The art of photography via Ansel Adams

 

Ansel Adams, "Moonrise" can be seen at theLake County forest P:reserves' Dunn Museum in Libertyville, now through March 27, 2022.
Ansel Adams, “Moonrise” can be seen at the Lake County Forest P:reserves’ Dunn Museum in Libertyville, now through March 27, 2022.

Many admirers of the art of photography are familiar with Ansel Adams’ remarkable shots of the US western landscape taken in the 1970s. Arguably less known or viewed in an exhibition are Adams’ prints from the 1920 through the 1950s.

Now, “Ansel Adams: Early Works” a traveling exhibit organized by art2artCirculating Exhibitions, LLC, and sponsored at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum by the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Preservation Foundation and Dan and Shirley Mayworm, opens a portal to  the famed photographer’s interests, artistic development and his thoughts on his objectives. The works are  from the collection of Michael Matts and Judith Hockberg.

Wander through the Dunn Museum, worth a trip on its own for its early Illinois history and objects, to see “Moonrise” which proved, as a video in the exhibit explains, that some, great photography moments are unplanned.

Read the plaques that accompany the exhibit for insight into some of Adams’  observations of photography’s power. Going through the exhibit then retracing ones steps brings out changes in his artistic and unique view of nature.

One plaque reads: “When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”

The show’s prints are part of Adams’ photo output. But to better understand the photographer don’t miss the plaques next to some of the photos. This one is next to Mount Brewer, Circa 1925, a vintage gelatin silver print.

“When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”

Another plaque says that trees are not just trees. Look for a photo where the forest looks lacy then look for “Aspens” that is a study in design and contrast.

Dan Mayworm  who worked with Adams for a few weeks includes some pointers in the exhibit that he gleaned from Adams including “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”

A sample of what is in the exhibit can be found virtually at Ansel Adams Early Works Arc.

“Ansel Adams: Early works is at the  Bess Bower Dunn Museum of the Lake County Forest Preserves, 1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, IL from Nov. 6, 2021 through March 27, 2022.

For more information visit Dunn Museum | Lake County Forest Preserves (lcfpd.org) or call (847) 968-3400. To see an exhibit virtual sample visit Exhibitions.

Jodie Jacobs

Steppenwolf new building and education center opens

 

he Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)
The Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)

 

Internationally known Steppenwolf Theatre Company finally appears settled. Today, Nov. 2, 2021, Steppenwolf announced its $54 million Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center is now open.

Once a small ensemble begun in 1974 by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise, it opened in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, moved to the basement of another church in Highland Park, later on found a space at the Hull House on Broadway in Chicago, then an intimate space on North Halsted before settling into the 1600-1700 block of North Halsted in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Along the way it added H. E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder and other well-known actors to its ensemble roster.

Part of a multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center houses a 50,000 square foot theater building plus education center designed by Gordon Gill of Adran smith and Gordon Gill Architecture with theater design and accoustics by charcoalblue (construction is by Norcon).

Steppenwolf’s expanded campus includes, new lobbies, full-service bars and The Loft Space for area youth.

“What an extraordinary day this is for our company and Chicago. This multi-phase campus expansion is over two decades in the making and is a manifestation of Steppenwolf’s core values of ensemble, innovation and cultural citizenship,” said Executive Director E. Brooke  Flanagan.

“Formed by an ensemble of young actors who wanted to create courageous work, nearly 50 years later our expanded campus builds on the company’s beginnings and ensures a future for the continued artistic growth of the ensemble and space for tens of thousands of Chicagoland teens to experience transformative arts education,” Flanagan said.

For more information about Steppenwolf Theatre Company visit Steppenwolf.

Jodie Jacobs

Around Chicago: October

 

Pumpkins and skeletons and lining up in Highwood for the Great Pumpkin Fest ( J jacobs photo)
Pumpkins and skeletons and lining up in Highwood for the Great Pumpkin Fest ( J jacobs photo)

From the city and Oak Park to Glencoe and Highwood, there are events worth posting on the calendar.

Highwood

In the past few years with the exception of COVID 2020 tiny, north suburban Highwood has been trying for a Guinness record of carved pumpkins. But what area residents and visitors like is that the town’s Great Highwood Pumpkinn Fest includes music, a charity run, food, games and rides.

The event opens Oct. 7 with pumpkin carving and music, then continues, Oct. 8-10 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. This year, it also includes free COVI D testing. Check the schedule for specific event times and ride cost.

