Saturday, March 07, 2020

Gold Medal Show - 2020

Stacey Street - Gold Medal award

I admit that this one slipped right past me-
much as I enjoy her cheerful, upbeat visions

Pat Brutchin

This was my pick for the gold medal-
though that might just reflect
my loyalty to the sculpture group.

In person - it had the fierce presence, for me,
of the Hellenistic statuary of athletes.

Robert Cornell

I gave this one second place
because has some character to it.
(looking online,
he also did a Chicago variation
of Van Gogh's Starry Night.
I like that one, too )

Errol Jacobson
Is this Dante's Inferno ?  or Chicago at night ?
It's quite a vision.
I  gave this the third prize -
and think it got Honorable Mention

Andrew Conklin

This still life is more like a demonstration
of the kinds of surfaces that Andrew can mimic.

As an entire painting -  I'm disappointed,
but as a detail,
the parts are amazing.

Kuhn Hong, "Anatomy Lab"
Perhaps not a great painting,
but I love the subject matter:
the Wednesday night corpse drawing workshop.
The poses feel lifeless,
but at least the models don't move.

Stuart Fullerton

She appears to be thirty years old
going on eighty.

Helen Oh

A charming miniature

Tim Leeming

I'm always glad to see Tim's enthusiasm
for the least  attractive parts of urban life.

But isn't it time for him to move on to something
besides dumpsters ?

Jose Zendejas

Another portrait of the club's favorite Bolshevik


Here's the coach  house sculpture studio,
with Roger Akers contemplating his work.

Autone Kelly

This piece also won a medal.

It's precise - but also a bit dry.

Pascal Crucq. "Sundown on the Lake"

It's good to see Pascal back
with the kind of paintings only he can do.

Ian Paul Morrison

A charming little piece
that seems to have time traveled
from the early 19th Century.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Livshulz Family - Art of the Beautiful

Many of the pieces here also appeared in

Here's a few that I don't remember:

Chaim's wonderful cityscape from the USSR

Chaim's portrait of his wife, Misha's mother.

Looks like it came from the  high Renaissance.

A down-to-earth variation on Titian. 

Here's a room of Jacob's paintings and Misha's sculptures.

Errant busts appear so often in Jacob's fantasy worlds,
 it makes sense to put a few more on the floor beneath them.

The bust in the corner is a portrait of Jacob from thirty years ago

Misha's portrait sculpture of Chaim appears
beneath Chaim's self portrait

Chaim’s portrait of Misha from the 1980’s,
back when Misha was more like a 
People's Hero of the Soviet Union
instead of the 
Palette and Chisel coach house. 


Here's the exhibition debut of an artist from the next generation,
Jacob's son, Alexander.

Looking back to the earliest decades of  Russian Modernism,
Alexander has been strongly influenced by constructivism.

Whether he will take that style into the 22nd century,
only time will tell. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

New Years Day 2020

In Memoriam
Lee Radke

But for a fatal car crash a few days before Christmas,
Lee would have been here on New Year's Day,
just like he's been to every drawing marathon
for the past twenty-plus years.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Ascension to the Fourth Floor Lights on!

Rich Morrow's Gold Medal Artwork from 2018,
 "Ascension to the Fourth Floor Studio" 
has been donated to the academy 
and fitted with glowing lights in every window.

One of the place's permanent residents, Ratatouille,
has been added to the front yard
to enhance authenticity.

Too cute by a half?

Yes it is.

But it's at least as clever
as all the high-jinx
performed by all those early members
a hundred years ago
who also had way too much time on their hands.

And I suspect that future members will be enjoying this piece
far more than any of our paintings left on the walls
long after all of us
have been summoned up to the fourth floor.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Portraits of the Palette - 2019

Evelyn Brody

This is what you might call the Midwest aesthetic.

(and shouldn't  those two guys
be attending a tractor pull
instead of an art museum ?)

Leonid Ossining

An excitable woman,
in the tradition of Oskar Kokoscha

Paul Minnihan

And there's nothing wrong with the Midwest aesthetic
-- unless you live on one of the coasts.

Nancy King Mertz

Bananas and duct tape have been very hot
in the art market lately

Don Yang

Could serve as a recruiting poster
for a youth organization
in one of the people's republics

Anthony Bedolla

Looks like Tim was having a bad hair day!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

George Zaremba's Vietnam War Memorial

The Chicago Sun-Times has run this story about a mural 
that George Zaremba painted on a side 
of the old E Z Polish Factory 
at North Sacramento Boulevard and West Carroll Avenue.

It's  only about a mile west of the growing West Town Gallery district,
so I'll be checking it out soon.

Substitute Modeling on November 26

Cathy Buck, portrait of Tim Leeming

Mary Qian, portrait of Tim Leeming

As occasionally happens -- last Tuesday's model for the painting workshop was a no-show - so one of the artists, Tim Leeming, climbed up on the platform  to take her place.

I've done that a few times myself over the past thirty years.  One time, my physique so surprised one of the artists who arrived late that she shouted out "Eeeek -- Chris is naked!".  Another time, after delivering what I thought were challenging and dramatic poses, one of the artists complained that I didn't hold still.  Needless to say -- my enthusiasm for volunteering has cooled off.

But Tim remains a more noble and generous soul -- so he soldiered on to pose for an entire five-and-a-half hour session.

While doing so,  a poem celebrating the occasion began to gather in his mind.

It also celebrates the upcoming holiday  - suggesting, perhaps, that Tim was beginning to feel a bit peckish - as well as identifying with the poor turkey.

