Evanston + Vicinity Biennial Awards Juror's Choice Award

"Art is Business" reposted https://art.newcity.com/2020/12/07/all-that-glitters-veronica-clements-paintings-recall-girlhood-in-screaming-color/
Veronica Clements, “Vanitas Film Still #1,” 30 x 48 inches, 2020, Oil on canvas

Veronica Clements grew up on mixtapes, plastic Happy Meal toys, and the purple cheetah print of Lisa Frank stickers. Now as a twenty-four-year-old artist, these themes of playful, gaudy nostalgia run through her paintings like an electric current. She is serving memories on a hot pink platter.

Clements is a Chicago native and recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in painting and art history. Chicago’s influence is very present in her work. In a recent painting titled “Vanitas Film Still #1,” a girl is seen dancing on the balcony of the Marina Towers.

Clements lives in Chicago and works as a visual arts and videography teacher at the Elgin Academy. Her studio functions out of her bedroom.

Her paintings are neon-colored, bursting celebrations of girlhood, a state that glimmers, giggles, and shifts. Glass bongs shine delicately, as though made from fine, divine porcelain. A CD player is splattered in rainbow stickers and rhinestones. A horde of girls—loud, sentimental, moody—gather around a bedroom as if at a fire. Sequins flirt. In these portraits, Clements is attempting to “collapse my past into my future.” She is revisiting and relearning her childhood memories. She is painting over them.

Clements works to “modernize seventeenth-century icons” in ways such as replacing realistic butterflies with plastic butterfly clips and a realistic skull with a piggy-bank skull. She is replacing one aspect of girlhood with another while simultaneously reclaiming the power of her own individual girlhood. This idea bleeds through every piece she makes.

What strikes the viewer most is Clements’ confident, bold use of color. Her paintings pulsate and ooze with fluorescent, wet reds, fuzzy blues, and candy greens. The objects in her work seem to have always been that way, in that silky purple light. They ooze fragility and persistence like statues. You almost wish you could touch them.

The internet is undoubtedly a source of both inspiration and terror for Clements. While maneuvering the depths of social media as an artist is “a game every young artist has to play,” its commonality doesn’t make the actual practice any easier. The constant eye of both the audience and other artists leads to doubt and comparison.

At the same time, Clements believes that “social media is breaking down barriers in art.” Viewers no longer have to go to a museum to see work, they only have to go to an artist’s Instagram page or website. The distance between artist and audience is waning.

On her Instagram, Clements frequently films time-lapses of herself painting and makes posts where she gives an explanation into aspects of her process and shows her studio. This intimacy can mean the difference between gaining an audience and lacking one.

Clements’ work was featured in Woman Made Gallery’s recent virtual exhibition “LOSS.” Her featured painting is a pink, glowing, shimmering still life of beautiful clutter. A rose lays gingerly on a reflective CD. A candy wrapper sleeps. A sea of glitter and tinsel pour out of a glass. The synopsis reads, “Vanitas vanitatum Omnia vanitas. If everything is vanity, everything is lost.”

When Clements envisions her future, she sees herself working as an independent artist. She would love to see herself more involved in a large artist community. She says there is something fiercely remarkable and powerful about a colony of young artists, especially women and artists of color, who deeply understand “the value we bring to the art world.” Her first step toward this goal has been completed, as Clements recently joined the board of the Young Women’s Caucus, a sub-caucus of the National Women’s Caucus for Art in Chicago, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for female visual artists.

Clements’ work is a glittering, blazing goodbye party. A way of celebrating what has left us. She says, “That’s the beauty of paint. You can keep everything and everyone alive.” (Jasmine Ledesma)

Veronica Clements, “Vanitas Film Still #2,” 24 x 36 inches, 2020, Oil on canvas

Conceptual Sculpture: Renee Baker


Renee' Baker- violinist/violist, composer, leader, painter, poet

Ms. Baker is the founder/leader of FAQ (Faith Action Quorum), Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, Red Chai, Wrinkled Linen, Connoisseur Musica String Ensemble (classical), Poemusici (spoken word group), Blanche (experimental orchestra), and the Renee Baker Trio. In addition, she has created eclectic chamber festivals for Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Norris Cultural Arts Center, and Classical Symphony Hall. Ms. Baker has composed over 200 compositions ranging from string quartets to much larger ensembles as a composer.

