~ Milica Puric ~
Visitors at exhibition ‘Encaustic 2017 – rebirth of the ancient medium’ at Bridgeport Art Center
I like visiting exhibitions. I enjoy being surrounded by paintings and sculptures, chatting with artists and art aficionados. That’s why galleries, workshops, and art centers are my favorite places in the entire world.
As I look at paintings and sculptures I always wonder what the story behind them was. I try to find harmony between idea and creation. Who is the person who made this piece? Did the artist struggle with demons during this work? Did (s)he have a precise plan about everything? Did (s)he work spontaneously? Did the painting change him/her, or did(s)he go through the whole process untouched?
Beautiful sculpture Helen Dannelly “Chasing Corals” in the middle of the exhibition space
That’s why group exhibitions are an excellent opportunity for observation. At one place, completely different works are exhibited, different people are gathered around them, and such an atmosphere always inspires and stimulates me.
One of the best places for those experiences in Chicago is the Bridgeport Art Center, a creative home for painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, fashion designers, photographers, and woodworkers. It is an inspirational venue to visit, work, create, learn, and share ideas with others.
Installations and painting – long corridors ae Bridgeport Art Center
The rough exterior of this old building does not reflect its pleasant interior. Someone who doesn’t know what’s in it would never have assumed that the building contains hundreds of art studios. In each of them, life is flourishing and people are creating. Through its long corridors, discreet lights illuminate vivid images and installations on red brick walls. In large exhibition spaces, there are installed, bigger sculptures and paintings.
Every third Friday, the doors of the studios and galleries at Bridgeport Bridgeport Art Center are open. That is the day when visitors have the opportunity to see group exhibitions, meet and interact with artists, and see on the spot how they work.
‘Shelter me sweet nurse’ by Dan Addington
That was exactly what I saw this third Friday at Bridgeport Art Center when I went there with my sister Marija Puric Lally and visited the exhibition ‘Encaustic 2017 – Rebirth of the Ancient Medium’. This is an encaustic painting, a technic known as wax painting, where colored pigments are added to the heated wax.
Sarah Rehmer ‘Change of Season #8, 2016
There we saw fabulous works of Jeffrey Hirst, Kathleen Waterloo, Dan Addington, Shelley Gilchrist, Sarah Rehmer, Jane Michalski, Alicia Forestal Boehm, Cat Crotchett, Carol Hamilton, Cindy Lesperance, Ahavani Mullen, Paul Rinaldi, Michele Thrane, and VA de Pintor. There is a mysteriously white sculpture, Helen Danelly’s “Chasing Corals,” in the middle of the exhibition space.
Visitors at Exhibition ‘Encaustic 2017 – rebirth of the ancient medium’
On the same floor our friend Dobrila Pintar, a renowned glass jewelry artist, opened the door of her ‘1111’ studio. While we were entering her studio, we saw people gathered around her table. With special glasses on her face and soldering iron in her hand, she showed visitors how she makes glass jewelry.
Deeply occupied by her work, she didn’t notice that we entered her studio. While she worked, I looked around her atelier: Every part of her jewelry is unique and hand-made. She had to put in a tremendous effort to make all these sophisticated earrings and bracelets, delicate pendants, colorful ornaments. There is a beautiful complexity in every piece of her jewelry. That’s why a few years ago Dobrila got a special reward – Artist of the Month from the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the most prestigious art institutions in the United States. In addition to that, she and her friend, artist Erwin Overes, made some extraordinary glass sculptures — “Eurydice,” “Black Swan,” “Geisha and Kimono” and “Whatever…” (of a transgender guy) and all of them are in ‘Studio Oh’, which Erwin co-runs.
Dobrila Pintar at her studio ‘1111‘ is showing how she makes glass jewelry
After visiting Dobrila, we went to see other studios. We had to hurry — there was little time and several floors to visit. We were walking through corridors and suddenly we saw many people coming out from the studio “Project Onward.” This project supports the professional development of adults who have outstanding talent in visual environments. These artists have autism, Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or other conditions…
As a part of ‘Project Onward’ David Holt is presenting his artworks
There we met David Holt. With the hat on his head, he stood in front of the table in the middle of the studio. His works were on the table. He told us that after his grandmother died he began making emotive portraits of those who had died. In front of him were memories of celebrities, politicians, those who were killed by gun violence. And there was the year of birth and year of death in every painting.
A little further away, David Hence presented his works and showed us his colorful and black-and-white drawings.
Allison Kelly’s tumors
Right beside the door, we noticed a group of 20 balls with multicolored tops. The colors were gentle pink, red and yellow, and from the far away they even looked like flowers in the garden. “This is the work of Allison Kelly,” the curator told us. “She is obsessed with tumors and all these colorful ‘flowers’ are actually tumors!”
We couldn’t believe what we just saw and we left the place deeply divided inside.
Then we went to the fifth floor.
Chicago Ceramic Center at the Bridgeport Art Center (fifth floor)
There, the exhibition “Clay, Body” was opened at the Chicago Ceramic Center. We saw Jay Strommen, ceramic artist and the owner of the Center, whose beautiful glassworks are hanging on the gallery walls. He invited us to visit the pottery classroom and see an ongoing exhibition where five artists — Nancy Pirri, Karen Goozner, Nicholas Alexander Hayes, Robin Dong, and Set Gozo — presented their captivating sculptures.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Every sculpture has its own strength, everyone has a story and some sort of fatality. It was very worth seeing them.
Mesmerizing sculptures by Robin Dong
One of the artists, Robin Dong, showed us her clay sculptures of unusual creatures. They looked like hobbits, like old babies, with a lot of hair and old bodies. You couldn’t take your eyes off them. Another artist, Karen Goozner, created the amazing sculpture “Spinning Dragon.” She “caught” three strong green dragons in a powerful movement of throwing balls into the universe.
‘Spinning dragon’ by Karen Goozner
Set Gozo, artist, and nurse, told us that she used to take care of very sick people. One of them was a lady who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. “She was shaking all the time and she scared everyone around her, but for me she was beautiful! That’s why I created this sculptured!” she said.
Set Gozo and her touching sculpture of the lady who had Parkinson disease
She showed us the other sculptures she has in her studio. It is interesting that almost all of them symbolized femininity, real women with natural and “nonperfect” bodies.
At the end of the evening, we entered a ceramic studio. Two years ago Jai Strommen opened this place where students can learn how to work with pottery. It seemed that we came at the end of the class.
Pottery class at Chicago Ceramic Center
It was already at 10 o’clock. The Bridgeport Art Center closed its doors and it was time to go home.
Until next time…
~ Milica Puric ~