DIY and adorable

By Allie
                                                                                   Magical Unicorn Pony by Laura BergerThe term ‘starving artist’ is all too familiar for many artists trying to make it in the creative world. What people view as art is completely subjective which makes selling artwork and creating a name for yourself as an artist difficult. However, illustrator Laura Berger has it figured out. Etsy,a website specifically designed to sell artwork, handmade goods, and knickknacks, is the new home of her collection called “Laura George.”Berger started out as any other illustrator by doodling while she daydreamed. She got her start after college when she was hired as a scenic artist. She painted large-scale murals and backdrops for businesses and theatre productions. After her father passed away, she started focusing on smaller scale illustrations. She would make custom invitations for friends and family with her illustrations. After a friend inspired her to make a shop on Etsy called “Laura George” after a nickname from her late father, to her surprise, she actually sold something! Berger recalls her first sale: “I didn’t think I’d actually sell anything, I was just doing it for a nice distraction, so that was wild.  Etsy was a really good way for me to motivate myself to keep working on my art & that really helped me to get through a very challenging period of my life.” It was during this time that she started her shop and the rest is history!

Good Vibes by Laura Berger
Berger’s work is characterized by dreamy images of animalistic humans (or humanistic animals), flat but bright colors, and adorning text of whimsical quotes. As with any artist, she has specific influences such as street art, Japanese pop art, music, and everyday conversations, among many other things. She says, “I like the idea of the subjects being kind of vague — like you don’t really know what they’re supposed to be.  Are they an animal or a person?  Or a what?  It makes it really fun for me and kind of blows the door wide open for creative possibility.” Her artwork is a true reflection of her personality: innocent, fun, and creative.Today, Berger is a regular at craft shows around the country including renegade shows in Brooklyn and San Francisco. As a fan and attendee of these types of shows even before she began selling her artwork, this is a dream come true for her! Support Berger on her blog or buy one of her dreamy pieces of art at her Etsy shop!
Photos courtest of Laura George on

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YouTube and art. Really?

by Matt
YouTube, the time-wasting creation of the century. Elements of art and design certainly does not seem to fit in with the daily: music videos, parodies, and just plain annoying Rick-Rolls. Wait, can’t YouTube videos be considered an art form, too? To gain a proper perspective, Art Burst Chicago (A.B.C.) talked with photographer and YouTube video artist Connor Sullivan (C.S.).
Sullivan considers himself to be a jack-of-all-trades in the art community. A student at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) during the day and a painter, director, and photographer by night, art is his therapy. Concerned more with the process than with the end result, Sullivan was more than open to revealing his thoughts.
A.B.C.: In your opinion, is YouTube a medium, an outlet, or a blank canvas?
C.S.:  Ah, YouTube. It’s a blessing and a curse. It is more of an outlet than anything. It’s a very simple and user-friendly way for absolutely anyone to put anything out into the world. Whether it’s art, politics, music, jokes, skits, news, cats; you name it it is on YouTube. I love it. It is an easy way for me to share my love for video making.

A.B.C.: Your channel name is RonnocNavillus, your name spelled backwards. Does your work have a backwards or non-linear style?
C.S.:  I wouldn’t say I have a particular style. I just get random ideas and translate them into videos.

A.B.C.: Who are your inspirations?
C.S.: My inspirations are vast. Adam Grossi is number one. He was a graduate student at UIC, and inspired me to pursue art as a career. Another UIC faculty member is Pamela Fraser. Her work in color theory has really influenced my own work. In terms of big name artists, [Francisco] Goya is someone I like to think of when I am painting (specifically his black painting series). I could go on for days talking about film inspirations, but the man that started it all was my Humanities teacher Steve Welch, in high school, who introduced me to the idea of film as an art form and not just entertainment.

