Sunday, November 15, 2015

Judas Rising & Maiden Chicago Show Review.

                          The Soul of a Man's Birthday Bash.
                                  Happy Birthday Harold!

Fireproof, passionate and dangerous are just few words to describe the soul of my life-long friend Harold Thurber.Always calm, consistent and filled with a powerful fire that will warm anyone's heart with joy and laughter. Not everyone believes this, of course, and those who doubt me, are without wisdom. It is no accident that Harold has many friends and in private conversation, he'll tell you how he really thinks. With that in mind, we wish Harold a happy 47 years on this Earth.

Judas Rising 
Without delay, it was time to celebrate this birthday bash at Nighcaps  with two very powerful Metal acts, Judas Rising & Maiden Chicago. Frontman, Joe Martina kicked-off the night with all the classic Judas Priest songs such as "Jaw Breaker" and "Breaking The Law."  Packed with a solid a punch, other members include: Neven Trifunovich and  Briant Daniel (Lead Guitars) Kevin Cobleigh (Bass) and Scott Davidson (Drums).  The crowd was fierce at Nightcaps, wanting more heavy metal thunder!

Lead Vocalist, Bill Swanson. Maiden Chicago
Next, Maiden Chicago took the stage and launched their set with a brand new Iron Maiden Song. The room darkens, the sound flares and "If Eternity Should Fail" captivated this audience with an outstanding introduction. Lead vocalist, Bill Swanson is a true showman and can still hit those high octave notes each and every time. Steady galloping bass lines from Gary Ingram, two dueling guitarists Al Contreras & Mike Z and drummer Dan Driskill make up the rest of this five piece foundation. Other songs such as "Wasted Years," "Powerslave" and  "The Trooper" had most of these spectators thrashing and banging their heads, hungry for more Maiden! The time had come to conjure the Jester with one more song "Run To Hills."  This was indeed a good birthday celebration, filled with friends, food and more fun on this Saturday night.

Generally speaking, the night was full of amazing energy with incredible people. Judas Rising and Maiden Chicago gave folks that fatal mix of Metal with ringing in their ears from the amplifiers. But not for too long. The aftershock slowly wore off, and soon I found myself sitting at the computer writing up this review. As a result of all this madness, I will honestly say this has been the best live performance in 2015. Until then, UP THE IRONS!!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Art Essay on Mertz & Sebanc

