Palette and Chisel Gallery
1012 N. Dearborn, Chicago
September 2-26, 20227
CELEBRATION I ***
El Greco, View of Toledo, 1599-1600 (detail)
As quantifiable and objective as market value may be, however, it marginalizes many kinds of art which continue to be practiced, taught, and collected. Museums have ignored contemporary religious or sacred art for at least a hundred years. Since mid-century, they have also been ignoring just about every other kind of celebratory expression - unless it celebrates a preferred gender or racial identity. And whether it’s an architectural showpiece or a dingy alley, cityscapes do indeed celebrate something quite important to humanity: urban life.
(since this exhibition catalog appears on a blog - comments are possible - indeed encouraged --- but only if they offer more thoughtful content than "nice job" or "you suck" )
Marion Kryczka (1948-2022), untitled (Chicago cityscape), oil on canvas, 39 x 29
Andy Paczos, "Looking south from the Van Buren st bridge". Oil on linen. 48x32"
Art Chartow, Coal Yard, South Branch Chicago River, oil on panel 24h x 48w,
(courtesy of Gallery Victor Armendariz)
David Rettker, Conjunction, 18 x 24, Acrylic in wood
Albert Vidal, Marina City, 51 X 51, mixed media on canvas
(courtesy of Gallery Victor Armendariz)
Mary J. Arthur, "View from Union League Club toward Lake Michigan" Oil on Canvas 12 x 16
Roland Kulla, Eight Track 1, 36X48
(courtesy of Gallery Victor Armendariz)
Kevin Swallow, Empty on the Inside, oil on canvas, 30"x40"
Sandra Holubow, Nature's Playground, Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30u
Dmitry Samarov, Lituanica #9, 21 x 25, oil on canvas
Brian Wells, Big Blue Dumpster, oil on Canvas, 30 x 36
Emmett Kerrigan : Racine NW Oil on Canvas 50" X 42"
(on loan from Kyle and Emmet Miller)
Mary Phelan - Urban Grid, Oil on linen, 32 x 16
Mary Phelan, The Corner, oil on linen, 24 x 15
Looking back a hundred years, the 26th Annual Artists of Chicago and Vicinity Show (1922) had very few cityscapes judging by the titles in the online catalog. There were urban settings but nowhere near Chicago - indeed, it looked like the artists, or their patrons, were trying to get as far away from the bustling, smoke filled city as possible - preferably a quaint village in France or Tunisia. (By the way, 20 of the 154 artists in that show were members, or former members, of the Palette and Chisel)
The painters in this show embrace Chicago -- all of it --- from urban canyons to bungalows, infrastructure to industrial parks. They confront the metropolis - whether as a dreamlike vision (Kevin Swallow’s covid empty ‘L cars) or as a daily challenge (Dmitry Samarov’s distant view of the Loop from Bridgeport). The pieces are more like psychological self portraits than picturesque retreats. They grab the viewer by the collar as if to assert ‘see..this is how I feel!” - whether it’s the cool masculinity of Marion Kryczka’s functional but outdated parked cars or the overwhelming presence of Brian Wells’ graffiti covered dumpster. They and the city are inseparable. And you might note that only one piece depicts any people. It’s just you, the viewer, and the great Midwestern center.
Probably we have the mid-century eruption of Abstract Expression to thank for that. Even the precise realism of Art Chartow’s view of a rust belt factory feels much more personal and emotional than the earlier factory paintings of Charles Sheeler. Mary Arthur’s view through the Loop is more of an expressive geo-form abstraction than a documentation of urban architecture.
What’s also changed is the art market. Back then, a certain kind of pleasant, natural, journalistic representation was mainstream - so there was a sameness about the pictorial visions and formal energy was optional. Without explicit political messaging, however, a cityscape painting today is quite marginal - there is no standard for representation — it’s every painter for him, her, or them selves. Being an artist has become much more than just presenting something really well. A fierce level of self determination is required - and you can feel that in each of these paintings - just as you can with the early modernists. These artists have been bolder about their careers than those Chicago artists who pay endless tribute to the Hairy Who? or Marcel Duchamp.
Politics is present - but competitive partisan resentment is not. Strong painting always suggests that life can be what you make of it. Where the subject is a city --- that’s the place where it can happen.
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY
It's not often that an exhibition catalog shows pieces that the curator wanted but could not get - but then - this is not an ordinary catalog. (I probably could have gotten a Wesley Willis, but I wanted to keep to living artists)
I am an on - site painter. My works are completely done on location , taking often three to four months to complete. The painting in this exhibition was done over a two year period.
Painting on location has many difficulties,( wind , heat , changing seasons ) but the reward is worth it.
When searching for a site I use my instinct and respond to an internal need that says , this needs to be recorded. My paintings are not a snapshot of an instant but have a sense of the duration of time.
I received an MFA from the school of the art institute and have been exhibiting in Chicago and elsewhere for thirty years.
Art Chartow’s current work focuses on the structures and artifacts of heavy industry that have shaped the American landscape. Power stations, factories, steel mills and infrastructure represent strength, industrial might, the ability to vanquish nature. Yet all such structures are, like anything else in this world, ephemeral, transitory, vulnerable to the vagaries of global economics and technological progress. These places are strange, sinister and forbidding; beautiful, fragile, sometimes abandoned and decaying. Such landscapes speak of loss, transience, the passage of time and the brave futility of human endeavor when set against the inevitability of change.
