Print show features Chicago, NU art

Scott Gordon

Evanston’s Gallery Mornea opened its first annual summer print show Friday night, hoping to attract art fans and collectors with an assortment of prints by some of Chicago’s most famous artists and two Northwestern professors.

The gallery, 602 Davis St., will be showing, through August 22, an assortment of works including several by famous late Chicago artists like Roger Brown and Ivan Albright, NU art theory and practice professor Ed Paschke and NU research scientist and associate professor Bert Menco.

Gallery owner Michael Monar said summers are “kind of slow for galleries.” He said he thinks running a print show will help the gallery attract a wider crowd than running a more specialized or esoteric sort of art exhibit.

“Prints are more approachable, more affordable,” Monar said.

Monar said he was especially pleased to get three prints by Chicago draftsman Albright, who died in 1983.

“You don’t see these pop up too often,” Monar said. The Albright pieces are richly detailed and depict strangely formed people in intricately textured settings.

Among the works by Roger Brown are some more playful pieces, including a scrapbook in which a newspaper clipping of a photo of a circus’ “World’s Fattest Man” attraction is juxtaposed with Brown’s inky and dark redrawing of the photo. Brown, who died in 1997, studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The gallery obtained two works by Paschke for the show, purchasing them from a private collector but not getting into contact with Paschke directly.

Menco, who has previously displayed his work at Gallery Mornea, contributed one print to the show. The print, “Rotterdam, May 14, 1940,” draws, like much of Menco’s art, on the experiences of his Dutch-Jewish childhood. Menco and his family were living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in May 1940, when the Nazis bombed the city to get The Netherlands to surrender to German rule. At least 600 people were killed in the bombings.

Accompanying these four artists at the show are the works of several other assorted etchers and woodcut artists. Three works by Steven Hazard, an etcher originally from Michigan who has already displayed several prints at the gallery, were featured.

“He’s a bit eccentric, to say the least,” Monar said, comparing Hazard to the 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch and the 20th-century graphic artist M.C. Escher.

Like Bosch, Hazard crowds his images with strange and often grotesque creatures in exotic and bizarre surroundings. Like Escher, Hazard etches with intricate and lifelike detail, bringing symmetry and flow to seemingly chaotic scenes, as in “The Bridge.”

Hazard’s work has been displayed in more than 120 art galleries around the world. More of his work can be found in one of Gallery Mornea’s rear display rooms, including the relatively simple but skillfully rendered “Cat at a Carnival.”

The works most prominent, at least physically, in the exhibition, are two 5′ x 5′ woodcuts by Asaph Ben Menahem, hanging at the center of the back wall in the gallery’s main room. Menahem, who has had exhibits in New York and California but primarily works and displays in his home country of Israel, “focuses on the fearful elements of his life,” Monar said. “His emotions are very distilled and raw.”

Other notable prints in the show include Colin Burns’ linocut “Patty Hearst — All American,” a violent and rather fun depiction of the young bank-robbing heiress, and Elizabeth Ockwell’s drawings of scenes from Paris.

And in the gallery’s front window are displayed five spherical creations by the sculptor Vladimir Skoda.

Visitors to the show should also venture off the main gallery to view works by Chicago artist David Gista, which have been featured in the gallery for several months, and a roomful of works by the Goldmine Shithouse, a group of New York artists who took up residency in the gallery and created more than 50 works in-house for an exhibit in May. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Gallery Mornea will be holding its next event Aug. 27, putting on an exhibition of t-shirts created by various artists. Proceeds from that event will benefit the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the event already has sponsorships from several modeling agencies and department stores, Monar said.

City Editor Scott Gordon is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected]