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Artists You Should Know: Top Picks

Part of “Best of Chicago Art Magazine,” originally posted April 7, 2011.

Yolanda Green

We asked about 50 Chicago artists to name at least 5 of their favorite local painters. Then, we tallied up those who were mentioned the most and who seemed to be making the most impact on the scene. There were some painters who received quite a few mentions. Those people are:

Dana DeGiulio

Dana DeGiulio

Dana DeGiulio
For almost 10 years, DeGiulio has formed a solidified presence within the art scene, largely due to her works in several different mediums: painting, video, and installation. Teaching drawing and painting at SAIC, DeGiulio’s work spans across larger areas through collaborations with sculptors and other artists. In addition, she has co-founded (with Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and others) Julius Caesar, an artist operated gallery. As for her work, her very daring use of space, and devotion towards making her work an experience rather than just something to look at, shines through in each and every exhibition.


Andrew Falkowski

Andrew Falkowski

Andrew Falkowski
Falkowski’s work is extremely diverse, taking on different twists and turns with each exhibition. His realistic paintings of historical figures are striking, and his work with text-based painting is lively and provocative. His more recent work, in an exhibition (False Positive) in collaboration with Joe Pfleiger, showcases beautiful acrylics that work with reflection, light, and perspective. This exhibition successfully blended the talents of each artist –a photographer and a painter– and Falkowski’s undeniable attention to detail and depth (as shown by his portraits) brings each piece to life.

Elijah Burgher

Elijah Burgher

Elijah Burgher
When describing Elijah’s provocative and rich pieces of art, I believe this quote from Chicago Art Review states it best: “Elijah Burgher knits together queer culture and witchcraft/ sorcery/ the occult with soft, muted drawings of nude men preparing spaces for and performing intimate (though not overly sexual) rituals … There are many of points of connection in the queer/ occult relationship, from the in the social deviant role given to both by mainstream culture, to insider signs and signals, to the fearful potentials of private physical rituals in the minds of the uninitiated or ignorant. While that alone would be enough to carry the work, Burgher’s goes farther and escapes the limits of this pure analogy through a somewhat fantastic discussion of intimacy as functional ritual, designed both to mark and bond participants while honoring an idea or changing reality into a more desirable form.”

Kim Piotrowski

Kim Piotrowski

Kim Piotrowski
Piotrowski creates expressive mixed media paintings, embracing an abstract language with just a hint of representation. “My choice of imagery stems from the common experiences of vulnerability.  This includes physical, material and psychological aspects pertaining to the ideas of power and how they interrelate. Through the painting process, parallels unfold that are very exciting to explore,” Piotrowski explains in her artistic statement. For her most recent exhibition Beds and Guns at the Hyde Park Art Center, her formal experimentation of new materials took on a meaningful tone. She creates all-inclusive stories with her paintings, each tackling worldly and social themes. Of Beds and Guns, Piotrowski states, “The bed can be seen as a place of record where one loves, dreams, and dies. Death, and the line that exists between having power and having it taken away, also fuels my art.”

 

Isak Applin

Isak Applin

Isak Applin
Applin’s whimsical and dramatic paintings seem effortlessly intricate. For those who love to extract meaning from art through searching for details, Applin’s paintings will have you staring for hours. His style is distinctly surreal, bringing the viewer into a new dreamlike world through each piece. His aesthetically gripping, pleasing, and skillful use of colors create intimate scenes – warm and rich.
Editor’s note: Molly Zuckerman-Hartung was also among those with a high number of mentions; her work is profiled in Artists You Should Know: Pamela Fraser’s Picks