Highwood snuggles east of Highland Park along Waukegan Avenue, Green Bay Road and Sheridan Road.

Glencoe

Merely strolling among trees, water features and gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden is worth the trip. However, CBG also holds the Night of 1000 Jack O’ Lanterns Oct. 13-17 and Oct. 20-24 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Creative faces may spark ideas for home carving and are a terrific photo op (selfie?) Find more information at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden is just east of Edens Expressway at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe.

Wilmette

Chalet Nursery’s Scarecrow Making is sold out its garden is stacked with pumpkins, corn stalks and other decorations for October and Halloween. Plus it has some fun selfie areas.\

It’s events calendar includes the movie “Haunted Mansion” shown outside Oct 14 at 6:30 p.m. Registration needed and a “Howl-O Ween” Pet Parade, Oct. 31 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Chalet Nursery is at 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette. Visit Events – Chalet Nursery for more information.

 

Chalet Nursery decorates for fall. (J Jacobs photo)
Chalet Nursery decorates for fall. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Oak Park

Poe’s dark side is perfect for the season. The Oak Park Park Theatre Festival brings “The Madness of Edgar Allan P:oe: A Love Story” to the Pleasant Home Foundation Oct. 15-Nov. 7, 2021. where audiences can move from room to room for different scenes.

Pleasant Home is at 217 Home Avenue, Oak Park.For tickets and more information visit Oak Park Theatre Festival

Lisle

Fall is a great time to drive through the Morton Arboretum but there is also something doing among the trees for walkers. The Arboretum has “Walking Plays” of popular fairy tales. Oct. 15-Nov. 7, 2021. Tales area abut 90 minutes and walks are less than two miles. To sign up and find more information visit Walking Plays/MortonArboretum.

Chicago

The whole city is open virtually in October through a Chicago Architecture Center app during Open House Chicago. There are trails, neighborhoods and treasures to explore. To see some of it in person, go Oct. 16-17. Registration needed. Visit Open house Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

Open House Chicago is back

 

McCormick Bridgehouse and River Museum (Photo by Eric Allix Rogers for Open House Chicago and Chicago Architecture Center
McCormick Bridgehouse and River Museum (Photo by Eric Allix Rogers for Open House Chicago and Chicago Architecture Center

 

From the Obamas in Hyde Park and the trail of the Great Chicago Fire noted on its 150th anniversary to the little known River Museum and McCormick Bridgehouse at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, Chicago has so many interesting places to visit, inside and out, that it would take the old saying of “a month of Sundays” to explore them. Fortunately there is  Open House Chicago .

Organized and hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center every October, OHC used a mobile app App · Open House Chicago for virtual explorations in 2020.

It will be available in an expanded virtual version (updated Oct 1) to include neighborhoods for 2021  and run from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. There will also be in-person visits Oct. 16-17, 2021. That will include behind-the-scenes visits and access to more than 100 venues in 30 Chicago neighborhoods and some suburbs

OHC is a free public event. However, there are a couple of special fee programs open to the public for a fee (waived for members of the Chicago Architecture center). Registration and tickets are required for programs and some visits. Previews on September 28 and 29.

For more information visit Home | Chicago Architecture Center

Jodie Jacobs

Around Town: September Festivals

 

Several art and craft fairs, such as this one recently held in Lake Forest's Market Square are still scheduled for Fall 2021. (J Jacobs photo)
Several art and craft fairs, such as this one recently held in Lake Forest’s Market Square are still scheduled for Fall 2021. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Fall is for Festivals from toasting fall beer at Octoberfests and enjoying the fruits of the season at an Applefest to browsing fine art and crafts at art fairs and swaying to the blues in Millennium Park .

Here is a quick rundown of some of the fun outdoor fests to still catch in September in and around Chicago

 

Blues will be back at Pritzker Pavilion September 2021. (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events photo)
Blues will be back at Pritzker Pavilion September 2021. (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events photo)

Music

Sept. 17 Englewood Jazz Festival Sponsored by the Chicago Park District, the festival is at Hamilton (Alexander) Park, 513 W. 72nd St.  from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m..

Sept 18, Blues at Millenium Park  Part of Chicago in Tune, audiences can move to the music on the lawn or sit in in the Pritzker Pavilion (Fandolph Street east of Michigan Avenue.)

Sept. 25-26 Hyde Park Jazz Fest from 1 to 10 p.m. Sept. 25 and noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 26 Free but a $5 donation requested. Check Hyde Park Jazz Festival for locations around Hyde Park.

