"Dreaming of Flowers", a group exhibition
featuring Susan Kraut, Jaclyn Mednicov, and Jeffrey Janson

Artist Susan Kraut has been teaching painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for over 20 years, and in that time, she has been instrumental in mentoring a number of young artists. Two of these artists who have continued on to make strides in their own art careers are Jaclyn Mednicov and Jeffrey Janson. All three artists have been working in recent years with the time honored subject matter of flowers, and this exhibition presents their work together. In one exhibition space, a fascinating conversation takes place between the work of these three artists, not only about the implications of their chosen subject matter, but of the very nature of the acts of drawing and painting. Various personal approaches to the elements of line, space, color, and surface, and their emotional effects on the viewer are explored. Below are examples of work from this exhibition, along with the words of the artists.

Susan Kraut

My recent series of paintings began in the dark winter days of 2020, when most of our daily routines had suddenly come to a standstill and we were hunkering down at home, feeling separated from much of the world.

When I finally had a little time to think about getting back into my studio, the paintings I had begun during the fall and winter suddenly looked uninteresting and frivolous to me. My energy for painting felt very low.

Meanwhile, a small bouquet of flowers sitting on our kitchen table began to wilt. I’m sure I was thinking about the beautiful small flower paintings that Edouard Manet painted toward the end of his life, which I have always loved. I had been able to see many of them in person during a Manet show the previous summer at the Art Institute. I found a bunch of small painting panels lying around my studio, which I usually use to make preliminary studies for larger paintings, and I began painting flower studies on them. A few friends sent me pictures of bouquets they had brought home, and I discovered other images of flowers among my old photos. These flower images felt ordinary yet intimate to me, touching, because we know the real flowers soon begin to fade and wilt. They seemed especially poignant during the cold Chicago winters; set on windowsills, their showy bursts of reds, yellows and purples glowed against the cool grays and browns of the outdoors and the mysterious light of evening.

Gradually, I started working larger, and began including the rooms where flowers were placed. The windows began revealing more of the outside world, and the spaces became more complicated. I think I wanted to tell a little more of a story - these small tender pieces of the natural world, brought inside our living spaces for us to interact with and be cheered by.

Tiny Bouquet, 7x6, oil on panel

Studio Sink, 24x20, oil on panel

Night Window with Amaryllis, 10x8, oil on panel

Monroe Street Window with Flowers and Owl I, 18x24, oil on panel

Monroe Street Window with Flowers and Owl II, 20x18, oil on panel

Clark Street Studio, 20x24, oil on panel

City Window with Flowers I, 12x9, oil on panel

City Window with Flowers II, 12x9, oil on panel

Bidwell Apartment Painting with Matisse Flowers, 14x18, oil on panel, SOLD

Berries with Landscape Painting, 14x11, oil on panel

Jaclyn Mednicov

I manipulate fragments from the environment, both flowers and weeds, using various modes of making. My work includes paintings, collages, sculpture and combinations thereof. I aim to preserve the sense of beauty and visualize the boundaries between what man considers to be nature and “made environments”. I accept the not-knowing because life is never definite and because nature teaches one to accept extremes. And in the extremes, my work brings to the surface the awareness that our natural environment possesses a spellbinding beauty, and is also deteriorating and disappearing from our lives at an ever-increasing rate.

Jaclyn Mednicov is a Chicago-based artist, whose work combines paintings, printmaking, sculpture and combinations thereof. She has studied at Parsons School of Design in NYC, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and has her BFA from University of Kansas and MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale Foundation, and SEA Foundation in Tilburg, Netherlands. Her work has been exhibited in galleries including Mixed Greens Gallery, NYC; The Franklin, Chicago; Northern Illinois University Art Museum, Dekalb, IL; Paris London Hong Kong, Chicago, and more. She has won awards such as a 3Arts Make a Wave grant in 2021, an NEA grant in 2018, and has been published in New American Paintings and Sheridan Road Magazine.

After Summer, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches, 2021

Iris, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches, 2021

Tulips, image transfers, charcoal, acrylic, and oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches, 2018

Red Cardinal, image transfers, charcoal, acrylic, and oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches, 2019

After Matisse, 60x48, oil on canvas

Tulips on Devon, 60x48, oil on canvas

Jeffrey Janson

Jeffrey Janson makes paintings and drawings directly from life. His motif is most often nature: landscape and still life. He makes visible the process of close looking by revealing the search for the line, the form, the color. Janson engages the grammar of the broken line, his work revealing the act of thinking as well as looking. He embraces the humble, the quiet, the intimate, and the domestic, paying intense attention to the things closest at hand.

Jeffrey Janson is incredibly honored and grateful to be showing work alongside his close friend and longtime mentor Susan Kraut: his teacher, advisor, and colleague at the School of the Art institute of Chicago during the early 2000’s, their close relationship persisting to the present day.

Janson has a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati (1979), a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Painting and Drawing from the School off the Art Institute of Chicago (2000), and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2002).

Untitled (Tulips, vase), 30x22, conte on watercolor paper, framed

Untitled (Lillies), 30x22, conte on watercolor paper, framed

Untitled (Tulips), 30x22, conte on watercolor paper, framed

Untitled (Alstroemerias), 15x10, conte on watercolor paper, framed

Alstroemerias, 26x24, oil on panel

Peones, 26x24, oil on panel