‘Night Sky’ visible at Evanston Art Center
"Speed of Light," by Maria Dimanshtein
at the Evanston Art Center, 2603 Sheridan Rd., Evanston
June 3-July 29
Opening: June 3, 1-4 p.m. Regular gallery hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday
(847) 475-5300, www.evanstonartcenter.org
Updated: May 29, 2012 6:48PM
Looking up at the night sky while living in Chicago, Maria Dimanshtein saw light.
But it wasn’t anything celestial and it was hardly dark.
What she saw while standing in a little park between some high rises was the brightness from the lights inside building windows and the unnatural haze created by all the lights of the city above the buildings.
“The windows become these patterns and rhythms of light. Visually I was always mesmerized by how that was happening.”
Then she began thinking about where the light goes, which became troubling to her.
“I was kind of preoccupied by outer space at the time, in the context of the endlessness of the universe, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about what does it mean if the universe is endless in time and space. Those were the thoughts in my head every time I went to bed. Those were kind of dark thoughts. They scared me.”
Being an artist, the one-time Niles resident now living in DeKalb captured her feelings in a piece titled “Speed of Light” on a 12” x 12” panel covered in black acrylic and spray paint with strips of photographs of building lights appearing to race upward.
Dimanshtein’s views of the night sky will be shown along with 11 other artists’ interpretations of the sky during the dark hours at “Night Sky” at the Evanston Art Center beginning Sunday and running through July 29.
Local artists include Kate Friedman, of Evanston, and Susan Sensemann, of River Forest.
The multi-media show is curated by Vera Scekic, of Evanston, and Karen Hanmer, of Glenview, two artists who’ve contemplated the modern night sky for 10 years.
They wanted to respond to the dilemma of living in an urban area and looking up at the sky and not seeing more than just a few stars.
After Scekic became a member of the exhibitions committee at the Evanston Art Center in 2007, the two artists proposed a show of other contemporary artists grappling with the same concern.
“What about this connection we have to the night sky? Has it atrophied? Is it different from what it was like to people who were living 100 to 1,000 years ago?” Scekic said. “We wanted to see what other people were saying and how they were responding, and now we have the show.”
She hopes people will reconnect with the sky and consider the impact they have on it, specifically light pollution.
Evanston artist Kate Friedman was so excited about this show that she made sure her pieces would be in it even if she wasn’t alive. Friedman lost her battle with cancer in February, but her friend Sarah Krepp, also an artist, completed Friedman’s work for “Night Sky.”
“She was very thrilled about this show,” Krepp said. “She thought she could hang on.”
Krepp said it was a daunting task, partly because the piece that would be named “Returning to the Stars” included mylar, a material she had never used before.
When Krepp became frustrated with the mylar, she could hear Friedman laughing and saying, “Isn’t it wonderful how nature takes over?”
“I’ve known her work very well,” Krepp said. “But, it’s really quite a challenge.”
More of Friedman’s work is being hung in another room separate from the “Night Sky” show, but carries on the theme. Krepp said Friedman wanted those pieces displayed at an angle where they’d be highlighted in the path the rising sun crosses the room.
Dimanshtein is in a brighter place now and she’s reconnecting with the night sky. Living in DeKalb, where there’s far less light pollution, she’s feeling better about what she sees in the sky at night.
“Now, in DeKalb,” she said, “I can see a lot of stars.”