Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some Other Bohemian Art Clubs

Yes, believe it or not,

but the Palette and Chisel

was not the only

"Bohemian" arts club in early 20th C America

("Bohemian" in reference
not to the small country in central Europe,
but to the Romantic, playful, impoverished
artsy-ness of "La Boheme")

The Kit Kat Club (founded 1881 in NYC)

may have been the grand-daddy of them all.

I can't uncover much of its history on the internet,
since there have been quite few
"Kit Kat Clubs" over the centuries,
but obviously, they're no longer with us.

Notice the similarity to
the Palette and Chisel
publications from that period ?

(and to Roger Akers' rooftop parties?)

It's demise may have been hastened by the
departure of one of its most famous members,
(his signature is in the lower left corner)
who splintered off to
establish his own
Penguin Club in 1917.

(but I'm doubting that this
organization outlived its founder)

Meanwhile, Cleveland had it's own


Kokoon Arts Club
(founded 1911)

(and what a swingin' place it must have been !)

Can you imagine
a more provocative image
for America
in 1930 ?

They had some pretty good artists, didn't they ?

And, like the Palette and Chisel,
they were even able to purchase
their own building (in 1930)

But, alas,
they are no longer with us either.

(they folded in the 1950's - as
unlike the Palette and Chisel,
they were not able to transition
from avant garde to rear garde.

Avant garde artists don't need
an art club any more,
they just need a gallery -
and a faculty position
at a university)

So now,

(as if you needed to be reminded)

the Palette and Chisel stands alone

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Richard Schmid Demo

Here's a scene from the Richard Schmid demo from last month,
the handsome model is Clayton Beck III ,
a former student of the artist,
and currently a popular teacher both here in Chicago
and around the country.

Reportedly, this portrait is finished -
except for a few last minute touch-ups applied the next day.

(The demo raised about $4,000 for the Academy,
all of it being applied
to repair the soffit below the northern
edge of the roof.)

By the way,
here's another depiction of Clayton,
done, presumably, when the two artists
spent a day painting landscapes together.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mary Qian Going West

(painting by Scott Tallman Powers)

Well... it's happened many times before,
quite a few of our
early members
went West to seek their fortune

and now

Mary Qian

will be following her dream,
crossing the Mississippi River,
and heading out to Silicon Valley

to Studio Escalier

to learn how to paint like this

(i.e. something like a Siennese Mannerist )

And many good painters
have come and gone
at the Palette and Chisel
over the last 20 years

(remember Andy Conklin ?)


there was something special about Mary,
because she was so active at the club,
as monitor of the Sunday painting workshop,

and even as a member of board.
(although... all she did at the board meetings
was quicksketch the other directors)

I'd call her the ideal P&C member,
i.e. a person who is over-the-top
about making good paintings,
who takes every class,
attends all the workshops,
and helps run the organization.

And -- let's not forget that she traveled
half-way around the world
to get here.

an exemplary member,
in every way.

If only we had 10 more like her,
we would have a great academy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

J.L.S. Williams : Story of Rustem

In 1913, J.L.S. Williams
"The Story of Rustem
and Other Persian Hero Tales
from Firdusi"
by Elizabeth D. Renninger
(Charles Scribner's Sons - publisher)

"The aim of this series of stories..
for the inspiration and entertainment of children..
and to present to older boys and girls
the story of the Shah-Nameh in miniature"

But, of course,
J.L.S. was also an active member
of the Palette and Chisel,

... as may be seen with the above illustration
he made for the club's newspaper

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best of Show: 2007

Is this selection really the best ?

I'm not even sure myself.

Sometimes the photo didn't turn out so well,
sometimes the photo looks better than the painting,
sometimes I remember that I didn't like the painting,
sometimes I don't remember the painting at all,
sometimes I don't want to show too much from the same person,
sometimes I just want to show a new person who surprises me,
sometimes I realize that I'm picking painting X
because it nicely follows
painting Y


this job of selection was done very quickly,
although I remain confident that spending more time on it
would not necessarily have made it any better.

And as always -- comments are invited.

Stephan Giannini

A simple little self-portrait head,
but the volume is so strong,
it commands a space
even when,
it casually leans against the wall

Stephan Giannini

Perhaps the P&C
should open a cabin in Amsterstam
(like we used to have on Fox Lake)

What clear, sweet
sense of beauty

Stephan Giannini

The idea of the urban environment as
translucently beautiful,
how strange for those who live in Chicago

Marci Oleszkiewicz

Such a simple, quick,
and effective characterization.
This is why Marci
was born to paint

Doug Wilke

I love these self-portraits
of the Palette and Chisel,
this one looking out through
the door of the second floor studio.

