Monthly Archives: September 2017

Celebrating art and life at Zhou Brothers Art Center

~ Milica Puric ~ 

3. ‘The Water Lily Pond of Life 3’ by Zhou Brothers

Beautiful painting ‘The Water Lily Pond of Life 3’ by Zhou Brothers at their Art Center 

On the third Friday, this past August I went to the Bridgeport Art Center in Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago. While I walked through the building, I had a lot of fun entering artists’ ateliers, talking to them, and exploring their artworks. That was a great night. I love this place that opens its doors every month and gathers all sorts of creative people. It makes me feel energized and inspired.

2. Artist Yongmin Cho beside his artwork

Artist Yongmin Cho besides his artwork

On the third Friday of September, I was ready to go there again, but then I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to go across the street, to another Third Friday art party – at The Zhou Brothers Art Center. This huge building – another gathering place for artists – belongs to the famous artists and brothers Da Huang Zhou and Shan Zuo Zhou who converted an old warehouse into a huge art center.

7. Short break between two poerfomrmances of music-dance-art group 'Poster child'

“Woman as a warrior” on the second floor of the Art Center 

Just like the Bridgeport Art Center, this Art Center organizes exhibitions every 3rd Friday of the month. These gatherings are a great opportunity for people to immerse themselves in art, creativity, socializing… We can all meet working artists, discuss their work in person, and explore international and local art. These are artistic, fancy events, and people who love the different expressions of art, as I do, always have a great time…

4. ‘The Knowledge’ by Daniela Kovacic

‘The Knowledge’ by Daniela Kovacic

Also, Zhou Brothers are amongst the most accomplished contemporary artists in the world today, renowned for their unique collaborative process. They work together on each painting, performance, sculpture, and print, often communicating in a dream dialogue. They say that their thinking, aesthetics, and creativity are a synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy, art, and literature.

5. “La Maravillosa forma de ser quien soy yo” by Yunior Hortaded Torres

“La Maravillosa forma de ser quien soy yo” by Yunior Hortaded Torres

Fortunately, we all have an opportunity to see their paintings and even meet them in their Art Center. At the Zhou Brothers Art Center, on the first floor, they exhibited huge, mesmerizing paintings from the ‘Water Lily’ cycle. Seeing them is a special aesthetic experience. Whether you are looking at their ‘The Water Lily Pond of Life 3’ or ‘The Water Lily Pond of Life 4’ you feel consumed by their beauty, colors, emotions they radiate… Brothers say that they ‘celebrate their ‘Feeling is Liberty’ philosophy of art and life’ through these paintings and they are, indeed, a celebration of creativity and life forces.

6. “JAW” by Stephen Wrigh

“JAW” by Stephen Wright

Still impressed by Zhou Brothers paintings I went up to the second floor. As I stopped there, in the atmosphere of dimmed gallery lights, I heard the beautiful music that reminded me of music I heard a long time ago in several Hindu temples… That was a magic sound… Later I found that the musician who played that music was Ben Garrett, co-founder of the Poster Child group… He was accompanied by two gracious ballet warrior girl dancers who played fierce contemporary dance… That was a multimedia event that combined visual art, dance, and music.

15. Performance by dance group Posterchild

“Posterchild” performance 

That performance of Posterchild was a part of the exhibition ‘Woman as a Warrior’ that featured 39 artists and 4 poets. Curators Didi Menendez and Sergio Gomez said in their announcement that this exhibition celebrates female empowerment.

8. “Hero” by Victoria Selbach

“Hero” by Victoria Selbach

Indeed, I saw many beautiful paintings of interesting women who are of different ages, professions, with different appearances… Some of them are real, some of them are the product of imagination, but all of them intriguing. Many paintings caught my attention: ‘The Knowledge’ by Daniela Kovacic, “La Maravillosa forma de ser quien soy yo” by Yunior Hortaded Torres, “JAW” by Stephen Wright, “Hero” by Victoria Selbach, “Wonder Woman Warrior with Raven” by Debra Livingston, “She returned late at night” by Debra Livinston, “War paint and Curlers” by Donna Bates, “Lady in waiting” Judy Takacs, “Little Champ” Astrid Ritmeester, “Hear me” by Alia El-Bermani and many others… 

10. “Wonder Woman Warrior with Raven” by Debra Livingston

“Wonder Woman Warrior with Raven” by Debra Livingston

I continued to walk through the building and on the fourth floor I met artist Corey Jenkins. He was surrounded by many people and he told me that he is the founder of ‘Jayinex’ – the creative community where people do art, music, photography. He said that he is a multidisciplinary teaching artist with 25 years of experience, best known for teaching youth and young adults how to use technology and mixed media to creatively express themselves through visual and performing arts. He also said that he is one of the original students of the University of Hip-Hop (UHH) and Minister of Infinite Creation (MIC). He has excelled as a public art leader, youth advocate, and mentor for students representing diverse cultural backgrounds.

