Anne Farley Gaines

I grew up in South Haven, Michigan in a home that had vast acreage. The large expanses of lawn and garden were lovingly designed and tended by my parents. My father was a horticulturist, my mother an avid appreciator of art and beauty. I have lived and worked in Chicago’s Pilsen community for 30 years following graduate school in Ohio. Something of both the country and the urban is part of my outlook on the world. To describe my work as a whole would be complex, as I continually feel torn between pastoral calm and urban angst. My mixed-media work, folding screens, three-dimensional watercolors, and collaborative works often deal with that type of fragmentation. The mixed-media work that is my favorite is a very urban-looking collaborative I spearheaded with students at the Academy where I teach entitled “IADT On-Stage.” A variety of materials were used and strong color contrasts and differing surfaces contribute to the ‘unified complexity’ between audience, dancing letters, and background of the Lake and Millennium Park against a starry night. My works that are of landscapes, florals and portraits involve different motives. I feel that part of my reason for painting landscapes and florals is to open the eyes of the viewer to the particular aspects of beauty found in certain places I have visited in my travels. Much of the charm I am seeking is in the colors — their subtle and varied relationships. I frequently make use of soft color blending in the shadows to contrast with areas of strong, bright colors. I like to weave together certain areas of image, often manipulating pattern and texture, to create an atmosphere of serenity. Not considering myself serene, I often seek great peace in the act of painting landscapes and florals; however, in recent years I have been drawn as much to portraiture as the other genre.  I find it a strong means of connecting with people and I love the challenge of capturing the psyche and sometimes the personal symbolism of whomever I am painting.  My strongest portrait to date is the one completed summer of 2009 of June and Francis Spiezer, a devoted couple who amassed the largest collection of Chicago art in Illinois.  It was unveiled at the Rockford Art Museum at the opening of the Spiezer collection, and is a montage of their faces and shoulders in addition to imagery from their collection.  Like the format of the IADT mural, it has a ‘stage’ as its format in which June and Francis are the major players. 

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