A Bold Return to Form for Chicago Artist Lee Tracy

August 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

When I was a young adult I longed to be free like a tumbleweed. The tiny shrub doesn’t grow upright, it grows crooked as it follows the sun. With age that tumbleweed becomes unhitched from earth. It begins to wander by rolling and hovering above the land on currents of air. Wind creates a course filled with both speed and stillness.

-Lee Tracy, Held Up

Lee Tracy, Tumbleweed on Fence, 54 x 48″, oil on canvas

In her projects, Lee Tracy embraces the energy of the terrestrial—using her hands to dig into the red clay of the New Mexico desert, ’cleansing’ symbolic shrouds in crystal lake waters in Maine, or spending days collaborating with the Onon River in Mongolia.  But these large installations are only part of her prolific media-spanning, socially-driven work over the past decade.

Lee Tracy, Blind Spots, 54 x 54″, oil on canvas

As an artist, she leaves no medium untouched– she explores painting, writing, drawing, installation and sculpture. In her oil paintings she plays with the vital lyricism of color, form, & texture creating large pieces with tremendous presence. Often playing off nature, the environment, philosophical ideas, and deep personal experiences, her works feel at once emotionally vivid and alive; projecting her voice through magnificent hues and an expressive brush.

Lee Tracy, Be, 70 x 80, oil on canvas

The upcoming exhibition hosted by the Josef Glimer Gallery and The Arts Palette, Memories from the Future, will feature Lee Tracy‘s paintings accompanied by a theatrical reading of the artist’s diary by Sheila Willis and music by cellist Lilianna Wosko.

Opening reception is Thursday, September 10th 6:00pm-9:00pm at Josef Glimer Gallery.

Reading begins at 7:30pm.

Hope to see you there!

Broke Loose and Free 48 x48, oil on canvas

To learn more about Lee Tracy, please visit http://www.leetracy.com or to inquire about the artist’s work at Josef Glimer Gallery, call 773-787-4640 or email info@josefglimergallery.com.

Behind the Picture: Grandmother with Child by Francisco Zúñiga

April 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

FranciscoZuniga_GrandmotherwithChild_charcoal_JosefGlimerGalleryChicago

Francisco Zuniga (b. Costa Rica 1912-1988), Grandmother with Child, 1976

This crayon, charcoal and pastel drawing by Francisco Zúñiga was acquired by Josef Glimer Gallery from a private collection several years ago. While Zúñiga may be best known for his more stylized stone sculptures, Grandmother with Child is one of many similarly classical drawings that he produced during his lifetime.

Zúñiga was born in Guadalupe, Barrio de San José, Costa Rica on December 27, 1912. He was interested in Renaissance art and anatomy from an early age, and by fifteen, he was working as an assistant in his father’s studio of religious sculpture. He enrolled briefly in the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Mexico before pursuing art on his own, drawing inspiration from both pre-Hispanic tradition and more modern movements like German Expressionism. His work began gaining recognition by the 1930s, and in 1935, his sculpture La Maternidad won first place in the Latin American sculpture competition the Salón de Escultura en Costa Rica.

The artist traveled to Mexico City where was mentored by painter Manuel Rodriguez Lozano. He went on to become a key faculty member of La Esmeralda, the National School of Painting and Sculpture in Mexico City, where he taught for the next three decades.

Zúñiga’s forms reflect both the iconic reverence of religious sculptures and the monumental style of pre-Hispanic art. He was strongly drawn to the human figure, and many of his sculptures and drawings depict Mexico’s indigenous peoples. He associated indigenous women with the infinite cycle of nature, and held the role of mother as particularly sacred. He explained in a 1987 admittance speech to the Academy of Arts of Mexico,

“Maybe my world is that of the feminine indigenous representation, and of poses which are related to the old cultures of Middle America, that is an emotional and prevailing motive from which I reaffirm precisely a certain irrational aspect, psychological values; the heritage. I relate all that symbolically to the geological, the terrestrial of original, even more, to the erotic. Hence, the exaggeration of breasts, the stomachs, the hips. In that sense, nature is inexhaustible, since life grows and dies.”