(if you also did a portrait of Tim at this workshop, please send an image that I can add to this post)



The scheduled model for the day
Failed to report in the garret 
Of the last remaining three-story
Walk-up Grey-stone
Which served as 
At the Art Club

15 eager members
Assembled over midweek morning coffee
And to await  inspiration from the muse
Which also may
Or may not appear

With no professional model
From among the fellowship
A reluctant recruit is chosen

And the exterior form
Of this person
Is raised above their peers
Positioned on the dais
Instructed to remain seated and still 
conspicuous and absent 
throughout the morning

This 'sitter'
Supported by cushions
With masking tape markers
For memory
Will comply with the rigors of the vigil
And sit motionless
As the North-light arches 
To the left

Until the precious light drains
Under clouds 
Bringing drizzle and drops
And the hum of steady rain  
Later in  the afternoon

At the request of the sitter
The radio is tuned to classical station
At above medium volume

Everyone there takes a few full breaths
As the conductor raises his arms
And gets busy
As the baton drops 
And bobs up and down
Back and forth
In regular swipes
To encourage the musicians
And the artists

who respond with attention
and happy labor
 throughout the day

Grim faced
Not turning away from the struggle
Running again up the familiar hill

Straining to see
Stretching bounds of perception
As if from the top of main-mast
Searching the horizon for sight of land

Taking up tools
The instruments of their craft
On paper
On canvas
On wooden palette
On glass
In pursuit of truth
To understand
To document
To honor

As the fencer wields his sword
And the orchestra strains 
Each artist will scrape, slash, dab for next five hours
With a brush
Or pencil
Or a worn nub of chalk

The background music is a century old
Rows and rows 
Of precision instruments
The sensuous bloated wooden form
 of the double bass

to  loyally present again
A Strauss waltz

The orchestra throbs
 swirls and whirls
In crescendo
Punctuated by boom 
Of tympanic kettle drums

The sitter listens
As never before
To the layers of sound
Eyes staring straight ahead
As all blurs into periphery

There tradition has been replayed
And repeated by kindred souls
For hundreds of years
Across continents

In France

For such purpose
Apples were arranged by Cezanne
The  grim 'Thinker '  leaned on his chin  for Rodin
And prostitutes sufficed for VIncent

Around the sitter
There is movement
Murmurs and hushed self rebuke
As each of those assembled
Around the sitter
Aspire to conceal
Or by chance
Reach beyond their self acknowledged limitations

The sitter sees all
And nothing
The room reduced to a periphery of fog
Sensing only the cloud of predatory activity
A fist is raised fists
A right angle is consulted
 brushes are loaded
to make their point
Revealing the intent of the hand
A confident flourish
"Aha! I know this!"
a questioning  slow dab
"Does this work"

And the surrender of a double dab

The sitter sits
Listening to the music
And the grumbling crowd below
Transcending the hub-hub
FInding peace and focus
Above and beyond

Within the sitter
There is a solitary Struggle 
To deny the inner voice
The disembodied Monkey-brain
The disheveled small creature
Who continues the madness
Below the surface
Swinging from side to side in the cage
From hairy arms
Chattering nonsense
Baring teeth

The sitter has found his spot on the wall
On which to focus
The dormant light fixture
On the other side of the room
Appears to be a blurry
Triangle of the dangerous creature

A lion perhaps
Or a baboon 
Who holds an index finger to his lips
In warning
Do not move

The sitter understands what is demanded
And locks alert eyes
And concentration
On the lions face
20 yards distant
facing him from low in the grass
Almond eyes
Raised snout
moist nostrils

The predator must be kept at bay
To  look away 
Would invite a charge
And certain death

When concentration slips
The sitter almost laughs 
At his ridiculous predicament
Not really a dignified
Graven image of a man
But a dunce on a chair
Serving a sentence of a  self imposed
Day-long  'time-out'

The sitter perceives the working artists
As an aquatic cloud of  sea grass

A hungry aquatic swarm 
Of skin feeding fish
As on the bunions and unwanted callous material 
on the underside of  feet
of  indulgent women 
Soaking their toes 
In the salinated basin
At the spa

Movement all around
Waving in and out
Bobbing up and down
Peering at him 
with urgent squinting cat-faces
Looking for answers
For Line

Two days before Thanksgiving
The turkey too
Will sit trussed
And tied
Having been chosen
basted every 20 minutes
(The same interval of breaks  for the artists)
And presented
The center of a ring of side dishes

Without which
There is no joy 
In the Potatoes
or Gravy

It is necessary for the artwork to be properly done 
brought to completion

"A triumph my dear"

And the meal on Thanksgiving 
Golden brown
A salty, savory consumed  achievement
Temporary by design
As fleeting as the fading light
Or the extended chords at the completion of the symphony

It is over

The day was long

We know that our time is short

What was done
Is done

The artwork survives

The journey was the feast

TIm Leeming
Palette and Chisel Academy of Chicago
Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Mary Qian's portrait of Chief Justice Anne Burke

Here's Mary Qian with  Anne Burke.

The dour expression on the artist's face is much more serious
 than that of the smiling Illinois Chief Justice
who stands beside her.

But then Mary really does take her painting quite seriously

Here's Anne with her husband, alderman Ed Burke.

One might wonder why  the highest judge in Illinois
 is married to a Chicago alderman
 now under indictment for 14  counts of racketeering.

Couldn't she have rolled over one night
and whispered in his ear:

"Honey, you really don't need
to shake down local businessmen any more,
 all our kids have graduated college"

But hey ... that's Chicago.

By the way, the Burke's are serious art collectors.