Oblique – Streetscapes of Chicago
Photographs by Jordan Scott and Nelson W Armour
Photographers Jordan Scott and Nelson W Armour explore the urban landscape, searching out lesser-recognized streets, structures, and views. Chicago’s flat urban topography yields different perspectives, both close and far, both recognizable and unknown.
Scott’s black and white work emphasizes the history of specific Chicago streets with penetrating focus on unique structures and buildings. He captures transportation structures, cultural oddities, the vintage, the unusual, the seedy and the offbeat. Unfashionable motels with postmodern exterior facades and privacy barriers transport one from present-day to earlier styles and geographies. Now squalid and crime ridden rest stops, it’s just a matter of time before demolition occurs. Is Scott documenting these idiosyncratic and iconic structures? Is he capturing their melancholy, hinting at the unknown worlds living within?
Armour’s color work also searches for offbeat locations and idiosyncratic corners. Iconic structures are ever present within the frame. Normally, these familiar and famous buildings are viewed from beautiful angles and with a majestic sweep. Yet, Armour’s oblique take reveals less traveled neighborhoods, grittier blocks, and industrial settings. The famous skyline recedes in importance and the quirkier settings promote what is near; the iconic fades into the distance. What’s close conflicts with what’s distant. Most of these local settings have now succumbed to demolition and development. Will the distant continue to swallow up the close?
Scott and Armour’s work examine Chicago streetscapes at once recognizable and familiar but with unusual perspectives, tones, and feelings.
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 3, 6-8 pm
Artist’s Talk: Sunday, August 11th, 3-4 pm.
I had a very nice visit to Artspace 8 Gallery in Chicago this week and spending time with the amazing staff, including owner/director Fidel Rodriguez. Here are some images of current gallery installs of my work. I am looking forward to my one-person exhibition there in September, 2019.
All artworks: used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas
1) "Until the moment Comes 1 & 2" 48" x 24" each
2) "Home of the Brave" 36" x 60"
3) "Amethyst" 30" x 30"
4) "Passages" 60" x 60"
A shot from the Brown Line "L" on the way down to the gallery.
A huge turnout last night for our Spring Open Studios at the Cornelia Arts Building. It was nice to see so many old and new friends stop by to see us in studio #102. We were even visited by a beautiful green bird named Petros who was oddly attracted to my new "Butterflies" piece.
"Butterflies" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 16"x 16" 2019
"Love" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 16" x 16" 2018
Please join me for the opening of my one-person exhibition of new and recent work at One River School in Lincoln Square, Chicago. This exhibition runs from April 19- May 31, 2019.
One River School of Art+Design in Lincoln Square
Opening Reception: Friday, April 19, 6:00-8:00PM
4625 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
Attention Chicago area artists, I am teaching a workshop this Wednesday evening at the 1100 Florence Gallery in Evanston from 7:00-9:00pm on how to properly photograph/document your artwork.
From the Evanston Made website:
"Your photos of your artwork are everything!
They’re what you use to submit your work to exhibitions.
They’re what you post on social media to get noticed.
They’re what you send to potential customers!
But are the images that you’re using the best they can be?
Come to this demo with photographer/artist Jordan Scott and learn how to take professional quality art photos in your home or studio! Jordan is so good at making photo taking easy to understand. He’ll present an easy to follow step-by-step process that covers camera settings, lighting and using a tripod. Almost any camera except a cellphone camera will work!
This event is free for Evanston Made members. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-Member tickets are $25. Space is limited."
For more information and to sign-up click here.
“Dreams” U.S. and international postage stamps and resin on canvas 16” x 16” 2019
I was happy to finish deliver a new commission entitled "Dreams" last week. As well as incorporating many of the clients own postage stamps from places they had traveled, and a series of stamps featuring of "Dr. Who" from the U.K., it also features postage stamps from over 45 different countries of the world from every inhabited continent (excluding Antarctica).
I am honored and excited to be one of several featured instructors at this year’s Out of Chicago Photography Conference. This amazing symposium includes two full days packed with workshops for all experience levels. I will be teaching two workshops entitled “Getting the Perfect Exposure” and “Principles of Creative Composition.”
The conference is being held in Grayslake, Illinoisfrom April 27-28, 2019. Use the discount code SPRING when you register to get $50 off.
For more information, visit www.outofchicago.com/spring
Some of my sample images that we will discuss how to capture using my "Getting the Perfect Exposure" and "Creative Composition" techniques.
“Lights Return" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 48" x 48" 2019
"Light's Return" installed in its New York City loft home.
