Monday, May 19, 2008

Winners of the Alliance of Fine Art 16th Annual “Best of the Best” Fine Art Exhibit

Alliance of Fine Art
16th Annual "Best of the Best" Fine Art Exhibit
Mayslake Peabody Estate
1717 W. 31st Street, Oak Brook, IL
March 16 - May 18, 2008
Reception, Critique, and Award Presentations, May 18, 2–4 p.m.
Best of the Best Show Judge
Rolf Achilles
Mr. Rolf Achilles, an Art Historian and the Curator of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier in Chicago, is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He organizes symposia, special exhibits and lectures for many agencies and educational institutions, some of which include: the Newberry Library, the Mayor's Office (Chicago), the British Society of Decorative Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, a number of architectural organizations, and several German museums.
He lectures on art, architecture, preservation, and stained glass windows nationally and internationally, and organizes exhibitions and coordinates symposia relating to historical art movements, as well as on painters and printmakers  He has written a number of books, pamphlets, and articles including: "Chicago's Architectural Impact on Vienna, Budapest and Berlin," "Pride of Place – The Streeterville Story," and the ongoing Catalogue for "Smith Museum of Stained Glass."  Mr. Achilles earned his PhD in ABD from the University of Chicago, with additional studies abroad in Germany, Rome and the Netherlands.
Congratulations to our
Award Winners
Best of Show     Gaylord Walter              DPAL
1st Place            Dick Shipley                NAL
2nd Place           Tony Armediz              EAG
3rd Place           Diana Nawrocki            WSAG
1st H.M.             Connie Nestler             MCS
2nd H.M.            Jacque France             LGAL
3rd H.M.             Leah Tait                     AAG
4th H.M.             Mike Bessler                PAL       ****
Merit Recognition
Honorable Mentions
Maggie Kruser                           NAL
Carol Baumrucker                         PAL       ****
Mike Thompson                         LAG
Bruce Peterson                         AAG
Heide Parks                              NAL
Helen McLuckie                         PAL       ****
Valerie Lorimre                          NAL
Laura Lein0Svencner                  MCS
Yvonne Thompson                      DPAL
Helen Roeder                             LGAL
Joe Hadamik                              PAL       ****
Gregor Maksyhmiw                    AAG
Marianne McKoveck                   EAG
Darlene Hoekstra                       EAG
Our thanks to all who made this show so outstanding.
Nancy D'Agostino, Chairman
Zaki Knapen, Graphic Design, Exhibit Layout & Installation
Lee Anderson
Stephanie and Matt Bieniek
Carol Carls
Abhi Ghanju
LuEllen Joy Giera
Sheryl Jones
Karen Magin
Dianne Martia
Lois Martin
Therese Mildice
Mona and Bob Parry
Laura Rivas
Dennis Salaty
Jeanne Sellergren
Nancy and Bill Uznanski
Alice and Gary Wick
Kim and Jon Wilcox
And to the AFA Officers
Zaki Knapen, Executive Director
Bill Uznanski, Ex-officio Emeritus
Diana Nawrocki, Vice Director
Abhi Ganju. Treasurer
Kim Wilcox. Secretary
Therese Mildice. Retiring Secretary
Therese Mildice

Friday, May 16, 2008


JoAnn Deck's art quilts are not the heirlooms family members pass down through generations, but brightly colored abstract fiber collages.

"I'm not a person to work on a quilt for years. I like immediate results, to put my colors together and get the thing up on the wall," said Deck, 67, of Plainfield.

"Color excites me, big, bright swashes of color, not little prints and little designs. I'm more into futuristic stuff. I'm not into history and I think it carries over into art."

Having once owned a Harvard, Ill., fabric store, where Deck also taught quilting classes, Deck was familiar with fabrics when she discovered art quilts on the Internet.

Already a collage artist, Deck was excited about the possibilities of creating art on fabric, art that also did not require framing. Deck took a class and was instantly pleased with the results.

"I can create different lines and shapes just by the way I apply the dyes and the paints to the fabric and the way it travels through the fibers," Deck said. "Then there's the tactile nature. If you have a quilt hanging, people want to touch it. But if too many people touch it, they leave oil from their hands on the surface and that's not good for a piece of art."

Deck says she works intuitively, rarely sketching a first design before she begins. Nor is she afraid of experimenting with either color or fabric. She will often just throw paint on cloth just to see what happens. The paint that is available for fabric work is better than ever, she said.

"There are new and wonderful textile paints that do not change the hand of the fabric significantly," Deck said. "The cloth created with these paints, when used according to manufacturers directions, is so soft that you can easily hand-quilt it. For many years, acrylic paints were applied to fabric and, even though marketed specifically for fabric, left it stiff and rubbery."

