The latest exhibit at Park Art Center in Villa Park showcases the work of two artists connected to the Western suburbs.
"Local Boys Done Good -- The Works of Tony Fitzpatrick and Kirk Kerndl" continues through Saturday, Oct. 28, at the gallery, 9 E. Park Blvd., Villa Park. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.
If you goWhat: "Local Boys Done Good -- The Works of Tony Fitzpatrick and Kirk Kerndl"
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays through Oct. 28
Where: Park Art Center, 9 E. Park Blvd., Villa Park
Info: (630) 501-1455 or parkartcenter.org
Fitzpatrick, a contemporary artist, actor and writer whose early artistic career focused primarily on printmaking, has been inspired by street culture in his native Chicago as well as children's books, childhood encounters with Catholicism, superheroes, circus posters, field guides, politics, folk art and tattoo designs, which often appear in his precise etchings.
In more recent years, Fitzpatrick turned to large-scale mixed media drawings, paintings and collages. The Park Art Center exhibit features "Autumn Etchings," five-color etchings of earlier work, completed in 2001 and 2002. The works have never been exhibited before, which may also be of interest to collectors as they illustrate the evolution of his work.
"The Autumn Etchings were made in 2001 and 2002. I started them after 9/11 as a way of finding what was good in the world," Fitzpatrick said.
"I had also recently lost my father and had a desire to be out among nature. I spent a few weeks in Missoula, Montana, and healed a bit. These etchings are a testament to the restorative power of the wild. They are about finding some peace in what surrounds us."
Originally from Lombard, Fitzpatrick is one of Chicago's best-known artists, with work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
With nearly 200 prints at the Art Institute of Chicago, there are nearly as many prints by Fitzpatrick as by Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso.
Fitzpatrick suggested Park Art Center pair his work with Kirk Kerndl, a landscape artist also from Lombard, whose work he admires.
Describing Kerndl as an amazing landscape artist and an undiscovered jewel, Fitzpatrick feels strongly that local artists should have the opportunity to show their work.
"I believe this exhibition and this art center are important," Fitzpatrick said. "I mostly grew up out here, and I can remember there was not much in the way of the arts. Art is a salvation for some people, especially me. Art is what righted me in life, a thing I could cling to; the hammer and nails I needed to navigate the world.
"I don't think I was special in feeling this way. I think people need the outlet and catharsis of adding something beautiful to the world -- or something truthful -- or something necessarily disturbing. Art serves many purposes, but mostly we celebrate art because art celebrates life."
Kerndl, a realist painter who lives and works in Lombard, draws inspiration from the tranquillity found in the Midwestern landscape. Kerndl is drawn to capturing the light and stillness in the landscapes he depicts, finding that the understated calmness of his work helps to provide a counterbalance to the chaos of everyday life.
Paintings evocative of road trips through rural America -- complete with farms, cows, large skies and a wide-open country feel -- exude the calmness and peace found in nature.
"I've always found that, through my paintings, I am able to find the peace and solitude that I sometimes struggle to find in everyday suburban life," Kerndl said. "My work attempts to capture the stillness and beauty of the Midwestern rural landscape."
Kerndl received a bachelor's degree in finance and economics with a minor in art from Elmhurst College. His work has been shown at One Fine Art Gallery in Geneva, Hinsdale Gallery in Hinsdale, and North Central College's Schoenherr Gallery in Naperville. He has been the recipient of several awards at the Naperville Art League and the DuPage Art League.
For information on Park Art Center, visit parkartcenter.org or call (630) 501-1455.