Meet Me in a Moment

Meet Me in a Moment

An orange and yellow poster reading: Meet Me in a Moment, Written and Directed by Aviva ChertokMeet Me in a Moment, a Theatrical Concert of Jewish Classical Music written and directed by Aviva Chertok, will be performed at The Art Center Highland Park on Sunday, June 19th, at 2 PM.

A classical music concert reimagined, Meet Me in a Moment opens the door to the lives of four great Jewish composers, with each musical selection followed by a theatrical scene from the composer’s life. Step back in time to the living room of Ernest Bloch, join a rehearsal with Paul Ben-Haim, and attend a meeting of the Society of Jewish Folk Music in St. Petersburg with Lazare Saminsky. The program also features a special screening of Aviva’s interview with one of the most acclaimed Jewish composers in the United States, Grammy-nominee Jonathan Leshnoff.

Written and directed by violinist Aviva Chertok, “Meet Me in a Moment” is a unique show that brings audiences the beauty of Jewish classical music while immersing them in Jewish history and culture.

Performers: Aviva Chertok (violin), Monika Miodragovic (piano), Richard Shavzin, (actor).

There are only 80 seats available for this performance, so purchase your tickets soon!

Femoonista Warrior Cow

A posthumous collaboration between artist-activist Jacqueline von Edelberg and the late fiber artist Shirley Englestein 

The ‘Limo Cow’ in O-ring armor transformed into Femoonista Warrior Cow

While preparing the galleries for the new exhibit, Fiber-Fashion-Feminism, the gallery staff at The Art Center asked ‘what are we doing OUTSIDE to lead people into the gallery?’ The answer, as it often is, was: ‘what can we do with the Cow?’.

The call went out to Artist-Activist Jacqueline von Edelberg, who had recently yarn-bombed the cow in blue and yellow to draw support for Ukrainian Refugees: before that she made it pink to draw attention to the recent legislative threat to reproductive rights. 

Von Edelberg immediately rose to the challenge and created the ‘Femoonista Warrior Cow’, a chainmail armor suit fashioned out of thousands of black rubber O-rings and upcycled unconventional materials based loosely on the vision, and using the materials ‘inherited’ from, the late fiber artist Shirley Englestein’s vision of a samurai warrior. 

With Femoonista Warrior Cow Jacqueline aims to inspire women to stand up and speak out. “Fight, scrap, claw, sing, shout — make your unique voice heard as only you can,” she implores. “It might seem as though no one is listening or even cares, but keep speaking out. Sometimes, you’ll get kicked in the teeth so hard, and so often, you’ll think blood is a condiment, but keep at it. Do not waver. Create the world that lives up to your ideals.”

“Jacqueline is an integral part of our ‘Arts in Action’ initiative, a program specifically created to allow The Art Center to react/respond to what’s going on in the world around us,” says James M. Lynch, Executive Director of The Art Center. “Decorating the cow admittedly has a whimsical tone but it is also highly visible and gets noticed by passersby. Jacqueline’s work in other projects made her the perfect adjunct artist to our Fiber-Fashion-Feminism exhibit; it is a remarkable and inspired piece.”

Jacqueline von Edelberg is an artist, activist, social entrepreneur, and unapologetic ‘nasty woman.’ With two decades of applying creative thinking to seemingly intractable real-world challenges, Jacqueline is globally recognized for her public art on progressive issues. Last winter her Atlanta interactive art installation VoteTree helped change the course of history. She is passionate about building coalitions, glittery movements, and digital platforms that drive civic engagement and create systemic change.

Femoonista Warrior Cow will be on display from April 29 through June 11.Edelberg Cow

Ahmed in Nazzano

A photo of Ahmed Ibrahim and his mosaic entitled, "Hope."

Congratulations to Ahmed Ibrahim, head of The Art Center’s mosaics department, on his selection as a finalist in the Pictor Imaginarius contest! The contest draws entries from all over the world to Nazzano, Italy, where finalists gather to install their work and “brighten up the streets of the picturesque, medieval town.”