Over the course of his career, Zúñiga traveled to San Francisco, New York City, Spain, Austria, and France, and created over thirty-five public sculptures including several hero monuments in Mexico and a group of sculptures called Tres generaciones in Sendai, Japan. His works are found in numerous permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., and the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Press for The Chicago Angels Project

February 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

“…I like that ‘The Chicago Angels Project’ is straight-forward enough to be an uncluttered memorial.” —Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“You can feel their spirits lifting off the wall.” —Exhibition co-organizer Laurie Glenn, in an interview with WDCB Public Radio

“There’s something compelling about seeing the violence done to young people through the eyes of their peers.” —Sue Ontiveros, Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Angels Project prints, Chicago Tribune, Josef Glimer Gallery

Image by Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune. (L to R) Christopher Love, 18, Briana Johnson, 17, Jameale Pickett, 17, Allan Green, 19, Sharrod Hill, 17 and DeAngel Groves, 15, holding up some of the artwork created by Uplift Community High School students.

The Chicago Angels Project Opening Reception

February 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Almost a hundred faces grace the walls of Josef Glimer Gallery as part of The Chicago Angels Project, The Forgotten: Chicago Youth Lost to Gun Violence (2011/13), an exhibition exploring the devastation of gun violence in Chicago. The brightly colored linoleum block prints are by former and current students of Laura Mullkoff, an art teacher in Uptown’s Uplift Community High School. Each image memorializes a minor lost to gun violence from 2011-2013.

Set-up meant hanging 84 of these prints along the gallery’s largest wall. The result is heartwrenching for its sheer numbers but hopeful in its vibrance, at once an observance of death and a celebration of life.

Linoleum Block Prints, Chicago Angels Project, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

The exhibit also features pieces by local and international artists Susan Aurinko, Iwona Biedermann, David Gista, Doug Fogelson, Jean-Marc Giboux, Chris Hefner, Layne Jackson, Teresa James, Marvin Tate and Lee Tracy.

Lee Tracy, Hate Ruins Everything poster, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

Lee Tracy, Hate Ruins Everything, 2012, 27.5″ x 20,” Archival ink print on cotton rag paper, Edition of 5.

Marvin Tate, School Yard of Broken Dreams, assemblage, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

Marvin Tate, Schoolyard of Broken Dreams, 2014, 16” x 19.5” x 4,” Boxed assemblage with found objects & LED light.

Chicago Angels Project co-organizer Laurie Glenn originally met Mullkoff at a performance of The Gospel of Lovingkindness, a play examining the loss and forgiveness surrounding a teen gang slaying. Mullkoff had been working with her classes on the memorial prints since 2011, displaying them on her school’s walls to spark dialog amongst staff and students about the prevalence of violence in their community. Glenn, who runs the arts and policy salon ThinkArt, was inspired to help expand the project. Tiphanie Spencer, director of the member-based arts club The Arts Palette, soon joined the team as a collaborator.

Laurie Glenn, Chicago Angels Project, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

Chicago Angels Project co-organizer Laurie Glenn discussing the exhibition

At the opening, Glenn, Spencer and Mullkoff spoke of art’s power to start movements and their hope that violence prevention becomes a priority for Chicago’s policy-makers. The evening was then turned over to Uplift student artists, who sprinkled the evening with the stories behind their prints and several stunning spoken-word performances. Click here for video of an awesome group number by Jacoby Green, Monty Williams, Jameale Pickett and Devail Wills.

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A spoken word performance by Uplift Community High School students at the Chicago Angels Project opening reception

“Linoleum block prints are the perfect medium to represent these lost children,” commented gallery owner Josef Glimer on both the despair and hope that the exhibit conveys. “When you cut into a linoleum block, you’re destroying it. But in that destruction something beautiful is created.”

Uplift Community High School Students Perform at Chicago Angels Project, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

The Chicago Angels Project will be on display until the end of February at Josef Glimer Gallery, 207 W. Superior in Chicago.

Ellen Holtzblatt in the Chicago Sun-Times

December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our current exhibition, Ellen Holtzblatt: From Birth to Memory, received a special write-up in the Chicago Sun-Times! Critic Hedy Weiss describes Holtzblatt’s paintings as “stormy,” a perfect example of Glimer’s tastes toward “the subtly narrative.”

The exhibit was also included in The Sun-Times Mix— Cool Things to Do Dec. 12-14.

Ellen Holtzblatt in the Chicago Sun-Times, critic Hedy Weiss

Opening of Ellen Holtzblatt: From Birth to Memory

December 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ellen Holtzblatt: From Birth to Memory opened on November 21 to an excellent turnout, including a large group of anthropology students from Heidelberg University in Ohio.

