Nicole Georgis’s exhibit inspires at Kortman

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110735988415267.jpg’, ‘Photo by Susan Webb Tregay’, ‘Local artist Nicole Georgis exhibits her work at Kortman Gallery through March. 5.’);

Looking for something to delight and inspire you as winter winds down? A trip to J. R. Kortman Center for Design is the fix you need. Located at 107 N. Main St. on the pedestrian mall in downtown Rockford, its gallery is featuring the work of Rockford native Nicole Georgis through March 5.

Mounting the stairs to Kortman Gallery, you can already sense what is in store for you. As the edges of several canvases climb into your line of vision, you see drips striping their sides. Process. You are first aware of the process of Nicole Georgis’s paintings, then their imagery and mystery enfold you.

Gerogis, a graduate of Boylan High School and Washington University, has recently returned to her hometown. “Discovered” last summer at the Young at Art Exhibition at the Rockford Art Museum, she has mounted a full exhibition extending one of Kortman Gallery’s missions, encouraging young people in their art careers.

Nicole Georgis has achieved a difficult and delicate balance between artistic expression and developing her unique technique. It is glib to say her work is a cross between Seurat’s pointillism and Jackson Pollock’s action painting dribbles, but it does describe her painting process. With droplets of paint in a rich array of color and textures, she achieves a contemporary look with limited and sophisticated palettes.

“Slow Down,” a tall, narrow painting, hangs in the stairwell. With a vast, complicated prairie in the foreground, it is her most Impressionistic painting. A figure is almost lost among grasses and flowers, the edges of his clothing intriguingly mixed with the droplets that create the sky and landscape. Although Georgis leans toward “local,” realistic colors in this piece, they are all toned down to the same degree, creating a comfortable, luxurious palette of grayed greens and ochre black-eyed Susans.

The lost and found imagery in “Andrew As Beethoven” pulls you in to experience painting process up close and personal. Thick dollops of paint hide and reveal others beneath them, just as they hide and reveal Andrew’s hair, shoulders and, perhaps, personality. Mat versus shiny drips, activate the surface and cracks in the thick paint add a contemporary edginess.

In a difficult, bird’s-eye view of red-headed “Allen,” Georgis adapts her technique in a rich and sophisticated manner. On a simply painted, warm black surface she drops tablespoons of the same mat paint. This mat on mat finish is elegant and enthralling.

Pulled from a business magazine, the photo that inspired “Life of a Businessman” is as impersonal as the subject’s occupation. It is the recognition that this could be anyone that makes it appealing. Created on a marbleized background, this huge figure emerges from a vast array of deep, deep green dollops of paint. Stand close to it, fill your peripheral vision with the droplets, and experience this piece like the Abstract Expressionists envisioned. Get swallowed up in Georgis’ process.

Most intriguingly, “Steve and Rebecca” stand on the edge of a small painting, their faces and clothing dissolving into one another. True love. Are they at the beach? The slightly lighter background swirls with a different texture reminiscent of the froth left by a wave.

Recalling Nicole Georgis’s paintings, I rejoice in her rich, limited palettes, her delicate lost edges created with large and aggressive dollops of paint, and her propensity to make me work for my viewing pleasure.

Exhibition is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Info: Kortman’s at 968-0123.

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