Lake Forest gallery show features city artists
Study for Landscape, 2 by Regin Igloria
Re-invent Gallery, 202 Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 11
(224) 544-5961or www.reinventlf.com
Updated: July 24, 2012 10:00PM
City artists with a contemporary flair headline the newest exhibit at Re-invent Gallery in Lake Forest.
“This is a first for an urban-suburban art-scene-blending, independently conceived and curated by Ragdale director of artists-in-residence and independent artist Regin Igloria,” said Kristin Mikrut, who co-owns Re-invent with Cecilia Lanyon. “We had a city vs. suburbs, urban-suburban idea and we’re excited about having Chicago artists here — just a hop, skip and a jump away but it’s artwork that overlaps from the city and suburbs and that hasn’t happened before.”
The new gallery opened May 19 two blocks from downtown’s Lake Forest Market Square in the former Konradt’s Florist shop. The 4,000-square-foot space uses the florist’s walk-in cooler as a multi-media room to host a sound installation; converted the raw work space formerly used to make floral arrangements into five spaces for studio artists and created an innovative retail shop that “blurs the line between curator and consumer” featuring jewelry, green goods, household items and more in a variety of mediums from an eclectic mix of 40 artists.
In the gallery’s second exhibit “Such Places,” five Chicago area artists display their mixed media collages, ink on paper drawings, acrylics on canvas, sound installations and more in a 12-piece abstract art collection reminiscent of exhibitions at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. This urban edge exhibit offers something unique to area residents.
“It gives Lake Forest a glimpse into a different type of work they probably wouldn’t see walking down the street,” said Regin Igloria, curator of the exhibit and director of the artists-in-residence program at The Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest. Ragdale is a 36-year-old residency program serving more than 200 visual artists, composers and writers each year. “Because of my seven-year history here, I’ve come across a lot of different artists and used this opportunity to showcase artists who are more affiliated with the city of Chicago or a contemporary art scene stemming from Chicago.”
The artists on exhibition include Nazafarin Lotfi of Chicago, a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his mixed media on watercolor paper, wire and fence; Sarah Nesbit, a Chicago-based artist currently in residency in Peoria at the Prairie Center of the Arts, and her acrylics on canvas and mixed media; Norman Long of Chicago’s South Side and his digital sound recordings; Barbara Kendrick, a professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and her collages; and Regin Igloria of Chicago and his graphite and screen-print collages.
“My reason for picking all of these people is when I’m reading through applications and artist statements, there’s certain works and artists I’m drawn to that make connections with my own work,” Igloria explains. “It sounds like ego stroking but their work is pretty different than mine. We’re presenting the work of artists with inklings of the city.”
Igloria himself has been torn in the city vs. suburbs dilemma, living in the city and working on his own community bookbinding space, North Branch Project in Albany Park, while combining his work at Ragdale. He conveys that dilemma in the landscapes and artist sketchbook he shares at the exhibit.
“All of my work is my relationship to nature; my attempts to find joy or some fulfillment through nature,” Igloria, 38, explains. “I don’t do images of trees; it’s usually interpreted through another lense, gear, or things I encounter that speak about human relationships to nature, especially our intervention into suburban sprawl.” He uses sandbags and construction barricades to assist with his abstract versions that were inspired by walks through the 50 acres of prairie behind Ragdale in Lake Forest.
Long’s “sound walk” from the Lake Forest Metra train station through downtown Lake Forest is captured in his sound installation played on a loop in the old walk-in florist cooler. “You hear the train bells and traffic,” Igloria said, “and literally the computer, the amp, and the wires are laid on floor mats made of torn cardboard to create texture and pattern; you can hear it when you walk into room.”
Taking advantage of the unique space and aesthetics provided by Re-invent also has been exciting for Igloria.
“Re-invent is in an old floral shop boutique in the suburban strip, not a West Loop Gallery,” Igloria said, noting it’s perfect for a small-size exhibition. “I like that tension: the idea the city folks are thinking too suburban and the suburban folks are thinking city. It’s a great place for a dialogue to happen.”
“It’s new and different and we want people to explore what’s new in a comfortable environment and community space,” Mikrut said of the exhibit. “We really wanted to uphold our mission statement to have all types of artwork in our space. Some of it will be challenging and some people are going to say: ‘What is that?’ But that’s good and sparks a conversation.
“We want a dialogue to expose the community to this caliber of work.”