May 4, 2006

Artistic sightseeing

Highland Park Art Walk puts works by 77 artists in downtown store windows


Art and commerce will blend beautifully from Saturday through May 27 in downtown Highland Park.

Works by 77 Illinois artists will be displayed in 27 store windows and in Gallery 60035 during Highland Park Art Walk 2006.

The juried art exhibition was organized by Anatomically Correct, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization dedicated to exhibiting artwork in alternative spaces.

The show kicks off Saturday night with an opening reception at Gallery 60035, featuring entertainment, refreshments, a silent auction, a raffle and awarding of prizes to artists. Other special events are planned during the month, but the best thing about this show is that it's always "open."

Executive director of Anatomically Correct, reported that Gallery 60035, which is a co-op of artists, presented a smaller, members-only, version of this art walk last year and the year before.  When the organizers of that event approached Anatomically Correct about taking charge this year, she agreed if she could involve other artists not associated with Gallery 60035. Thirteen participating artists are Gallery 60035 members; the rest are from throughout Illinois, with the majority residing in Chicago and suburbs.

Sumner Garte of Highland Park, co-founded the original event two years ago with James Lynch.

"We put art in the windows of the shops downtown," Garte said. "It was not juried and it was a very small kind of thing. This year, we decided to turn it over to a professional art promoter."

Anatomically Correct said the biggest challenge of organizing the fair was, "having to pair up the stores with a particular artist."

For example, "Home Builders," an oil painting by Jack Siegel of Deerfield, which shows construction workers assembling a home, was a natural for Spaces and Views/Lee Lumber.

Two altered photographs by Tricia Koning, "Expecting" and "Mother & Child," are perfect pieces for A Pea in the Pod, a maternity store. A, brightly colored, handmade paper piece called "Quilting Bee," by Elyn Koentopp-Vanek, will be right at home in Paper Source.

Some of the artworks are landscapes or cityscapes "which can go anywhere,and a lot of the stores didn't really care if we matched it to their concept."

Garte's contribution to the Art Walk is a playful piece called "Life Imitates Art," which will be exhibited in the gallery. It shows the interior of a high-rise Chicago apartment in which an impressionistic nude painting is on the wall. In the foreground, a nude woman reclines on a bed -- looking exactly like the painting. Outside the window you see other skyscrapers and the Picasso statue.

"Guardian of 10,000 Blessings," an oil-and-gold-leaf-on-linen painting, is the contribution of Zoe Kaufman of Highland Park. It will be displayed in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The recent work "is a very meaningful one to me," Kaufman said. "The blessings are limitless when one is from spiritual pursuit. Whereas material things always must go through the life cycle of birth, decay and death, the spiritual fate never dies."

Kaufman said the Art Walk is "wonderful for the artists and for the merchants of Highland Park. People walk around, they look in the windows and maybe notice stores for the first time. And also, artists have a hard time being seen."

"It should bring in a lot of business to the downtown business district,  Anytime an artist has an opportunity to show their work in a professional environment is a good thing."