Mary J. Arthur
Artist Statement: I describe myself to others as a representational painter enticed by direct observation and the nuances of freely measuring my subject matter. Consistent, genuine intrigue has been my anchor for viewing and painting people, places and objects around me. In my heart of hearts, I am a landscape painter. I am trained classically as well as in contemporary approaches and practices. Over the years I find myself comfortably absorbed in this quantifying of any given subject matter, that is to say using some measuring and perspectival knowledge but freely using a more empirical sensibility. I believe that this way of looking and drawing/painting has become a contemplative practice for me. I am at once still and present in finding comparisons of related points in the three-dimensional space, whether still life, figure or land/cityscape. My color sensibility is an earthy 18th century European palette while my drawing 21st century, building on a very loose gestural, almost abstract approach. The act of painting or the occasional poem written - allows me to engage in the possibilities of revealing ideas and interests; it is physical, emotional, cerebral and invariably expresses the everyday segments of my life no matter where I have lived, worked or traveled.
b. 1947, St. Louis, MO
1976 University of Chicago, MA - Social Service Administration
1970Bellarmine University, BA - Summa Cum Laude, Louisville, KY
Selected Exhibitions 2018Wrap It Up, Gallery Victor Armendariz, Chicago, IL 2017 ZIA Gallery, Winnetka, IL Industrialism in the 21st Century, Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston, TX BAC 5th Annual Competition, Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL 2016 New York City Transit, George Billis Gallery, New York End of the Year Group Exhibition, ZIA Gallery, Winnetka, IL SOFA Chicago, George Billis Gallery, Chicago, IL New York City, George Billis Gallery, New York, NY Rockford Biennial, Rockford Museum of Art, Rockford, IL Hard to Believe, Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL Aspects of Realism, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, IL 2015 Chicago River South Branch Bridges, ZIA Gallery, Winnetka, IL 2014 East River Bridges, George Billis Gallery, New York, New York James Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA BAC 2nd Annual Competition, Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL
ARTIST STATEMENT: Architecture and cityscapes are my inspiration for creating paintings, photographs, and mixed media. I’m attracted to older infrastructure elements and like to document rooftop water tanks, elevated train tracks, steel bridges, and industrial era buildings. My art is influenced by the unlimited sights, sounds, and colors of the city – working to capture the textures and sensations of the urban landscape.
BIO: Kevin Swallow lives and works in Chicago. Originally from Crestwood, Illinois, he has been creating art since 1995. He works in various media: painting, photography, mixed media and digital. From paintings and photographs of cityscapes, to mixed media and screen prints — his work captures the sense of place and textures of the urban landscape. He travels frequently and draws inspiration from the places he has visited in the U.S., Europe, and Canada. Kevin graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications and has studied painting, drawing and screen printing at Lillstreet Art Center. He has recently exhibited at Eat Paint Studio, Firecat Projects, and Highland Park Art Center. Kevin's work is in various private collections in Illinois; New York; Washington, D.C.; Minnesota; Seattle, WA; Denver, Colorado; Tennessee; Portsmouth, VA; Phoenix, AZ; Barcelona, Spain; and Berlin, Germany. His cityscape images are also in various hotels and luxury apartment buildings: Chicago Hilton and Suites, Mile North Hotel, Hyatt Place, Sheraton Hotel and Suites, The Jones, and Xavier. His art has been featured in publications such as: Chicago Sun-Times, Hyperallergic, New City, DNAInfo, NeotericART, and Praeterita. From 2006-2022, his art studio was located in the Cornelia Arts Building in Chicago's Roscoe Village neighborhood. In March of 2022, he moved into a new studio space in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.
Dmitry Samarov paints and writes in Chicago
Sandra Holubow is an "Urban Imagist" inspired by the sights, sounds, and dynamism of cities. In her painting "Nature's Playground," her concern is how urbanization impacts Nature. Holubow dramatizes warm afternoon sunlight falling on man-made structures and contrasts it against trees. The background buildings define and limit the playfulness of dancing trees as they reach for the sky. Holubow highlights how frequently we destroy our parks as we replace our architecture with the "new," the current. Our disposable society too often squanders our most precious resource--Nature.
My work has always focused on the mystery to be found in the commonplace, everyday world. Working as both a print maker and painter, my subject matter has included construction workers, urban landscapes, horse racing, ants and monkeys interacting as workers and bosses, and abstraction based on the natural world. I have worked with a variety of mediums: small hand printed, multi-colored woodcuts; abstract constructions; drawings on paper; large-scale oil and acrylic paintings.
In 2011, I began working in oil again, painting vignettes from my house and yard in Chicago. The materials in these domestic scenes include thrift store, estate sale, outsider art, found objects, my own work, and are rotated on a changing basis. These pieces encapsulate the random coming together of the unknown, causing the viewer to question and delight in the unexpected. My latest work focuses on local storefronts, both shuttered and currently in business, along with doorways and construction dumpsters. These mundane subjects take on a mysterious life of their own for me, enveloping a sense of time and place that never remains still
Mary Phelan is an urbanscape painter working in oil on linen. Her subjects are often thecommonplace and overlooked settings in city neighborhoods that express intriguing interchanges of public and private space.
Phelan’s previous art career included chairing the Life Drawing and Foundations Departments at the American Academy of Art, Chicago. She has also done magazine and book illustration and commissioned works for universities, hospitals, and libraries-- many of which are portraits.
Her work is represented in the collections of the Dubuque Museum of Art (Iowa), the University of Illinois (Urbana), Robert Morris University (Chicago), the University of Illinois (Chicago), and the Library of Congress (Washington D.C.), among other institutions. Also see: The Urban Tree Book (Random House).
Gallery Victor Armendariz
is located in Chicago's River North Art and Design District. With a focus on contemporary painting, Gallery Victor deftly combines sculpture and studio furniture in a curated environment. Victor Brings over 25 years of experience working with artists, collectors and institutions. There is a wide variety of artworks represented ranging from figurative and landscape to abstract and surreal to functional art.
Photos from the opening
Del Hall, photographer