000 years, the social environments
of domestic dog pups and human children
have become more and more similar to each other,
and less like those of either species’ closer genetic kin.
It is as a consequence of this intense cohabitation
that dogs have come to emulate some behaviors
that are commonly viewed as uniquely human,
such as the recognition of another’s attentional state.”
~ A Review of Domestic Dogs’ (Canis Familiaris) Human-Like Behaviors

A study of domestic dogs identified several traits that are quite indicative of a small business owner as well. These include: ‘Playfulness’, ‘Curiosity/Fearlessness’, ‘Chase-proneness’, ‘Sociability’ and ‘Aggressiveness’. Like small business owners, all traits were found in all dogs, though to differing degrees and with differences between different groups of dog breeds.

On Thursday, June 25 we will gather from 6 to 8 pm at 707 Chicago Ave. in Evanston to discuss the merit of these traits as business owners and for our canine companions.

NEW Co-Founder Karen McCormack owns a Belgian Malinois, a German Shepherd breed. “I’ve always had rescue dogs, usually the breed is a guess,” Karen said. “I’ve also had a couple of golden retrievers when my kids were small because they are well known to be gentle and tolerant.”

Our hosts own a Husky and a Great Dane, both rescue dogs, who inspire and support our resident artists at the studio on a regular basis. NEW Co-Founder Maike spent her teenage years with Labradors, and is the aunt of 2 mixed breed rescues (a shepherd chow and a pitbull-bordercollie mix).

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Good Dog, Better Art is a benefit exhibit for Trio Animal Foundation with up to 25% of all sales going directly to the Foundation. Matching funds will be provided by Apple, thereby doubling all donations.

Trio Animal Foundation is a woman-managed 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists shelters, rescues and individuals by paying the medical bills of homeless pets. Trio specializes in taking in severely abused animals, and is responsible for numerous happy endings of animals that had essentially been fated to suffer agonizing deaths.  TAF also promotes adoption and responsible pet ownership, including spay and neuter.

Good Dog, Better Art is on display through July 4 and includes art work by: Brian Busch, Stephen Cefalo, Cesar “Nono” Conde, Rory Coyne, Teresa Elliott, Candice Groot, Jason John, Robin SoloKill King, Lauren Levato Coyne, Daniel Maidman, Keelan McMorrow, Jason McPhillips, Gail Potocki, Ellen Jo Dahlberg Roberts, John Walker, and Aaron Westerberg.

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In addition to the works for sale, Sidetracked Studio will also accept donations on behalf of Trio Animal Foundation for the duration of Good Dog, Better Art. Sidetracked Studio is located on 707 Chicago Ave. Evanston and open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. All other hours by chance or appointment.

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NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Photos courtesy Sidetracked Studio.

EXPOSURE

Thursday was a gorgeous day to spend at Navy Pier.  The overcast skies had made way for sunshine and the Chicago skyline was picture perfect.

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I was a bit torn about having to spend the afternoon inside setting up for the big event, but happy so many people were celebrating a tentative Spring on the pier.

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The RAW: natural born artist directors gave us ample time to set up for EXPOSURE on the Odyssey Yacht.

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I customized my space early.

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This was my first time setting up lamps with the display, and I am glad I am grown-up enough to have three desk lamps of the same color.

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This left me with time to go to the other decks and take snapshots of their creations.

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Carolyn Sullivan of PumPums ‘below deck’.

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The fashion sneak peek looked fabulous.

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I hope there will be an album of the actual show, which I missed since I was above them.

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The most varied artists resided on ‘my’ Amethyst deck.

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Each time the setup has its own feel.

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I chatted with the two other jewelers present, who both have distinct styles and great passion for their craft. Rust Belt Americana scours the nation for rustic finds that are repurposed into jewelry.

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Flux Of Feathers offers perfect adornments for the more morbidly minded with pendants holding claws, teeth and other animal parts.

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My neighbor Troy of BowExotic creates fantastic wooden bow ties, which make dressing up a cinch!

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They add elegance to the outfits of men and women alike. Troy makes many bow ties based on how inspiration strikes him, but he also customizes them with fraternity logos and other customer-specified designs.

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He also made his own lamps for the event.

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My left hand neighbor Brandin of Paper Moon Affairs hand-cuts beautiful paper vignettes and then places them in lit-up frames for a dreamlike scene to hang in your home.

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I enjoyed the view during quiet moments.

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Throughout the evening the outfits were a sight to behold. I spotted a lovely ethereal star dress, sky-high heels, and a vast interpretation of the requested ‘cocktail attire’ dress code.

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The bar was closeby and Odyssey Waitstaff were quite helpful to the table-bound vendors to keep them hydrated and fed.

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I enjoyed a slider and potato wedges for dinner and imbibed in some bubbly to celebrate the festivities.

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A few pieces will be gifted to mothers on May 10, and even more business cards wandered off into the world.

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The Odyssey Yacht offers lunchtime and dinner cruises during which the ship does traverse Lake Michigan.

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As a bonus I forgot about, we were invited to take head shots by a professional photographer, and a videographer took detailed footage of each booth. I cannot wait to see how that turns out.

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I’m scoping out the future RAW Midwest events and hope to pop up at one of those soon.

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Meanwhile, check out the happenings in your city, and support a participating artist in your neighborhood.

