Monday, April 30, 2012

Water tanks going to Rochester 6x6 show

I'm shipping these five small pieces off to a show in Rochester, New York for the annual 6x6x2012 show at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center. Looks like it will be a good show and works will be for sale both at the art center and online. Runs June 2 - July 15.

These are part of my water tanks studies series. All are acrylic and oil paint marker on canvas. 6x6 inches square, 2012.

Chelsea NYC Tank
Chinatown Perch
Houston St. NYC
Financial District NYC
Chicago Angle

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three new water tanks paintings

I've been working in a brighter color palette the last few months which stemmed from my West Loop Cityscape commission painting. I'm also experimenting by using conté sticks and soft oil pastels to create sketch-like marks and a looser feel. These rooftop water tanks are part of my cityscapes series.

Directions in Change, oil, acrylic, collaged maps on panel, 36x36, 2012
West Chelsea Water Tanks (NYC), acrylic on canvas, 24x30, 2012
NoLita Water Tank (NYC), acrylic on canvas, 36x48, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

New directions - mixed media water tank

Water Tank (Chicago Maps), mixed media on panel, 36x36, work in progress, 2012

This painting is a new direction for me. I've been wanting to loosen things up lately and this piece is getting me closer to what I envision.

It's a mixed media painting where I collaged maps of Chicago on panel and combined layers of acrylic paint and oil bars. It's been fun working on a solid wooden surface again and applying a new technique.

It's just about finished and it already has me coming up with more ideas for the next piece in this new series...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicago Writers Conference Needs Your Support

You don't have to be a writer to support the Chicago Writers Conference Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Anything helps and whatever you can give would greatly be appreciated. Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model; if we don't reach our goal, we receive no funding. With arts-related funding being slashed everywhere these days, it's important that we as citizens contribute to creative projects. $5, $10, $25 helps - whatever you can give, gets us closer to our goal.

There are still some cool rewards left (cupcakes baked by my wife and founder of CWC, books by Chicago authors and original art by yours truly). Thank you!

Chicago Skyline Sunset
Digitally Enhanced Photograph (framed)

Marina Towers
Digitally Enhanced Photograph (framed)


Kingsbury Water Tank
Screen Print (ready to frame)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reflections of 900 N. Franklin

Reflections of 900 N. Franklin

This photo was taken as I sat on the Brown Line last month on the way to see my oldest friend, Dave for dinner. This is a shot of the building where I worked my first job in Chicago as Advertising Coordinator at Online Access Magazine from 1994-95.

My first city job -- taking the Rock Island Metro in from Midlothian,  a 5-minute drive from my hometown, Crestwood. This was the beginning of the internet age and Online Access was the first internet-coverage magazine. I could wear jeans to work, my kind of place. Standing most of the way on the train -- usually pressed up against the traders and law office workers; it was one of the last big stops for the morning commute. Arriving at LaSalle St. station, I'd hit Dunkin' Donuts and grab the 'L' north around the Loop to the Chicago Ave. stop -- which is still my favorite train stop.

The 900 North Franklin building sits one block north of the Chicago Brown Line stop in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Kiki's Bistro was on the ground floor and we had elevator operators who took us up to our office. A morning constant -- part of the routine -- opening and closing doors and pressing buttons. Some pleasant greetings, and then, a swift kick in the ass and shove out the door. You had no choice but to get off. It's like they knew I needed to earn that money for that first city apartment.

Working in this neighborhood also gave me exposure to art in the River North galleries where I killed time over lunch. I also loved the architecture -- industrial loft buildings re-purposed as creative office spaces, furniture stores and galleries. Some buildings had corner cafes and others had dance clubs in the basement. When the wind was right, the smells wafted in through the office windows from the nearby Blommer's Chocolate Factory. Rooftop water tanks dotted the skyline and Bar Louie had only one location -- at Chicago and Franklin. It was 1995, I was in my mid-20's and things felt fresh, energetic -- anything was possible in the post-grunge, underground music revolution. The art in the galleries and graffiti on their walls outside reflected this too.

The magazine was where I was working when I experienced getting laid off for the first time. I had just moved into a 2 bedroom garden apartment in Wrigleyville with my college radio buddy, Ketan. Monday morning -- my first train ride from the apartment to the job downtown. Finally - my commute shortened by 45 minutes due to my new home in the city. But that wouldn't last long.

After being pulled into an office with my boss, given some paperwork and a speech I can't remember -- the elevator operator took me down to the lobby from the 7th floor atrium for the last time. Sulking up the stairway of the Chicago 'L' stop to grab the train back north, I didn't realize how losing my job would be the point in time when I became an artist.

The lack of a day job gave me a chance to get to know my new home and neighborhood. I started to explore my new home in the city by bike, train or just walking different neighborhoods – taking photos of architecture and street scenes. The street was my studio. I also hit the art store and picked up some acrylic paints and canvas and started painting in the dark garden apartment.

Afternoons spent hanging out at Reckless Records listening to new releases and flipping through records and CDs for a couple hours. Coffee at Intelligentsia a few doors down on Broadway. This was when they still roasted the beans in the back area of coffee shop. Long bike rides down the lakefront path and through streets with no bike lanes. Helmets weren't needed like they are now.

I rode my bike past the old apartment recently. It's still that bright turquoise blue but looks like it's had some work done - a nip and tuck pointing job. A steel front staircase now - nose job for an apartment. Some new bricks too. A leaning, out-of-place Victorian on a street filled with new construction condos. An apt metaphor for how I've felt working in the suburbs most of the time I've lived in the city.

I am now -- for the fourth time -- laid off from my day job. The corporate bean counters found me once again. But this time it's different. This time I have 17 years of marketing and internet production experience; business skills I can apply to my art career. I am a full-time artist with a studio in the Cornelia Arts Building and create art just about every day. And for the first time in over 8 years, I can really get to know my city again -- a place for me to explore, create, and rededicate myself to art. Plus, Reckless and Intelligentsia are still just a bike ride away.

Monday, April 2, 2012

NoLita Water Tank - painting in progress

NoLita Water Tank, painting in progress - acrylic on canvas, 36x48

I have a few water tank paintings in progress right now. This is the one I've been working on the most. Today I worked on bringing out the contrasts and colors in the sky and then adding browns, reds, oranges and yellows to the buildings and water tank. There are still some color harmonies I need to adjust but I'm happy with how it's coming along so far. This image is set in the NoLita neighborhood in New York City, but could really be anywhere in an urban environment.