16. Corey Jenkins, founder of ‘Jayinex’, creative community where people do art, music, photography...

Corey Jenkins, founder of ‘Jayinex’, a creative community where people do art, music, photography…

After Corey Jenkins, I went down on the third floor. I walked around, met, and talked to cheerful people and then, suddenly, I found myself standing in one of the most unique places I’ve ever been in my life. That was Martin Bernstein atelier.

15.a. The first room of Martin Bernstein atelier

This is just the beginning: visitors at the first room of the fascinating Martin Bernstein studio

When I entered there, I had to bend a little bit because hundreds of blue-ish pearls, beads, strings, chains are other unknown materials were hanging down from the ceiling… The chandeliers were also covered with pearls and other materials and the floor was covered with colorful carpets. Surprisingly, there was a huge TV in this artistic jungle, then jewelry shelves and a huge sleeping bed in the back of the atelier…  There were many unusual, unrecognizable objects and one couldn’t be sure where one thing ends and another one begins. Everything was connected and wrinkled.

15.b. Martin Bernstein in his fascinating atelier

A friendly conversation with amazed visitors – Martin Bernstein in his studio 

In the middle of this place, Martin Bernstein was standing and engaged in friendly conversation with amazed visitors. They asked him about the place and he answered every question patiently. Everyone was interested in why and how he made this ‘jungle’ and he explained that during past years he began to move beyond the canvas. “My environment became my canvas!” he said.

15. Martin Bernstein studio

A visitor at Martin Bernstein creative jungle 

I left his place with excitement. I was impressed. I felt I was, for a moment, part of his live performance…  We made plans to get together soon again and talk for ‘Urban Culture Tribe’.

My Third Friday journey was over.

I was inspired, energized, and exhilarated. I was happy and couldn’t ask for more.

~ Milica Puric ~

Article and photos belong to Urban Culture Tribe 

11. “She returned late at night” by Debra Livinston

“She returned late at night” by Debra Livinston

9. “Majaji Warrior Mother Goddess” by Debra Balchen

“Majaji Warrior Mother Goddess” by Debra Balchen

12. “War paint and Curlers” by Donna Bates

 “War paint and Curlers” by Donna Bates

14. “Little Champ” Astrid Ritmeester (left) and “Hear me” by Alia El-Bermani

“Little Champ” Astrid Ritmeester (left) and “Hear me” by Alia El-Bermani

EXPO Chicago 2017: From the snowman to the guillotine

~ Milica Puric ~

3. Maurice Mbikayi - The Unknown King, Johannesburg - Cape Town

“The Unknown King” Maurice Mbikayi, Johannesburg – Cape Town

More than 130 leading art galleries from 25 countries and 58 cities recently came to Chicago to be part of EXPO Chicago – one of the biggest art fairs in Midwest America. This international exposition of contemporary & modern art took place at historic Navy Pier and lasted from September 13th to September 17th. During these five days, everyone had an opportunity to find something interesting: business people – dealers, collectors, gallerists – made business deals, while art enthusiasts had an opportunity to see artworks from all over the world and eventually met and talked to artists…

1. Galerie Gmurzynska booth with four round booths and paintings inside of each of them

Galerie Gmurzynska display with four round booths and paintings inside of each of them

This huge art fair with a variety of art displays throughout the huge convention center at Navy Pier space shows the cultural diversity of modern art.

4. Maurice Mbikayi, Johannesburg - Cape Town

Maurice Mbikayi, Johannesburg – Cape Town

Every gallery booth shows different artwork. Right beside the entrance is the Galerie Gmurzynska booth with four round booths – viewing rooms. Each booth was covered by exotic colorful curtains that were opened just enough to lure visitors to come inside to see paintings.

11. Chicago artist Jay Strommen beside his tablet (far left) at Zola Lieberman Gallery booth

Chicago artist Jay Strommen beside his tablet (far left) at Zola Lieberman Gallery booth

Another interesting place is Gallery MOMO from Johannesburg/ Cape Town with beautiful artistic photographs and sculptures of Maurice Mbikayi of people warrior-dressed in computer keyboards.

16. Francesco Clemente Love

“Love” by Francesco Clemente

A lot of art enthusiasts gathered at the booth of Zolla Lieberman Gallery where Chicago artists Jay Strommen explained to visitors his way of creating his glass-ash tablet.