Ellen Holtzblatt artist's talk, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

As part of her artist’s talk, Holtzblatt walked visitors from painting to painting. She shared how the works were affected by her most inmate memories, including travels to rural Scotland, the death of her father, and her withdrawal and return to art-making.

Ellen Holtzblatt artist's talk, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

One of the highlighted paintings was Holtzblatt’s self portrait I Have Let You See It With Your Own Eyes, a transitional piece that led the artist from her ancestral-focused Yizkor series to her nature-rich, escapist Morning paintings. Gallery director Josef Glimer likens the piece and Holtzblatt’s subsequent landscapes to works from the 19th-century Barbizon school, a pre-Impressionist movement in which painters fled bustling Paris life and Neoclassical aesthetics to draw inspiration from nature in the French countryside.

Ellen Holtzblatt, I Have Let You See It With Your Own Eyes, Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

Ellen Holtzblatt, I Have Let You See It With Your Own Eyes, 2014, 34 x 48,” oil on wood panel

Ellen Holtzblatt, Unfolding the Heavens at Josef Glimer Gallery Chicago

Ellen Holtzblatt, Unfolding the Heavens, 2014, 36 x 48,” oil on wood panel

View the reception’s Facebook album here. We look forward to many new visitors to the exhibit before we close for the holidays on December 23!

A Studio Visit with Ellen Holtzblatt

October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ellen Holtzblatt is a Chicago-based artist who creates paintings, woodcut prints and artist books. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally at venues including the Museum of Biblical Art in New York, Inselgalerie in Berlin, Harold Washington Library and the Chicago Cultural Center. Her work is also conserved in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection and The Center for Book Arts in New York. Many of her paintings utilize religious texts and old photographs to reveal a paradoxical access to and disconnection from the past. In preparation for Holtzblatt’s exhibit From Birth to Memoryopening at Josef Glimer Gallery on November 21, assistant director Nicole Rhoden sat down with the artist in her Rogers Park studio to discuss how her practice is shaped by spirituality, familial dynamics and the mystery that lies between personal and collective memory.

Chicago artist Ellen Holtzblatt in her studio

Nicole Rhoden: Can you talk a little about what you’re trying to summon or access by creating these images?

Ellen Holtzblatt: I’m trying to summon my dead relatives. They’re like a séance! [laughs] I’m just joking. I think, not just with these images, but every time I’m painting, I’m working from a pretty internal place. So it’s mostly about making connections. When I’m painting, that’s when I feel the most connected to myself emotionally, with who I am as a person, and in general—just feel connected to living. When I go through periods when I’m not painting, I feel very disconnected. There’s a discordant quality to my life.

NR: All of the paintings I’ve seen do have a similar feeling of connecting with ancestors.

EH: When I first started my other series, Yizkor, my father died on my birthday. He had been sick for a while. There were a few years that had sort of a surreal quality, because you’re supposed to celebrate your birthday. I’ve heard that people who are dying, if there’s an event coming up, often will die on that day—on an anniversary, or on a birthday, something that has some emotional meaning. Of course I would think of him on the day he died, but now it’s especially built into my calendar. I can’t celebrate my birthday without also remembering the day of his passing. They’re eternally connected.

After he died, I said Kaddish [a ritual prayer] every day for a year—that’s a Jewish tradition. There are many purposes for it, but one of the purposes is when you’re mourning, like the anniversary of someone’s death. It depends on who it is and your relationship to them; in the case of a parent, you say it for eleven months. Then there’s another prayer you say four times a year to remember people from your life who have died—it’s called Yizkor. I remember the first Yizkor we had after I finished saying Kaddish. It’s actually more about life than it is about death.

Then I started also painting images of my mother when she was younger, after going through old photographs and taking some photos from her house. She kind of wondered [why I was painting her] because I had titled the series Yizkor and she’s a living person [laughs]. But it started becoming not just about people who had died, but also about the spirit that was—the spirit of a person.

At different points in our lives, we are these different parts of ourselves. It’s kind of a strange thing. I have memories from when I was younger, where I can’t imagine why I behaved in certain ways. I’m trying to access that, to remember, “Where was I at that point?” I think everybody at different points in their lives has that. We evolve, but as we’re evolving, we really don’t lose those parts of ourselves. We are still that person, but we also become different people. « Read the rest of this entry »

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