Renee Baker's official entrée into the creative music arena came through an invitation to join Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings. As a proud new member of the venerable AACM, her musical affiliations have to include Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Orchestra, David Boykin Expanse, Orbert Davis w/Strings Attached, Doug Carn, Karl Siegfried's Galaxy String Quartet, Great Black Music Ensemble (AACM), Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and Chicago Jazz Orchestra.

Ms. Baker has appeared at many venues, including Woodland Patterns (WI), Kerrytown Concert House (Mi), Velvet Lounge ( Chicago), Elastic Arts Foundation, Myopic Improv Music Series, Adler Planetarium, Hyde Park Arts Center, MAC (College of DuPage), Hungry Brain, Empty Bottle, Hideout, Heaven Gallery, Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, Columbia College, Gallery 37, Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center, Scottish, Spareroom, Cheney Mansion, and the South Shore Cultural Center. Ms. Baker was also instrumental in the Feb 2008 opening of the new Arts /Music space Brown Rice which presents cutting-edge, creative music performances and experimental artists of vast disciplines, looking to develop and hone their specialties.

Her creative/ music influences include Kurt Schwitters, Nicole Mitchell, Terry Riley, David Boykin, Orbert Davis, Josh Abrams, Anthony Braxton, May Sarton, Anne Truitt, Steve Reich, Jackson Pollock, Tony Conrad, Mark Rothko, Coleridge- Taylor Perkinson, and Dr. Paul Freeman.

Ms. Baker is a published poet and a painter/conceptual artist of found objects with pieces in private collections through the US.

 "Art is Business" Re-posted by Alpha Bruton by Renee Baker:

Good morning- to each of you that are true friends, I share this tidbit of information. When you ain't about nothing, nothing bothers you much...When you are about the mission given to you by the 
Creator, watch out!!! I thank each of you for your support all the way around.
Renee Baker
 .. that's all. Karma, God, the Creator, etc., will take care of the nasty ones...you know them well. I also want each of you to not be affected by any negativity from me
.. I'm 

..We can all get caught up in the swirl, and that's what they want..to be able to separate, confuse, divide and conquer. It's a big lovely world out there, and we each have to claim our piece in it.

This country is full of the bitter ones..let them eat each other
About keeping strong...Scripture first (whatever your Holy book is), then all these hints can be helpful.
Negative self-talk and negative energy can affect you in many ways and cause you additional stress. Because of this, developing more positive self-talk is a critical way to reduce stress in your life. You can help yourself maintain a positive frame of mind—which will help with positive self-talk—by surrounding yourself with positive energy in your life. You can get that by adding the following elements to your life:

Uplifting Music: Listening to music with a soothing melody and an uplifting message can be great for developing positive self-talk. Have you ever had a song 'stuck in your head' for a few hours or days, the lyrics repeating themselves in your mind? If those lyrics were positive and inspirational, that would be a good thing. It's a much better mental soundtrack to have than a running stream of complaints, criticisms, self-limiting thoughts, or even songs that had more depressing or sad lyrics. (When times get tough, I often think of Wilson Phillips' classic, "Hold On," but there are dozens of good ones out there.)

Inspirational Books: Books on strength, personal power, enlightenment, or self-help can be good resources to help you change your outlook and the things you say to yourself. Rather than triggering habitual, self-defeating thoughts, you can find yourself thinking of new can-do concepts when times get tough. (For shifting your paradigm, I love Gary Zukav's "The Heart of the Soul" or Sarah Ban Breathnach's classic "Simple Abundance.")

Positive People: One of the most important ways you can get (and keep) positive energy in your life is with the company you keep. Do your friends uplift you or bring you down? Are they critical or complementary? Perfect friendships provide support when you're down, fun when you're up, wisdom when you're lost, and positive regard. Good friends can inspire you to reach greater heights and see your strengths even when you don't always. Pay attention to how your friends make you feel, and if they're less than supportive, start putting your energy and time toward people who are better suited to be your friend. (For more on social support and friendships, see the Relationship Section.)

Practice Affirmations: Positive affirmations can subtly but pervasively change your self-talk from negative to positive. See this article for some creative ways to begin working positive affirmations into your life.

LOVE Y'ALL- Renee'

Chicago Artist Tamasha Williamson Interview -Snap Shot from the Archives