Two exhibits opening at Elmhurst Art Museum

  • "The Night My Father Came to Me" by Mel Cook.

    "The Night My Father Came to Me" by Mel Cook. Courtesy Elmhurst Art Museum

By Amanda Berrios
Elmhurst Art Museum
Posted4/2/2019 10:12 AM

The Elmhurst Art Museum will debut two exhibitions on May 11 that will be on display through Aug. 25.

The first is "With a Capital P: Selections by Six Painters," an exhibition curated by six prominent local painters that reveals a myriad sensibilities of more than 45 peer artists based in the Midwest and beyond.


The second is "Luftwerk: Parallel Perspectives," a color and light intervention in the museum's recently restored Mies van der Rohe McCormick House.

The museum, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave., is both an international destination for Mies van der Rohe scholars and fans and a regional center where residents can learn to see and think differently through the study of the art, architecture and design of our time. It is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and free for students and those 18 and younger.

Information is available at or by calling (630) 834-0202.

Here's a look at the new exhibits:

Capital P

The title "With a Capital P" refers to an approach that doesn't always use paint or brush.

Curated by local painters Leslie Baum, Magalie Guérin, José Lerma, Nancy Mladenoff, Suellen Rocca and Kay Rosen, the group exhibition consists of six rooms, each using different criteria to interpret artistic approaches and a wide-ranging conversation about process and media by artists based in the Midwest and beyond.

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Artists whose work will be exhibited include Zoë Charlton, Mel Cook, Julie Doucet, Mari Eastman, Paul Erschen, Susan Frankel, Carrie Gundersdorf, Dan Gunn, Portia Hein, Sophie von Hellermann, Marie Herwald Hermann, Jim Hodges, Carol Jackson, James Kao, Brian Kapernekas, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Nazafarin Lotfi, Christy Matson, Tim Nickodemus, Melissa Oresky, Christina Ramberg, Clare Rojas, Lisa Sanditz, Olivia Schreiner, Arlene Shechet, Carolyn Swiszcz, Frank Trankina, Michelle Wasson, Kevin Wolff, Scott Wolniak and more.

Works by each of the artist-curators is included in their gallery as well.

"In early discussions with the six painters, I proposed a show that would provide space for other artists of their choosing and produce a wide conversation around painting," museum Executive Director John McKinnon said.

"Each painter took their own curatorial direction, resulting in a large survey show with six distinct sections and numerous layers of engagement."

The curators are:

• Leslie Baum, whose contributions are the result of an ongoing plein air painting project, curated an exhibition including 12 other painters with interests in abstraction and landscape. Their pieces are hung salon style and joined by Baum's work, which contains light washes and patches of color describing the feeling of a specific time and place.


• Magalie Guérin, whose painting process includes constantly revisiting and building compositions, chose six artists whose work in sculpture complement some of her own shape-oriented painting process and sensibilities. "Oil paint is sculptural in its application; it is not a far stretch to think about sculpture when painting," she says.

• José Lerma, known for works that are part art history and part personal mythology, invited numerous artists to make work on paper napkins, inspired by an installation piece from Elmhurst Art Museum's collection by Jim Hodges. In this section of the exhibition, the ordinary material of paper napkins has been transformed through the artists' works.

• Nancy Mladenoff exhibits several pieces of her own work along with her personal art collection, which she lives with and is inspired by on a daily basis. Mladenoff's recent narrative work explores the vernacular lives of women. In her current series, a frog serves as her personal avatar, providing shared moments of humor, contemplation, and physical activity.

• Suellen Rocca, one of the original members of the Hairy Who, most recently curated "The Figure and the Chicago Imagists: Selections from the Elmhurst College Art Collection" at the museum, chose to focus on multiple works by two other artists, Susan Frankel and Frank Trankina. Providing more exhibition space to each artist allowed a larger representation of their work to be shown.

• Kay Rosen's text-based work reveals content through the formal configuration of words and letters, and their deconstruction. Rosen has dedicated her gallery solely to the work of the artist and teacher Kevin Wolff, who passed away in 2018. She explains, "His humor and wit, tinged with a contrariness, mischievousness, and sabotage, infuses most of his works."

Luftwerk: Parallel Perspectives

"Luftwerk: Parallel Perspectives" is a site-specific exhibition that uses color and light interventions to activate and interpret the McCormick House, designed by Mies van der Rohe.

The installation by Luftwerk -- the Chicago-based artistic collaborative of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero -- heightens the senses and alters perception while celebrating the use of geometry in the midcentury prefab prototype.

Color is central to the visual transformation of the home's architectural nuances, and largely inspired by an idea of the original developers Robert Hall McCormick and Herbert S. Greenwald, who offered to tint windows of their proposed prefab housing "almost any shade of the rainbow."

The installation will include several light and color works with static and dynamic changing color relationships, including an immersive light piece that transforms a bedroom in the home, neon pieces with mirrored effects, pulsing lightboxes, and colorful glass panes.

The visual effects of color impact viewers' experiences throughout the McCormick House's domestic environment and shifts traditional spatial perceptions of the home while celebrating Mies' signs of the modular prototype for prefab housing.

This installation is the latest in the series of site-specific works at the McCormick House commissioned by the Elmhurst Art Museum on the occasion of its restoration, following David Wallace Haskins' Ascension/Descension and Assaf Evron and Claudia Weber current installations.

Parallel Perspectives is part of Bauhaus100, the global anniversary celebrations of the legendary German art school. It continues the artists' yearlong exploration of architecture by Mies, which began with the Barcelona Pavilion and will end with the Farnsworth House.

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