 

Octoberfest in Lakeview (Photo courtesy of Special Events Managements)
Octoberfest in Lakeview (Photo courtesy of Special Events Managements)

Beer and Food Fests

Sept. 16-26: Glendale Heights Oktoberfest in Camera Park, 101 E Fullerton Ave, Glendale will be all week. Hours are Mon-Thur 5 to 10 p.m., Fri, 5 to Midnight, Sat. Noon to Midnight and Sunday, Noon to 10 p.m. Admission $5 after 5 p.m., ages 16 and under free.

Sept. 18-19 Sam Adams Taco Fest Held in Lakeview on Southport Avenue between Addison and Roscoe, the hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more info check Chicago events.

Sept. 19: Bloody Mary Fest Held in Everts Park, 111 North Ave. in Highwood a little city (just over a square mile) that is known for great restaurants, the drink (and food, and music)  event goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sept. 23-26: Manteno Oktoberfest includes a carnival and parade that involves the whole town. Visit Manteo for details.

Sept. 23-26: Puerto Rican Festival Held in Humboldt Park, look for details of this food, arts and music festival at prfestchicago.com)

Sept. 24-25: Chicago Gourmet takes over the Harris Theatre Rooftop on Randolph Street at Millennium Park. It’s not all fancy food, so go for really good tacos and burgers. For tickets and details visit Gourmet.

Sept. 24-26: Oktoberfest Chicago Held in Lakeview at 1429 W. Wellington, the event is Fri,  5 to 10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Cost: $10 Friday and Saturday and $5 Sunday.

Sept. 24-26: Apple Fest is a popular Long Grove festival that is a chance to see the historic town while munching on apple cider donuts, chocolate and caramel dipped apples. Held downtown Long Grove at 308 Old McHenry Road and the Stemple Parking Lot, the hours are Fri noon to 11 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sun 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. cost is $5., ages 6 and under free.

 

Eye-catching art at an ACE booth at the Chicago botanic Garden. (IJ Jacobs photo)
Eye-catching art at an ACE booth at the Chicago botanic Garden. (IJ Jacobs photo)

Arts and crafts

Sept. 18-19: Riverwalk Fine Art Fair  is held in Naperville at Main and Jackson and along the river from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sept. 18-19: Artfest Michigan Avenue An Amdur Productions juried art fair, about 70 artists will fill the courtyard space at 401 N Michigan Avenue between the former Tribune Tower and the Apple store, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sept. 18-19: West Loop Art Fest  covers four blocks in the booming West Fulton Street, North Sangamon Street area from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sept. 18-19: Renegade Craft Fair  A popular Wicker Park neighborhood festival, the booths will be up along Division Street  between Damen and Ashland Avenues from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sept. 20-26: American Craft Exposition |Usually known by its initials, ACE features one of a kind exceptional works by about 100 artisits. Formerly held on Northwestern universityh’s Evanston campus and the at the botanic Garden in Glencoe, ACE has gone virtual this year of 2021. Find more information at American Craft Expo | An Exhibit and Sale of Fine American Craft.

Sept. 24-25: West Town Art Walk Art walks were once popular on Friday nights in towns across the country.  A few have moved, reinvented themselves where art galleries still exist or have moved in such as in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. This festival covers Division to Hubbard and Halsted to Kedzie but free Pedicabs are available to visit the galleries on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. For more details visit West Town Art Walk | West Town Chamber

 

Jodie Jacobs

Around town Part Two:  Art exhibits that are anything but boring

 

The Safety Patrol is among Bisa Butler: Portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago. (artists photo)
The Safety Patrol is among Bisa Butler: Portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago. (artists photo)

Chicago’s art scene is returning to life

Unusual portrait interpretations are at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Intriguing  works and insights of famed artist Frida Kahlo are at a College of DuPage gallery. Cartoon art and their artists are bringing memories and chuckles to the Chicago Cultural Center’s Yates Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art’s Fourth Floor. Plus, the street art of Banksy will soon be up in a State Street space.

Because of the Obama’s strong ties to Chicago, Kehinde Wiley’s unique portrait of President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s brilliant portrayal of Michelle have started their tour at the Art Institute of Chicago. They can be viewed through Sept. 6, 2021.

While there visit Bisa Butler: Portraits. Butler’s works are done as quilts that portray  family, and black life. Up through Sept. 6,  “Bisa Butler: Portraits” is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition.

 

Frida Kahlo. Self portrait with small monkey. (Image courtesy of Cleve Carney Museum of Art)

Sept. 6 seems to be a popular end date so before it pops up on the calendar try to get over to the Cleve Carney Museum of Art at the College of DuPage  to see Frida Kahlo: Timeless.  The exhibit is as much about the life of a significant 20th century artist as a show of her work. The art museum is at 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

Two Chicago destinations, The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Cultural Center have teamed to present cartooning art, history and the artists  behind them across the decades.

Chicago: Where Comics Came to Life. (James Prinz photography)
Chicago: Where Comics Came to Life. (James Prinz photography)

The Cultural Center exhibit, City of Chicago :: CHICAGO: Where Comics Came to Life goes from 1880 to 1960 and is curated by artist and author Chris Ware with Chicago Cultural Historian Emeritus, Tim Samuelson. The MCA – Home (mcachicago.org) takes it from the 1960’s to now and was guest-curated by Dan Nadel; organized for the MCA by former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator  Michael Darling and Curatorial Assistant Jack Schneider.

Both exhibits close Oct. 3.

 The Art of Banksy: Without Limits opens Aug 14 at 360 N. State St. (fourth floor). In case you haven’t heard of this person, he is a street artist credited by Time Magazine  as among the world’s  100 most influential people in 2010. Although his identity is secret, Banksy is supposedly British and about 40 years old.

“The Art of Banksy” includes more than 130 of the artist’s original works, prints on various materials, photos, sculptures, murals, installations and more.  A video documentary accompanies the exhibit.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Comics exhibit pulls viewers into real and alternate worlds

 

 

Ivan Brunetti Spring 2013 . (Courtesy of the artist)'
Ivan Brunetti Spring 2013 . (Courtesy of the artist)’

A fun and startling exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, opened June 2021, is likely to expand your definition of art and important artists.

As with art over the ages and across countries, much of it reflects the times and artists’ views and backgrounds.

But if you hadn’t thought of comics as art, consider the work of Ivan Brunetti in the 1960’s. His piece shown here  was in the New Yorker magazine. It stands on its own as art but really is part of a cartoon.

So, if you read the New Yorker or a newspaper containing comics do you look just at the panels or do you look to see who drew them?

The MCA exhibit, titled “Chicago Comics: 1960’s to Now,”  makes comics more personal by focusing on  artists with ties to Chicago.

 

The works of more than 40 cartoonists from about the 1960’s to the present cover the walls and tables of MCA’s Fourth Level exhibition space including that of  Lynda Barry, Lilli Carré, Daniel Clowes, Nick Drnaso, Edie Fake, Emil Ferris, Nicole Hollander, Charles Johnson, Chris Ware and Kerry James Marshall. Yes, Marshall, a  world-renown Chicago artist.

Kerry James Marshall (photo by Bryan Conley, Image courtesy of the artist)
Kerry James Marshall (photo by Bryan Conley, image courtesy of the artist)

His works are in major museums from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Met and MoMA.

The MCA exhibit includes more than a dozen of his comics from the Rythm Mastr Daily Strips. They were part of a 57th Carnegie International installation  (2018) courtesy to the MCA by the artist.

What fanzine viewers and Marvel comics readers know is that artistic cartoons take many forms. In the MCA exhibit look for more than newspaper-style comics. See works in graphic novels,  drawings, dioramas, zines, commissioned films, books sculptures and installations.

Brunetti, New Yorker, Photo courtesy of the artist)
Brunetti, New Yorker, Photo courtesy of the artist)

 

To see a Marvel exhibit go to the Museum of Science and Industry through Oct. 24, 2021.

For the MCA exhibit information and tickets visit Museum of Contemporary Art  “Comics” continues through Oct. 3, 2021.

As to the Brunetti piece it is a comic  cover for the New Yorker, a magazine famous for its cartoons.

Save time to also visit “Chicago – Where Comics Came to Life: 1880 to 1960” at the Chicago Cultural Center. Held up on the fourth floor in the Sydney Yates Gallery,  the exhibit is the perfect companion piece to that at the MCA.

Jodie Jacobs

 

More Mom Day ideas

Orchids make a lovely Mother's Day gift. (J Jacobs photo)
Orchids make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. (J Jacobs photo)

Second in a fun Mother’s Day ideas series. See Travel Smart for the first article in the series and Dining Out-Eating In for the third one.

Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.

Stay

Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.

Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.

