Sep 9, 2009

Alan Emerson Hicks

Recently viewed at a open-studio reception, Alan Emerson Hicks' new body of work combines the repetitive process-driven traditions of such fiber-art forms as basketry and weaving, with the 'new materials' movement of contemporary art to use non-traditional material as the art medium. The artist focuses on the plastic left-overs from our endlessly consumptive society. In the Safety Tower series, he takes the most innocuous of items, the 'safety rings' that are now attached to the bottom of bottle caps to deter and detect tampering, and transforms them into elegant towers of sublime shapes, evoking the basketry traditions of many cultures, but also pointing to a uniquely modern convocation of consumer culture.

In "Chipped Vessel", Alan Emerson Hicks takes used potato chip and other snack bags, and, with fishing line and cable ties, transforms them into rings that again create tower-like forms of subtle complexity and beauty. The seeming weakness of the material is turned surprisingly resilient, somewhat like Buckminster Fuller's famous geodesics. The same alchemy is performed with trash bags in the "Baghdad Tower" series, creating droopy stalagmite-like forms.

In "Babel", plastic caps from various products, as well as the odd plastic toy, create a column of dot-like forms that speak to both recycling ethics and the plastic palette of our modern culture. The form mirrors the roundness of the caps and the vessels from they come. Topped with a ring of white caps, much like a bubbling head of froth on a beer, the shape of the work is hollow, creating tension by being both 'full' and 'empty'. The use of occasional toys and bright colors creates a fun atmosphere, in contrast to the artwork's refined aesthetic nature.

Alan Emerson Hicks has focused this new work not just on recycled 'left-overs' but all plastic materials, sometimes pairing a visual vibrancy with actual dynamic movement. A new version of his work "Video Column" takes the outmoded material of video tape and transforms it into a tendril-like ceiling-high column of black reflections that billow softly like a sea creature, due to a cleverly hidden fan. The sculpture "Ice" takes white clothes hangers and turns them into a gigantic diamond shape, which spins continually with a motor, creating a piece that is at once aesthetically commanding and intellectually funny.  Always maintaining a sense of both beauty and intellectual rigor, Alan Emerson Hicks's artwork is both satisfying and surprising.

From Top: Babel, 2009; Ice, 2009; Safety Tower Sans White, 2009;  
Video Column II, 2009; Chipped Vessel, 2009

Alan's work can be seen at Crazy 8 Art

Aug 25, 2009

Emerson Studio Open House

Emerson Studio Open House
(The Studio of Alan Emerson Hicks)
August 29, 2009
6:00pm - 10:00pm

Studio located inside
JK Chicago
1800 W Cuyler
Chicago, IL
(773) 501-7730

Jul 30, 2009

Marya Veeck

Marya Veeck creates elaborate and beautifully detailed tableaus of dollhouse furniture, natural objects, and old toys that reveal elliptic metaphors of submerged feelings. Her skillful renderings of objects forgotten and small, place us in a world as detailed as a novel and as personal as a memory. Her oil paintings create a sense of inner radiance, as scintillating colors emerge from the edges of objects, glinting from behind their surfaces, in a manner that suggests an undeniable vital or life force animating seemingly inanimate objects. The glow of florescent color keys the viewer to the objects' metaphoric strength, and gives the viewer an altered emotional perception.

Veeck's paintings are part autobiographical, but with the names and places changed into wind-up birds and wooden toy clowns, dried seed pods and antique farm implements. Broken winged birds and dollhouses point, perhaps, to emotional losses and childhood environments, tiny cages and chairs to relationships stilted and supportive. Never overt, Veeck's paintings reveal their moods slowly, with everything cloaked in their own hidden significance, creating moods alternately wistful, nostalgic, and ebullient. Marya Veeck recreates the classic still-life into a unique snapshot of memories, as emotionally and densely narrative as her fascinatingly detailed picture plane.

Find Marya Veeck's gallery on line at:

Images- from top:
"We Had Some Good Machines But They Don't Work No More"
"Calling Up Childhood at Will"
"deail of Calling Up Childhood at Will"
"Etui Woman"

Jul 18, 2009

Other Sites by Jason Messinger

If you enjoy Artists Of Chicago,
you might also enjoy these sites
- news and notes of artist Jason Messinger
- short fantasy fiction, poetry, and biographical essays
by writer and artist Jason Messinger
- the main site for Jason Messinger;
including full gallery of artwork both sold and available,
links to other sites, CV/bio, and more
- a virtual Gallery of several Chicago area artists

Thanks for following!