A.B.C.: Since YouTube is relatively new, do you feel that it will continue to be a relevant site in the future?
C.S.: I think that YouTube will keep growing strong. Its main aspect is that it is free. There are rival sites coming up such as Vimeo (which is more artistically based). But YouTube has such an enormous audience right now, that I don’t think any video site will ever be as popular or effective for getting your ideas out there. If YouTube ever goes down, or becomes a pay site, well, let’s just say hopefully I have made a name for myself before that happens. But who knows, with new social networking sites appearing every day, I’m sure there will be something new.

A.B.C.:  Your videos are very modern. You have a video titled “ink drop,” where you film ink being dropped into water. First would you consider this to be modern art?
C.S.: Honestly, I don’t really think of them as “art” that much. That video in particular, I was just doing some experiments with ink and water for my own fun/knowledge and thought that it created something visually pleasing and really beautiful. Then I thought people might want to see this.

A.B.C.: Second, how do you come up with your videos?
C.S.: A lot of my videos are spur of the moment, without a lot of prior thought put into them. Part of this is because I love the process of making a video; the editing, filming, posting, it is all exciting to me.

A.B.C.: You are also into photography; how has this influenced your videos?
C.S.:  It influences my videos a lot, but in a good way and it is kind of subconscious now. The way in which I think about setting a shot up is affected. It is kind of hard to explain, but you think about all of the rules in photography, such as rule of thirds, and framing and depth of field and apply those to video making.

A.B.C.:  Do you find a receptive audience on YouTube and social networking sites?
C.S.:  For the most part people are pretty receptive on both YouTube and FaceBook. I get a lot of “likes” and good comments. I am not really concerned with people who don’t like it. I think most people probably consider my work to be entertainment more than anything and that doesn’t bother me.

A.B.C.: You work hand-in-hand with fellow photographer and video artist Christopher Bauer (Such as in “Born this Way“). How has this affected your work?
C.S.: Collaborating has only made my work better. It is one of the hardest things to do. You have to compromise your ideas and give up full control, but meshing ideas and getting different perspectives on how things could be done differently is great. We work really well together also. We really feed off of each other’s creativity. Now I don’t make a video without getting his input first.

A.B.C.: Where do you see yourself in the coming years?
C.S.: I think I will always be on YouTube as long as it exists. It’s a good to way to just have an archive of work if nothing else, but I will still be coming up with new pieces, sketches, etc. And like anyone else I want to get that one video that reaches a million views.

As most YouTube posters know, the site does not come without hiccups. According to Sullivan, “our Lady GaGa video ‘Born this Way‘ was uploaded the day the song was released. In the period of three days, it gained over 7,500 views. That was until YouTube took it down because GaGa had yet to clear the song for copyright infringement. Now it has been re-uploaded but it will never gain the hype it had because of how many other gaga videos are out there.”

For more information on Connor Sullivan’s work, click here (his YouTube channel). Art and design in the digital age, what will the future of art and film be? No one can be certain, but the Internet will surely open up further possibilities for artists and directors such as Connor Sullivan.

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Walsh Gallery, contemporary Asian art with a social twist

by Matt
The latest contemporary Asian art gallery can be found at the Walsh Gallery, located in the west loop art district. The gallery, founded in 1993 by director Julie Walsh, has grown from simple roots into a firmly planted gallery.

Walsh, a council member of the Asian Society in New York, first began the gallery as a showroom for works from China, Japan, and India. Recently the gallery has segued into displaying many high-end contemporary artists. Past artists include: Vivan Sundaram and Nalini Malani from India; Xue Song, Song Dong, and Rong Rong from China; and  Heri Dono from Indonesia. According to gallery director Julie Walsh, “ In order to continue to expand awareness and collectors of contemporary Asian art in Chicago, the gallery works with many international curators including Wu Hung, Leng Lin, Sunhee Choi, Seewon Hyun and Jisun Song.” It is Walsh’s desire to collect that has helped propel her collections into the global spotlight. A number of her collections have been featured at the Chicago Cultural Center and The Sao Paolo Museum of Art. In 2007 the gallery created a new media lounge; allowing artists to showcase visual art. This coincides with the galleries continued participation in the DiVA (Digital and Video Art Fair) since 2005.

“Looking for Terrorists” – Yue Minjun

The gallery focuses on contemporary Asian art in several mediums, including: ink paintings, sculpture, prints, and photographs. The first exhibition of 2011, “Monumental,” featured 15 Asian and Asian American Artists, including the Gao Brothers, whose work is currently on display. “Monumental” had political and social themes, articulated through sculpture, print, and mixed-media artworks. According to the exhibition’s press release, “Yue Minjun’s 15 foot painting called “Looking For Terrorists” recalls rows of cheery brightly colored faces of terrorists that look about as threatening as a Pokemon cartoon character.” Conversely Chen Wenbo’s piece titled “Epidemiology” depicts images of glossy eggs, perhaps questioning the materialism and plasticity running rampant in China today.

“Epidemiology” – Chen Wenbo
The current exhibition “Grandeur and Catharsis,” opened in March and features the artwork of the Gao Brothers and the gallery once again opens its walls to social, historical, and political topics, but with a satirical twist. The Gao Brothers, Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang, are based out of Beijing, China. Working together since the 1980s, their work has been exhibited in museums such as the China National Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“Miss Mao no. 3” – Gao Brothers

This particular exhibition examines and pokes fun at the influence of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong, or Chaiman Mao, was the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. The brothers’ pieces address tyranny, hypocrisy, and violence through sculpture and photography. The Gao Brothers believe that “art is about life not beauty,” while strongly believing in man’s potential for redemption.

“The Execution of Christ” – Gao Brothers
A life-sized sculpture titled “The Execution on Christ” may raise some eyebrows due to its brash imagery. According to Walsh, “The installation takes direct reference to [Edouard] Manet’s painting, ‘The Execution of Maximilian’ and the arrangement directly mimics the scene with Maximilian substituted by Christ.  In fact, Manet’s painting references [Francisco] Goya’sThe Third of May’. This particular Gao’s Brothers piece is a masterful nod at art historical reference, and further explores the suppression of religion pushed by Mao.” Continuing with the social focus of the exhibition “Miss Mao No. 3” questions how Chinese society allowed a person like Mao to become glorified. This sculpture, made of stainless steel, “adds to the feeling of materialism and deification,” states Walsh. “Grandeur and Catharsis” was slated to end in April, but has been extended through May.With Walsh’s art connections, the gallery will continue to bring Chicago the latest Asian artworks. If you are interested in contemporary Asian art, along with a touch of history and social conversation, click here, or head straight to the Walsh Gallery located at 118 N. Peoria St.

Images provided by Walsh Gallery &

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Visual poetry: the video art of Stephanie Tisza

by Frances
Successful video art functions like a poem: it paints a mood, tells a story, and evokes an emotional response all at the same time. Video artist Stephanie Tisza knows a thing or two about making visual poetry. Her videos invoke the despondent, intimate feeling of realizing “who we are when no one is watching.” As both a UIC Fine Arts graduate student and Moving Image Arts teacher, Tisza’s ability to teach, learn, and create her videos all at the same time make her one intriguing individual. Art Burst Chicago sat down with Tisza to learn more about her work.

Art Burst Chicago: How did you get started as a video artist?
Stephanie Tisza: As a child, I obsessively watched television and movies. I hated
playing outside and I hated barbies. My uncle owned a small video rental store & would often give my family some of his surplus VHS tapes once the new releases were replaced with newer ones. I remember he gave us “Raising Arizona.” My dad said I was too young to watch it but I watched it anyway, and the final voice over scene made me cry. I probably didn’t even totally understand the concepts and dialogue, but the juxtaposition of the sound and narrative moved me so profoundly. Ever since that day I knew I wanted to be someone who could make work to affect people in a similar way. I majored in English Literature in college to improve my writing and get a grasp on the history of storytelling and when senior year rolled around, I took a video class with Jennifer Reeder and it’s all history.

