“On the Other Side: New Works by Carrie Johnson” opens First Friday, July 6th in the Kortman Gallery

Rockford Art Museum curator Carrie Johnson has built an exhilarating and challenging career in the art world selecting and installing exhibitions, lecturing about art, and supporting and working with artists. She has now come to a time in her career where she crosses over to the artist side of the art world, culminating with her first solo gallery exhibition. “On the Other Side: New Works by Carrie Johnson” opens First Friday, July 6th in the Kortman Gallery in downtown Rockford.

“After being in the art world for so long, I have felt a need to personally express myself creatively,” says Johnson. “I have been fortunate to be around the creative energy of other artists, who not only inspire, but encourage artistic expression. Now I feel like I’m running alongside or falling in with them.” 

Johnson’s bold abstract works are not only visually striking, but have an engaging tactile quality, a result of her use of textural materials blended with paint and other unconventional surfaces.

“My work primarily focuses on composition and texture,” writes Johnson.  “Although there is greater meaning to each mark that is executed, I prefer the viewer form their own narrative about the piece - translate the mark on their own. None of the paintings are organic. Quite the opposite actually. Each gesture is throughly thought out and very deliberate.”

The First Friday Kortman Gallery opening reception for Johnson’s exhibit will also feature a live performance of ambient music by guitarist Rick Zillhart followed by cool sounds from Dj BISU (aka Erik Olson).

“On the Other Side: New Works by Carrie Johnson” opening reception is from 5:30 to 10pm and on display through August 31st. The Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. For more information call 815-968-0123.

Rockford "Symbol" souvenir is back! Now available at J.R. Kortman in 2 sizes...

This year, “Symbol,” Rockford’s iconic grand sculpture by Alexander Liberman, turns 40! To celebrate, J.R. Kortman brings back the miniature “Symbol” souvenirs…available in two sizes. They’re not only cool mementos of our city, but also function as bookends, objet d’art, or a charming votive stand. And best of all, like “Symbol” itself, made in Rockford, Illinois USA!


Two Artists create remarkable, uncommon sculptural works from ordinary wood in Kortman Gallery exhibit, opening ArtScene weekend April 13th & 14th


Drawing inspiration from childhood storybook characters, nature, and spirituality, Brazilian artist Albino Junior creates remarkable miniature sculptures from wooden matchsticks. These striking and magical works, which Junior refers to as “Arte no Palito,” reveal his uncanny and inspired ability to carve these diminutive and unusual artworks.
    Joe Goral Sr. is a Rockford painter and woodworker, whose woodworking focuses on turned pieces using a lathe and scroll sawn typography. The materials for his work come from downed trees and limbs from around Winnebago county, old skateboards, and leftovers from other woodworking projects.
    Both artists share a unique, creative relationship with wood, and combined with their emotional and spiritual connections to the subject matter, blur the lines between craft and art in an exhibition titled “Into the Wood,” opening ArtScene weekend (April 13-14) in the Kortman Gallery.
    Albino Geovane Vasconcelos Junior, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, believes he has a gift with his unique artistic ability.
    “I have been developing my gift since I was 14 years-old when I suddenly got a match, some paints and glue and made my first sculpture: a small Christ on the Cross,” said Junior. Many people see matches as something disposable that you use only once and then it loses its functionality. I see sculptures using matches, mixing colors, stories and emotions in a few centimeters!”
    “While these sculptures have the peculiar characteristic of being miniature, there is also an incredible variety of detail that amazes and moves a lot of people,” says Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky.
    Joe Goral, Sr. found inspiration from his father about a decade ago.
    “My dad was a huge influence in my initial interest in woodworking. He started building furniture and would suggest types of woodworking that might interest me. Eventually I took a jigsaw and stumbled my way through cutting out a large "J" for my son, Joey Jr. I showed it to him and he suggested I buy a scroll saw,” said Goral.
    “Within a few months, I had made and sold enough work to upgrade to a really nice saw. I cut up everything from old skateboards to very expensive pieces of wood into intricate cursive words. It was and still is a lot of fun.”
    “Into the Wood” featuring sculptural art works by Albino Junior and Joe Goral, Sr. opens Spring ArtScene, Friday, April 13th from 5:00 to 9pm and Saturday, April 14th, 4 to 9pm and will be on display through May 31st. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. For more information call 815-968-0123.


Comic books & graphic design inspires printmakers Joe Tallman & Alison Weust in Kortman Gallery “Flat Planet” exhibition opening February 2nd

Flat Planet Press is the combined studio practice of Rockford artists Joe Tallman and Alison Weust. “Flat Planet” is also the title of their exhibition opening Friday, February 2nd in the Kortman Gallery, Downtown Rockford. The title is derived from the two-dimensional nature of Tallman and Weust’s work, as both artists concentrate on hand-drawn, hand-printed works on paper.

Tallman & Weust have found inspiration for their contemporary/retro imagery from comic books, pulp era science fiction, hand-illustrated typography, and even music all with a graphic design sensibility.

Weust is a designer and printmaker who specializes in screen printing and photo lithography.

“I’ve always worked closely with bands and musicians and look to artists like Ray Pettibon,” says Weust. “I also love the the illustrator Daniel Clowes who uses a lot of bright colors in his work and taught me that you don’t always have to use black as your darkest value. I started replacing black with dark blues or reds and I found that it makes my work much more vibrant.”

Joe Tallman is an illustrator and screen printer who creates his art using a hybrid of traditional drawing and inking methods along with digital coloring techniques more commonly seen in modern illustration.

“I’ve always been intrigued by man’s relationship with technology in an ever-changing digital landscape,” says Tallman. “Sci-fi illustrators like Virgil Finlay blew my mind early on, along with comic book illustrators like Dan Clowes, Charles Burns and Adrian Tomine.”

According to Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky the exhibit should be an entertaining and engaging art experience. “Both Joe and Alison have a great sense of visual imagery that’s very well executed, imaginative, colorful and, most of all, fun!”

“Flat Planet” featuring art works by Joe Tallman and Alison Weust opens First Friday, February 2nd from 5:30 to 9pm and will be on display through March 31st. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. For more information call 815-968-0123.