SPOOKY ILLUSTRATIONS BY TRAVIS LAMPE

by Ariadna Zierold

travis lampe, painting, illustration, chicago, spooky, cartoon, cartoonish, vintage, upper playground

Chicago based Travis Lampe grew up in a small town in Kansas. After earning a degree in Graphic Design, he took a job in advertising as an art director in Chicago. While making ads for breakfast cereals and well known purveyors of inexpensive furniture over a period of several years, he secretly began “developing his illustration style,” which is not the same thing as “procrastinating.” Finally, when he felt the world was ready, he began his slow explosion onto the art and illustration scene, as it were.

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MICROGRAPHIC ARTISTRY BY LEVI VAN GELDER

by Ariadna Zierold

levi david van gelder, levi van gelder, micrographic, lithography, painting, collage, amsterdam, chicago, calligraphy, upper playground

Levi David Van Gelder (1816-1878) produced the earliest examples of his distinctive micrographic artistry, during the 1840s, while working as a printer and lithographer in his native Amsterdam. By imaginatively combining minuscule words and letters and integrating them with oversize decorative word panels, some accomplished by the application of collage elements, Van Gelder achieved his uniquely characteristic style of calligraphy and while still in Netherlands produced at least four separate exemplars of these engraved mizrah plaques. In 1864 Van Gelder, along with his wife and children, relocated to the United States where he settled in Chicago.

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SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES BY LAURA BERGER

by Ariadna Zierold

laura berger, painting, paintings, painter, chicago, minimalistic, environments, naked, human, bodies, spiritual, upper playground

Laura Berger (previously featured here) is a visual artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois. She received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2002. Berger has shown her artwork both nationally and internationally, with exhibitions in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, and New Zealand.

laura berger, painting, paintings, painter, chicago, minimalistic, environments, naked, human, bodies, spiritual, upper playground

Her existential explorations take place within minimalistic environments, populated by a cast of culturally diverse naked human bodies. These entities are often engaging in spiritually enriching activities, both together and alone, highlight the importance of our basic human connections and the time required to reflect and grow.

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MONUMENTAL SCULPTURES BY JAUME PLENSA

by Ariadna Zierold

jaume plensa, sculpture, sculptures, installation, structure, structures, anatomy, body, steel, glass, marble, resin, monumental, crown fountain, chicago, figurative, head, heads, wire, mesh, upper playground

Jaume Plensa produces monumental sculptures in steel, glass, marble, polyester resin, concrete, and bronze. He is best known for his Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millenium Park, two 50-foot-high glass towers set amidst a pool of water, which play giant video portraits of Chicago residents that periodically purse their lips and spout water into the pool.

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Predominantly producing figurative sculpture, Plensa has created larger-than-life-sized heads constructed of fine, stainless-steel wire mesh so that their surrounding environments are visible through the works, and bronze figures cast from his own body.

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SOUNDSUITS BY NICK CAVE

by Ariadna Zierold

nick cave, soundsuits, sculptures, human, body, vibrant, costumes, musical, instruments, performance, chicago, upper playground

Chicago based artist Nick Cave is widely acclaimed for his exuberant “Soundsuits”—wearable sculptural forms based on the human body, intricately composed out of a vibrant assortment of second-hand materials.

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Simultaneously sculptures, costumes, and musical instruments, the Soundsuits are meant for motion. Cave and other dancers wear them, transforming them into transfixing blurs of color and sound for performances and video works. Contemplated on mannequins, the Soundsuits seem to embody the full range of human emotions. Some, covered with a pelt of dyed twigs with baskets for heads, resonate sadness; others, composed of a crazy array of colorful blankets or thrift-store tchotchkes, burst with joy and humor.

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FLESHY AND GLOOPY CHARACTERS BY GREGORY JACOBSEN

by Ariadna Zierold

gregory jacobsen, painting, surreal, grotesque, flesh, fleshy, colorful, characters, chicago, upper playground

Chicago artist and musician Gregory Jacobsen chooses to render in his awkward acrylic, confidently sensual world flags in butts, shit beaks, and fleshy chunks of meat caught in seemingly intimate moments.

gregory jacobsen, painting, surreal, grotesque, flesh, fleshy, colorful, characters, chicago, upper playground

The candy-coated colors draw the viewer in, only to confront them with a heap of labia coupled with mangy flesh slabs in a chunky meat heap, or a cheery young girl toppled over with a flag stuck in her vagina, a voyeuristic pig smirking behind her. The viewer doesn’t exactly know how to feel, confronted with these awkward, intimate affairs rendered in unsuspecting hues, an effect Jacobsen is after.

gregory jacobsen, painting, surreal, grotesque, flesh, fleshy, colorful, characters, chicago, upper playground

Much like the piles of fleshy, gloopy shapes that walk a fine line between vagina and open wound, the exact purpose of his work is difficult to pin down. Obsessed with failure, ambiguity, and comedic tragedy, Jacobsen appears to care for the characters he creates without fetishizing them.

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TRIPPY COMICS BY BEN MARCUS

by Ariadna Zierold

ben marcus, illustration, comic, lines, clean, trippy, manga, narrative, upper playground, chicago

Chicago-based artist, Ben Marcus makes comics that feel inspired by all things trippy, alien, and David Bowie. His favorite manga is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. His comic has a particular clarity in the line work because he wants the reader to keep track of the plot. Clean and clear language for dramatic and poetic purposes.

ben marcus, illustration, comic, lines, clean, trippy, manga, narrative, upper playground, chicago

“The proportions of the facial features is important to me and I draw and re-draw them. Too many times. I wanted my characters to have a contemplative complexity to them. A depth of consciousness that a sense of animation is born of.  I drew everything by hand and scanned it and added the half-tones in photoshop.” Ben Marcus

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STORYTELLING BY KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

by Ariadna Zierold

kerry james marshall, painting, storytelling, narrative, portrait, historic, race, chicago, upper playground

Kerry James Marshall uses painting, sculptural installations, collage, video, and photography to comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He is well known for paintings that focus on black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon, and has explored issues of race and history through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics.

kerry james marshall, painting, storytelling, narrative, portrait, historic, race, chicago, upper playground

“It is possible to transcend what is perceived to be the limitations of a race-conscious kind of work. It is a limitation only if you accept someone else’s foreclosure from the outside. If you plumb the depths yourself, you can exercise a good deal of creative flexibility. You are limited only by your ability to imagine possibilities.” – Kerry James Marshall

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