Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicago Artists Month 2012 Wrap-up

I got off to a pretty good start this month with a blog post about Chicago's troubled past and one about my weekend in Ravenswood.  Later I went to art shows in Bridgeport, The University of Chicago's new Logan Center for the Arts, and wrote about The Fine Arts Building where my studio is.  As October ends, I thought I'd share the photos I hadn't yet uploaded A few of the other venues I went to this month include The Hyde Park Art Center:

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and The Switching Station Artists Lofts:

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Where I met fiber artist Trish Williams and Christopher Leake of BeJust Design.

I had a great time and am looking forward to next October.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

See The Doll Project in Graze Magazine

The doll project is being featured in Graze Magazine!

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Graze is a literary magazine based in Chicago that features stories, poems, and art about food.  There are some wonderful stories in the latest edition, and I had a good time meeting other contributors at the release party last night.  They even had a slide show of the art from the magazine!

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Order your copy from today.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicago Artists Month 2012 - Bridgeport Art Center and Zhou B Art Center

Last night, I had a really good time visiting studios of artist working in Bridgeport.  I visited both the Bridgeport Art Center and the Zhou B Art Center.  First of all, I want to talk about the outstanding Will to Power art show organized by Luis DeLaTorre.  He deliberately chose to feature work by artists who do not have MFAs.  Sadly, I didn't get a decent picture of this amazing show, so you'll have to see it for yourself.  But here are pictures of work by the other artists that I met. Click their names in the captions to see their websites.

painting by Luis DeLaTorre
Luis DeLaTorre

A deo et rege by UTB comics

painting by Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams

painting by Azadeh Hussaini
Azadeh Hussaini

scarves by Laura Kochevar
Laura Kochevar

wearable art by Sarah Goldenbarg White
Sarah Goldenbarg White

wearable art by The Doublestitch Twins
The Doublestitch Twins

cardboard robot sculptures by Rhom

drawings by Rine Boyer
Rine Boyer

These shows will continue through tomorrow, so be sure to see them while you can!

Bridgeport Art Center Open Studio Weekend
1200 W. 35th Street, Chicago, IL
Sunday, October 21st, 12-5 p.m.

Zhou B Art Center - JAWAChic Jewelry and Wearable Art Chicago
1029 W. 35th St., Chicago, IL
Sunday, October 21st, 12-5 p.m. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The University of Chicago's new Logan Center for the Arts

the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

In all my memories of being an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, it always looks like this, oppressive grey skies, the perpetual threat of rain, a certain gloom. That's what the weather was like on Saturday, when I went to visit my alma mater's new Logan Center for the Arts.

I trudged across the midway in my boots as I had so many times before, so many years before, to get to the art on the other side.  And I was very glad I did.

the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

What a gorgeous building!  Beautiful and new.  Freshly constructed, freshly painted, and just what the university's art students deserve.  When I was there in the late 90's and early 2000's, there were new facilities for the business school and the biology department, while the Midway Studios, where I took my art classes, had lapsed into a saddening decrepitude.  A shell of its former self, its rafters were the home of nesting birds and squirrels, and it was so hot in the summer that our nude model complained.  Here are the studios, right next door to the Logan Center.
Midway Studios at the University of Chicago

I still have fond memories of the classes I took there.  That was where I learned how to sculpt.

earthenware clay head by Tiffany Gholar

And where I took my first (and only) photography class.

thorns, black and white photo by Tiffany Gholar

And also where I started abstract painting.

raspberry divine, oil painting by Tiffany Gholar
I painted Raspberry Divine during my senior year of college.
On my way back across the campus I saw a familiar sight: the wild parakeets of Hyde Park.  There are two sitting back to back in the photo below.  I heard their unusual call and knew it had to be them.  Makes me wish I had a longer lens to really capture them.  They're green, like the leaves of the trees.  There was an urban legend floating around campus that they were lab animals at the university once.  Other sources say that the birds were escaped pets that somehow found each other and formed a community.  They really are a very striking presence.

wild parakeets in Hyde Park on the campus of The University of Chicago

I also passed by The Orthogenic School. When I was doing research for the novel/screenplay that was my thesis project, I had a chance to visit.  It is a residential school for children and teenagers with mental illnesses, and the environment is therapeutic by design.  They call it milieu therapy.  It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life.  I can still say that even now, even after all the interior design magazines I've read and Merchandise Mart showrooms I've been in.