 

Lincoln P:ark Conservatory's Spring Flower Show opens on Mother's Day. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Conservatory)_
Lincoln P:ark Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show opens on Mother’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Conservatory)_

Play

Stroll Lincoln Park  with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.

Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.

 

Eat

Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.

Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.

 

It's hard to leave Gerhard's, a European bakery in Lake Forest with just one treat. (J Jacobs photo)
It’s hard to leave Gerhard’s, a European bakery in Lake Forest with just one treat.
(J Jacobs photo)

Treat

Pick up a sweet from That Little French Guy, a Parisian café in Highland Park.

Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.

 

Spa

Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham  an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.

 

Long Grove Confectionary (J Jacobs photo)
Long Grove Confectionary (J Jacobs photo)

Ooh la la

Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.

For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.

Or go to Long Grove Confectionary  in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has  factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda  and Chicago.  Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.

Jodie Jacobs

 

New works by artist Mark McMahon reveal a different sty;e

Artist Mark McMahon and Thistles" that is part of his new flora series. (J Jacobs photo)
Artist Mark McMahon and Thistles” that is part of his new flora series. (J Jacobs photo)

It has taken COVID’s 2020 stay-close-to home mandate to bring out a different style side of artist Mark McMahon that his many fans likely won’t recognize.

Art lovers can see the ceramic tile mural of Chicago life done by McMahon, an internationally known Lake Forest artist, if they go to Van Buren and Federal Streets downtown. Folks who remember the ceramic pictures of local life that covered the walls of a Lake Forest McDonalds can find the extensive mural over at the town’s Gorton Community Center where they were moved when the McD property was developed into a shopping strip.

Abbotts’ employees know of his stylized interpretation of the international company’s various campuses as pictured first by his dad, the famed “artist- reporter, Franklin McMahon, last century, and twice now in this century by Mark McMahon. The commissioned pictures are in Abbott’s museum.

The Abbott works are part of McMahon’s “World Studio” category that also includes paintings done in Africa , London, France, Canada, Spain and Cuba.

They and other watercolors, many of which he has translated into giclee prints, note cards and mugs, have been commissioned by companies, cities and colleges. They have also ranged from sports venues and historic events such as a NASA space shuttle launch to scenic vistas on the Great Lakes such as Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Those are paintings that tell a story. Inspired by the way his dad  worked on-site, McMahon calls them “editorials.”

However, anyone stopping by The Gallery, a Lake Forest restaurant cum art venue, will see not just a sampling of McMahan’s story-telling watercolors , but also his latest works in oils and acrylics.

Set in artistically designed steel frames created by son Drew McMahon, the paintings are so very different from the story-telling works on the opposite  gallery wall that a visitor could be forgiven for asking who did those.

There are eye-popping flowers plus an unusual rendering of a lion fish.

"Bearded Iris Yellow-Purple" can be seen at The Gallery. (Photo courtesy of McMahon)
Mark McMahon “Bearded Iris Yellow-Purple” can be seen at The Gallery. (Photo courtesy of McMahon)

When asked about his change in style, McMahon, sitting at home with a cup of tea for the interview, said, “Wait” as he disappeared. He brought back a large canvas done in oils on site at a Lake Forest Open Lands property about 30 years ago.

If divided into close-ups, it could foretell the direction he would take decades later. But the style is different.

Even though it was done on site because that is how McMahon works, the scene didn’t begin as a line drawing followed by color as in his characteristic painting mode. Instead, the canvas appeared as an experiment in textured layers and scenic effects.

I’ve always done these on the side,” said McMahon.

His newest works focus on pattern instead of a scenic tale.

Zooming in on the shape of the flora he captures, his irises tend to to take on a Matisse-type flow.

His thistles, as in the work hanging in his and wife Carolyn’s living room, create an impact with repeated pattern. They become even more important against a forceful background color. This one is a glowing orange.

“Carolyn said this one isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying here,” said McMahon. (Carolyn, an artist who works in a variety of media, has a two dimensional metal piece attached to another living room wall.)

Another change is that he now favors icon boards over the canvas he had been using. “You feel it pulling the paint off the brush,” he said.

Members of the artistic McMahon family paint outside at the rock garden. (Photo courtesy of the McMahons)
Members of the artistic McMahon family paint outside at the rock garden. (Photo courtesy of the McMahons)

What hasn’t changed is working on site where he does his line work and initial painting and then, finishing the work back in his studio. He still brings his tools: an easel and box of paints to the site. “I like that spontaneity,” said McMahon.