(and that's the portrait of Jerry Warshaw
hanging in the hallway)

Stuart Fullerton

What a fine, Summer day in Chicago,
and there always seems to be a story
in Stuart's cityscapes,
it's never just about the streets and buildings.

Lenin Del Sol

Another strongly modeled head,
this one presenting
the playful personality
of a favorite model

Mary Qian

A different,
more dramatic,
view of the same model

Mary Qian

Did Mary study in Munich ?

This one seems
so much like the Duvenecks
I remember from home

Barb Lockhart

Maybe it's all those
empty windows and doors
that make this scene feel so lonely

Fred Wackerle

Well, someone has to be
a post-Impressionist at the Palette and Chisel

Brian Minder

I love these strange
arrangements of space
that I think only come
from painting on site

Stuart Fullerton

Again, People are the focus
in Stuart's landscape,
and they're doing something.

Isn't this young couple talking
about their future ?

Keith Raub

A very nice portrait
of the artist's wife
(herself an artist),
and I'm thinking
15th C. Dutch painting.

Susan Gredell "Sunrise"

I like paintings that give me
a sense of being somewhere, some time

Alison Finnegan

And I like the light-hearted,

David Becker: Portrait of Alison Finnegan

This is quite a portrait of an artist
--- as a crouching tiger

Marci Oleszkiewicz

This one feels like people working
(I hate to work, myself,
but am glad others do)

Tim Leeming

For whatever reason,
this is just how Chicago's alleys
feel to me,
as I'm biking down them
on a Saturday afternoon

Michael Van Zeyl

It's kind of scary
how good Michael has gotten
over the past few years.

Michael Van Zeyl

Michael Van Zeyl

Yes, it's very scary.

Has he been channeling
William Merritt Chase ?

(I think there's something about Chase
visiting a P&C exhibition,
but, of course, that was before
we moved to North Dearborn)

Michael Van Zeyl

A delight in the colors and textures of the world.
Well... what a novel (pre-cubist)
idea for a still life !

Romel De La Torre

Another P&C member who was born to paint.
The portrait is statuesque,
and the flowers are worthy of
being a still-life on their own

Tom Francesconi

And what medium is better than watercolor
to express the feeling of a very wet day ?

With the rain falling, the sun shining,
and the people hurrying,
this moment feels so transitory

Michael Van Zeyl

Gosh dad, do I still have to hold still ?

Michael Van Zeyl

Marci Oleszkiewicz

The artist as hero.
I like it.

(this is a portrait of
Moissei Liangleben)

Scott Powers

This is one of those frozen moment paintings,
when you expect the spell to be broken,
and people to suddenly start moving again

Diane Rath

I think Diane does the Club's best florals.
Her blooms have personality,
a mature personality,
confident in their sensuality
(and just on the brink
of wilting)

Marci Oleszkiewicz

This isn't a "male gaze" is it ?

It belongs in a larger painting with
a coming-of-age theme


maybe to illustrate
that kind of novel

Stuart Fullerton


Adam - stricken with shame,
driven from the Garden

I can' t remember anyone else in the club
who puts their nudes
into a moral crisis

Leslie Dinelli

Are those little wings on her back ?

I can't remember - but I hope so.

What greater sign of the supernatural
than this large figure getting airborne
on those tiny wings.

Lois Raub

Worthy of Roman portraiture.
(note: Lois is depicted by husband,
earlier in this post)

Rich Bloomfield

Why must every nude be sensual ?

There's not much angst at the P&C
(except perhaps in the board meetings)

Larry Paulsen

This would be a nice detail
in the margins of an illustrated
recording the history of the Palette and Chisel

Janel Rouge

Chris Miller

Audrey Cramblitt

I guess I'm tongue tied
regarding me
and my fellow sculptors

Pablo Deleon

It's only some dry leaves and a pot,
but it seems to inhabit a mysterious world
that's different from all the other
still-lifes at the club

Marci Oleszkiewicz

Showing that Marci
can paint religious pictures
if the opportunity arrives

Jim Kujaca

A cheerful little bedroom
(but I'd like to see the figure on the bed!)

Jack Bair

This has the kind of rough, half-wild feeling
of Midwestern landscape paintings
from about 1870

Diane Rath

I always feel that Diane's flowers are elegant ladies,
and here they are
chattering with other
outside a church after a wedding

Dominic Vignola

A meticulous self-portrait
done by the paints and brushes themselves
(and the brushes are quite proud of themselves)

Cynthia Johnson

Who would have thought
to paint something like this
(whatever it is)