Uplifting, multi-modal, and expressing hope amid challenging times, the exhibition “Illuminate” by Springboard Arts Chicago—one of Wicker Park’s latest arts tenants—brought a timely curation of fresh artworks to the gallery’s opening in November 2020 through February 2021. This spring, the gallery has built off its inaugural exhibition with a new exhibit, “Momentum,” which embraces the challenges that “Illuminate” brought to light, using them as a catalyst of change and for fueling forward motion.
“We had to keep moving forward. We’re in a time in our world when there are lots of walls put up; we’re stopped sometimes, because COVID is stopping us and all sorts of things that we would have never experienced before,” said Donna Van Eekeren, chief executive officer and president of Springboard Arts Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. “We’re going to keep moving forward and giving artists the opportunity to sell their work and besides that, I really think people are in their homes more and need something like this in their homes.”
Within “Momentum,” which debuted March 1, 2021 and will culminate May 24, 2021 themes of movement are visually depicted in the artists’ work as well as their particular subject matters, which often reflect on evolving environments, phases of life, and the steady pursuit of a joyful future.
A varied collection of works spanning mediums such as oils, watercolor, layered photography, and sculpture compose the “Momentum” body of work. Mee Shim’s large-format work of acrylic on canvas, “Turquoise Wind,” depicts a portrait of internal movement and drive, while Lisa Levine’s curation of archival pigment prints patch the frequencies of multiple realities into one work of art.
The exhibit also boasts works by Shelley Gilchrist, Tom Flanagan, Linda Emmerman, Ellen Holtzblatt, Beverly Kedzior, Jane Michalski, Laura Foster Nicholson, Lauri Novak, Raul Ortiz, Corinne D. Peterson, Corey Postiglione, Beth Shadur, and Jeff Stevenson. Each work speaks to overarching themes of momentum whether conceptual—as seen in Raul Ortiz’s works of print-making-inspired paintings which shape several images—or more literally depictive, such as in Beth Shadur’s “The Hidden Spirit (Theodore Roosevelt),” which utilizes watercolor and mixed-media to show migrations across a collage of natural topographies.
“I love the fact that they’re different, but the quality of work is the same. I feel very fortunate to have found as many wonderful artists we did,” Van Eekeren said.
In all, Springboard Arts hosts works by about 40 artists in varying mediums, and it sustains an overarching mission—born in the thick of pandemic last fall—to encourage, educate, and provide opportunity for both creator and collector. As with other forms of interior design and artistic curation, Van Eekeren notices a unique opportunity for art supporters and creatives to cultivate their relationships with art and design in the current climate.
“Artists inspire us to think differently and I think that the timing for this—even though I would like this not to have happened—is really good for people to actually buy art,” Van Eekeren said.
Especially as people spend more time around the home, noticing space and ways for art to change an interior atmosphere, there is more room for uplifting visual messages in day-to-day operation on the ends of artist and art observer.
“I think the role [of art] is to uplift you, because you’re looking at something beautiful. Another thing is that artists themselves will come out of this with a new way of looking at the world, so I’ll be interested to see what art evolves out of this period,” Van Eekeren added.
To sample this current cohort of Springboard Arts artists, visitors can schedule free, 45-minute visits to the gallery online during the “Momentum” exhibit run until May 25th. The staggered approach serves preventative measures for COVID-19, which work to limit the number of guests inside the gallery at one time.
Text: R. Collins
Photography: Springboard Arts Chicago
Featured artists: Lisa, Levine, Mee Shim, Jeff Stevenson