6. 'Through An August', Xaviera Simmons at David Castillo Gallery booth

‘Through An August’, Xaviera Simmons  at David Castillo Gallery booth

‘This is 35 inch by a 12-inch ceramic tablet with glass-and the body of work. When I was studying at the Art Institute in 1999 and 2000 and I had decided to start pushing materials based on wood-firing accidents so that the glass and the ash from different tree species make different effects. So I started putting extra material and glass on rims and the edges and kind of tried to fast forward that accumulation that would normally take 7, 8, 9, or 10 days in the kiln to get. And then I was discovering that kiln shelves I was ruining looked pretty amazing. So, I  started to study the accidents on the kiln shelves and then tried to figure out how I could frame those accidents. So I started to build the tablature to actually create those environments on a flat surface with reason. Clays are romantics… So, I decided to push the elements. There are water, fire, earth, and air. I pushed the earth material part of it pretty far. And then, I was thinking, “Wow, what can I do with the water, the air, the light, with the fire?” So, that’s where this part of the aperture and the piece started to become important.  The glass really captured and reflects the light in a really nice way… And that’s been sort of the evolution of the pieces…’ Strommen said.

8. 'Looking Into the Darkness', Paolo Ventura

‘Looking Into the Darkness’, Paolo Ventura

A little bit further, a huge inflatable vinyl Fat Albert character lying face down on the floor. That is Sanford Biggers installation ‘Laocoön’ – a sculptural installation of Fat Albert, the main comedic cartoon character from Bill Cosby’s 1970s cartoon series, ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’.


Sanford Biggers installation ‘Laocoön’ – inflatable vinyl Fat Albert character from 1970s cartoon series ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’

The name Laocoön came from Greek mythology, more precisely from the story about the Trojan horse: Laocoön was a priest who tried to warn Trojans not to accept the gift – gigantic horse – from Greeks saying ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Biggers’ installation pays homage to the Trojan Priest of the same name and to the tense relations between minorities and organizations created to protect them.

2. Gallerist Rene Schmitt is explaining the work of American artist Lorraine O’Grady2a. Lorraine O’Grady work at Rene Schmitt Gallery booth

A little further gallerist from Germany Rene Schmitt talks to visitors in his booth about the work of Lorraine O’Grady, an American artist whose work is represented at EXPO Chicago 2017 by his Gallery. ‘She is an American artist who was born in 1934 in Boston and she lives now in New York. Her work is called ‘Cutting out Conyt” which comes from the project she did in 1977 ‘Cutting out New York Times”’ he says.

This is his third visit to Chicago and his goal is to meet new collectors and institutional curators who may be interested in finding new works or find Lorraine O’Grady as interesting as he does.

He said that he knew Art Expo Chicago from the 90s when Art Chicago used to be the most important art fair in the world, especially in America. ‘That was the place you have to go (to) if you want to visit an art fair or if you want to see international contemporary art. And then, somehow, New York caught up, and became more and more important. But, now we see that EXPO Chicago is really catching up and becoming again important and it became a major art fair.

12. Piero Golia, Untitled (Evil exists where good man do nothing,

‘Untitled (Evil exists where good men do nothing)’ – Piero Golia’s sculpture of life-size guillotine at Gagosian’s booth

One of the strongest, darkest, and the most upsetting sculpture at EXPO Chicago 2017 is ‘Untitled (Evil exists where good men do nothing)’ Piero Golia’s sculpture of life-size guillotine at Gagosian’s booth. There is a hole where the person sentenced to death needs to put their head, there is a scary and sharp blade at the top of the guillotine… The longer you look, the more disturbed you feel, because you cannot believe that similar ‘devices’ executed thousands of people in the past by beheading. Today this guillotine represents the revolutionary power of art.

~ Milica Puric ~

© Photo and article by Urban Culture Tribe

7. 'Chinese Student', Duane Hanson

“Chinese Student” by Duane Hanson

17. Tonny Tasset, 'Snowman in two parts', Kavi Gupta Gallery

Tonny Tasset, ‘Snowman in two parts’, Kavi Gupta Gallery

9. 'The Dogs Went Silence' Lavar Munroe, 2017, Jenkins Johnson Gallery

“The Dogs Went Silence” Lavar Munroe, 2017, Jenkins Johnson Gallery

14. Adam Parker Smith, Augustius, 2017, resin, fiber glass, preserved mylar, steel...

Adam Parker Smith, Augusts, 2017, resin, fiberglass, preserved mylar, steel…

~ Milica Puric ~