Jul 14, 2009

Absolute Fantasy @ Mars Gallery, featuring Alan Emerson Hicks

Absolute Fantasy
Artwork by Alan Emerson Hicks,
Sean Williams, and Sabina Cosic.
Curated by Susan Aurinko of FLATFILE galleries

Opening Reception
Friday, July 24
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Mars Gallery
1139 W. Fulton Ave., Chicago, IL
Show runs July 24-August 22, 2009

Shown: ETMMMVII20088K
(Emerson Time Machine) by Alan Emerson Hicks

"Time machines are conceptual sculptures built biannually. They are created in odd numbered years and displayed the following even numbered year. They are a part of the "temporal sculpture" series (sculptures with a time element). Time machines are partially audience participatory. The viewer is given the opportunity to sit on or stand in front of the piece and have a temporal experience with it. A reel of video tape is destroyed during this experience which will eventually get used on the piece."

Jun 30, 2009

Kass Copeland

Kass Copeland's work at first blush may remind one of the seminal artworks of Joseph Cornell; assemblages in a box format with a keen sense of intimacy and nostalgia built into their varied old-time photographs and engravings, subtly moving parts, and motifs of birds and night skies. But Kass Copeland's works are not mere imitations, but are aspects of a richly created world-view that in some ways is more accessible and more nuanced than Joseph Cornell's.

Many motifs run through her work, mournful black and white or subtly tinted daguerreotypes, antique parts from an earlier industrial age, finely crafted wooden boxes and chests with doors that open and hinges that swing, birds and feathers and insects, hands and rings, tattered text and exposed watch parts, and eyes - eyes that look back at the viewer with a vulnerable expressiveness that lies at the core of Copeland's work.

While Cornell's assemblages were often so specific to be coolly abstract in their meanings, Copeland never fails to create an emotional resonance with her viewer. Longing, loneliness, joy, sorrow, nostalgia, melancholy, wistfulness, hopefulness all find their voice in her astounding body of work. Kass Copeland's color palette tends toward a restrained range of earth tones, subtle tints, gold and silver, dark rich reds and ambers, and beautiful woods. But her emotional palette is complex and complete, drawing the viewer immediately into her cleverly devised constructions, then lingering far more in one's memory, like a wistful old song that keeps playing in your head, long after one has heard it.

Image titles, from top, all works by Kass Copeland;
The Bird Watcher, 2008,
The Peace Machine, 2008,
Leon's Gold, 2008,
Inter-Dimensional Peepholes, 2009

Find Kass Copeland's gallery on line at:

Jun 10, 2009

3-D 12 Artists Exhibit at South Haven Center for the Arts

NOW Sculpture Exhibit: June 19 - July 26

"While exhibiting at various venues, the Chicago-based 3-D 12 artists have identified their commonly held environmental interests and concerns. Their personal perceptions on the issue cover as broad a range as their materials of choice. Decomposed lost and found objects, recycled plastic and metal, salvaged scrap wood, earth and water are some materials which are effectively reconfigured to translate their ideas into physical forms. The sculptural works take on subjective and collective meaning to contribute to a genuine meta-landscape."

The 3-D 12 artists are: Shelley Gilchrist, Peter Gray, Alan Emerson Hicks, Ruyell Ho, Beth Kamhi, Jim MacRoberts, Bill Moll, Mimi Peterson, Robert Putnam, Eric H. Steele, and Michelle Stone.

top: new work by Alan Emerson Hicks, plastic, 2009
bottom: new work by Beth Khami, ceramic, metal, 2009

NOW Sculpture, featuring 3-D 12
June 19 - July 26
South Haven Center for the Arts
600 Phoenix St, South Haven, MI 49090

NOW Sculpture @ South Haven Arts

South Haven Center for the Arts

Alan Emerson Hicks

Beth Khami

May 6, 2009

Nancy Pirri

Artist Nancy Pirri sculpts women from clay that evoke lost histories and mythic pasts. Focusing on traditional classical female forms, Pirri brings the curvaceous nature of the female body forward, creating works that are both sensual and enticing. The artist uses a variety of thickly applied glazes with rough and uneven textures. The forms are sometimes truncated and given torn edges and distressed surfaces to create a sense of rawness and antiquity. Her newest work transfers these classical images into painterly applications on classic vessel-forms.