The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

Looks very inviting, doesn't it?

I am glad that the rest of the campus is becoming a more inviting place for students with creative interests.  When I was a student there, I felt so out of place at times.  So many of my classmates were lured away from other majors by the siren song of the economics department, while others dreamed of becoming doctors or lawyers.  I knew it was an excellent school, but it didn't have the major I wanted (creative writing) and so I had to design my own major.  I was often accused of being a flake and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life because of that.  People just didn't understand.  But at least the administration of the university gets it now.  Not that there's anything wrong with "the life of the mind" as they call it, or learning about theories.  But I am glad to see that there will be more opportunities for students who want to practice the arts that they are learning about and make paintings, music, poetry, installation art, and theater, to get it out of their heads and into the real world.  I look forward to going to more events at The Logan Center.  It makes me feel proud of my school. 

I propose an amended Latin motto for it: Crescat ars vita excolatur, which means, Let art grow so that life can be glorified.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Fabulous Fine Arts Building

Picture from the Wikipedia article about the Fine Arts Building.

I can't believe that after all the art centers and studios and galleries I have written about on here, I never did a blog post about The Fine Arts Building, which is where my studio is! So here is a much-belated post about it.

The first thing people should know about the Fine Arts Building is something I often forget to mention: the manual elevators.  It is the only building left in Chicago that still has elevators run by operators.  Instead of pushing a button once you get inside the elevator, you tell the elevator operator what floor you want to go to and he will stop there.  It's a feature people either seem to love or hate.  (I love it.)

manual elevator, Fine Arts Building, Chicago by Irina Hynes
A manual elevator on the 9th floor. Photo courtesy of Irina Hynes

Before I got my studio there, I went to the Fine Arts Building for a variety of reasons.  My first memories of it are from when I was about four years old and took piano lessons there.  If I did well, my mother would treat me to the delicious popcorn they used to sell on the first floor.  The popcorn was sold at the concession stand for the movie theater, which is now closed.  They used to show foreign and art films.  I saw Like Water For Chocolate there on a field trip with my high school Spanish class when I was a freshman.  Senior year some friends and I took an unauthorized field trip of our own, using the Wednesday we had off at our experimental residential high school--which was supposed to be a time to do independent research--ostensibly to accompany a classmate to the Fine Arts Building, where she was going to get her violin re-strung.  We walked with her to the lobby, then went our separate ways to do some "research" on State Street at T.J. Maxx, Filene's Basement, and Contempo.  About 8 years later I went there again when I was taking a painting class at the School of the Art Institute and our instructor showed us her studio there.  I came back again in the fall of 2003 to tour a design school I was interested in, which was then called Harrington Institute of Interior Design and occupied 2 or 3 floors of the building.  By the time I enrolled, Harrington had changed its name and moved to its present location on Wells and Madison, freeing up space for new tenants.

Now the building is home to a variety of creative enterprises.  On the second floor you'll find Selected Works Bookstore, voted "Best Bookstore with a Cat" by The Chicago Reader.  They sell a vast selection of used books for good prices, and a beautiful bluish grey cat named Hodge lives there.

A photo of Hodge the famous cat from the Selected Works website
A photo of Hodge the famous cat from the Selected Works website
It is also the home of L.H. Sellman Glass Paperweights.  The third floor is the new home of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, a dance company dedicated to tap.  An then, starting on the fourth floor, there are a number of art studios and galleries.

