Helena Johard & Jakob Ankarsvärd - June 2014

Carboniferous memories

Carboniferous memories

In the exhibition “Carboniferous memories,” Swedish artists Helena Johard and Jakob Anckarsvärd examine crude oil through their individual artistic processes. The exhibition aims to shift oil from its industrial meaning to represent both nature’s uncontrolled forces and our minds’ intrinsic, subconscious activity. As our everyday experience is influenced by our irrational nightly dreams, the fossil memory of crude oil echoes in our rational world by smelly, smeary, extinct life forms. For Art on Armitage, Anckarsvärd and Johard use paintings, installations and video to create a window shopping experience that offers alternative readings of oil, but could also represent our uncontrolled inner life.

Johard and Anckarsvärd have had a close artistic exchange since studying at Glasgow School of Art and they have had several exhibitions together.  Anckarsvärd and Johard share an interest in human symbolic reality and it’s power to create new meaning. They often work site specific, where ideas often emerge by the interaction with the environment.

On May 31, Helena Johard performed “Invertebrate,” on the sidewalk in front of the gallery, lying immobilized for one hour under a pile of soil in reference to lifeforms that were compressed to create today’s oil, 358 million years ago. Her Rorschach images were created using crude oil spill debris picked up on the shore of Sweden. Ankarsvärd’sdrawings were created from crude oil.


Neighborhood Artists - May 2014

Ivonne Cruz

Any art work I create has been my avenue for discovery and growth. My inspiration is life. It is a yearning to understand what makes us live, and what stories people have to tell

Lucia Herrera

Is a self taught artist, born and raised in Chicago. Her Mexican background and upbringing as well as her personal experiences are the driving force behind her art, "I truly enjoy working with my hands and find that creating art is beneficial to our souls. I am grateful for this gift and I enjoy sharing it with the world." 

Thomas Plum

Untitled is a work intended to capture the spirit and energy of Hermosa as I've experienced it over the past ten years.

Gabi Kopp - April 2014

Cartography of social networks

Invisible relationships determine power and powerlessness in our lives and society. Gabi Kopp is a Swiss illustrator. She has been working for international media and publishers for more than 25 years.

She works from her studio in Lucerne, Switzerland.

In addition to illustration, comics and cartoons, she is author of two illustrated cookbooks: "Das Istanbul Kochbuch" and "Das Persische Kochbuch." To write and illustrate these two books, she went to Turkey and Iran and visited ordinary people in their homes and small restaurants to talk to them and draw them, building bridges of cultural and social understanding.

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Ayala Leyser - March 2014

A psychotherapist by trade, Ayala Leyser puts her observations into a solid form of mixed media sculpture, using clay and discarded household items. With biting humor, she builds hyperboles and familiar scenarios involving the relationships to oneself as well as to one another, focusing on the absurd ad irrational.

She operates a gallery in Chicago called Out of Line Art Gallery.

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Falon Mihalic - February 2014

Living Great Lakes Map

Twenty percent of the world's fresh surface water is contained in the Great Lakes, which define our bioregion in Chicago. We are part of a natural system that provides water, sustenance and life to millions and millions of people in the US and Canada.

City living can easily erase this awareness and consciousness of the natural environment. The city blinds us to the natural environment. The Living Great Lakes Map is meant to bring back an appreciation of nature for all of us. Simply viewing this space constructed out of natural symbols and living things can recharge and refresh you, and cure your nature deficit disorder or warm you up in Chicago's winter.

Falon is a landscape architect. In this installation, she has planted vinca in the felt lake cut-outs.

Jonee Cocchia - January 2014

Opposite Sun

Opposite sun is a window installation representing what is seen after the sun drops. The night can play tricks with our eyes, casting shadows of illusions that can make you stop in your tracks or stop and capture this moment. This is exactly what photographer Jonee Cocchia is doing in this set of photos: letting the night create a story for your mind. Seen through a light different from what the sun illuminates, Jonee leads you to se your own picture within his.

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Gwendolyn Zabicki - December 2013

Night Paintings

Chicago artist Gwendolyn Zabicki spent several months making oil paintings outside at night in her Logan Square neighborhood. These were quick, small paintings inspired by the Bosnian-American novelist Aleksandar Hemon. He wrote that Chicago “was built not for people to come together, but for them to be safely apart.”

