So Much Good Under One Roof

So Much Good Under One Roof


Recently The Art Center once again played host to the Annual Awards Ceremony of The Highland Park Community Foundation. Each October grant recipients gather for a 90-minute meet and greet event during which they receive their grants for the coming fiscal year. None of the recipients know the amount of the award ahead of time and that adds to the excitement of getting together. Each group takes a photo with their HPCF Foundation Liaison and everyone is all smiles. It is a congenial and fun event, but it is also a seriously necessary part of life in our communities – Highland Park and Highwood.

The HPCF is a blessing to Gratitude Generation, not only because it helps provide funds to increase our programming and reach more people, but also because the leaders of the foundation are cheerleaders and personal supporters of our mission.

Nicki Sutherland, Executive Director, Gratitude Generation

Like the theme of the HPCF annual fundraiser, Gather for Good, the awards ceremony is a gathering of good people from good organizations who do good things for others: Cancer Wellness Center, Highland Park Community Early Learning Center, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Highwood Library, Highland Park Library, plus some fifty or so others. This year, the HPCF distributed 63 annual grant awards, totaling $746,925 – $133,725 more than in 2021. The effect of this entity is exponential in creating services as they fulfill their promise to support organizations and programs that address the unmet needs of our community and expand opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival has been able to expand and improve its offerings to the Highland Park community – taking them to the next level – because of the HP Community Foundation’s financial and structural support.

Nic DeGrazia, Bitter Jester Music Festival

The good work of the Highland Park Community Foundation was the reason behind TAC honoring them for their 30th anniversary during our last Annual Spring Benefit. During the worst days of COVID HPCF sent out emails with resources for the community, including emergency funding for urgent needs, and they were the first (and best) choice to lead the July 4th Shooting Response Fund, award Golden Apples to exceptional educators, administer the Jack Blane Community Service Award, and consistently find new ways to serve the community.

The Highland Park Community Foundation is a critical partner in our efforts to bridge equity for those who are marginalized in our community. We are grateful for our partnership and look forward to continuing to collaborate in this effort.

Carmen Patlan, Executive Director, Highwood Library

The Art Center Highland Park has long been a grateful recipient of an annual grant from the foundation and it is one of our larger gifts, making our education, exhibits, events, and community-building programs possible. We invite our community to support and acknowledge the great work they do for all of us.

The Highland Park Community Foundation has repeatedly made the Library’s Note for Note concert series possible, bringing diverse cultural experiences to our community through music and often dancing in the aisles!

Heidi Smith, Executive Director, Highland Park Library


More information can be found by visiting their site.


An Interview with Barbara Abelson and Dave Wigodner, Co-Chairs of the Recycled Art Sale 2022

As the co-chairs of the Recyled Art Sale, Barbara Abelson and Dave Wigodner are integral to making the sale a success. We spoke to them about why the Recycled Art Sale matters so much to The Art Center and the North Shore community at large. Their answers shed light on how Recycled brings people together, sparks interest in the arts, and helps raise funds for programs, classes, and exhibitions.

Ready to join us for this year’s sale? Tickets are now available for the VIP Preview/Opening Night on October 13 and general admission during the opening weekend!

Interested in volunteering for the Recycled Art Sale? Please email for more information.

Recycled Art Sale Co-Chairs Barbara Abelson and Dave Wigodner
Barbara Abelson and Dave Wigodner pose together at last year’s Recycled Art Sale (photo by Robin Subar).

The Recycled Art Sale is a community favorite. What do you think draws people from all over Highland Park and the wider North Shore area together to volunteer for, donate to, and shop at the event? What do you think keeps people coming back year after year?

Barbara: “It is very exciting to see how our community responds to the Recycled event with so much enthusiasm. Donors appreciate this great opportunity to pass on pieces they have outgrown in one way or another or perhaps come from family estates that are being broken up while getting a tax letter acknowledging their generosity. Those who volunteer for the event enjoy the camaraderie within the group, as we all work to research the value of the goods we receive, and get the vast array of artwork and decorative items ready for sale. And, of course, those who come to shop look forward to the hunt. Will they find a treasure that has been overlooked by everyone else and will be just perfect for them? There is an undeniable thrill in finding a piece—or several pieces—that truly speak to you, at prices that are within reach, all while helping to raise money that supports The Art Center’s mission.”

