Lee Sturges (1865-1954) was a prolific artist and inventor who was born in Chicago and lived in Elmhurst from 1892 until the year before he died in 1954. In his career as a businessman and engineer, he helped found the Illinois Manufacturers Association in 1893. Throughout his life, Sturges was awarded patents for 20 inventions, including a small-scale etching press that led to a revival of the medium.
This typewriter belonged to Illinois’ own Carl Sandburg, nationally known author, poet, and journalist, while he lived in Elmhurst from 1919 to 1930. Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1878 and eventually moved to the Chicago area to begin a career in journalism. He wrote for the Chicago Daily News, reviewing movies and covering labor news. The Sandburg family moved to Elmhurst in 1919, the same year he won his first of three Pulitzer Prizes.
This beautiful, carved wood ceremonial mask is just over four feet tall and is worn over the head and shoulders. It was acquired by Illinois State University in 1973 and then was transferred to the Illinois State Museum in 2001.
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, animal specimens were traditionally preserved as study skins or as crudely stuffed mounts. Then, in the early 1910s, a man named Carl Akeley pioneered new specimen preparation techniques that enabled him to create more realistic displays. The Chicago Academy of Sciences also began to experiment with these ideas and devised large, meticulously-detailed dioramas as a new way to represent local species and natural areas.
Like naturalist illustrations on steroids, Kevin Veara's paintings contain the precision and crisp detail found in John J. Audubon prints but without Audubon's formulaic natural settings. Veara surrounds his birds in exotically-colored patterned environments, bringing to mind the way contemporary painter Kehinde Wiley employs highly-stylized patterning as wallpaper that surrounds his figural paintings in order to critique Western Art history and obliterate cultural boundaries.
Springfield, Illinois, artist Kevin Veara paints birds against eye-popping backdrops of imagined, mutant hybrid flora. His paintings comment on the extraordinary beauty of these birds that are forced to coexist or become extinct in an ever-changing modern environment. Some of his paintings also include the birdcalls in bold, glowing, cursive phonetics, a nod to both early 19th century naturalist studies and tattoo art.
Hercules I is the first in a series of three Hercules paintings that Manierre Dawson completed in the wake of his visit to the Armory Show in Chicago. He was so taken by Marcel Duchamp’s 1911-12 work, Nude (Study), Sad Young Man on a Train (Nu [esquisse], Jeune homme triste dans un train), that he purchased it.
Artist Ken Holder paints his own sunbathed studio in life-size scale, demystifying his practice and commenting on the mundane materials used to produce his art. Above all the art supplies hangs one of his cropped, self-portrait paintings from a series of similar paintings that he was working on at the time. This large studio painting does not reveal the artist’s face, but it does reveal his world. This is the world of a studio painter in the 1970s, captured with fidelity in living color.
Ted Halkin’s early works were highly-symbolic, id-driven reflections of his influences and love of archetypal imagery. He became associated with a post-war group of Chicago artists known as “The Monster Roster” for their collective expressionistic, existential nod to antiquity such as Cosmo Campoli, Dominic Di Meo, Leon Golub, Seymour Rososfky, and Nancy Spero.
This sculpture is an example of Social Realism, a style of art that emphasized depictions of contemporary life as a means of social or political commentary. The artist, ‘Si’ Gordon, was employed in the sculpture division of the Federal Art Project (1935-43), a Works Project Administration program that employed artists on a monthly stipend. The Federal Art Project established more than 100 community art centers throughout the country, researched and documented American design, commissioned murals and sculptures for public buildings, and sustained some 10,000 artists and craft workers during the Great Depression.