According to Tolstoy, art was to be judged by its level of contagion; essentially art is a virus. He said: “A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”  The distance between our worlds is erased because that story; the one that is silently being told, is ‘our’ story. This is the magic of art; when there is nothing between the heart of the viewer and the heart of the artist.
Tolstoy advocated that art was a human condition, a vehicle of empathy and communication, a “means of intercourse between man and man”.  He said that art was based upon the idea that the observer can experience the same emotions as the artist (or even other viewers).
He termed this “infectiousness”.
If the artist could infect the viewer with the same emotions then it was to be defined as art.
He saw it as “a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.” Tolstoy argued that there were three conditions necessary; individuality, clearness and sincerity. While uniqueness and clarity are important, it is the sincerity of the artist’s emotion that carries the most weight.
We recognize truthfulness.
Art is, furthermore, timeless, eternal.
Art is immortal.
Bridging together people, eras, cultures and lifetimes. 
Infectiousness creates these connections, allowing us to fall in love with a work of art created hundreds of years ago because we recognize the expressed emotion as if it had been our own to begin with!
This level of contagion is what we, as artists, strive for.
Reaching for your hearts with ours.
As Blake often says about his Spirit collection: “The tangible human form slowly disappears, making room for the ephemeral, the spiritual, and if I have succeeded as a sculptor, I will disappear as well, because it’s not about me, it is about you, the observer.”
By Boky & Blake
PS - Hilton | Asmus Contemporary
John Perkins has done it again. After landing on the New York Times bestseller list for 73 weeks in 2004 with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins brings us up to date with another tell-all book revealing new details about the ways he and others manipulated countries around the globe. In this expanded edition, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins shares new revelations as a former economic hit man (EHM) along with insider advice on what we can do to take part in this global economic crisis.
Last week we welcomed John to Hilton | Asmus to speak on his new book. Why would a gallery spend time hosting a former front man, you ask? Simply put, we think knowledge is power. We believe that it is our responsibility as a nation, as people, and as a community to educate ourselves and one another on important and real issues happening in the world today. As an art gallery we promote and celebrate freedom of expression. We aim to inspire. John Perkins has us inspired.
In 2008, Arica Hilton, multi-media artist/poet and president of Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, met John Perkins during a program at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. States Hilton, “John Perkins has a way of inspiring action that could lead to a far better, more just world than what we are seeing today. Many of us are sheltered and cannot comprehend the dangers and brutality that millions of people live through on a daily basis. If we can open our minds and think about the effect we have on others, on our environment and the generations to come, we might actually be able to heal so much of what is wrong in the world today. With the upcoming presidential elections, I think John’s most recent book is quite apropos.”
John Perkins wears many hats. Apart from his former life as an EHM he has worked at an international consulting firm as Chief Economist and was the CEO of a successful alternative energy company. John has written books on economics and politics, and shared his expertise on indigenous cultures. He is the founder and board member of two non-profit organizations, Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance.
John Perkins has generated a call to action to create greater social, environmental, and economic security for all.
We will strive to do our part, too.
The art of carving is among the oldest mediums of visual creativity. The Ancient Greeks chiseled marble to sculpt human forms. Cave dwellers cut, shaped, and arranged stones to create figures. Indigenous people employed carving to form not only usable tools, but also artistic artifacts. Throughout the development of human life, carving has marked the arts of various places and cultures.
Chicago sculptor Jyl Bonaguro continues this historic art form with her current hand-carved works of marble and alabaster. Bonaguro draws inspiration from the intersection of industrialization, beauty, and immortality. Using the human figure as her main subject, Bonaguro’s sculptures examine humanity and its tendency to invoke beauty to deflect questions of immortality and the struggle for survival.
To continue the tradition of her medium, Bonaguro will travel to Carrara, Italy, a Tuscan city known for its supply of white and blue-grey marble. Since the times of Ancient Rome, Italian sculptors have used Carrara marble to carve masterpieces. In the Renaissance, Michelangelo used Carrara marble to sculpt his famous David.