Alongside his fellow mosaicists, Ahmed visited Nazzano last week, sharing his work entitled “Hope.” For Ahmed, this piece “represents the wind turbine as one of the alternative energy sources that have a positive effect on our planet earth. Hope is a metaphor for how positive inventions can be the savior of the human race.”

Ahmed has been working in mosaics since 2000, he has always believed that the most important part of an artist’s practice is venturing outside their comfort zone. He has many public outdoor and indoor mosaics installed around the Greater Chicagoland area. Ahmed’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

 

 

 

 

Member Highlight: bari wieselman schulman

bari wieselman schulman
bari wieselman schulman

“A Creative and Analytical Mashup.”

A few years ago, artist, writer, and behavioral scientist bari wieselman schulman experienced what she calls a pivotal moment: “I was grappling with feeling very fragmented. I had diverse interests, I had lots of ideas, and I had this multi-faceted background of passions and experiences. I thought of this as a sort of vulnerability—like what do I do with this, how do I bring it all together?”

That wieselman schulman felt pulled in so many directions does not come as a surprise to those who know her professional history. Proud to describe herself as “a creative and analytical mashup,” wieselman schulman earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago and spent years working as a design strategist. Her research and dissertation focused on linguistic gestures, a line of inquiry that is also threaded through her visual art. It was embracing her academic background and creativity in tandem that led wieselman schulman to the aforementioned “pivotal moment,” the founding of her studio, rethinkreframe. “In many ways,” wieselman schulman says, “all these different elements—my background, my experiences living abroad, a great deal of travel, being surrounded by a creative family—are interconnected, they’re very much part of my journey as a creator and they inform my work as an artist.” By bringing together her diverse interests, the feeling of fragmentation no longer felt like a vulnerability, but wieselman schulman’s greatest “superpower.” Like the piecing together of an intricate mosaic, wieselman schulman’s work unifies her life experiences and passions in unexpected, yet visually stunning, ways.

bring to light, by bari wieselman schulman

For the next two months, The Art Center Gift Shop features wieselman schulman as our Member Highlight. Ranging from larger fine artworks from her all is color series to “living canvas art objects” such as one-of-a-kind painted totes and earrings, wieselman schulman’s work brings bright pops of color to our space. Color is central to wieselman schulman’s practice: “Color is an instrument for me. Personally, I think about color as a lingua franca that allows viewers to engage in an ongoing dialogue not only about my work but with my work itself. I think of color as a language, a form of communication and a means for the viewer to step into a narrative and hopefully become a participant in that dialogue, not simply an observer on the outside looking in. Color is an instrument of communication, it is a language, it is a way to dialogue with the work and hopefully come away changed.”

But color is just one tool in wieselman schulman’s kit; texture and contrast are also key, evident in the bold marks wieselman schulman casts across her works. She calls her all is color series “a deep dive into mark-making,” one in which “the intentional and the intuitive, the analytical and the creative come together in terms of different colors, surfaces, and spaces. For this series, I emphasize the way color and form come together in a high-intensity way—I’m increasingly pushing boundaries, particularly in terms of texture along with color.” Even the tools wieselman schulman uses to texturize and manipulate her paint are unique; reclaimed pieces of scrap wood from her husband’s workshop are used alongside palette knives and scrapers to move paint and apply pressure. The result of wieselman schulman’s intuitive creative process are paintings and art objects that speak to something beyond traditional concepts of language. With a dialogue rendered in strokes of technicolored and texturized media, wieselman schulman invites viewers to enter into conversation not only with her work but with the feelings it evokes inside of them.

Interested in learning more about bari wieselman schulman’s art? Check out her website and Instagram.

Are you a current member of The Art Center interested in being featured in our Member Highlight program? Click here to apply.

Interested in becoming a member? Click here.

Norman Teague: Design, Community, and Compassion

Imagine it’s a Friday evening at the Highland Park Metra station. The platform to catch the train into Chicago is full of people, all of them headed into the city for a weekend of activities: museums, concerts, film screenings. Across the tracks, the platform on the opposite side is deserted until a North-bound train pulls in, and a crowd of Chicagoans steps off. This is the vision of the Art Center Highland Park’s Executive Director, James Lynch, an idea he calls “the reverse cultural commute.” Instead of art enthusiasts leaving Highland Park to take in the culture of the city, his goal is that people from the city come to us to see exhibitions, hear music, and experience one-of-a-kind events and programs.

