Friday, January 10, 2020

Arrowhead Room @ Waubonsee College,
Dickson Center, Sugar Grove, IL

Exhibition dates:  Friday, January 10 – Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Viewing hours:
Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 Today is the first official day of my exhibition at the Arrowhead Room at Waubonsee. I had an exciting week installing this exhibit with much help there from Cecilia Vargas, Janice Rodriguez, and Jackie Gramillo. Seeing the work removed from my studio space, in a new context, makes me experience it almost as if I were seeing it for the first time. 
 In this exhibition, titled “Migration/In Search of Arcadia” I wanted to focus on my experience of moving from one continent and country to another. After living in the United States for sixteen years, I finally became a US citizen in October 2019.
  Physically relocating from my home country, Croatia, to becoming a US citizen may seem like it took years, but it is actually a journey that will continue throughout the course of my lifetime. 
Moving from one's native home and culture to another culture entails a continuous search for self-identity, as well as a sense of longing for what's understood and familiar. It also means coming to terms with a constant feeling of change, facing the unfamiliar and relearning daily.  This tension of the familiar/unfamiliar, or of being in control vs. the lack of control is at the core of my art practice. Through the process of creating I investigate the inner realms of self and the longing for what is old and familiar, yet I place it in a new context, never replicating any readily identifiable aspects of my heritage. The mark-making becomes a journal, placing this longing into a new context. This creates an alternative reality, one that speaks a universal language.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

10th Anniversary at Water Street Studios
September 13-October 5, 2019
 Impromptu I and II, watercolor on panel, 36"x24"
Last Friday was the opening reception and 10th-year Anniversary celebration of Water Street Studios. Water Street was my studio home for several years, before my family settled in the Fox Valley area permanently, and before we purchased a house that accommodated a studio space.

WSS is a lovely art non-profit in the Western suburbs of Chicago and has been home to many resident artists for the past ten years since it's inception. Artists here are able to connect with other artists and the community, as well as show their work through various exhibiting opportunities. The organization offers a rich selection of classes, workshops, and hosts numerous art-related events.
 I have made many lifelong friends here.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019


As the feeling of summer is slowly winding down, the colors getting moodier, and the sunbeams turning to gold, I have a sense of taking a quiet moment to reflect on my current exhibitions and start planning out my next projects.

Here are a few places where I am currently showing my work. 

Above images - from the "Enchanted Garden" exhibition at Walker Fine Art in Denver*

  "Wondrous Reef "on panel, 30"x30"

 "Wondrous Reef" on panel, 30"x30"

"Wondrous Reef (Whisper)", on panel 30"x30"

This past Saturday was the closing brunch for the "Enchanted Garden" exhibit at Walker Fine Art in Denver. I had five new paintings from the "Dark Bloom" and "Wondrous Reef" series in it.

 Dark Bloom, W-2019-4-10, watercolor on Arches paper, 40"x26"
Dark Bloom, W-2019-4-11, watercolor on Arches paper, 40"x26"

The theme of the garden is near and dear to me, not only for its rich universal symbolic connotations but also because of my literal love of gardening. This weekend my boys and I had such a beautiful time together sowing green onion and purple cabbage seeds for our garden's late crop. The abundant harvest of fresh tomatoes and zucchinis makes our summer so much tastier!
In our garden, harvesting zucchinis with Karl*

Locally, a couple of my watercolor panels are in the upcoming 10th Year Anniversary at Water Street Studios. As the organization is celebrating its tenth year, I fondly remember my few years there as a resident artist.
Impromptu, watercolor on panel, 36"x24"*

In my studio at Water Street Studios, in 2014*

Also on view here locally, at the Geneva History Museum is my "Blush Nebula" watercolor, through November 2nd. 
"Blush Nebula", now on view at Geneva History Museum*

Looking a bit further into 2020; I am excited about showing my new work in several solo exhibitions - starting with January at the Arrowhead Gallery of the Waubonsee Comunity College. Overlapping with it is my solo exhibit at the Lewis University, to open in early February. 

Exhibiting one's artwork is by nature twofold; it takes much planning, organizing, framing, packing, and hauling. But it also means - the art comes to its fruition. It gets to be seen, experienced and acknowledged by the outside world. 

Sharing one's work is like putting one's heart and soul on a plate, for everyone to see. It is a vulnerable act, but at the same time so liberating; it means saying to the world: "This is me, this is what I am about, this is what I feel." Regardless of what the world might respond.     

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Walker Fine Art in Denver
"Enchanted Garden" exhibition

Last year, I started the Dark Bloom series. There are probably several unconscious reasons that lead to this series, and what is atypical about it is that it has distinctly botanical features. I feel like I am always expressing myself in the realm of abstraction because it comes most naturally to me. And this series also, "came naturally to me", though a bit out of my typical character.

I was always deeply intrigued by the life of plants. In Croatia, my home country, I went to a biology-focused high school, and then, in college, I studied horticulture for a couple of years, before finally enrolling in art school. 

I must admit I get the most thrill when working with soil and plants in my vegetable and flower garden at Fermilab, in a community plot my family and I have been keeping up for many years. The feeling of excitement when I am in my garden is only matched by my art practice.

Like life, and like gardening, painting is not fully controlled. There are actions that are planned and there are actions that happen spontaneously. Painting, as well as gardening, is an intimate conversation. 
The series of paintings, titled Dark Bloom, arose inspired by the interesting shapes of the dry plants my son collected on our walk, inspired by the love of plants, and by the memory of my dad, and my time spent with him; always looking at nature and always being amused and curious about it.