Dave: “For volunteers and shoppers – I think it’s the thrill of the search: for a treasure, a bargain, an opportunity to brighten a spot in their home or find an unusual gift. To find the gem that will bring in buyers and make more money. For donors – it’s not always easy to part with something you once loved, no longer need or that has connections to family and home; donating to Recycled puts those things you’re done with into new hands where they’re reborn. It’s a more tangible donation than just dollars. Your stuff isn’t really lost. And it supports The Art Center.”

Our VIP Preview event takes place on October 13, what are the perks of attending the opening night of the sale?

Barbara: “Simply put, it’s the chance to get a first crack at the beautiful and inspiring works that we have collected all year long. Of course, the Opening Night party is always a good time—food, drinks, music, friends, and the chance to be surrounded by beautiful things. Opening Night is a great way to kick off the 10 days of this well-loved event.”

Dave: “First look, more stuff, fun time. The action of flipping through artwork, talking with friends and strangers, with a drink in your hand, good food, and a pulsing beat. It’s pretty electric.”

Recycled is a lot of fun, but it’s also one of The Art Center’s biggest fundraisers with sales from the event going towards our programming, education, and outreach. What do you think makes the arts such an important aspect of our community, one that is worth funding?

Barbara: “Art education and awareness enrich a community by encouraging the imagination to expand, to see the world and its people in new ways, and to give voice where perhaps there are no words.  If creative expression is at the heart of what makes us human, as I believe it is,  we cannot afford to disengage from agencies like The Art Center, as it seeks to reach out with exciting classes, energizing exhibits, and other creativity awakening programming, all the while working to make art available to all through scholarships. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to support the arts.”

Dave: “Recycled touches such a wide range of people, art interests (or not so interested) and at such varying price points that it doesn’t exclude anyone: people buying $2 beaded bracelets, $2,000+ artwork, antique prints or objects. We get kids stopping to buy on their way home from middle school, people living in mansions and people in public housing, entrepreneurs looking for bargain art to resell online, designers chasing deals for clients, serious collectors. All shopping together, sifting through bins, looking for something to catch their eye. Or their heart. How many places does all that happen?”

What’s your favorite find from the Recycled Art Sale—either from this year or in the past?

Barbara: “About 70% of the art in my home is from a Recycled event, so it would be hard to pinpoint my favorite piece from so many. I love the Richard Haas print of the Dakota, valued at four figures and for which I paid $100, but I also love the small, unsigned ceramic bowl, delicately painted with flowers that I found last year for $5. And then there is the carved ivory ring from several years ago that I gave one of my daughters for her birthday and the stunning abstract oil that hangs in another daughter’s dining room. See? It’s hard to pick just one piece!”

Dave: “Well – I totally dug unearthing the Lee Godie piece, finding more information on her, talking with gallerists that knew her, discovering the unseen sketches that are part of the artwork.”

“A couple of years ago I bought two colorful desert prints in lurid pink frames that oddly went great with the 1950s pink bathroom wall tile in my daughter’s Tucson apartment, and a couple of small bronzes by Jack & Alice MacLean whose work I’ve admired for years that are now hanging in my home. I have a stack of projects to do with frames and old prints from Recycled. But my favorite now – last year I realized that this big, garish frame held a record album jacket and I bought it. The album is autographed by the performer – Steve Earle – I’ve been a fan for years; we went and saw Steve perform recently. The cover artwork is by Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick and this copy is actually signed by Tony. There was a great retrospective of his work last year in Glen Ellen and through a bunch of odd coincidences, I met Tony by his studio and had a conversation that included how Steve Earle’s dog Beau made it into the album cover artwork. The album is “Washington Square Serenade” and one song on it is “City of Immigrants”; I’m planning to reframe it in a beat-up old wood frame that belonged to my grandparents – immigrants that made it across Europe and the Atlantic to the lower east of NYC more than a century ago. And worked in garment factories around the corner from Washington Square. Talk about recycled. It’s not worth a lot of money. It’s not an original. But it’s a story I’ll hold on to.”

