Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Communists at the Palette and Chisel

After 6 months
of hard labor
Misha Livshulz
(who was never a Communist,
but is liberal and progressive socially)
is finally ready
to move the above painting
into the gallery
that he built for it
atop his home in Skokie.

The artist was his father,
Chaim Livchitz ,
and Misha, himself, posed for the figure
of the young man in the lower left hand corner.

Other characters depicted
include, of course, Vladimir Lenin
and Felix Dzerzhinsky
two of the most notorious
mass murderers of the 20th Century.

But it's a good painting, anyway,
isn't it ?

First version, now in the Belarus State Art Museum
oil on linen

The event being depicted
is the meeting of the first Soviet Congress
in St. Petersburg
in June, 1917,
4 months before the Bolsheviks
would stage the October Revolution
that threw Russia into civil war,
and eventually give birth
to the U.S.S.R.
whose entire 70 year reign of terror
fits entirely within the 115 years
of the Palette and Chisel.

Is it possible
to beat swords into paint brushes?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grace Lai 1927-2010

(flinty-eyed portrait by Richard Schmid)

I'm not really sure why Grace Lai
ever joined the Palette and Chisel.

She didn't use the workshops,
she didn't rent one of the studios,
and she never did a one-person show
in the gallery.

Perhaps she just figured that
almost every other graduate
from the American Academy came here,
so why not her?

Or... maybe she found some company here
among all the others who practice
the world's loneliest profession.


I remember her
as the most friendly face in the crowd
back when we used to have
quarterly meetings that actually decided things.

And to exemplify
her extraordinarily eccentric nature...
I think she actully liked me!

Here are the reproductions of hers
that we have posted
above the kitchen counter.

(where I can see them
while chopping onions
for the next drawing marathon)

And here's a detail
that I think
her buoyant spirit.

More of her work can be found here

And her fascinating life story is presented here

And here is the museum in Milwaukee
that ought to exhibit at least one of her paintings of "men at work"
(which is the theme of the Grohmann Museum)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Exhibit: Amanda Johnson

Not many
Palette and Chisel members
look this good
in a bathing suit!

(and please note:
she's holding a paint brush,
not a riding crop)

Amanda Johnson was born in Woodriff, Wisconsin. She graduated in 2005 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in fine arts. She lived and studied in New York City, Paris, Prague and India where she gained inspiration and techniques that she has incorporated into her various paintings and murals. After graduation, for a brief period, she mainly sold her work online and reached hundreds over the world and collectors in over 15 countries.

In 2008 she trained with realist painters including renowned Arts Students League instructor, David Leffel at the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. She began experimenting with the chiaroscuro technique, an art form dating back to the Renaissance that expressed light and shadow.

However, not being one to merely imitate painting techniques put down in text books... the foundation of her work shows an immense spirit of creativity and expression that is uniquely her own.

Amanda resides in the city of Chicago and routinely paints en plein air (outdoor/on sight painting) around the city.

Artists who have influenced her work include Turner, the contemporary Russian painter Nikolai Blokhin, the French Impressionists, Dutch and Italian Masters and many more.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Collecting American Art

Back when the founding members
of the Palette and Chisel
were gathering in Lorado Taft's studio,
his friend, Robert Vonnoh,
was the hottest painter in town.

They had met each other in Paris,
and Vonnoh went on to teach
at the Philadelphia Academy
(his students included
Robert Henri, John Sloan, and William Glackens)

Vonnoh came to Chicago
to show his paintings at the
Columbian Exposition of 1893,
and got so many portrait commissions
he stuck around until 1899.

Nine of those commissions
are now slumbering in the basement
of the Chicago Historical Society.

But one of them,
the above portrait of young
Jerome Orrel Eddy,
is now on display at
Madron Gallery
where it comes from the collection
of one Val Yachik,
of the Palette and Chisel Academy.

(And it's one of the best paintings
in the show)

this is the last chance
you will ever have
to see a retrospective
of this painter,
and it is definitely worth
the two mile stroll
from our studio.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

African American Painting

Or -- perhaps this exhibit
should have been called:

"Painting Poor African Americans"

(since the two P&C members who participated
are only African
in the sense
that all of humanity is,
and none of their subjects
would have ever appeared
on the Cosby Show)

Tim Leeming

The exhibit takes place
in the Murphy Hill Gallery
on the third floor of the
old Sears building

Can you guess
that Tim
works as a public defender
on his day job?

Are these portraits
of all the men
this young man
allegedly murdered?

Mary Qian

Mary has a fan club
that attends all her exhibitions.

Here's Errol Jacobson,
(who has collected 9 of her pieces)
possibly auditioning
to pose for her next portrait.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Barton Faist Joins the Club

Lots of people
have been joining
the Palette and Chisel lately.

the number of full-dues
members is at an all-time high
of about 255.

But, I'm signalling out Barton Faist
for mention
because he's one of those artists
who would have qualified for membership
back when qualifications were needed.
(above are some of his portraits)

...and because he has forgotten
more about the history of Chicago artists
than I will ever learn.

Above are the Ric Riccardo murals
he has for sale
(he's something of a dealer)

Barton was active
in the attempt to keep
Tree Studios as an artist colony
and later,
to keep the Three Arts Club
as an artist residence.

So he has many sad tales
to tell of what happens
when an art instititution
is not owned and run by its membership.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Exhibit: Timothy Rees

Can you believe
this guy
has been studying art
for only 12 months?

And that the only
formal instruction he's had
was a 3-day workshop
with Jeremy Lipking ?

(in addition to the diligent study
of Richard Schmid's Alla Prima )

I suppose the stylistic connections
are obvious.

But what a quick study he is!

He pulls these strong compositions
he's been doing it his entire life.

And where else
would a young genius
from Arizona go
other than to Chicago
so he can paint and draw
at the Palette and Chisel.

his work
is a little too derivative.

But hey,
he's got
another six decades
to develop his own style.

the model depicted above
has her own website
where she posts images
of the many fine paintings
for which she posed.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Stephan in South-east Asia

Tired of the dark, damp, cold days
of Chicago Winter?

Then bask in these images
of south-east Asia that Stephan Giannini
has been painting recently
as he wanders around
those tropical parts of the world

Has anyone else noticed
that Stephan
just keeps getting better and better?

Maybe a few nights
of sleeping on the beach
would do us all some good