He argued that in an attempt to build individual freedom, privacy, and independence into the urban landscape, the city’s planning and architecture instead reinforce loneliness and isolation. We can see evidence of life happening around us, but feel shut out of the private lives of others. Zabicki’s work takes what is briefly glimpsed, hinting at the lives of others who will forever remain unknown to us.

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Artists 4 Radical Change - November 2013

The Neighborhood School Memory Project

Artists for Radical Change use painting, drawing and mixed media installation as tools to manipulate images and capture moments and events undocumented by the media. Members of the collective collaborated with community organizers and activist organizations over a period of several years to deepen their understanding of the political economy of public education.

These works resulted directly from board meetings, school closing hearings, protests, demonstrations and marches from neighborhoods and areas throughout Chicago. The bright and bold colors of these works emulate the energy, anxiety and tensions felt at events by the artists throughout this experience. The events were physically and emotionally stressful and the threat of arrest was constantly present.

Alicia Obermeyer - October 2013


Alicia Obermeyer uses thrift stores as a source for materials that embody evidence of human life in contemporary habitats. In the past, she has created anthropomorphic sculptures that evolved from an accumulation and manipulation of these found objects and materials. For this project, she will be creating a site-specific relief drawing with locally thrifted bed-sheets and masking tape. Her process will include a series of automatic drawings made while observing movement during rehearsals at En las Tablas Performing Arts, which will inform the composition of her window display. Obermeyer lives and works in Chicago.

Performance: October 6, 2-4pm

Special for Chicago Artist’s Month: In a creative collaboration, students of Evelyn DeJesus’s class at En Las Tablas Performing Arts will use expressive movement in a performance that will challenge conventions of beauty. The dance will begin on the sidewalk in front of Art on Armitage at 4125 W. Armitage Ave. and will travel several doors down to En Las Tablas Performing Arts at 4111 W. Armitage Ave. The event is free and open to the public.


Sonja Carlborg - September 2013

Dukkha: Paper Doll of Suffering

Dukkha is a Buddhist term for suffering or unease, the state of anxiety endemic to the human condition.  Known as the First Noble Truth, Dukkha is the condition Buddhists believe we must accept as true before we can begin the path to redemption.

Dukkha is an adult interpretation of a favorite childhood pastime. For those unfamiliar with paper dolls, the tabs are usually folded under to hold the outfit, or persona, on the doll.  I have left them extended here.

References are drawn from philosophy, art history, anthropology, literature, botany, and many other disciplines, as well as my own life experience. The goal is 100 personas, a reference to The Hundred Dresses, a children’s book by Eleanor Estes. Originals are not for sale.  For prints, contact the artist.

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Peyton Rack - August 2013

Orchestra of Overkill

This painting was made from a photomontage of pictures I took with my phone of concocted spectacles like Macy’s window displays and neighbors’ yards strewn with Christmas lights.       

The qualities of the staged and synthetic are very intriguing. They beg the question, “why?” I am interested in extravagance, but cannot fully have contempt for extravagance because I enjoy it to a point. Sometimes, I ignore this contempt when I work; I cake on paint, suffocate with sequins, and blind with gold. The contempt always returns. Just like when one eat too many sweets, one must stop to digest. This is similar to what happens with my painting process. Many people I have encountered, and the society in which I live, look at endless indulgence or desire and have negative reactions. There is something terrifying about the thought of a loss of control; loss of the sense of knowing when something is overdone. A painting itself can even contribute to this display of temptations.

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Kip Pasta - July 2013

Construction Sculptures

I like to work with paint and wood. I have had creative ideas using other media, but wood has become the most useful expression. I have named my pieces “Construction Sculptures” to separate them from what most think of when referring to sculptures.  Because of their architectural feel I introduced the term “construction” to give them some identification. The linear cohesiveness of the space and shapes takes on many aspects of architectural design.


Sergio Gomez - June 2013

The Bleeding Border

Border text around the painting reads as follows: 

Illusion and deception. One door opens, another one closes before their eyes. In the silence of the night, "mojaditos" crying as they cross the line. The "coyote" is on the run. They don't understand why.