A.B.C.: What or who inspires your work?
S.T.: Werner Herzog‘s heavy-handed filmmaking philosophy and Lynn Ramsay‘s unconventional & moody narratives. I am inspired by who we are when no one is watching and the transition from animal to human, a place that is both comfortable and frightening.

A.B.C.: What are some of your favorite movies and video artists?
S.T.: “Even Dwarfs Started Small”, “Ratcatcher”, and “Killer of Sheep.” Some of my favorite video artists are Joe Gibbons, Duke & Battersby, Jennifer Reeder & Donigan Cumming.

A still from “SICK/SLEEP”
A.B.C.: What do you hope your viewers will take away from your videos?
S.T.: I hope my videos elicit an emotional and visceral response to the mood I create. I often tape in HD because I want people to feel as though they are in the movie. I want them to see every pore and feel and hear every sound.

A.B.C.:  You just had your work featured at the UIC MFA 2011 Thesis Exhibition. Which videos did you feature and what were they about?
S.T.: I showed two new pieces.  “SICK/SLEEP” was looping in the gallery.  It is about making a movie about a man struggling with illness in a nondescript location. I had a special screening for the second piece, “THE WATER IS WIDE,” which is about a family of characters who navigate their way through the effects of sex, death & isolation.

A still from “THE WATER IS WIDE”

A.B.C.: What’s up next for you?
S.T.: I am currently working on a new piece that I hope to shoot in New Mexico over the summer and I will continue to teach and work the film festival circuit.

Check out Tisza’s work on her vimeo page.
Images courtesy of Stephanie Tisza

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LUMA: one treasure, two collections

by Danielle
Loyola University offers a treasure of artsy knowledge and fine art with its large Fine and Performing Arts department. In 2005, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) opened its doors. LUMA features exhibits full of impressive artwork, ranging from European Renaissance art to contemporary photographs, paintings, and sculptures. Located in the Lewis Towers on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the museum offers two distinct collections: the Martin D’Arcy Collection and the LUMA Collection.

LUMA’s exhibition statement calls its Martin D’Arcy Collection “a little-known gem of Chicago’s museum scene.” The large collection features mostly European medieval, Renaissance, and  Baroque art. What makes this collection unique is that most pieces are three-dimensional, representing many religious as well as worldly aspects of the European life centuries ago. Curator Jonathan P. Canning explains how the collection originally started: “The collection was founded in 1969 by priest Donald Rowe. His goal was to expose Loyola students to more original works of art. He perceived a lack of three-dimensional European artworks and chose to concentrate on those areas. About 80 percent of the current Martin D’Arcy Collection was acquired by Father Rowe.”

“The Adoration of the Magi” by Bassano
part of the Martin D’Arcy Collection

The Martin D’Arcy Collection was previously named the Martin D’Arcy Gallery and the Loyola University Museum of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Art. However, when LUMA was established in 2005, the collection became a permanent exhibit in the new museum and was renamed. Important pieces from the medieval as well as the Renaissance and Baroque time periods are featured. The medieval pieces include painted sculptures, while the Renaissance collection includes paintings from important artists like Bassano. Baroque art completes this diverse collection with paintings as well as sculptures and many other three-dimensional pieces. Loyola student and art history major Megan Adan is a frequent visitor and explains why “The Adoration of the Magi” by painter Bassano is her favorite piece: “This oil on marble piece is almost 500 years old. What makes me appreciate this piece is the way in which Bassano incorporated the marble background into the painting. You hardly notice it, which, I think, makes this very special. It blends in perfectly with the yellow, red, and blue colors he used to paint the characters.”
“Drawings for the Bible—Job in Despair” by Marc Chagall
part of the LUMA Collection
The second collection of the museum, the LUMA Collection, has an entirely differently focus than the Martin D’Arcy Collection. Whereas the latter features pieces of art from centuries ago, the LUMA Collection features Western art from all time periods, including more recent works of art. Curator Canning says: “When LUMA opened in 2005, we wanted to broaden our mission beyond the parameters of the D’Arcy Collection. A new collection evolved that reflects our mission to explore and promote understanding of all faiths and cultures as expressed through art.” The LUMA Collection explores many different forms of art as well as many different artists. Pieces range from paintings to photographs and mixed media pieces, while artists from the previous century, like Chagall, are mixed with young talent.
“African Mask Composition” by Niamani Smith
part of the Saint Angela School exhibition
Young talent is especially featured this month with the exhibition of works by students from Saint Angela, a school just west of Chicago. The exhibition shows a variety of works that were all part of different artistic expression studies. Students were asked to paint or draw their reflections on field trips as well as stories told by their teachers. The results are on display until May 29th.

