February may be a short month, but here in Chambana there's no shortage of new art to check out. The three exhibits previewed here, though wildly different in style, tone, and subject, ultimately have a common thread.  Each in its own way challenges us to see beyond the surface and ultimately reach a deeper understanding of each other.  

As the following interviews reveal, intimacy can achieved in many ways. For the subjects of Patricia Monigold's portraits it is an unexpected turn of the conversation. For Leeah Joo it is through the folds of traditional Korean fabrics as they are draped. For the artists of The Art MA Show, it is through "the power, beauty, vulnerability, and sometimes humor of nudity has a universal appeal, because deep down we have that much in common."
 


The Art of Timing: Portraits by Patricia Monigold

Smile Politely: Can you tell me what inspired the work that became "The Art of Timing" exhibit?

Patricia Monigold: "The Art of Timing" refers to the dance of friendship. People come in and out of one’s life, sometimes as close friends, other times as casual acquaintances. You may share confidences, ideas or simply engage in small talk. But all of a sudden something observed in a person lights the creative fire in the artist and so the portrait begins.

SP: Your portrait painting style really captures something essential about your subjects, particularly in terms of the places and things that surround them. The result is very powerful. How do you choose your subjects?

Monigold: Most of the people I have painted I have known for some time. I know what they are interested in, what they do for a living, or things they treasure.

SP: What do you do to get to know your subjects before you determine the focus of the portraits?

Monigold: When I approach someone to pose for a painting I usually have a composition in mind and the painting is finished in my head. I am always open to ideas the subject might have or props they might supply. People who pose for me have been most generous with their time.

SP: Do you work from photographs or live models?

Monigold: I do work from photographs. Before I meet with the subject I do three or four sketches of poses I am interested in. Then I have a session where I take around 30 photos of the subject. I do most of this in my studio where I can control the lighting. The photo is the starting point, the reference. I make scaled drawings from the photo and try to solve placement problems on paper before I go to the canvas.

The Art of Timing: Portraits by Patricia Monigold
Springer Cultural Center
301 N Randolph St, Champaign
February 16th to March 9th
Opening reception: Thursday, February 21st, 5:30 to 7 p.m. 

Photo from Facebook event page.
 

Draped and Bundled:  Paintings by Leeah Joo

Joo's realistic style is well-suited for her exploration of drapery as still life. The trope of the bundle, as a metaphor for the immigrant experience of carrying meaning forward from one culture, one country, to another. 

"In one sense, [my work] celebrates the simple beauty and the tradition of Korean brocades saved for special occasions, birthdays, or New Year," Joo explains. "Then the drapes and folds transform into mountains and oceans informed by recent events, such as the image of the victorious smile on an infamous dictator on top of Paektu Mountain in North Korea."

The true power of these paintings can only be appreciated live, where one is able to be surrounded and humbled by their stories.  If you can, take advantage of the chance to meet Leeah Joo at Parkland College's Giertz Gallery today at 6:30 p.m. See details below. 
 

Draped and Bundled: Paintings by Leeah Joo
The Giertz Gallery at Parkland College
2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign
Artist reception: Thursday, February 14th, 5:30 to 7 p.m. 
Gallery talk by artist at 6:30 p.m.
Live music by Cobra Lounge Trio
Exhibit runs through March 26th

Photo from Giertz Gallery Facebook page.
 

The Art MA Show (X-Rated Art): featuring work by Marc-Anthony Macon, Ralph Roether, Phil Strang, Cindy Sampson, and Laura Ann Welle.

Smile Politely: How did you get involved in the show? What hooked you in? 

Cindy Sampson: This idea of an x-rated show has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Ralph Roether and I did a Boneyard together at the old Firestone Building on Neil Street four or five years ago and we talked about it then. Everytime I saw Ralph, I would bring it up in conversation.  I also mentioned it to Marc-Anthony Macon and Phil Strang. Phil decided to take the ball and run with it. So I’ve been “hooked in “ from the beginning!

SP:  As one of the two women involved, you bring an important perspective to a "for mature audiences only" show.  What thoughts/inspirations/ shaped the pieces you made or chose for the show? Are these pieces different from the work you typically do? If so, how?

Sampson:  I love the shock factor and emotions that artwork can create in people.  This subject is going to open up some wonderful conversations about sexuality and the body. If this works well maybe we will try it again with more lead time and artists!  My art is different but it’s not—same style but different subject matter!

SP: What do you think will surprise people the most about this show?

Sampson: They might be surprised by which specific pieces of art they are drawn to. What interests and arouses you might tell you things about yourself you didn't consider before.

SP: What else can viewers expect?

Sampson: There will be musical entertainment by JAM (Julia and Matthew) Friday night.  Each artist is bringing their own style and tastes to this show.
 

The Art MA Show signage, created by artist and graphic designer Ralph Roether, teases us with its boldness and wordplay. 

The Art MA Show (X-Rated Art)
123 W Main St, Urbana
February 15th, 6 to 10 p.m. 
February 16th, noon to 10 p.m. 
Must be 18+ to attend

Photos from The Art MA Show Facebook page