But he attributes his adding a new style, “not technique,” to the pandemic. “I’ve had more time now with COVID,” he said.

Instead of traveling far afield to capture a story playing out at a city or college, McMahon heads to his rock garden or around the corner to the wild plants such as thistle that grow along telephone, electric and cable lines.

I’ve been doing this (painting) for 50 years,” said McMahon, 70. “The art process takes, 30-40-50 years to develop. They have evolved. Once in a while there is a good one,” he said.

(To view Mark McMahon’s work visit The Gallery, check with the Deerpath Art League’s date for its May fundraiser and go on April 29, 2021 to the City of Lake Forest Shop in the downtown train station for an event to help local non-profit organizations.)

Jodie Jacobs

Around Town: Art News

projections on theMart start April 1. No joke. (Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium)
Adler Planetarium projections on theMart start April 1. No joke. (Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium)

The path  back to normal begins to look more like the yellow brick road as an insightful Comics exhibition gets set to open at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago is happily welcoming more and more visitors to its Monet exhibit and the Adler Planetarium reminds folks they can explore the museum and space online by putting space  projections on theMart. Plus, over in Pennsylvania the Philadelphia Museum of Art gets ready to show off the major renovation of its 1928 building by architect Frank Gehry.

Bisa Butler. 'The Princess,' 2018. The Art Institute of Chicago, Collection of Bob and Jane Clark. Copyright Bisa Butler. (Photography courtesy of Art on theMART)
Bisa Butler. ‘The Princess,’ 2018. The Art Institute of Chicago, Collection of Bob and Jane Clark. Copyright Bisa Butler. (Photography courtesy of Art on theMART)

Art on theMart

April . No fooling. Projections on theMart at the Chicago River and Merchandise Mart Plaza promise to fascinate drivers and walkers as they move from the Adler Planetarium’s Astrographics about how we viewed the Earth, Other Worlds, the Stars and the Beyond April 1 through July 4.

In addition, the Art Institute’s Monet and Bisa Butler’s works simultanesously go from April 1 to May 19 followed by CPS class of 2021 projects May 20 to June 26.

The timing works because the Adler’s projections are about 16 minutes so the remaining time is filled by the other partners. Projections start at 8:30 p.m. CT and continue for about 30 minutes. Then, they begin again at 9 p.m. For more information visit Art on theMart and Spring art on theMart 2021.

EXPO Chicago

Also in April but online is a curated digital exposition of contemporary and modern art put together by EXPO Chicago, the organization that has annually held its highly regarded show at Navy Pier pre-COVID. It runs APRIL 8-12, 2021 and includes gallery works plus knowledgeable art sessions. For information and registration visit EXPO Chicago.

 

Upon entering the museum via the Robbi and Bruce Toll Terrace, visitors will be able to see up into the Great Stair Hall and down into the Williams Forum, revealing pathways to art on multiple levels. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L, 2016. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021.)
Upon entering the museum via the Robbi and Bruce Toll Terrace, visitors will be able to see up into the Great Stair Hall and down into the Williams Forum, revealing pathways to art on multiple levels. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L, 2016. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021.)

 Philadelphia Museum of Art

May, With travel returning as more people get their second vaccine, visiting museums outside the Midwest sounds enticing and doable. Among the places to visit is the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see how architect Frank Gehry (designer of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion renovated the museum’s 1928 building. The unveiling is May 7, 2021. For more information visit Philamuseum/renovation.

 

Lynda Barry, 100 Demons: Dancing, 2000-02. (Photo Courtesy Adam Baumgold Fine Art)
Lynda Barry, 100 Demons: Dancing, 2000-02. (Photo Courtesy Adam Baumgold Fine Art)

Museum of Contemporary Art

June brings “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now” at the MCA. “From radical newspapers to literary graphic novels, encompassing autobiography, satire, absurdism, science fiction, horror, and fiction, the exhibition foregrounds comics and cartooning as a democratic medium that allows artists to grapple with the issues of their time,” says an MCA statement about “Chicago Comics”

Running June 19 through Oct. 3, 2021, the exhibit reveals Chicago as a center for comics and cartooning. For more information visit MCA Chicago Comics.

Turtel Onli, Nog comic book page, 1980. © 1981 Turtel Onli (Courtesy of the artist)
Turtel Onli, Nog comic book page, 1980. © 1981 Turtel Onli (Courtesy of the artist)

 

Jodie Jacobs