For those interested in finding out more about LUMA’s large and diverse collections, stop by the museum, located at 820 North Michigan Avenue.

Images courtesy of Loyola University Museum of Art.

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From arm doodles to freehand tattoos

by Nikki
Tattoo artist Von Jones, also known as Black Market Arts, is no amateur when it comes to body art. Von’s love for tattoos started at eight years old, when he discovered his passion for many art forms like drawing and painting. After years of doodling on his arms, Von has gone from a daydreamer to a freehand tattoo artist. A.B.C. had the chance to catch up with the artist and hear more about his unique talent.

Von doing what he does best

Art Burst Chicago: How long have you been a tattoo artist?
Von: I’ve been tattooing for 10 years. I started when I was about 14 years old but I’ve been inspired since I was 8. I always knew how to draw; it is a natural thing for me. My mother didn’t think becoming a tattoo artist was a good idea. She always wanted me to have a normal 9 to 5 job. On the other hand, my father was supportive and helped me out a lot. He kept my dreams alive (R.I.P. Dad)! A few years went by and I graduated from high school, then got my first job as a tattoo artist when I was 19.

A.B.C.: What inspired you to become a tattoo artist?
Von: I was always fascinated with the California lifestyle. I love body art! I’m into anything involving art. I grew up in California and there was a lot of inspiration surrounding me. I like to paint and I used to draw on my arms when I was younger. Then, it just became something that I really wanted to do. I was taken under the wing of a local tattoo artist and everything just stemmed from there.

A.B.C.: What tattoo artist did you work for?
Von: When I was 19, I worked at a tattoo shop with a guy named Bobby and his wife Maury; they owned the shop. Bobby taught me a lot about tattoos but told me he couldn’t teach me my own style, I had to create it on my own.

Von’s flower tattoo work

A.B.C.: How does your style differ from who you apprenticed with?
Von: When I worked in the shop, Bobby taught me how to tattoo. I gained a lot of experience, and took that and made it into my own style. I also took bits and pieces from my favorite artists like Kat Von D. But I like to make the tattoos look realistic.

A.B.C.: What do you consider your style, such as traditional, new school, watercolor, etc.?
Von: Traditional west coast. I like a lot of the gray shading.

A.B.C.: What are your favorite tattoos to do?
Von: Portraits and I really like doing flowers for some reason.

Von’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe

A.B.C.: What are your least favorite tattoos?
Von: Names and scriptures because they don’t really showcase my talent, plus I get bored. As a tattoo artist doing the same thing over and over and over is very boring. I need a challenge! Some people don’t understand that and get mad when I don’t want to do their tattoos.

A.B.C.: Out of all the tattoos you have done, which one would you say took the most time and effort to create?
Von: I tattooed a girl named Bianca. Her tattoo took 4 months.

Von’s work on Bianca

A.B.C.: What do you have in the works right now?
Von: I will be launching a website and opening my own tattoo shop very soon. It will be modern and reflect my style.

