Summer art to intrigue everyone
Barbara Hourihan (left) of Elmhurst and Kathy Hosty of River Forest discuss work in the exhibits at the Elmhurst Art Museum. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., Sat.; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday
$5, $3 students and seniors; Fridays free
(630) 834-0202, elmhurstartmuseum.org
Updated: June 21, 2012 12:32PM
Everything is a little lighter in summer, and that includes the exhibits at the Elmhurst Art Museum.
Executive Director Phyllis O’Neill said “accessible” and “engaging” are the key qualities the staff was looking for when putting together this summer’s collection of exhibits. From Billy Tokyo’s colorful, cartoon-like characters to Heather Becker’s dark and fascinating portraits, all six of this summer’s exhibits invite admirers to stop and stare a while.
“It’s very accessible to kids and adults,” Billy Tokyo, aka John Dempsey, said of his collection, “The Shapes of Things to Come.”
Tokyo draws inspiration from Japanese pop art to create his characters, which appear in paintings as well as in three-dimensional form. Dempsey, who has created art for Lollapalooza and the Chicago Cubs under his Billy Tokyo persona, said he created his alter ego to stretch his abilities beyond commercial art.
He calls the show at the Elmhurst Art Museum his “double solo show,” because just on the other side of the museum wall is “Urban Nature,” which spotlights the work that Dempsey does under his own name. Inspired by the work of graffiti artists, Dempsey uses their lines and bold colors to create paintings with a distinctly urban look.
Even before guests have a chance to take in the dual talents of Dempsey, they first will encounter the larger-than-life sculptures of Michael Ferris Jr. Ferris’ collection, Kindred, is a series of lifelike human sculptures, each created from thousands of tiny pieces of recycled wood.
“It’s amazing work,” said Stephanie Grow, director of development and marketing.
Ferris uses a technique from the Middle East to inlay the tiny pieces of wood, but not before completing a series of detailed drawings that will guide his work. The drawings are works of art in themselves, said Grow, and they can be seen as part of Ferris’ exhibit.
While Ferris uses detailed drawings as a guide to his final creation, artist Heather Becker paints her haunting portraits strictly from memory. “The Hidden Face” is a collection or drawings and paintings of people created within Becker’s imagination. Each has the large eyes, high cheekbones and narrow faces that traditionally define beauty, yet the resulting images are mysterious and haunting.
Visitors will be drawn to wonder about the people in the paintings, which is exactly what the organizers of this summer’s exhibits want them to do. Even the youngest museum guests can spend time pondering the images in Anders Nilsen’s works, collectively titled “Adam and Eve Sneaking Back Into the Garden to Steal More Apples.” A comic book artist, his highly detailed works are multifaceted and open to anyone’s interpretation.
“There’s a quietness to his work,” Grow said.
The same might be said of Casey Roberts’ collection, “Totally Free Now.”
Reminiscent of children’s book illustrations, Roberts mixes paints with photography chemicals and household products to create his unique textures and tones.
The museum’s summer schedule is just as busy as its walls. Art classes, artist visits and camps are among the many activities scheduled between now and the time school starts again.
“We want this place to be alive,” O’Neill said.
For a complete list of events, visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.