This piece was made using approximately 4000 used U.S. Airmail postage stamps. The specific stamp used to create this piece is the 1946 “Pan-American Building with DC-4 Skymaster” 10¢ issue. The design is based on a painting from Frank Stella’s “Black Series” from the late 1950s.
"Pilot" keeping watch...
For years now, I have been accumulating a specific collection of U.S. Olympic themed postage stamps. I never knew why, or for what reason they would eventually be used. But, I had an intuition that they might become something special one day. As I sorted through newly acquired lots of stamps, I would put these Olympics aside as they were discovered. Eventually, the specialized collection grew into the thousands. In addition, I have always used and collected older U.S. commemorative flag stamps. I am constantly utilizing them in pieces and have made several artworks using them exclusively, creating abstract red, white and blue pattern fields.
Recently, I received a message from a San Francisco based Art Consultant from Simon Breitbard Fine Arts that I work with regularly. She had a client interested in commissioning a piece from me for their Park City, Utah, home. She asked, to my great delight, if by chance I had stamps featuring Winter sports! And just like that, all those years of setting aside the U.S. Olympic stamps (many of which happened to be Winter Olympic stamps) had presented its purpose!
Virtual Gallery View: "Winter Snow" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 48" x 48" 2018
"Winter Snow" detail and side view
"Winter Snow" in the studio waiting to be boxed and shipped. "Star Spangled" hanging above it on the wall.
“Winter Snow” was made using approximately 2000 used U.S. postage stamps. The stamps all feature Winter Olympic sports or U.S. flag themes. The Winter Olympic sport stamps include: the 1972 sledding and skiing stamps; the 1976 skiing and figure skating stamps; 1984 figure skating, skiing, and hockey stamps; and the 1988 speed skating, downhill skiing, ski jumping and hockey stamps. The U.S. flag stamps include: the 1959 “44 Star” stamp (after Alaska became a state, but before Hawaii); the 1960 “50 Star” stamp (added after Hawaii also became a state); and the 1964 “Vote” stamp.
The design is a variation of my cross + vortex layout, but reinterpreting it as an X to make reference to snowflakes (a giant abstracted geometric snowflake) and wintertime, in general. "Winter Snow" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 48" x 48" 2018
Some of the U.S. Winter Olympic stamps use in this piece.
"Winter Snow" installed in its new Park City, Utah, home.
Peaceful and solitude are just two of the words that come to mind when thinking of Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. My fascination with cemeteries began at college in the Indiana University Religious Studies program and has only grown as my interest and skill in photography have developed. In a class of prospective new Religious Studied majors in about 1987, I can remember an interesting discussion that somehow veered off-track to the idea of cemetery walls and their purpose. Each member of the small group gave their impressions and the general consensus was the walls of a cemetery exist to protect the sacred grounds from unwanted incidences during off hours. Vandalism and littering by drunken teenagers, homeless setting up camp and drug dealing were just some of the possibilities mentioned. Although I agreed with this in modern practice, I proposed another possibility on the origin of the walls. Initially, hundreds or thousands of years ago, the walls were not constructed to keep unwanted visitors out, but to keep the unwelcome (and unnerving) post-organic visitations by some of “them” in.
Here are a few select moments during my recent trip back to Graceland Cemetery, Chicago IL.
Almost without exception, I am repeatedly asked the same three questions at every exhibition opening I have my stamp based artworks included in. How long does it take you to complete a piece? Where do you get all the stamps? Do you have any favorite stamps?
This is the first of a three-part blog series to answer the last question on favorites. Although subject matter and/or messaging often have a role to play in my selections, my favorites usually have to do more with color, design and imagery, regardless of subject.
Here are some of my favorite U.S. postal issues. This is just the first in a series (3 or 4) of planned posts on this same topic.
As far as using it in my own artwork, the sun and radiant bands create and almost hypnotic op-art look when composed as I did below in a piece entitled, "Glow" (Vortex 22) used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 16" x 16" 2018
Featuring the abstract geometric painting "Glow" by Josef Albers, this 15¢ cent issue from 1980 (Scott # 1833) is a great example of minimalism in design. The beautiful colors of Albers’ piece, radiating from the center square and positioned on the upper half of the rectangular format of the stamp, led me to experiment with this abstract relationship further. Although, I had been doing square formatted pieces based on Albers’ “Homage” series for years, it wasn’t until a University of Kansas Hospital commission in 2016 that I broke out the square. Still based on Albers’ relationships and relative dimensions, I switched to a rectangular format at the request if the client.
