Local artist Jim Schnaitman presents the exhibit "Beaks, Bones and Flowers" with guest artists Sue Wagoner and the late Steve Panella through Oct. 28 at Gallery 200, 200 Main St., West Chicago.
The exhibit features an eclectic mix of Schnaitman's realistic mixed media paintings, the surrealistic paintings of Panella and the photographs of Wagoner, an avid birder and published wildlife photographer.
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A common interest in birding led Schnaitman to invite Wagoner, a fellow member of the Kane County Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society, to participate as a guest artist in his October Featured Artist Exhibit.
Schnaitman, a member of Gallery 200 since 2006, has been encouraged by fellow gallery members to develop his personal art skills.
He saw the opportunity to invite a guest exhibitor as a way to further expand the exposure of the gallery and introduce visitors and potential new members to the creative benefits found within the membership.
"The members have encouraged me to paint, providing me advice on techniques, pulling me along in my lifelong dream to paint," Schnaitman said.
After retiring from General Mills in West Chicago after 35 years, he began taking art classes at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove. The college eventually purchased several of his paintings for its private collection and he has had the opportunity to exhibit in combination with other artists at the college and the Paramount Theater in Aurora, as well as other locations.
"My first solo exhibits have been at Gallery 200. I've enjoyed great success as a novice painter and contribute it to others willing to give me a hand, which includes Gallery 200 members," Schnaitman said.
Wagoner retired from Sherman Hospital in Elgin as the head microbiologist, where she cultured and identified bacteria to determine the appropriate use of antibiotics. Her continued part-time work there fits well with the birding hobby she began eight years ago when she joined the Kane County Audubon chapter.
She mostly substitutes for staff on vacation during the summer months, which leaves the prime spring and fall birding seasons open for trips to regional viewing hot spots.
Her travels with Audubon members have included visits to observe sandhill cranes in Nebraska and great gray owls in Minnesota. International trips have included Costa Rica and Ecuador, with a visit to Brazil planned for November.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ohio, known throughout the United States as one of the best places to see warblers, is one of Wagoner's favorite locations.
"It's a great place to photograph warblers, which are one of my favorite birds. They stop at Lake Erie on their migration from Central and South America during the spring, when they are in their best plumage," Wagoner said.
Her interest in photography started when her father, also an amateur photographer in the 1950s and 1960s, gave Wagoner a Kodak Brownie camera when she was 7.
Today, she finds birding to be equally as challenging as photography and credits the advent of digital photography for easing the expense of film. She spends the winter months pouring through thousands of images to find that perfect shot.
"I don't usually Photoshop my images. I take it, print it and show it," Wagoner said.
Wagoner will also be presenting the work of her late son, Stephen Panella, who died in 2008. Art had been a lifelong passion for Panella, culminating in a bachelor of arts degree from Northern Illinois University and a master's in fine art from the University of Florida.
Prior to his death, Panella exhibited in Santa Fe, N.M., and shared studio space in Aurora. During the summer of 2012, friends dedicated a show in memory of Panella and another young artist at the Mausoleum Art Gallery in downtown Aurora. The blog that he began is still available online at stevepanella.blogspot.com, where visitors can read his poems and view his artwork.
"It's important to me that I continue to show his works," Wagoner said.
Gallery 200 is open from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For details, including a complete list of current art classes, call (630) 293-9550 or visit gallery200.org.