Winnetka cultural hotspot ZIA|Gallery was pleased to host a full house on the evening of Saturday, March 9th, at the opening reception for painters Richard Laurent and Alex Devereux. Prominent community members and out-of-town visitors alike were thrilled to take in the surreal, symbolic oil paintings by Laurent and the contemplative, photorealistic acrylic works by Devereux. A local couple who collects Laurent’s work attended the event with their young granddaughter, who is an art enthusiast, and has visited the gallery on several occasions. She declares that ZIA is her favorite gallery, urging all accompanying adults to explore the inspiring environment and discuss the work. At the opening reception, the smiling trio walked around the space with Laurent, talking enthusiastically about aesthetics, techniques, and symbolism in his work. Laurent explained that his paintings of chairs situated in nature reference how most of us experience nature today: at home in a comfortable chair. He suggests that we are losing direct contact by neglecting to explore the outdoors. The luminosity of the paintings and fanciful merging of imagery nevertheless evoke reverence and wonder for our natural environment.
Emerging Chicago-area artist Devereux enjoyed his first two-person exhibition, with plenty of support from his social and professional circles. Throughout the evening, several visitors made remarks about a perceived connection between Devereux’s paintings and the work of Edward Hopper, seen at Chicago’s Art Institute. Not bad company! Devereux’s still, unoccupied buildings in stark, dark surroundings, illuminated by neon lights, are reminiscent of the mood and light in Hopper’s work. Devereux graciously accepted compliments for the depth of the night sky in his painting Corner Garage, and the pulsating light of a neon sign, depicted in Schlitz.
Many artists, some represented by ZIA, were present at the opening, and held lively discussions with Laurent and Devereux about their work. Kathy Weaver, whose exhibition at ZIA (of imaginative, mixed media works on fabric) just ended, is an enthusiastic supporter of fellow artists and the gallery. Roland Kulla, who was credited by Richard Laurent as having instilled his studio work ethic, was present, and will be exhibiting a new body of paintings of railroad bridges at ZIA in June. But now, there is much to appreciate and absorb from the works of Richard Laurent and Alex Devereux, as the exhibition continues through April 13th at ZIA | Gallery.