John Pitman Weber, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, Gladys Nilsson
Exhibiting October 1 - November 1
Gallery Reception: Thursday, October 4, 4:30 - 8 p.m.
About the Exhibit
Gladys Nilsson creates narrative work highly populated by figures, mostly female, but with male figures inserted where “necessary” to the narrative. Her figures live in a whimsical dream-like world, where legs and arms are sinuously extended to seemingly unwieldy lengths, reproductive organs are exaggerated in importance and size, and distortion yields to humorous connections and relationships between figures. Figures also exist in a surreal space, in which perspectives bend and fluctuate, negative shapes are hotly colored, chairs and tables and other furniture slant and shift in their improbable locations.
Nilsson is also known for her unsurpassable watercolor technique. She intricately uses the intensity of highly saturated transparent watercolor paint to create images that appear joyful, humorous, satirical and full of vibrant energy. Her high level of craftsmanship seduces us to look closely. As viewers, we are invited into another world, where each detail becomes something to ponder, enjoy, observe and indeed, interpret for its connection to the larger whole. Her use of distortion, unexpected combinations of images, nonsensical space and widely varying scale challenges us to embrace an unknown reality. The whole may be a world with which we are not familiar, because it is entirely a world created from Nilsson’s active imagination, but it is a world which we want to experience for the pure joy of it.
Gladys Nilsson graduated from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and has had over fifty one woman exhibitions, including numerous shows at Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland; and San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been included in hundreds of group exhibitions, at museums such as Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago; Block Museum, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; Whitney Museum of Art, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, IL; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Scotland; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, In 2004, she won the William A. Patton Prize for Watercolor at the National Academy Museum, NY; and has had National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1974 and 1989. Her work is included in many museum and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum Modern Kunst, Vienna, Austria; Milwaukee Art Museum; New Orleans Museum of Art; Phoenix Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC.
Eleanor Spiess-Ferris: Narrative!
October 1-November 1,2012
Eleanor Spiess-Ferris’s vision is a dark one in which images are surreally combined, using scale, space distortion, varied point of view, and metaphoric symbolism to convey her imaginative illusions. Garrett Holg writes, in his essay in Spiess-Ferris’s show catalogue, The Magpie Chronicles, that she creates “symbolic narratives, densely encoded with suggestion and meaning. Each image carries, many, varied and often contradictory connotations, which the artist readily welcomes into the reading of her paintings.” Spiess-Ferris also uses strongly intense colors and luminous glazing of transparent oils to enhance her narrative, setting her distorted figures against sometimes dark, foreboding landscapes or spaces.
Spiess-Ferris uses autobiography to inspire her imagery, using symbols from her Spanish-New Mexican heritage, as well as numerous other sources, including Catholic and Mexican retablos. At first glance, we may not be aware of Spiess-Ferris’s references. Thus, we interpret her imagery through our own personal lens. As a result of her enigmatic images, her art asks questions rather than provides answers. Interpretation can take many forms, as her images create suggestions that exist beyond the world that we physically know. Spiess-Ferris draws us into an elusive, imaginary world that allows us to make our own associations and connections to her work. Every symbol used in the work is open to our own interpretation, and is only slightly contextualized by her elusive titles.
Eleanor Spiess-Ferris was originally from New Mexico and graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums nationally, including at Printworks Gallery, Chicago; Cultural Center, Chicago; Elmhurst College, IL; Zaks Gallery, Chicago, IL; Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL; Rockford Art Museum, IL and in many other solo and group exhibitions. Spiess-Ferris has works in the collections of various museums, including the Block Museum at Northwestern University, the Portland Museum of Art and the Racine Art Museum in WI. She has been the recipient of several Illinois Arts Council Fellowships and an Arts Midwest Fellowship grant.
John Pitman Weber: Narrative!
October 1-November 1,2012
John Weber is widely known as a mural painter; for over thirty-five years, he has worked creating public murals, many of which were created as community projects. In mural making, fragments of images are combined and then unified into one larger image that communicates an idea or theme. These fragments often include shifts in scale or transitions in time set against an overall monumental figure or scene. The long-time design of such murals becomes a way of seeing and of pulling together images into a larger whole in an approach that allows for suggested associations between images. Murals also use narrative in their structure in order to tell a story or convey an idea that must be easily accessible to its viewers.
Weber, in his studio work, has applied the process of mural-making to his studio work, but has transformed it into a personalized non-linear narrative style.
As much as we define a memory through visual snippets, Weber paints a combination of fragments, each triggering our recollection of our own experiences. From rectangle to rectangle, a shift in scale, intimacy, viewpoint, and detail occurs. This device invites us to engage in making the emotional and subjective connections between image as our minds fill in the blanks and attempt to conjoin these fragments.
In both his drawings and paintings, Weber gives us passionate brushwork and drawn gesture to enhance the emotional content and impact of the work. His hand is evident in the making of the work, so that we feel a direct connection to his intentions and content.
Best known as a public artist, John Pitman Weber has also been active in the studio painting, drawings, printmaking, making collages and ceramic reliefs for over 40 years. Weber has participated in major international and national travelling shows, including the Museum of Modern Art’s “Committed to Print,” the Jewish Museum’s “Bridges and Boundaries,” “Kunst und Krieg” 1989, Berlin; He is represented in, among many, the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Spertus Museum; the DePaul University Museum; and the Brauer Museum of Valparaiso U.; He has had over 30 solo shows, including five in New York City.
In his public work, Weber has led and co-led mosaic, concrete relief, and painted murals for over 40 years, in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Paris, France, Managua, Nicaragua, and smaller cities in Georgia, Iowa, and England.
Weber co-founded the Chicago Mural Group (now Chicago Public Art Group) with the late William Walker in 1970-71. He authored, with Eva and James Cockcroft Toward A People’s Art (Dutton, 1977), the classic account of the early years of the contemporary mural movement, reissued in 1998 in an expanded edition by U. of New Mexico Press.
Regular hours during exhibitions:
Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday evenings: 5 - 7 p.m.
By appointment, phone (708) 709-3636
Christopher Art Gallery Director
Prairie State College
THE CHRISTOPHER ART GALLERY
Named for its generous donors, Bob and Marty Christopher. The Christopher Art Gallery is located on the main campus of Prairie State College. The gallery hosts six to eight shows per year, featuring local, regional and national artists, as well as student works. The Prairie State College Foundation oversees gallery operations. Gallery Director, Beth Shadur, recommends programming and often acts as curator for shows.
Programming varies by media, theme, and artists represented. However, there are several annual exhibitions:
A Spring exhibit showcases the work of talented high school students in District 515. PSC faculty jury this show and select awards.
The May show features the work of graduating PSC art students.
The August/September show highlights the portfolio of a PSC student who receives designation as the "Photographer-of-the-Year." Superior works by PSC art students in graphic communications, photography, and fine art are also exhibited.
Each year, the Christopher Art Gallery features a juried show of regional artists. The theme and exact dates of the exhibit change every year.