Bonaguro's historic inspirations apply not only to her sculpted works, but also her works of the stage. In addition to her visual artistic practice, Bonaguro is a playwright. In July of 2014, Hilton | Asmus Contemporary became the stage for a production of Bonaguro's play entitled Urania, The Life of Emilie Du Chatelet.
The play tells of Chatelet's brilliance as a physicist and mathematician, subjects considered scandalous for female participation in 18th-century France. It also recounts her love affair with French writer, historian, and philosopher, Voltaire.
more to come....
In 2016, the present longs for the past. The current art, music, and pop-culture climates are experiencing a nostalgic resurgence of bygone styles. Thanks to Instagram, square-format photography and faded filters dominate image making. Musicians are recording analog albums and releasing them on vinyl. Cinemas are once more showing films in 70mm. From fashion to fonts, cars to cameras, “vintage” is all the rage.
This nostalgic influence has appeared throughout history. Even in centuries past, artists and creators have always sought inspiration from their predecessors, particularly from ancient Greeks and Romans. 19th century illustrator Gustave Doré depicted Odysseus, Arachne, and the Greek isle of Patmos in his sinister monochrome prints. Doré also illustrated the works of Dante, including Inferno and Divine Comedy, with his signature style of evocative light and haunting shadow. In June of 2013, Hilton | Asmus artist Marco Nereo Rotelli utilized some of Doré's Inferno imagery during his sound and light installation at the Field Museum.
Hilton | Asmus Contemporary is continuing the tradition of ancient inspiration with a series of exhibitions titled “Inspired by Antiquity.” In concurrence with the Field Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander," Hilton | Asmus Contemporary is highlighting five modern artists whose work is inspired by antiquity. The gallery will host an “Evening With The Artist” each month through April 2016.
Our series begins on the evening of January 27th with artist, historian and compelling storyteller, Terry Poulos. Poulos will be presenting his sculpture titled “ART-ikythera Mechanism,” an artistic homage to the world’s first computer, the “Antikythera Mechanism.” Named after a Greek island near its underwater location of discovery, the Antikythera Mechanism is considered the world’s first computer. The invention dates back to 205 BC and was used to predict eclipses, alignment of celestial objects, procession of the equinoxes, planetary movement, and optimal times and locations to host the ancient Olympic games.
Recent studies have suggested the mechanism originated in colonies of Corinth, an ancient city-state located on a stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesian Peninsula to Greece’s mainland. One of Corinth’s colonies, Syracuse, was home to the illustrious mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer, Archimedes. Though research is still underway, perhaps connections occur between the astronomical investigations of Archimedes and the development of the Antikythera Mechanism.
In 2012, BBC released a documentary entitled The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer presenting the history of the mechanism, including its unearthing from the bottom of the sea in 1901.
Constructed of old, cast-iron farm implements, and a green patina evoking oxidized bronze, Poulos’ “ART-ikythera Mechanism” pays tribute to an example of historical brilliance in the field of technology and science.
Join us from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, January 27th as we listen to Poulos recount history, describe his creative process, and make us laugh with his quick wit and humor as he presents the “ART-ikythera Mechanism.”
Written by Lindsey Altongy
Not only is she the model who inspired Twiggy, muse and former wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, inspiration behind the songs, ‘Something’, ‘Layla’, and ‘Wonderful Tonight’, Pattie Boyd is a talented photographer who captured snapshots of life with the Beatles, touring with Eric and one of the first ‘selfies’.
Photographers Pattie Boyd, Henry Diltz and Carinthia West strip away these clichés and invite us to take a glimpse into the lives of those who broke musical barriers – the forefathers and mothers of rock n’ roll. Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Mama Cass, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and Jimi Hendrix are names we all know, but who are they really?