Pirri references the sculptural and vessel-form vernaculars of many disparate cultures in her worldly women. Evoking the past through the uses of fragmented forms and rich surfaces, the women are vaulted into archtypes of noble strength and timeless beauty, like the venerated icons of a goddess cult, or portrayals of a long-lost empress-queen. Ceramic is a medium paradoxically having both seeming fragility as well as a lasting durability that can outlive the cultures that produce it. By harkening to the forms of the past, Nancy Pirri gives her own work the durable strength and the regal power of the best examples of classical sculptures and vessels.

You can see Nancy's work at her website:

and at an upcoming exhibit this month:

'Serene La Femme' ~ Celebrating the Female Form

This collection of work is a contemporary twist on the timeless beauty of the female form as a muse, featuring innovative techniques in platinum photography by Ted Preuss, ceramic methods and figurative sculpture by Audry Cramblit and Nancy Pirri, and paintings by Mary Qian.

Show will exhibit for 10 days.

A percentage of sales will be donated to Chicago’s Union League Civic & Arts Foundation.

Where: The Palette & Chisel ~ 1012 North Dearborn • Chicago, IL 60610 (map it)

Opening Reception: Friday, May 29, 2009 • 6 to 10pm

Open House: Saturday, May 30, 2009 • 1 to 6pm

Closing Reception: Sunday, June 7, 2009 • 2 to 6pm

UnTwelve Concert: Saturday, June 6, 2009 - 8:00pm ~ UnTwelve ensemble featuring special guest guitarist Dante Rosati.

Mar 25, 2009


Scrap artist Danny Mansmith combines disparate elements in fabric, paper, photography, and thread into structural forms and tableaux. Danny Mansmith connects the unrelated

into a new conglomerate whole, building figures and structures with a visual syntax uniquely his own. Utilizing scrap papers and fabrics, Mansmith stitches pieces together into elaborate patchwork surfaces. The works are embellished with scrolling stitching in contrasting threads, which veer from frenzied embellishments into map tracery into loose landscapes into elongated-forms. Creating both recognizable shapes and obscured patterns, Mansmith constructs flat and three-dimensional forms both figurative and abstract. He also creates clothing and wearable art, unique accessories, and everyday objects that are anything but everyday. His looping gestural figures curl out of their silhouettes; while the pendulous abstract forms erupt in threaded exclamations. His sculptural objects subvert our expectations in their impossible materials and crazy patchwork surfaces. Mansmith brings exuberant joy to the everyday by rearranging the old into new and the common into the extraordinary. One of my personal artistic heroes.

Find his gallery on line at:
Danny Mansmith

and purchase work directly through his Etsy store at:
Danny Mansmith on Etsy

Mar 5, 2009

Julie Wishmeyer

Julie Wishmeyer follows individual pursuits in her expressive work while keeping a universal sense of beauty at her creative core. Wishmeyer melds the pop imagery of modern life with the traditions of ancient cultures into portraits of womanhood and beauty. Using beads, plastic doo-daws, and other seemingly 'cheap' materials, she creates tension between the viewer's expectations and the Barouqe beauty of each piece. Her sequin paintings combine the vernacular of feminine dress with themes of high-art history and emotional expression. Her tribal-like masks and sculptures encrust their forms with baubles of our time and her mirror series takes the female gaze into the idealized forms of childhood. Inspired by Pop art and consumer culture, Julie Wishmeyer shares a vision that is singular and inspired.

Find locations for her work at her website:
Julie Wishmeyer

Feb 22, 2009


Anne Leuck Feldhaus paints vibrant scenes bursting with energetic colors and unrestrained exuberance. Dogs, cats, cars, flowers, kites, birds, planes, trees, homes, roads, and starry skies jump and dance with their own innate animation. Using crisp bold colors and a signature graphic style, Anne conjures a world of joy and whimsy with every subject she touches. She captures the contemporary urban world with a folk style of representation and an eye-popping sensibility.

While at first glance Anne's work appears almost cartoon-like, her art reveals a true sophistication in composition, color palettes, and narrative skill. Simple strokes and flat color applications stand in poised tension to her ability to create incredibly detailed spatial structures and indelibly immediate feelings of bliss. Viewers are universal in their acclaim for her ability to transform simple shapes into resonant emotions.