Although she sometimes melts polyesters using a special gun, Deck nearly always prefers working with 100 percent cotton fabrics. To ensure just the right colors for her projects, she hand dyes and hand paints her work.

"I don't want to limit my choices," Deck said. "I love being able to have the right color I want on hand and not having to run out to the store to find it. I believe God has blessed me with a keen sensitivity to color harmonies, along with the ability to combine many diverse and unusual elements and techniques. My art pieces are built layer upon layer, technique upon technique, with intuitive and spontaneous development fueled by the colors and diversity of materials."

The art experience for Deck does not stop with creating art. Teaching it to others, she said, is a natural consequence of experiencing it.

For the last six years, Deck has taught a number of art-related courses at TLD Designs in Westmont, owned by her daughter and textile artist Tammy Deck.

Deck also accepts commission work; her pieces hang as part of many private and corporate collections, she said. Nearly everything Deck owns is or can be for sale if the right buyer comes along. There is, however, one piece she will not sell.

"It's a collage I did many years ago as a tribute to my stepmother when she died. It helped me get through the grieving," Deck said. "It's not a fabric collage, but a dimensional collage from things that were hers: a piece of her watch, the mirror from inside her lipstick container and her Washburn School graduation paper.

"I've exhibited it on occasion and for awhile I taught classes on how to make one.

"I told people, 'You bring your important stuff and I'll show you how to make a piece of art out of it.' But people want results that are vintage-looking and vintage isn't my thing."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mike Bessler ARTWORKS

May 9, 2008
By Denise M. Baran-Unland Special to the Herald News
Full article:
To fully grasp the immensity of the art pieces fine art photographer Mike Bessler fabricates, click twice on the red and yellow tulips image on his home page online at  There, Bessler, 57, of Bolingbrook, stands proudly before the 16-by-6-foot tulips photograph that permanently resides at Naperville's Edward Hospital outpatient center in Plainfield.  "This is my favorite image right now," Bessler said. "I like to keep going back and looking at it and I bring other people to look at it, too."

To create this wide-angle image, Bessler took 14 different shots of the tulips, cut them into 10 36-inch square images and stitched them together.

He then printed them on canvas and created visible brush strokes on the flowers by painting them with clear acrylic. Because the photograph has so much detail, Bessler said he can print it again in any desired size.

"To me, this brings out the richness of the picture and makes it look more three-dimensional," Bessler said. "Some day -- maybe a long time from now -- I'll be able to print 3-D, but the best I can do right now is to add my texture on the outside."

For other photographs, Bessler "sculpts" them, by photographing many separate pictures of the same object and assembling them into one photograph by layering them. He used this technique with the images he took of his new pink rosebush.

"Sculpture has more depth, more shadows," he said. "Your eye just puts it all together and you don't see the spaces at all."

Bessler has shown his work at the Oak Brook Invitational and he has sold his pieces to both individuals and to corporations. Each year, he teaches photograph workshops at Starved Rock State Park in Utica.

Although both Bessler's father and uncle loved photography, Bessler said his call to the craft came at Lockport West High School (now Romeoville HS) when someone put a camera in his hands and told him to go take pictures.

"I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so I had to learn," Bessler said. "There weren't all those photography classes then." He apparently caught on fairly quickly. "I was the photographer for the 1968 yearbook. Almost all the photographs in there are mine and my friend's and we did all the layouts."

A full-time programmer and a part-time wedding photographer, the nature-loving Bessler evolved into a fine art photographer after he visited and took pictures of the Grand Canyon. He couldn't wait to get those images developed and relive that visual experience. But the resulting pictures disappointed him.

"The awe was just not there and that is when I resolved to learn how to bring home the awe," Bessler said.

He experimented first with enhancing the colors of his realistic pieces and later by creating impressionistic renderings of his images to give the feel of the original scene. Many of those images are quite large and have a sculpted feeling. Bessler now prints those images on either fine art paper or canvas.

Since he retired two years ago, Bessler has limited the number of weddings he will shoot each year to concentrate more on his fine art work. These are mostly nature pieces, especially flowers and waterfalls. The process of creating them gives Bessler immense satisfaction.

"My images are mine from the first look through the viewfinder of my camera, through the enhancing process and the printing," Bessler said. "Now I am feeling the awe."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Naperville Art League Award Winners for “MEMORIES OF THE PAST”

Best of Show:
Kirk Kerndl —"Portrait of Juan Morales"

Best Theme:
Pat Young —"Past Vacation Memories"

Merit Awards:
Mike Bessler —"Mayan Monkey Pot 400 AD"

Susan R. Wilson — "Iris Gardens"

Marilyn Polivka — "Isabella in the Garden"

Bill Baykan — "Charlie"

Ed Massart — "Mom's Bike"

Judged by George Liebert