                              Rewarding Beauty In The Big Onion

54 Common Bricks
There is no mistake that Chicago has countless nicknames, and The Big Onion is one of them. Now in the land of journalism, reporters are trained to peel back the onion of truth. In this essay, the central idea is to compare and contrast two artists living or dead and explain their compositions, uncovering a deeper meaning.  Artists are everywhere. They are a Legion, soon to be erased by the sands of time just like the rest of society. Perhaps that is way Nancie King Mertz and Robert Sebanc practice their craft, knowing that life is very short and that creating something is the most powerful and deliberate act that a human being can achieve.
Nevertheless, all things begin with a dream and the key to one’s imagination can unlock many doors.  One door was opened on October 9, 2015 at the Locallective Gallery that displayed Robert Sebanc’s work titled: “Scoundrel.” Against a 72in x 72in charcoal black backdrop, several folks playing cards, a woman wearing a dark red dress and a small child sits in her lap. But before we go more into detail about this oil and pigment canvas let’s review Sebanc’s credentials as both artist and visionary.
 In “Liquor, Sausage, And Lies About Her Future,” a solo exhibition featuring Sebanc at the Locallective Gallery in Chicago, IL most of the works are dark in composition. For example, “It Might Just Be A Window” invokes some metric patterns, as the eye draws closer to the three small red dots on this piece. “The Boys” and “54 Bricks” are just few a captivating works, some using oil and pigment on canvass.     Born in Milwaukee Wisconsin, and now teaching as an Art Professor at Wright College, Sebanc began his career as an artist. He is best known for his works at Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Itri, located in Latina, Italy, along with countless contributions to various art galleries national and internationally. Holding a B.F.A and M.A.A.E from The Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the Lesley University College of Art and Design (Cambridge, MA) (Bio) Above all, there is no method nor inspiration to Sebanc’s artistic madness and during our interview he stated, “I don’t know if I was captivated at any one point, however my earliest memories (Sic) of doing art in some form or another. Growing up our house was a creative place to be, there were art supplies on hand at all times and my mother encouraged a creative environment.”
By the same token, “Scoundrel” touches on those emotions and family values that resembles a basement of a Chicago Bungalow. For a moment, I entered a daydream sequence, thinking about my grandmother’s house and sitting on my mother’s lap as a young boy. Card games such as Rummy and Bullshit were played with my aunts and uncles as they jibber-jabbered about work and politics in this blue-collar setting. Ah yes. The good old days when gas was .75 cents a gallon and when candy bars cost a quarter. But that was many years ago and today the value of life is more important with the moral principles as its true currency.  I awake from my daydream and say my goodbyes to Alexandra Wright (Director of operations) and to Mr. Sebanc.  
Lazy Sunday
Subsequently, Nancie King Mertz was gracious enough to open the second door, inviting me into her Gallery full of Chicago style paintings. It is always good etiquette to contact someone by phone and make an appointment before you show up unannounced. That is just down right rude, and very unprofessional. Anyway, the day was quite pleasant for being the first day in November. The sun was bright, excellent weather compared to that crappy Halloween yesterday. Boarding the 78 Montrose bus, child strollers and grocery carts clutter the passage way as folks hustle and bustle on and off the crowded transport unit.  I arrive at the Art De Triumph, introduce myself and walk around.
“Lazy Sunday” captures my attention first. This 24 x 28 pastel is a very masculine panting using a pure pigment with no oil stick form. The orange rusty color of the “L” train dominates this pictures that may in fact be Clark & Lake Streets. A blueish gray sky appears in the right-hand-corner and the eye is drawn toward the street with a taxi cab waited for a fare. “I took some photos of that area on a Sunday,” explained Mrs. Mertz. Ordinarily it is very congested, she adds to say.  Nancie King Mertz was born and raised in Central Illinois, where she began painting and selling her work. (Bio) Studying art and receiving her B.A. from the University of Illinois and obtaining a master’s degree in painting from Eastern Illinois University, Mertz is not looking back. In fact, this year she has traveled to nine states to paint on site for the Arizona to Albuquerque Exhibition that was featured in June of 2015.
Mertz’s professional affiliations include: Pastel Society of America, Oil Painters of America and the Philanthropic Council Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, just to name a few. No stranger to an abundance of accolades, Mertz has received Best in Show, (CPP), Award of Merit 2014-2015 (IAPS) and took home 5th place for the Bill Creevy Award in 2015.
“Lazy Sunday” is yet another award winning masterpiece, earning 5th place in the Joe Hing Lowe Memorial this year. The saturation of colors are warm and bright. Red brick buildings, silver skyscrapers and pale blue sky are wonderfully illustrated, as two pedestrians stroll pass two locked bicycles. You may ask yourself, “How does he know that these bikes are chained down? Well, as beautiful as Chicago may be, crime is yet another key factor. And if you are native to the concrete jungle, you will soon learn that if things are not locked or bolted down, some cowardly whore-beast on crack will steal your shit faster than a New York minute. That is 45 seconds to those who reside in The Jewel of the Midwest and should you approach these mean streets, use extreme caution when walking down them at night. Ah, but never mind that if you have a conceal and carry permit. The appetite for a Chicago lead salad is not a fine cuisine by anyone’s standards.

In this final analysis, both works by Sebanc and Mertz have captured my imagination. I have relinquished myself to their creations and absorbed the natural talents. The Universe has granted them a gift and my soul has been filled with joy.