Talking With Jeff Libman

In the latest installment of our Talking With series, singer/songwriter Jeff Libman discusses songwriting and his upcoming fundraising concert at The Art Center Highland Park with our executive director, James Lynch.

Join us for LATE NIGHT AT THE GALLERIES with Jeff Libman and the Jujus on September 14th at 7 pm. The event will be indoors and held in the Main Gallery of The Art Center, where the exhibition Voices & Visions; Standing on the Bridge Between Health and Disease will be open late for all the guests to enjoy before the show ends. This is a pay-what-you-can event with all donations benefiting art education.

Highland Park’s own native son Jeff Libman and his band the JuJus bring their infectious acoustic soul sound to the Art Center Highland Park. Told he was born to the wrong musical generation, he credits his songwriting to the classic singer-songwriters of the 1970s and the soul/pop of the same era. If you have been to Highland Park, you’ve undoubtedly seen Jeff perform at various venues throughout the years.

Jeff Libman and The Jujus will play their repertoire of pop, folk, soul, and Americana music and songs in the Main Gallery to benefit the Education Fund at The Art Center Highland Park, a 501 non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and igniting a passion for the arts through self-expression, dialog, community engagement and inclusiveness. Donations will be used for various educational programs, including community outreach and scholarships.

Click here to register for this event!

Bobbie Rafferty: Member Highlight Interview

Our new Gift Shop Member Highlight features the work of jewelry-maker Bobbie Rafferty of Beadsong Jewelry! Bobbie Rafferty’s work will be featured in our gift shop from September 1 through October 31. Read our interview with Rafferty below to learn more about her creative process and artistic inspirations.

An image of Bobbie Rafferty, the Bead Song Jewelry logo, and the TAC logo with the text: The Art Center Member Highlight InterviewHow did you get your start in jewelry? Did you take classes in jewelry making or are you self-taught?

 I really kind of fell into it. I took one class about 25 or 30 years ago that turned out to be more like projects that you could do with a scout troop, but there were just enough things in there to pique my interest and point me in a direction to explore on my own. So, while I’ve taken a technique class here and there, I really am primarily self-taught. Which means a lot of trial and error along the way! But that way you really explore and get it in your fingers.

When I started it was really basic kind of stuff—very basic stringing and you know kind of using what I could find in the market before I learned how to shop and source and build inventory. I would say the first class that I took in bead weaving—a very basic introduction to the Peyote style stitch—was kind of the door that opened, that led me to explore some of these other kinds of techniques and figure out how to combine them and build on the very basic stuff and go on to the more intricate things.

Your jewelry is so intricate, what’s your preparation process like for creating a piece? Do you sketch out a plan before you start, or do the pieces come together organically as you make them?

Now and then I will sketch out a plan. Primarily if I’m doing an embroidered piece, I want to make sure I know where all the parts are going to go. A lot of times it does start with a focal or a particular gemstone or a tube of seed beads that you sit down with and think, “Well, where can we go from here?” So maybe one day it’s, “I’ve got this gemstone and I want to build something around it.” And the next day it’s, “What happens if I weave a piece that’s all in shades of white and beige?” Or, “Let’s play around with this particular stitch.”

So it’s a combination of things, and sometimes when I sketch it comes out completely different! Improv can be a really useful thing!

You use a wide variety of materials—beads, crystals, gems, etc. How do you go about selecting your materials? Do you select them with particular projects in mind or just go by what catches your eye?

I pretty much have my eye out for things anytime I’m out shopping. I’ll go to a gem show or I’ll go to a thrift store. If it catches my eye, I’ve learned to grab it then, even if I don’t know what I’m going to use it for at that particular moment. That way I’ve got enough of a collection, enough choices, that when it comes time to build something I can really play around and maybe come up with some really unexpected combinations. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so at this point, I’ve got a lot of bits and bobs stored up. But you know it’s never enough! You still can go out and find something wonderful that either is the perfect thing to finish what I had in mind or really inspires something new.