A recent beautiful install for the University of Kansas Hospital Collection compliments of the amazing Blue Gallery, Kansas City, MO. Installation images: "Meaningful Adjacencies" 60" x 60" 2017, "Inward Journey" 48" x 36" 2017
"The Ancients" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 48" x 48" 2016
"The Ancients" detail showing the Apollo 8 issue used in an inverted fashion.
"Apollo" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on wood 6" x 6" 2013
And finally the 1945 "Iwo Jima" 3¢ issue (Scott #929) featuring the iconic raising of the U.S. flag on that island during WW2 is based on a photo by Joe Rosenthal. The picture, which earned Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize, was then made into this postage stamp and also cast as a 100-ton bronze memorial. Powerful imagery, simple design and the use of the monochromatic green, all add to this issues beauty.
A new installation at the Cornelia Art Building lobby gallery: "The Arctic Trilogy."
From left to right: "Antarctic" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 30" x 10" | "Atoms" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on wood 40" x 5" x 6" | "Arctic" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 30" x 10"
Images: Installation, pieces and details.
I am pleased be included the "Irregular Symmetry of Pattern" exhibition at the incomparable Wright Gallery in Northport, MI. New work from my "Vortex" series, as well as work from other amazing gallery artists will be on display through mid-August.
Opening reception: July 9 at 6:00 PM
It was an honor to be a judge and juror at this year’s Old Town Art Fair in Chicago on June 9 and 10. Considered one of the most prestigious in the country, the Old Town Art Fair has endured for over 50 years. The original judging for acceptance into the fair took place two months prior at the offices of a Lakeview architectural firm. The updated on-line technology used for the judging process, made the review and scoring procedure seamless and easy. I and the other jurors met again at the actual art fair in progress on Saturday, June 9. We scored the participants in three main areas: Basic Art Design, Technical Skill and Exhibit Impact. I was truly impressed with the technical skill level and beautiful aesthetics on display in the Photography, 2D Mixed Media and Digital Art categories assigned to me.
It was a blast from the past and a full circle of sorts for me personally. Some forty-five years ago, I accompanied my father, Gary Scott, who exhibited at the very same art fair. He was a sculptor and a painter, although he would only show his figurative sculptural works at art fairs. From the age of about 6 or 7, I would often sit with him at his booth at various Midwest art fairs, including Old Town. Acting as his “assistant,” it allowed him to take bathroom breaks without him having to leave his booth unattended. I considered it a great responsibility, and fantasized about making an actual cash sale for him in his absence!
Although he passed away in 2008, I couldn’t help but feel his spirit as I walked along the hundreds of artist’s booth, making my notes and inputting my scores. It was another great responsibility, and I felt it was somehow honoring his memory as well.
Above: my father, artist and designer, Gary Scott, second from the right. Circa 1985, Florida, USA.
Above: random snap-shots from the art fair.
Above: the Old Town Art Fair Executive Committee and some fellow jurors later in the day.
In-camera multiple exposures is a process in which you combined separate exposures on the actual image sensor (in-camera), as opposed to layering them in Photoshop during post-processing. It is a feature that is becoming more and more common on newer models of both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. I have grown to love the creativeness it allows and always look forward to experimenting with it whenever the appropriate situation presents itself. These images are from my new “Double Exposure” series. The first image, “Ghost Bridge” will be included in the "Top 40 International Exhibition" opening June 14 at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.
Photo by new owners below: "Vortex 1" in the background, hanging in its new home in Chicago. Purchased from Artspace 8 Gallery at the "Fragmented" exhibition. View more artworks from the "Vortex" series here: Vortex
"Vortex 1" used U.S. postage stamps and resin on canvas 16" x 16" 2017
Friday, May 18, 2018, 6-10 pm
Cornelia Arts Building
1800 W. Cornelia, Chicago, IL
A very nice afternoon spent with Chicago artists Michelle Stone and Darrell Roberts at the current Alex Katz exhibition at Gray Warehouse (Richard Gray Gallery), Chicago. I have never been a big follower of his work, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of his true bravery and integrity when viewing these new stunning and minimal pieces. In particular, “Road 2” seemed to vibrate on the wall like some sort of secret treasure hanging in a perfectly lit cathedral. I also enjoyed photographing Michelle and Darrell taking in the experience of these new enchanted pieces in the equally magical setting of the new gallery space.
Road 2, Oil on linen 120 x 96 inches 2017
I had a wonderful time Monday morning with the Garden Club of Evanston. I presented a lecture on photography and submissions to photo competitions, as well as reviewing and critiquing some of the members own photographs. We finished with my thoughts on what makes a great and truly compelling photograph.