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Meanwhile, don’t forget to shop on Etsy for Mom!

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Textual Encounters Exhibit

This is the final week to see Textual Encounters. We had a lovely opening night on March 6, and I hope the gallery got lots of foot traffic this month.

MaikesMarvelsArtEncaustic collages with wire by Maike’s Marvels

Textual Encounters focuses on incorporating text into encaustic work.

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Elyse Martin and VA de Pintor

The FUSEDChicago group includes artists with a variety of styles, so seeing 32 artists with different techniques, color palettes, and objectives come together in one space is always fascinating.

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Emily Rutledge, Mary Krebs Smyth, Jenny Learner

Curator Shelley Gilchrist did a fabulous job hanging the show.

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Michele Thrane, Donna Zarbin-Byrne,

Shelly Gilchrist, Kathy Blankley Roman, Carol Hamilton

From sculptural to 2-dimensional, abstract to figurative, earth tones to vibrant colors, the show’s theme pulls the pieces together and showcases the variety of ways encaustics can express a vision.

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Sarah Rehmer and Amy Van Winkle

Artists incorporated text from books, music scores, a collage of single letters, and snippets of poems for embedding and inspiration.

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I love the gradation of layers, with some FUSEDChicago members focusing on translucence and an ethereal quality, while others make the encaustic paint pop in vibrancy.

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Pat Lagger, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Kari Hall,

Dan Addington, Rebecca Williams Stahr,
Ahavani Mullen, Maike’s Marvels

Discussing the thought process behind the pieces and understanding the techniques used is inspiring and broadens my mind as I contemplate new projects.

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Cat Crotchett
, Karen Tichy, April Nomellini,
Brad Hook, Michele Thrane, Laura LaRue.

ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N Damen Avenue in Chicago. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. Textual Encounters closes March 28.

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Carol Hamilton, Linda Sorkin Eisenberg,
Catherine Keebler, Mary Krebs Smyth

FUSEDChicago is a group of midwest encaustic artists based in Chicago. The group was founded in 2009 and currently has forty members.

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Jennifer Schmidt, Jennifer Williams Terpstra,
Cheryl Holz, Katsy Johnson

More information about the artists and the group’s exhibits and activities is available at www.fusedchicago.org.

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Elyse Martin, VA dePintor, Carol Myers

Inspiration from Amy Lee Segami

“When you have a deep, deep passion in you heart
and in your bones and in your soul,
it never goes away. It just isn’t time yet.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

On a snowy day this February my friend coaxed me out of the house to go visit an exhibit at the Evanston Public Library. While I have been aware that the library hosts exhibit, it took a non-Evanstonian to point out to me that this is a monthly occurrence. Amy Lee Segami’s work was up through March 7, and she held a talk explaining her inspiration, background and process.

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Her exhibit “Frozen Dreams” was inspired by how as a girl Amy had to put her dreams on hold, or ‘in the freezer” as she said. Her father wanted her to be able to support herself and steered her toward studying engineering. She moved to America to study at IIT, and did become an engineer.

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Over time, however, Amy decided to de-frost her dreams, and started studying Suminagashi. In this technique, black ink is dripped into a container of water, and an image transfer created by placing paper over the resulting image.

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Amy perfected this technique for years. “When you master your craft, you work on it day in, day out. Ideas come about.”

When she felt comfortable knowing the technique for white ink on black paper, she started adding colors to her palette. By using brushes, feathers and other tools to manipulate the ink, she creates the foundation of the image she wishes to create. However, like life, Amy says that she has an idea of what the resulting transfer will look lie, yet is open to it changing based on the movement of the paper on the water.

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She sees art and life as a balance of competition and collaboration. Competition can inspire people to excel and to lead, but it takes collaboration to achieve consensus. There is no point in fighting water, she said, so she has to collaborate with it.

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Even though she has perfected her technique, Amy still has to create many transfers before she has the piece she is happy with. Describing the motion like a dance, she said the transfer has to take place in one breath. “There is no moment like this moment now.”

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Amy waited until she had an international show to tell her father about her career change, and he fully supports her success. She credits his pushing and cajoling with giving her the security to establish her career, emphasizing that our past shapes us and it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Amy also emphasized that we have to count ourselves in to our life paths. We are the masters of our own destiny, and we cannot forget who we are.

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I won a poster during a drawing, and you can get your own prints here.

“In every situation you face, always count yourself.
Your opinion, your perspective, your presence matters.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

People photos copyright and courtesy of Final Draft Business Support Services.

Final Week for Show & Tell

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Yesterday I picked up my Kedzie’s Red Admirals diptych from the Ecology Center as one part of the Adult Show & Tell Show closes.

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It was fun to peruse the lovely art work by other Evanstonians earlier this month.

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It is always inspiring to see artists interpret nature themes and be inspired by them.

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Nature is so rich with inspiration itself.

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Fellow FUSEDChicago artist Mary Krebs-Smythe has a few works in the show.

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This is the final week to peruse our art at Curt’s Cafe.

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I swung by there and love the cozy atmosphere.

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The art there is quite vibrant.

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My Odonata look nice against the brick backdrop.

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Stop by Curt’s Cafe before Wednesday, October 29 to see all the pieces from various Evanston artists.

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Fall is creating its own art (same tree as above a few weeks later).

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