Stay on the look out for Von and his upcoming tattoo shop. For now, keep in touch with him here.

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The man behind the mask: Christopher “Tobar” Rodriguez

by Lorette

Chicago native Christopher “Tobar” Rodriguez is not only a multi talented artist, but co-founder of both InProgress Magazine and B-Side, an art collective. Rodriguez’s new series, “Man in the Mask,” is currently on exhibit at the Per Populus Gallery located in the Chicago Art District. The images create a narrative of the adventures of “Detective Tobar” in his fight to save the genuineness of creativity. The series is characterized by vibrant, unique, and thought provoking mixed media artwork. A.B.C. had the opportunity to chat with the man behind the mask to get a better understanding of his artwork and his enterprises.

Christopher “Tobar” Rodriguez

A.B.C.: You were born and raised in Chicago, but you are now an Orlando resident. How do you think growing up in Chicago influenced your art work?
C.T.R.: I think it had the biggest influence and it shows through the style of my work. The way that Chicago is built on culture, the different little communities, and architecture make a big impact on how and why I create things.  If it was not for being born here in the greatest city, even when there is a couple feet of snow, I don’t think my art would have come out the same.

A.B.C.: How did you develop your talent?
C.T.R.: I started drawing when I was 5 or 6. I would usually go down to the local comic book shop or watch cartoons to get ideas. My style continues to grow and develop. The biggest change to date would have to be when I went to college to become a graphic designer. I was introduced to new tools and techniques, which helped me to create a new approach that can be seen in my current work.


A.B.C.: Who do you look to for inspiration?
C.T.R.: Shepard Fairy and Andy Warhol are my my biggest inspiration.  Swamburger, G Lemmus, Tr3, Peter Van Flores, and Mauricio Murillo are just a few of the local Orlando artists that I look to for inspiration.A.B.C.: What mediums do you use?
C.T.R.: Spray paint, acrylic paint, wallpaper paste and two trees a year.

A.B.C.: How did you develop the concept for “Man in the Mask?”
CT.R.: It started with the character I have been developing for the last three years. Detective Tobar, is a case worker working on behalf of the art community. “The Man in the Mask” exhibit in Chicago is the introduction of the character to the world. His first job is to bring the “mother of Inspiration” and her “kids” back together. The “Kids” play a major role, as does the character “Dream-Killer” who is trying to kill “Creativity.”

“Keep doing it”

A.B.C.:How did In-Progress Magazine come about?

C.T.R.: I wanted to create a magazine for Central Florida incorporating the urban art scene. In-Progress’ mission is to give an insider view of the art scene, offering a guide for information on upcoming artists, and events. When people think of Orlando they think of Disney World. So, In-Progress wants to take part in changing that idea. The art scene in Central Florida isn’t about painting pretty pictures of flamingos and palms trees. It’s about creating a cultural artists movement along side the music and film community.

AB.C.: What is B-Side?
C.T.R.: B-side is an art collective developed for artists who are rejected because their style is too
unique; this is also why I started InProgress Magazine. The name came from where you think it would come from, the B-side of a tape. B-side is the side that had some of the greatest songs, but never make it to radio. As an art collective we follow the same module, you will always wanna see what were doing on our side.

“Found it”

A.B.C.: What’s next for you?
C.T.R.: Next, I would like to start working on the comic book for the “Man in the Mask” story. For InProgress Magazine, I want to branch out and maybe have a magazine in Chicago and few other cities. This summer, we will release our first book,a collection series, that we’ve been keeping top secret. B-side will have our yearly showcase in June and maybe one day we will take our show on the road. As for me, I want to travel more and share my “Man in the Mask” series, and develop other characters. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but there are a lot of things I have planned.To experience “Man in the Mask,” pick up the phone and call Per Populus Gallery to make an appointment. Or visit May 13th when you can experience 2nd Fridays in the Chicago Art District.

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