Her work can be see at her website: Annes Art

Or follow her Blog: Annes Art Blog

Feb 15, 2009


Izzo paints fantastic images on printed-pattern fabric. The pre-existing patterns become the departure point for wild paintings that bridge foreground with background, abstraction with representation, and the flat plane with spatial depth. He alternately embellishes and obscures the existing patterns, pulling some elements forward, hiding others under his layered paint. Building up small dots and spirals of bright fabric paints against larger planes and shafts of twisting color, Izzo creates visual explosions of pattern and light. Izzo embraces the accidental and organic into his process. Energy - connections - transformation - emotion; these are the concerns that the artist expresses in joyful exuberance. In the same way that a child pulls pictures out of the clouds, artist Izzo pulls new images out of the matrix of pattern on found fabrics, and brings wonder into our eyes.

Izzo's art can be seen at Crazy 8 Art

Feb 10, 2009


"Judas Kiss" by James Kuhn

James Kuhn
is a multi-faceted artist who works in many mediums. While no longer living in Chicago, his work has long been seen and collected in this city. Currently he is creating a series of painted face portraits, where his head and face literally become the canvas for inventive and whimsical paintings. Reviewed here are the artist's "Paint Mosiacs". These works bridge the spiritual truths of the artist's faith with the physical reality of those same traditions. Using the stories from the Old and New Testament Bibles, Kuhn creates cunning narratives that transform the viewer with their ecstatic vision of the teaming energy and spirit infusing all life. The artist's method begins by making a richly painted scene on canvas. Then he covers sheets of thick watercolor paper with paint and cuts them into hundreds of pieces which are layered onto the original painting, glued down into a vision of vibrating colors and pulsating forces. These mosaic compositions evolve with organic abandon, and show a fierce intensity of passion and energetic expression. Kuhn renders immediate and visual what is ultimately eternal and immaterial.

James Kuhn's biblical works can be seen at Crazy 8 Art

Feb 4, 2009


Edward Master
paints and draws intricately ornamented designs and shapes with a wide variety of mediums on an array of differing papers, then cuts and assembles them into complex tapestries of pattern and structure. With embroidery thread stitched joints, and organically and complexly shaped edges, these very large-scaled two-dimensional pieces convey an astounding multidimensional surface. The work switches rapidly from seeming vast vistas and aerial views to depictions of the tiniest decorative fringe. Developing themes from his continuing series of oil paintings, these works reference architectural and natural motifs, along with the traditional and decorative arts of many cultures, and point to the pictorial graphic renditions of preliterate societies. Astounding in their complexity and extremely stimulating to the eye, Master's work is at once beautiful and rich, and is both vast and intimate.

Edward's work can be seen at Crazy 8 Art

Feb 1, 2009


Alan Emerson Hicks
uses found objects and plastic detritus to create compelling vignettes. In his hands the flotsam and jetsam of the modern world are woven into strange flowers and tribal emblems, iconic people and creative abstractions. Ephemeral materials are laced into tightly corseted structures of wild complexity. Lightboxes under sculptural works show the translucent glowing qualities of these transformed materials, creating an spiritual quality to the works. Heating and stretching plastic clothes hangers and bottles turns the most common items into new vibrant forms; a naked man, an army of soldiers, an emotive face. The artist voices his unique perspective with a fearless use of materials that transforms the modern world's everyday objects of dull invisibility into bright bouquets of startling singularity.

Alan's work can be seen at Crazy 8 Art


Joey Wozniak
unleashes spiritual energy, layering color and shape against compositional agitation and pulsating forces. Using thickly applied oil paints, Wozniak pulls, scrapes and layers vibrant colors to create densely rendered tapestries that expose an underlying energy bursting below the surface. Flowers strewn through his work evoke Dionysian rites of fecundity and fertility, while also serving as the purest signifiers of beauty. Forgotten gods, gigantic flowers, misty cities, and costumed characters misplaced in time populate his paintings. Rich with references to both classical art and tribal imagery from a wide sampling of cultures from ancient to modern, Wozniak constructs his own unique post-modern vernacular. Bridging a physical approach to the material of paint with a masterful understanding of the stimulus of color, Wozniak creates singular visions of beauty and emotion.

Joey's work can be seen at Crazy 8 Art