Dream and reality is their wonderland in disguise. Someone's children, anonymous shadows to the rest of us. Thousands of unspoken and ignored inconveniences. One bleeding border, one more night.

This installation raises awareness and gives voice to the thousands of unknown children that have lost their lives trying to cross the US/Mexican border.

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Tulika Ladsariya - May 2013

Work-Life Balance

Tulika Ladsariya’s work is a social commentary onthe issues of labor and literacy faced in India. The hand-drawn cart, an often seen vehicle on the streets of Mumbai, fluidly converts itself into a home. It explores the life lived outside and the dreams in the heart of young children forced to grow up too soon.

Work Life Balance is 75” x 22” x 25” and has been constructed almost exclusively of appropriated/ found objects. The term ‘jugaad’– which literally means low cost motor vehicle and colloquially means a creative idea, or a quick workaround which has to be used because of lack of resources – is being explored by the artist.

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Stacy Peterson, Pei San Ng & Amie Sell - April 2013

Nebulous Connections

During the month of April, ART ON ARMITAGE window gallery will present an installation by former Chicago Art Department artists-in-residence Stacy Peterson, Pei San Ng and Amie Sell. This collaboration explores the Golden Age, the era that we are just waking up to. It is a time of unity, harmony and prosperity.

This concept evolved from a trip to Creative Reuse Warehouse with the aim of constructing an art installation made of recycled materials. Using leftover industrial hardware and metal wires, the parts were woven together to create connections, building something bigger than the single item. The nebulous cloud shapes are a visual representation of how people work together to create communities and social networks as well as how molecular structures build. It is also a play on cloud computing which relies on the sharing of resources rather than storing information on local servers. A wholeness or oneness is created out of the individual pieces. And in the words of Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

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Ginny Sykes - March 2013

Deliberate Dissonance

Ginny Sykes explores memory and dreams in new mixed media sculptures. She uses recycled materials such as bones, wood, metal, and fabric collected through the years, adding paint to the surfaces. Sykes mixes abstraction and anthropomorphic form in a visceral aesthetic that cultivates a deliberate dissonance between beauty and ugliness. Informed by feminism and Jung’s theories of alchemy and transformation, these works are poetic “storytellers”, contemporary artifacts that speak of, and to the body; about its losses, pain, and survival.

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Brandy Kraft - February 2013

Brandy Kraft's recent series of oil paintings are about light and movement.

Kraft recently studied in Stockholm, Sweden, where she spent one year studying in the painting/drawing program at Atelier Stockholm.

She is drawn to the sense of mystery that is transposed when trying to grasp the image of an object in motion. This feeling of ambiguity leaves the viewer with seemingly timeless or time suspended in air impression.

Light, the fastest thing known to man, takes on a lethargic personality as it is portrayed listlessly wandering to the viewer’s eye.

Her dynamic and colorful canvases capture just a split second of busy city life. Images of riding the subway, crossing the street, and bustling through a crowded subway station strike a connection in the heart of every metropolitan traveler.

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Derrick Hawkins - January 2013

As humans we desire to reach an unattainable perfection. One way we have fulfilled our desire for perfection is by creating surrogates for ourselves, representations such as mannequins and sculptures. Art historians tell us that in ancient Greek sculpture formations standards were created for the ideal male body. This ideal that has been placed on stone and metal, also has been superimposed onto the real human body in contemporary culture. In this group of images, I have been exploring the idea that men in society today have been pressured to appear as the ideal male physique.

 The problems associated with body image problems are more commonly accepted as a women’s issue, but men today have been placed on an equal playing field. Practices such as plastic surgery and steroid use for men have become common.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2003, men underwent 13 percent of all procedures. The ASPS reports that cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in men rose 2 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. (ASPS)  The ideal is unobtainable when the body is not capable of achieving into the proportions that are considered perfect.

This body of work has evolved over the semesters. I began creating a catalog of bodies of men and comparing the difference between them. I focused on the body parts that men concentrated on the most when working out. Eventually I began to project photographs of the normal torso onto the stylized ideal shape of a mannequin. Projecting the photographs of the normal bodies creates a juxtaposition that raises interesting questions about this ideal/real dialectic. I found that by using the virtual projection on the solid object I was able to express these cultural issues of men with body issues in a visual representation.