Photo of Norman Teague
Norman Teague

An important first step in realizing the vision of the reverse cultural commute is bringing in artists who represent the best of Chicago-area talent to Highland Park. One such artist is designer and educator Norman Teague

“I only have my story to tell.”

An artist, designer, and educator from Chicago, Teague knew early in his life that he had “a passion for drawing, but didn’t know which way to direct it.”  Pursuing technical drawing, he enrolled at Harold Washington College, where he studied architecture. Though not the final destination on his career journey, Teague says that working in architecture for twelve years let him know that he could use his “drawing skills to do bigger things.” Continuing his education in interior architecture at Columbia College Chicago, he discovered the college’s woodshop: “I fell in love with this idea of sketching things out and then bringing those things to fruition through working with my hands.” 

It was during this time of inspiration that Teague opened his first studio. “It was rough, down and dirty, but I had this level of independence where I could go in the shop twenty-four hours a day and work on different ideas I might have.” Word spread about his studio and Teague began to get commissions for projects from businesses and individuals from around Chicago. Deciding he wanted to return to school again, he earned his MFA in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute Chicago. 

With SAIC as a platform to help his work gain exposure, Teague began to ponder what kind of impact his work could be making on the world: “I’m a born and raised Chicagoan who has seen design and the lack of in his own neighborhood, yet fortunate enough that I traveled a lot and I saw just what a fruitful neighborhood looked like, what design had to do with that and really what kind of impact I could be making. That really woke me up, gave me the opportunity to think more directly about what I wanted to say with this work. I wanted to voice inequities through my work, tell these stories through creating objects that really express a narrative that I felt was less heard. For years I was like, ‘Maybe the rest of the world just don’t give a fuck about us. Maybe that’s just the way it is and I’ve just gotta shut that up and be okay with it.’ But I never was okay with it and I’ve pushed since then to create work that talks about where I’m from, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. And really to not beat anyone upside the head, but to set an example of a person of color doing positive things, trying to tell stories that are lesser told. I’ve been doing whatever I can to curate shows and make work that I’m happy with. I can’t say that I’m looking to make work that makes anyone else happy, I only have my story to tell and my hope is that there are other people who find relevance in that and maybe some empowerment in that.” 

Norman Teague's sinmi stool, a rocking stool made of bent plywood
Sinmi Stool

For Teague, inspiration comes from both home and abroad, as evidenced in his celebrated Sinmi Stool. Constructed from bent plywood and birch laminations, the stool’s name is derived from the Yoruba word meaning “to relax.” Aptly titled, Teague’s work invites viewers to lean back and chill.  “I really take pride in stimulating interest through form,” Teague says, “particularly in my Sinmi Stool which has this motion and movability to it.” The stool speaks to an action-oriented aesthetic, one rooted in the inclination to rest against the hood of a car or a kitchen counter. The stool doesn’t just occupy space, it creates it through movement, generating a feeling of playful approachability in those seeing or perching upon it.

“Compassion, Empathy, and Affirmation.”

As an artist who always has his eye on community-building, Teague frequently works with other artists and organizations. Teague says that “compassion, empathy, and affirmation” are the key elements of a successful collaboration: “I think that if you bring those things to the table and that there’s a great deal of listening happening, people are excited and fired up about all the possibilities. I feel like this is a sheer collaboration with Highland Park, how does an outside voice talk to Highland Park, which has a Black population of less than 2%? That’s why the programmatic arm [of The Art Center] is really important, it gives me and that community a little bit of face-to-face time. I think that is where conversations start to happen and barriers are broken.” 

If you’re interested in becoming part of this conversation, Norman Teague will display his work at The Art Center Highland Park in August 2022.

 

Member Highlight: Boruch Lev

Boruch Lev at work (screencap from “Artist Featurette: Boruch Lev,” by Meditative Art Creation on YouTube.