Here is a full list of all today's Second Fridays events:

Second Floor Gallery Space
"Earth, Fire and Water"
Group show by Kathleen Newman, Karen Tichy and Debra LePage
Opening Reception 5pm - 9pm

210 - Selected Works Used Books and Sheet Music
Fine Used Books, Sheet Music, and Hodge the famous cat

420 Katie Loomis
Large scale acrylic + oil paintings

501 and 514
Kundalini Yoga in the Loop (KYL)
Meditation, yoga and the gong via classes, workshops and private sessions.
Plus, Teacher Training and walking meditation, too
Stop in for a 3-minute ‘gong experience’ between 5 and 8 pm!

516 Finestra Art Space
One-of-a-kind jewelry by Glenn Doering

522 - Zoe Spirra
Mixed media paintings
Traditional Chinese ink paintings

525- Nathan's Piano Lab
Drop by between 5 and 7PM and learn to play a song in about 10 minutes using the Simply Music piano method!

609 Ledesma Studio
Beatriz Ledesma. Jon Randolph -
Color in Two Perspectives: Painting + Photography
5:00PM - 9:00PM

624 Claris Cahan

630 Carrie Eizik, ATR-BC, LCPC
Art and Art Therapy
6:00-8:00 p.m.

632F Tiffany Gholar
Assemblages, paintings, and digital photography
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

635 Jennifer Cronin
Figurative Oil Paintings

640 Studio of Richard Heiberger
Classical and Jazz Piano Instruction for all age levels

701 Debra LePage
Watercolor on YUPO and paper

701 Kathleen Newman
Oil and pastels of Chicago

701 Karen Tichy
Paper and Wax

819 Elaine Pizza
Abstract Paintings

827 Anita Miller Gallery
Saudiah Adrien - Paintings
Anita Miller - Paintings and Prints
Evelyn Vences – Ceramics
Open 5 – 9 pm Magic at 8 pm
Demo 7 pm: Using Industrial and Mosaic Materials in Art = ENERGY

918 - Studio of J. M. Jung
Paintings and Drawings
5:30-7 pm

922 Richard Laurent
New paintings for World View

924 Jim Tansley

925 Theresa Walloga

Studio 927 Ossia Musical Forum
Informal Chamber Music

939 Jill McLean
Abstract oils on canvas
6:30 - 9:00pm

In Splendorous Jewelry and Paintings by Fluers

So as you see, there will be a lot of studios open tonight.  After all, it is Chicago Artists Month.  With so much to see, it's best to have the elevator operator take you all the way to the tenth floor and then work your way down.  Be sure to refer back to this blog post or a flyer from the lobby so that you don't miss anything.  Some studios (like mine) are near the end of a hallway or around a corner.

Here are some more photos of the building that I hope will entice you to come tonight:

sheet music store, Fine Arts Building, Chicago Irina Hynes
Performers Music shop on the 9th floor, Irina Hynes
Inner courtyard of the Fine Arts Building, Chicago
My studio overlooks this courtyard. Photo by Oscar Arriola.

Fine Arts Building, Chicago
Murals in the Fine Arts Building. Photo by Irina Hynes.


And, of course, my studio, 632F!

By the way, if you get hungry while you're visiting the Fine Arts Building, my favorite place to eat nearby is Osaka at 400 S. Michigan.  They specialize in sushi and fresh fruit smoothies. (And if you worry about cross-contamination, rest assured that they are prepared in separate areas.)  The Artist's Cafe on the first floor is a landmark, but their Yelp reviews are... well, read for yourself and decide.  If you want some really good doughnuts when you're at the Fine Arts Building, come on a Wednesday morning when Beavers Donuts has their truck parked in the lot around the corner at Wabash and Van Buren for a piping hot, freshly made breakfast treat.

The best way to get to the building is via public transportation.  Parking can be very hard to find, not to mention expensive.  If you do drive, I recommend parking in the lots on Wabash south of Congress.  Some have rates as low as $6.