What Makes A Great Photograph?
photos by Evanston garden Club member Erica Granchalek
In the studio: at work on "Meaningful Adjacencies," one of three pieces commissioned through Blue Gallery, Kansas City, MO for a local hospital renovation.
A recent interview by ARTSPACE 8 gallery, Chicago.
AS8-Where were you born and raised? Did you go to college?
I was born in 1968 and raised in Skokie, Illinois. I went to Niles North High School in Skokie and graduated in 1986. I then went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and earned a BA degree in 1990. Later, I completed the Certificate Program at the Chicago Photography Center.
AS8-When did you start creating art?
My father was a painter and sculpture and always had a home studio. I literally lived with art, and art supplies, since I was born and started drawing at a very early age. From drawing, I progressed to painting and collage. Both of my parents always showed great interest and support in my art.
AS8-Have you had another relevant career that wasn’t in the art industry?
Currently, I teach photography. In addition, for about 20 years, I owned and ran a very successful Traditional Karate School, or dojo, in the Wilmette, Illinois. I closed the dojo permanently several years ago to concentrate on my art and photography full time.
AS8-Who is your most influential artist (and who do you admire)?
My father was the most influential artist in my life because he exposed me to art, and the making of artworks, at a very young age and through most of my formative years.
As far as more contemporary painters and mixed media artists, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin and Gerhard Richter, are all artist I admire for very many reasons. In the realm of photography, I am inspired by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorthea Lange and others of the California group of the 1930-40s.
AS8-What compels you to create what you do? What are your artistic inspirations?
When I was young, my mother took me to a press proofing for a printed product advertisement. Looking into the glass loop, I was amazed to see that the seemingly solid colors were actually tiny individual dots. Sometime later, while visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, I encountered Georges Seurat’s, A Sunday on LA Grande Jatte, and was introduced to the technique of pointillism. Most of my mixed media work is based on this idea of using many similar objects to create an interconnected whole greater than the sum of its parts.
AS8-When did you know you wanted art to be your career? How did you get started in the art field? When did you start getting exhibited and where?
I never consciously decided to make art my career or life’s work. My father was my first inspiration. He was a sculptor and a painter. From the age of four or five, I remember working on sketches with him, particularly of faces and my own left hand, and spending lots of time in his studio, which was always in our home. My interest grew from there. I had my first one person show in Chicago in 2000-2001 at a very established River North gallery. The show did very well as far as sales and the critical response. That experience essentially launched my career and gave me the confidence and motivation to take it to the next level.
AS8-Who buys your art if you know?
It is really quite a range, with no demographic or type of sale coming out ahead. However, I consistently do well with corporate sales and commissions. For example, in the last year or so, I have had my work placed in two hospitals, five corporate headquarters and several banks.
AS8-hat differentiates you from the rest of people who do what you do? Why should people care about your artwork?
My unusual mediums (currently thousands of used postage stamps) and the universal ideas behind what I do are my differentiators. I often use, or reuse, materials outside their normal context and that can be acquired in large quantities. This allows me freedom from overthinking the materials or the process, which is one at a time construction with great repetition. Currently, I am using cancelled postage stamps as my primary medium.
When you view a piece you must ask: Where did they originate? Who sent them? What letters did they carry? Each used and canceled postage stamp has a hidden history of its own. Each small stamp represents this unknown story and the expanded web that it was once connected to. My artwork touches on both the individual and the collective, on both the original sender of each correspondence and the society as a whole.
AS8-What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on an ongoing series of geometric abstractions using thousands of used postage stamps and resin as my medium. I have been working on this series for about ten years now. I am influenced by Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and the interconnectedness of the universe and its correspondence to several schools of eastern thought and mysticism. The postage stamp pattern fields are my interpretation and reinvention of mandalas, or meditative microcosms.
AS8-How does your mood affect your work?
Usually, my creative process is simple: I get myself to the studio regardless of how I’m feeling or any lack of motivation. I get right to work. I don’t wait for the right mood or inspiration. Inspiration comes from the work itself and inspiration (the muses) only respects a strong work ethic and perseverance. Inspiration shows up for those who cut through the resistance and just do it. There is no other way if you are serious about your work and career.
Having made that strong statement on self-discipline, sometimes specific studio work is just not possible that day, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, I usually split the week up in terms of 70/30. The 70% is the actual making of the work and the 30% is the PR, communicating with galleries, updating website and social media, documenting new work, etc. I call it the “back office” work. So on the days were one type of work is not possible; I shift gears and take care of the other, equally important part.
In the studio: at work on an architecturally based corporate commission for a Chicago real estate firm, Spring 2016