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Out & About

Pop-up perspective

Pheasant Run Resort’s exhibition to showcase area’s array of talented artists

Kane County Magazine

This spring marks the opening of the inaugural Pheasant Run Resort pop-up gallery in cooperation with the St. Charles Arts Council.

Visitors can view a handful of pieces from 32 talented artists during the exhibition, which will encompass a wide range of styles and media. 

The exhibit will run through May 28, and will take place in The Loft and Street Galleries. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and noon to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Pheasant Run is located at 4051 E. Main St. in St. Charles.

In honor of the inaugural event, Kane County Magazine writer Kelsey O’Connor got to chat with three exhibiting artists to learn more about their work and what inspires them. 

Kasia Szczesniewski
Acrylics, mixed media 

Q: How did you become an artist?

A: I always was an artist, even before I realized it. My background is in architecture and, because of that, I have very strong foundation in drawing, design and perspective. After immigrating to the United States, everything changed. I was a stay-at-home mom, doing some art on the side and taking college-level art classes. When my youngest child went to school full time, I started to seriously pursue my career as an artist. 

Q: You specialize in mixed media work. What’s unique about that medium?

A: Artists use paper and acrylic paints in art all the time, but the way I do it is very original. I invented my own technique that combines paper and acrylic paints. Most often I use different types of rice paper and tissue paper. I think that paper radiates great energy – it’s organic, warm and sensual. That beautifully balances the artificial and cold feel of polymer emulsions used in acrylic paints. I paint the paper over with black and white acrylics and repeat the process for as long as I need to achieve desired visual effect.

Q: What three words would you use to describe your art?

A: Organic, intriguing and meditative.

Q: What work will you be displaying at the pop-up gallery in May?

A: I will show three works: “Winter Prairie,” “Gurgling Stream” and “Enchanted Forest.” They belong to the series I call “White Gardens.” They are made from paper glued to the cardboard and painted with acrylic paints. They are created in black and white, which feels refreshing compared to being bombarded with colorful images in our everyday life. The tensions between black and white are so extreme. I like to play with that and the limitless amount of shades of black and white.

Q: What do you hope visitors will take away from this show?

A: I hope to grab people’s attention so they stop for a moment and give the artwork a chance to speak to them. I want viewers to be transported in space and time – to the places hidden down in their souls – to be moved and inspired. 

Connie Olmstead
Acrylics, oil, chalk, pencil

Q:  How did you become an artist?

A: Being an artist has always been a part of my identity. I discovered at an early age that I had an artistic ability, which led to me taking a number of art classes and attending a college of design. I started displaying my work at art shows a couple years ago, and I really have been enjoying all the new connections I’m making. 

Q: What appeals to you about working with acrylics?

A: I love working with acrylics, they’re so versatile. I can layer them or make heavy textures that give my work a kind of three-dimensional look. There’s just something about the way acrylics spread on the canvas that’s truly satisfying. Plus, the colors can be so vibrant and I really like using bold color in my work.

Q: What three words would you use to describe your art/aesthetic?

A: Lighthearted, uplifting and vibrant.

Q: What work will you be displaying at the Pheasant Run show?

A: I’ll be displaying two acrylic paintings. One is called “Visitors,” which is something I wanted to paint in honor of lost loved ones. The two cardinals in this piece are meant to represent two family members that I’ve lost recently. The other is called “Field of Flowers,” which consists of Gerbera and other daisies. It is my favorite piece at the moment; I feel a sense of peace and serenity whenever I look at it.

Q: What do you hope visitors will take away from your work?

A: I think that both of these paintings have a certain calmness – a kind of tranquil, “one-with-nature” vibe to them. I really hope they come away with the joy that I feel when I’m painting. I’ve been painting for many years and have just started to share my work with the public, so I’d really love for them to enjoy it, too.

Q: What do you want people to know about your work?

A: I want people to know that there is a part of me in each piece that I paint. My artwork is very personal to me. At my last show, one of my favorites was purchased and I had to let it go. That part has always been difficult for me, but I’m working on it. 

Len Bielefeldt
Oils, watercolor, acrylic and pastels

Q: How did you become an artist?   

A: I have been working as a professional artist for 29 years. When I was 27, I injured myself on a job site and painted my first portrait while laid up. That got me to create another portrait and another and so on. I never swung a hammer again. Now, I paint in all genres: portraits, landscapes, still life and even abstract at times.

Q: You use a variety of media in your work. Which do you prefer? 

A: I love working in all mediums, and I would not be happy if I was forced to work in only one. They all have such beautiful characteristics; I like to allow the subject matter to dictate the medium. The works presented in this show just happen to be oils. Oils have a tradition and history that I love to study. They’re luscious and buttery to work with. It creates a depth and luminosity that other mediums struggle to achieve.

Q: What three words would you use to describe your art? 

A: Thoughtful, honest and storytelling.

Q: What work will you be displaying at the show? 

A: I have two pieces in the show. One is a still life called “The Men’s Class,” and it’s inspired by the men’s painting class I teach on Thursdays. I cook a French dinner, we enjoy some nice wines, we paint hard and eat well. The second painting is called “Grace at Kiss the Sky.” It’s from a photo I took about 11 years ago. I was out with my camera shooting some of the sights, and a friend just happened to be in Kiss the Sky that day with his daughter. She didn’t feel well that day, and I think dad thought a trip to the local record store was just what she needed. I think her face says it all. 

Q: What do you hope visitors will take away from this work?

A: My dedication to my craft. I’m a hard study of the traditions and the masters of the past – an art form I feel is starting to make a return. I teach these methods and see the young people wanting to achieve this realism again.

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