Growing up, Boruch Lev dedicated hours to his modeling clay creations. “Some creatures born to fly,” says Lev, “some to swim, and I was born to create in clay!” He sculpted animals in jungle scenes and crafted projects for school that were so realistic neither his teachers nor peers could believe he made them himself. Talented as he was, a career as a professional artist felt out of reach for a boy from a small suburb of Moscow in the Soviet Union. Instead, Lev trained as a civil engineer at the Moscow Civil Engineer Institute, eventually immigrating to Atlanta, GA in 1996 to work as a designer for an engineering company. From Atlanta, he and his wife and two sons made their way to Chicago in 2001. Two years later, Lev stumbled across the Evanston Art Center. Remembering his long-dormant passion for art, he enrolled in a figurative sculpture class taught by Sheila Ottinger.

It was there that Lev’s love of sculpting was rekindled and he began learning to shape figures out of ceramic materials, instead of the modeling clay he worked with as a boy. From there, little by little, sculpture began to reclaim its place in his life. Lev even began to teach classes of his own for children with special needs at the Little City Foundation in Palatine. 

Some of Lev’s work—featured for the next two months in The Art Center Highland Park’s newly-renovated gift shop—is figurative, organic lines shaped in clay and sketched in charcoal pencil that draw attention to the natural beauty of the human body. Others are more abstract representations, like a fallen tree trunk or the true-to-scale lower mandible of a horse. The latter is titled, Bucephalos, presumably after Alexander the Great’s famed steed. However, the sculpture eludes any direct interpretation. Instead, it simply presents itself at face value, a precisely rendered skeletal representation that allows viewers to fill it with their own meanings. “Whatever we see it’s only a part of the puzzle,” says Lev, “even the beautiful lines of a human body are only parts of the whole picture. We are trying to understand the whole, so we are looking beyond specific lines. Looking at and beyond the specific real object I’m trying to figure out its relations to others, including myself. I’m breaking that image in my mind and so, in clay. I remember seeing somewhere a description of abstract art that sounds approximately like this ‘abstract art is an art that represents just itself and nothing else.’”

Bucephalus
Bucephalos, Boruch Lev

One piece in Lev’s gift shop collection, Red Button, feels hyper-relevant to current events. Two hands, each a mirror reflection of the other, hover their index fingers over their individual red buttons. There is a palpable tension between the matched set, generated by the looming specter of an ever-present threat. That all of this power is held and communicated in the simplest of gestures speaks to the strength of Lev’s artistic talents. 

Lev’s work will be on display and for sale in the gift shop for the next two months.

To learn more about Boruch Lev’s life and work visit his website or Instagram.

Are you a current member of The Art Center interested in having your work featured in our gift shop? We

Red Button, Boruch Lev

are looking for original, high-quality ceramics, jewelry, paintings, textiles, prints, photographs, and more. Click here to apply.

Not a member yet? Become one today!

Seeking Out the Other: A Community-Building Initiative Presents the Second Event in an Ongoing Series

“Who are the “we” in “We the People of the United States . . .” 

Thursday, February 24th, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Location: The Art Center Highland Park, 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035

 

Guest Speaker: Janea D. Harris of Insight Advocacy will give a short introduction and then moderate topics including:

 

  • Who are the “we” in “We the People of the United States…?”
  • Does the United States have a “national character” — what defines it and how has it changed over time?
  • What does being a “citizen” mean? What does productive, imaginative, and engaged citizenship look like at this time in our history?
  • What happens to the idea of a shared American identity (liberty, equality, individualism, populism? laissez-faire?) when social mobility declines along with trust in American institutions?

 

Janea D. Harris is an author (All Girls Have Sup-Her Powers, The Power of Voice, Through the Window of Winter the Rabbit) and poet who loves using creative writing to help children gain a better understanding of complex topics. As an educator, she learned that children often discover lasting life-long lessons in the books that they read. As a newer resident of Highland Park she will share some of her initial experiences after moving to the city, events which led her to co-found Insight Advocacy, with the mission to advocate for inclusion and diversity in our community by providing visibility, insight, and resources to support families of color.

