Monday, June 12, 2017

Visiting Bo Zhang's Studio

I've always liked Bo's monumental portraits as he works on them at the Palette and Chisel, so I'd thought I'd visit his studio in Bridgeport to see some more.

As Bo tells it, he first visited the Palette and Chisel around 1988 to meet Richard Schmid. But he did not know enough English to speak with him, and he did not yet realize that he could paint there.

Here's the studio.  The ceiling is low, but he has cut though it in several places -- and the daylight pours in.  He's still working on that painting in the center -- the set-up for the model is to the left.

Here are two of his pieces that received recognition from the Oil Painters of America

Regretfully this model, one of my favorites, has moved on to a different career.

One might notice that mostly Bo paints young, attractive women.

This piece was painted as a two-hour demo in a gallery in San Francisco.

This is one of my favorite pieces -- it's a bit melancholy -- and very Russian.

Bo's models seem to be contemplating eternity -- or, maybe that's just how it feels to hold still for twenty-five minutes.

A nice arrangement -- though my favorite detail is the Palette and Chisel chair -- which I've probably drawn about a thousand times over the past twenty years.

This is a commissioned portrait that Bo has  begun

I like the emotion of this painting -- though it does not feel as if the girl has ever played the instrument she is holding.

Bo, who has also practiced wood carving, has a collection of tribal wood carvings from around the world.

He seems to be something like an artist/priest.  He lives for his vocation - and like those three Tang Dynasty Buddhist sculptures seated in the main hallway of the Art Institute, his work offers peace, strength, and resilience.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Summer Suite: 2017

Audry Cramblit

This pieces recalls the mass and planes of cubist sculpture.

Is Audry's sculpture going in a new direction?

Bodo Stolczenberger

Bodo uses a ladder as an easel for his life-size sketches.

This one is quite dramatic

 Cortney Rutkauskas

I think this marks the Palette and Chisel debut of this Michigan artist.

Lenis Del Sol

I'm told that Lenin did this portrait in a single, three-hour sitting.

It's one of my favorites of his.

Ralph Paquet

Mary Klug
"Actually, They aren't that Great at Making the Children Laugh"

.. but Mary is quite good at getting me to do so.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Alex and Shimon Zonis

Parent/child exhibitions are fascinating -- especially this one where the daughter, Alex, is so different from the father, Shimon.


Alex really is an incredible painter - both for the jewel-like craftsmanship, but also for the design (aren't those red and yellow cups beautiful?) -- and the weird, brittle, vulnerable feeling that these pieces give me.

They are disarming - like the screeching sound of chalk pulled across a chalkboard.

There's so much intensity - anxiety - and control.

They remind me of my favorite Wisconsin magical-realist, John Wilde.


This piece won the "best still life" award at the 11th Annual Juried Show sponsored by the International Guild of Realism.

Here is a landscape by her father, Shimon

These fantasy landscapes feel so middle-eastern  to me -- like they might illustrate a tale  from Arabian Nights or the Shahnameh.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring Sale 2017

There's so much hopeless drek in the Palette and Chisel bargain sales, you'd think that artists would be embarrassed to be included.

Unless, of course, you feel that your piece will look so much better by comparison.

Here's a table for the work of two long-time sculptor members,  Roger Akers and myself.

Andrew Conklin

This would be an ordinary Chicago cityscape - except for that nifty geoform abstract painting that has sneaked in behind the tree on the right.

That red rectangle is haunting, isn't it?

Andrew Conklin

Making the ordinary feel mysterious.

Kathleen Eaton

There were two wonderful little landscapes in this show
 that scream out "I love painting" as well as "I love the planet"

Kimberly Beck
The white of that barn is so delicious against the colorful trees.
It's early morning -- and I can smell the bacon frying.


Tor Muehl

As it turns out, Tor stumbled upon his true medium last year:  linocut  -- wherein he combines two of  his Teutonic obsessions:  precise mark making and a love of animals.

The piece at the top features a cactus he sketched at the Garfield Conservatory.

The piece beneath it comes from a display he drew at the Field Museum.

Shouldn't it's design be etched into a glass plate made by Steuben Glass ?

Monday, March 06, 2017

Gold Medal 2017

Michael Van  Zeyl

This celebration of contemporary childhood is my pick for this year's Gold Medal.

Half real and half virtual.   

It's kinda funny -- and kinda ominous - with a strange, other-worldly glow.           
(winner - 2017 Gold Medal Award)                      

Stuart Fullerton

Another Fullerton ice queen is my pick for Second Place.  She is cold but gentle -- and her apartment is probably very well kept.

Kimberly Beck

This dramatic portrait is my pick for Third Place.  Something is weighing heavily on her mind.
She's about to make an adult decision.

Lenore Murphy

There's a lot of hope in these simple yet beautiful flowers.

Phyllis Brodny

I would have given this sensuous maelstrom an award -- if the Palette and Chisel were dedicated to abstract instead of figurative art.

George C. Clark

Claudia Selene

Seems to be an illustration for a fairy tale:  Once upon a time a handsome young prince was turned into a mouse....

Clayton Beck III
(winner : Third Place)


Andrew Conklin


Helen Oh

A Dutch treat.

James Kujaca

Jim's bedroom is almost as rockin' as Van Gogh's.

Jose Antonio Bedolla


A possible heroine for young adult fiction.

(winner : Second Place)

Lenin Del Sol

Margaret Small

Echoes of Picasso's pink period.

M. Abbott Tryboyevic

I comprehend how the corkscrew relates to the cork - but am puzzled by everything else in this image

Nancie King Mertz

Nathan Silver

My favorite piece from his recent show.


Soko Okada

Definitely not the male gaze upon a nude young woman.

Stephanie Weidner

A profoundly troubling painting - though I'm not sure why.

Perhaps it's the thought that these ancient creatures will be around long after the big brained apes have driven themselves to extinction.