The vitality of painting in this series took a shape of plant-like forms, almost as a wish to breathe vitality and life to what's impermanent, a continuation of the everchanging and self-renewing cycles of life.

 *Dark Bloom series pictured above, all 40"x25.75" on Arches

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Eye of The Beholder
May 10-June 8, 2019
Water Street Studios, Batavia, IL
I am showing my new series "Reef" at "Transparency", the fashion show and exhibit, coming up at Water Street Studios. The event is on May 10th, while the 2D and wearable garments will stay on display in the gallery for almost a month after.
Growing up in Croatia, my childhood summers were spent on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
I have the most vivid and fantastic memories spending hours on end diving with my dad, and exploring the underwater wildlife, marveling its beauty, and enjoying the peaceful quietude of the sea. 
The love for water has always been with me; whether through connection with the sea or through my favorite medium, watercolor.
After watching the striking documentary "Chasing Coral" a few months ago together with my nine-year-old, I was deeply touched and saddened, witnessing the sickening truth of our current devastating impact on the environment. 
My "Reef" series is dedicated to the beauty of our seas and oceans, and all nature. 
We need to wake up from our lull and start acting responsibly and lovingly towards our planet.

It's the only one we got.

*all the images pictured above are from my Reef series, 9"x9", watercolor on paper, 2019

Eye of the Beholder is a juried 2D and 3D exhibit featuring various mediums with a concentration on wearable art. This year’s curator, Andrea Reynders, fashion designer, and Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institue in Chicago, shares:

“Artists were challenged to clarify and translate what Transparency meant to them and to create a work that is either worn or observed. From garments that capture emotions we cannot readily share, moments that capture chrysalis transformation, to paintings that capture light in transparent layers of color, the work included here bridges the divide between poetic reflection and political comment and from dynamic movement to quietude. The results are both serious and whimsical—an amazing cross-section of personal interpretation. From sophisticated couture and hand-crafted assemblages to paintings --all as a response to the idea of Transparency. Come and be transformed.”

 *with Andrea Reynders
*Claudia Canon and Katherine Kratzer, with their models

This year’s exhibition features the following artists: Victoria Belz, Andria Burchett, Claudia Canon, Patricia Davoust, Morgan Donahue, Maureen Gasek, Sue and Katie Holzkopf, Lisa Holzl, Madeline Jenkins, Katherine Kratzer, Emy Krauspe, Ellen Jo Ljung, Anke Loh, Michele Norman, Gretchen Schreiber, Madelyn Schuster, Preston Williams, Lisa Youngdahl, Dawn Zalkus, and Ana Zanic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I Am American 
opening reception March 8th 5-7pm

My ceramic installation "Gathering" as well as my two large scale paintings, "Origin I" and "Origin II" are part of the current "I Am American" exhibition, on view at the Freeport Art Museum, in Freeport, Illinois.

At the opening reception, with curator Sergio Gomez, in front of my Origin watercolors

Talking about my ceramic installation Gathering with the museum director Jessica Modica and board member Aaron Mercier
Talking about the exhibition and our work (left to right): Freeport Museum's Director of Education Barry Treu, artists; Ana Zanic, Pia Cruzalegui, Cesar Conde and Saul Aguirre.
Cesar Conde, Pia Cruzalegui and Barry Treu

"I Am American" presents multiple perspectives on immigration and ethnicity. Using a variety of styles, each work provides a wide-angled view into the bi-cultural experience. Participating artists are first, second, or third generation immigrants. Others can trace their heritage back to the Native American Indians. This exhibition about the American experience provides ample room for conversation and personal interpretation and explores what it truly means to be “American”.

In a special program on Saturday, March 16th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, multi-media artist Pia Cruzalegui will document Freeport’s American Story through a special photo shoot open to the entire community. During the photo shoot, the artist will ask each family to share a story of their heritage in an informal setting. The artist will later produce a short film capturing the highlights of the stories. 

“Gathering” is a collection of small vessels, incised with spontaneous marks and abstract drawings. They are made as contemplative and intimate objects, to be held in the palm of a hand, and are deeply connected with my childhood. All of them were created after I moved to the United States, over a course of several years. I am still creating these and adding them to the ever-growing collection, so the pieces here exhibited make only a part of a larger group.

The city where I was born, Vinkovci, in Croatia, is rich with archeological findings. Many of these are ceramic vessels from the Vučedol culture, one that resided there from 3000-2200 BC.
In Vinkovci, down the street from our house, an old potter had his shop, and his entire front yard was covered with masterful and simple vessels. I remember, as a child, often watching him work, and procuring some clay to play with.
My everyday exposure to these various ceramic objects – the ones I had seen in the local museum, as well as the ones in the potter’s shop from down the street, created in me an awareness of the different cultures living there continuously, through centuries and even millennia, deeply connected with the land and soil.

After moving to the United States, sixteen years ago, these childhood memories started becoming more vivid, and a sense of broken connection replaced the old feeling of belonging. For me, the act of creating these small vessels, very primal and intimate, as well as the process of their accumulation, evokes my childhood and reflects an underlying search for reconstitution of what is familiar and comforting.

“Origin I, Origin II”
Watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper, 95”x55”

These large-scale watercolor pieces are part of a series of paintings, all titled “Origin”.
My abstract watercolors, often reminiscent of imaginary landscapes, are built with layers of washes with an emphasis on the mark making. Through abstract form, I am investigating my own questions of memories, origin, and past.

The two pieces here embody an ambiguity of contemporary and ancient. There is a sense of attraction to the old and archaic, and at the same time an inevitable necessity for an expression that is contemporary and current to our time.

In these dreamed out landscapes, a gap between the lost/forgotten and newly created is suspended within the fine balance.