Special thanks to Oscar Arriola and Irina Hynes for allowing me to use their photos of the Fine Arts Building since I never got around to taking any of my own.

If you can't make it tonight, you can always contact me to set up a time to visit my studio.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Art and Fear

Rod Serling in the Night Gallery
Rod Serling, curator of the Night Gallery

A recent study made an interesting discovery: viewing scary movies before seeing abstract art makes viewers appreciate it more.   Here's the abstract:

Which emotions underlie our positive experiences of art? Although recent evidence from neuroscience suggests that emotions play a critical role in art perception, no research to date has explored the extent to which specific emotional states affect aesthetic experiences or whether general physiological arousal is sufficient. Participants were assigned to one of five conditions—sitting normally, engaging in 15 or 30 jumping jacks, or viewing a happy or scary video—prior to rating abstract works of art. Only the fear condition resulted in significantly more positive judgments about the art. These striking findings provide the first evidence that fear uniquely inspires positively valenced aesthetic judgments. The results are discussed in the context of embodied cognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Learning this made me think about something I'd been considering for a while: showing episodes pf classic TV shows with art-related plots during my open studios.  Of course, this would be in the background, for the sake of ambiance, just like the music I play in the background.  I've even started making a list of particular episodes of shows I'd like to screen.  It's amazing how many shows--from The Dick Van Dyke Show to 227--have episodes about a character wanting to become an artist or even getting "discovered" by a curator or collector by accident.  There were a few I thought might be too creepy to show at an open studio, but now that I've read this study, maybe I should reconsider.

One scary video that I especially would like to show is an episode of Naked City (one of my favorite police procedurals of all time) called "Portrait of a Painter."  The painter of the title is played by a young William Shatner.  His situation is quite horrific.  He wakes up to find his wife murdered in his studio and can't remember what happened the night before.  It's a tense psychological thriller, and, in the typical Naked City fashion, is the story of a man at the end of his rope, with the aura of film noir and existentialism about it.

In the meantime, I don't even have a TV at the studio so that idea will be put on hold for a while.  But I have put together a special musical playlist just for October that is moody, melancholy, and vaguely macabre.  I wanted something that would reflect the moods evoked by Midnight Intrigue and the Dark Night of the Soul Series.  I plan to feature them in the hallway outside my studio this time.  Nothing extreme, though. No heavy metal, no angry, thrashing guitars.  But lots of strings.  And Tori Amos and Elysian Fields.  It's more Tim Burton than Wes Craven.  Now that the weather is starting to change and the days have gotten noticeably shorter, I feel like the playlist is ideal for an October evening.  I like making playlists.  It gives me an excuse to buy new music, a luxury I very rarely indulge in these days because of all my other expenses. 

But this eclectic playlist is a mixture of music from many different artists, some famous, others more obscure.  I've got "Moondance" by Van Morrison, "I Put a Spell on You" by Natacha Atlas, and "Fall" by the multi-talented Cree Summer, who played my favorite character, Freddie Brooks, on A Different World.  There are few songs with the color black in their titles: "Black Crow" and "Black Capricorn Day" by Jamiroquai, "Black Acres" by Elysian Fields, and a string quartet version of The Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" by The Vitamin String Quartet.  I have to admit I am very fond of Vitamin String Quartet.  I think they do their best work with rock and hip-hop.  I already have their cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on my ever-expanding "Music for my Art Shows" playlist and enjoy seeing the reactions of people who think they are listening to classical music and then suddenly realize it's not. I have several more of their covers on my Halloween playlist, including their take on "Zombie" by The Cranberries.  To amuse myself, I added a song from Wicked, (one of my favorite musicals) and "I Want to Be Evil" by Eartha Kitt, which is even more fun than her "Santa Baby."  Another fun song in the mix is Michael Jackson's "Threatened," a sort of spiritual successor to "Thriller" in which lines taken from the opening and closing monologues of The Twilight Zone have been edited together so that Rod Serling is its featured "rapper."  Interspersed throughout are a lot of instrumentals.  I like to pair instrumentals with abstract art.  Besides the Vitamin String Quartet covers I already mentioned, I have a beautiful piano instrumental bonus track from the end of No Doubt's Return of Saturn album, a hypnotic song called "Ink" by Syrian group Hewar (sadly out of print now), and some incredible melodies by Egyptian jazz quartet Masar. The entire playlist is a little over three hours long, so each song will play only once.  And after the years I spent working in retail and having to spend every day listening to the same songs repeatedly, that's the way I like it.  And I forgot to mention that the whole thing begins with "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder as a reminder not to take the songs that follow literally or seriously.

Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

Coincidentally, Art and Fear is also the title of an outstanding book for artists.  If you are in need of some motivation and don't have time to read The Artist's Way series (which, by the way, I also recommend), it's perfect for you.  It addresses issues like perfectionism, creative blocks, and motivation.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

  • In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.

  • If ninety-eight percent of our medical students were no longer practicing medicine five years after graduation, there would be a Senate investigation, yet that proportion of art majors are routinely consigned to an early professional death.

  • What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't, quit.

  • Tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding.

  • The risk is fearsome: in making your real work you hand the audience the power to deny the understanding you seek; you hand them the power to say, "you're not like us; you're weird; you're crazy."

If The Artist's Way is like a super deluxe 64 ounce mocha with flavored syrup, whipped cream, and a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg on top, Art and Fear is like a shot of espresso.  Both are like caffeine to energize your artistic career, and which you choose is really a matter of taste.

So as I close, the idea of the role fear plays in artists and in their audiences is a very interesting subject.  Don't be afraid to share your comments.  (Unless you're a spammer.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More miniature masterpieces

miniature collage by Tiffany Gholar

miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Here are my new mini paintings!  I have photographed them with some action figures for scale.

Donatello action figure with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

One dark and stormy night, Donatello decides to visit the art gallery Michaelangelo had told him about.  He tries to be inconspicuous in a trench coat and fedora, hoping to view the collection undisturbed.

X-Files and Donatello action figures with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Little does he know that two special agents from the FBI are there to investigate a mysterious case involving paranormal and possibly extraterrestrial activity in the gallery.

X-Files and Donatello action figures with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

They ask him if he's seen anything unusual.  He says no, and goes back to the lair in the sewer, wanting nothing more than to retreat into his shell.  What a close call! 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kala action figure with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

When the gallery is empty, Kala is finally able to get a look at the new artwork.  She overheard what the FBI agents were saying and is afraid they were looking for her.  She has to be more careful.

Austin Powers Dr. Evil action figure with miniature paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Meanwhile, around the corner, Dr. Evil finds some paintings that he really likes.

Austin Powers Dr. Evil action figure with miniature paintings by Tiffany Gholar

He would be willing to pay one million dollars for them.

X-Files Mulder and Scully action figures with miniature paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Before they leave the gallery to track down another lead, Agent Mulder tells Agent Scully his theory that abstract art is proof of the existence of extraterrestrials visiting Earth.

X-Files Mulder and Scully action figures with miniature paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Many of the early abstract expressionists, he tells her, were really aliens in disguise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kala action figure with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar

Looking at the new paintings makes Kala homesick for Dimension X.

Austin Powers action figure with miniature paintings by Tiffany Gholar

After all the patrons leave, it's time for the museum guards to have their Halloween costume party.  Everyone's favorite costumed character is Austin Powers.

As you see, I have made a lot of new miniature paintings.  All of them will be available for sale at my studio.  Each comes with a miniature easel in your choice of color or finish.  I will end this post with a shot of Nzinga, my mini painting spokesmodel, showing off the new collection.

Alvin Ailey Barbie doll with miniature collages and paintings by Tiffany Gholar
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