The challenge of looking at something that has previously been something else, and trying to both respect the original artist’s intent but also reimagines how it could be incorporated into something else. Especially if it’s a broken piece, that’s really wonderful because then you’ve got the history that’s there, whether you know the story or not, you know there’s something there and you’re adding to the story.

A beaded necklace on sheet musicFrom your Instagram, it looks like you attend a lot of art fairs, what’s your favorite thing about attending and selling your work at sales like One of a Kind?

Creating jewelry can be a very solitary thing. So it’s really wonderful to go out and talk to people about it, to see and hear their reactions, and to see what resonates with different people. I just really enjoy the conversations, I love people watching, and I love seeing what the other artists create. It doesn’t matter what medium they’re working in, it’s just always inspirational to see how other people use color or texture to approach a problem or express themselves.

Where do you look for inspiration? Are there other artists whose work you admire?

There are bead workers that I really admire. Sherry Serafini, who does spectacular bead embroidery, is just really creative in how she uses her eye to imagine things.

Valerie Hector, who is local, I have admired her work for a very long time.

Julie Powell is another person who really looks at colors and how to combine them, and how to combine seed beads with gemstones and things like that.

I’ll name those three, but there are so many others. I’ve been fortunate over the years to make contact with a lot of jewelry artists. It’s a very generous online beading community. You find folks who do it for fun, folks who do it for a living, and people who are on the continuum in between. You make these virtual friendships and get their inspiration and support. You never know what piece is going to pop up and make you think things like, “I never thought about that color combination!” So you try to stay open to work wherever you find it and see how it can inspire, shape, and motivate you to move forward.

Where does the name Beadsong Jewelry come from?

I come from a very musical family—professional musicians. My musical talent didn’t match the professionals I grew up around, so I knew that performance wasn’t the career path for me. But I am surrounded by music with so many members of my family performing and finding their creative expression that way. My mother was an opera singer, my father was a conductor, and my husband is a violinist. So when I fell into bead weaving and jewelry making, it became my way of artistic expression. So it’s an expression of my life immersed in music then expressing myself through the beads.

As a TAC Member, what kind of programming or events would you like to see from us in the future?

I appreciate how TAC focuses on and promotes local artists. I live in downtown Chicago, so it’s hard for me to get up there as often as possible, but I think anything that amplifies the voices of local artists and responds to either local concerns, or topics of the day, or takes a broad prompt and allows people to express their interpretation of that is always wonderful. If people come in and they know that the work is by their neighbors, that’s just such a treat. I think that makes art so much more accessible and approachable. It’s not art that was made by a wonderfully talented guy two hundred years ago. It just makes it more immediate and personal.

Interested in learning more about Bobbie Rafferty? 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.

CHAIRS FOR CHAIR-ITY, Benefiting Designs for Dignity: Highwood Design Week

Highwood’s Design Week’s Finale event will feature Specialty Wines, fare from Highwood restaurants, live music, and an auction of Adirondack Chairs that benefit Designs for Dignity. Designs for Dignity transforms nonprofit environments through pro bono design services and in-kind donations – empowering lives through design. They are a fantastic partner for Highwood’s Design District’s annual event.

Highwood Businesses and Designers have brought their Adirondack chairs to life while highlighting their businesses.  And new this year, a group of artists from Highland Park’s Laughlin Gallery have brought their artistic skill sets to the chairs, creating functional pieces of art.  All of these chairs will be displayed in Highwood in September.  If you’ve been salivating over Laughlin Gallery’s offerings, here is your chance to take home a treasure and support a wonderful chair-ity!

Here are a few of the chairs included in the auction which will be available online beginning in September and in person at the Design Week finale at Pazzo di Vino on Saturday, September 24 beginning at 5:30.  Register online at

Four sets of colorful chairss

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 from November 18-December 30, 2022, with an opening reception on November 18 from 6:00-8:00 pm.



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.

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.’”

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.

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Red Button, Boruch Lev

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