 

Seeking Out the Other takes on the format of a community potluck meal. Attendees are encouraged to bring food that represents their own background or their family traditions. Plates, flatware and a variety of beverages will be provided.

 

This event is a continuation of the series ‘Seeking Out the Other’, a collaboration between the Highland Park Library, the Highwood Library, The Justice Project, and The Art Center Highland Park. Part of the Arts in Action initiative of The Art Center Highland Park, the evening’s structure and format was created by Chad Clark, Assistant Director of The Highland Park Public Library.

 

For reservations, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/seeking-out-the-other-a-community-building-discussion-and-potluck-tickets-264733273347

Member Highlight: Jody Berns

In our first Member Highlight, we feature artist, longtime member of The Art Center, and former board member Jody Berns. Read on to learn why Berns refers to her membership as an act of “not only giving but getting back.” 

As a child, Jody Berns would sit at a small table in her mother’s basement studio and create works of art. “It just gave me joy to be there,” Berns says, “to create projects, different types of art. I liked to do jewelry or emulate the type of work that she would do, and she would help and teach me along the way.”

Berns’ mother, Maxine Cobert, was a professional artist. Cobert’s early work as a fashion illustrator saw her employed by famed Chicago retailers such as the Mandel Brothers, Marshall Fields, and Chas A. Stevens. Berns herself had retired from a successful career working in technology for large banks when her mother passed away. Looking to reignite her passion for art, Berns enrolled as a student at The Art Center, where her daughter took classes and her mother taught in the 90s.

Berns chose to try her hand at digital photography: “The first class I took was with Rino Liberatore. It was a basic ‘How to Use Your Digital Camera’ class. I also took Iris Allen’s course in Photoshop. And that set me off on my way. [Photography] combined a lot of my love for technology and art and really seemed to resonate with me.”

On her artistic process, Berns says: “I like to start with an image and then use it as a base to build on. So when you look at a lot of my images they’re either composites or I use technology to manipulate the image. So it’s something that I can be creative with—not just what I’m seeing in the world, but something I can work on and make my own.”

Ochre Trench by Jody Berns
“Ochre Trench,” by Jody Berns, from her Fashion Plate series.

Berns combined her photography skills with her own mothers’ artwork to create a series of composite images called Fashion Plate. After her mother passed away, Berns found a treasure trove of drawings in a portfolio folder: “I just started taking them out and scanning them, realizing that it was a way for me to connect with her again.” The result is a collection of stunning images that seem to break down the barrier between past and present, Maxine Cobert’s illustrations come to life in modern settings.

Barriers are a thematic thread we also see drawn through Berns’ piece I Heart Sofia, currently on display in The Art Center’s In View 2022 exhibition. The image is a composite of two photographs—one of Sofia that Berns captured a few years ago combined with a picture of a lighthouse window. In her description of the piece, Berns writes that “during the pandemic, we have had to adapt to distance and barriers from those we love. My piece, I Heart Sofia, is an image showing a longing for what is on the other side of the window. The longing for connection.” 

Berns, whose son and grandchildren live outside the United States, is keenly aware of the impact the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on our ability to connect with the people we love. Her series People on the Other Side, of which I Heart Sofia is a part, grapples with that sense of separation. 

Composite photo of woman gazing out window
“I Heart Sofia,” 2020, Jody Berns

“I’ve had to create a relationship with them through glass,” Berns says of her family living abroad. “A lot of artists use their artwork to express how they’re feeling as sort of an outlet. So in this particular series, that’s what it felt like to me. An outlet for what I was feeling over the past couple of years.”

Yet, however looming feelings of separation may be, Berns still refers to The Art Center as a “gem,” one that is central to Highland Park’s sense of community: “We’re so fortunate to have all of these classes and programs going on. The galleries that Caren [The Art Center curator, Caren Helene Rudman] has been curating are second to none when you look at some of the things that you might go to Downtown Chicago to see. It’s really rare that a community has something as unique and cultural.”

To learn more about Bern’s work, follow her on Instagram and Facebook or visit her website.