Humble, kind and inspiring are a few words that describe the photographers behind Visions of Magic Time. A ‘millennial’, as some like to call me, I grew up in 80s and 90s during the time of the Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, the Spice Girls and the Beastie Boys. However, I still grew up listening the magical music of the 60s and 70s. Whenever I went for car ride with my parents or while my mom was cleaning up around the house, the ‘ching-ching’ of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ or Viking-esque cry of Robert Plant from ‘Immigrant Song’ blared through the speakers.
As a gallery assistant at Hilton Asmus, I was lucky enough to hear the stories behind these photographs directly from the those captured them and the wonderful Renee Pappas, a true expert on music history, once married to co-founder of Atlantic Records, Jerry Wexler. Even prior to the shows official opening, I was struck by visitors’ nostalgic reactions to these images. “I had all these albums!” or “Oh my god, I had such a crush on James Taylor,” are just a handful.
The night before the exclusive preview, Janet Davies from ABC7 came to the gallery to interview Henry and Pattie. Henry stood in front of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album cover. Casually sitting on a burgundy leather couch in front of a white house. From left to right are Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and David Crosby. Why are they out of order? Henry explains, "We took the picture and it turned out they were sitting in the wrong order -- they'd named [the group] a few days later. So we went back to re-shoot the picture, and the house was gone. They'd torn it down, yeah. It was a pile of sticks in the back of the lot. It's parking to this day." Little did Diltz know, this image would leave a lasting impression. One of our clients came in with a photograph of he and his friends sitting on the couch in the same pose, “We wanted to be Crosby, Stills and Nash,” Bill Reishstein says.
Pattie discussed her ‘selfie’. Perched on edge of a hotel bed, facing mirror with her camera is the lovely Pattie dressed (so we think) for an evening out of the town. "This was after 13 years of being with Eric Clapton. I now was on my own and not sure of what I was going to do until I spotted my camera," Boyd said. "I was about to go out for the evening and I was getting dressed and I was sitting on the end of the bed. And I had my camera nearby...What you probably don't realize in the photograph, I'm not quite dressed. That is my skirt on the side.”
Upon speaking to a group of professional women, Carinthia tells the story of Chris Jagger standing in front of Robert Palmer’s ‘Pressure Drop’ album poster with a shocked look on his face. The image illustrates a nude woman leaning over a balcony with her perfect backside facing the viewer. “Chris Jagger and I were walking down Sunset Boulevard to get a coffee when we spotted this life-size poster of Robert Palmer’s new album cover for ‘Pressure Drop’ on the wall of Tower Records. I had modeled for the cover a few months before, but it was still a bit of a shock to see myself nude in such a public place! The cover was shot by photographer, Graham Hughes, and there were at least five other people in the room – including assistants, a make-up girl, Robert Palmer and his then wife. It became quite a cause célèbre at the time, with everyone trying to guess who the model was. I kept quiet because I didn’t want to embarrass my parents. This turned out to be unnecessary as when my father [a five-star general in NATO] found out he bought 20 copies and proudly gave them as gifts to all his friends. Here, Chris is miming my parents’ embarrassment. I think I was paid £150 for the shoot. I thought it was a fortune!”
Opening night at the gallery was abuzz with activity. At 5:30 on the dot, visitors started pouring in. Conversation and laughter filled the air. The photographers arrived - Carinthia in a beautiful velvet blue L'wren Scott dress with her long legs and striking smile, Pattie in white pants and flawless skin looking like a supermodel as usual and Henry with his signature ponytail and down to earth grin, awed guests with their stories.
Elliott Roberts, Neil Young’s manager, made a special appearance. The next day, he called Carinthia and Renee to say that when Neil Young found out Carinthia was in Chicago, he wanted to see her. He invited Carinthia and Renee backstage at Farm Aid at Northerly Island where they were able to reminisce with their old friend Neil.
It was a whirlwind week for the trio traveling from TV to Radio stations the first few days of their arrival. Fox News 32’s Corey McPherrin hosted Pattie, Henry and Carinthia on the morning show. Writer for WTTW, Chloe Riley conducted a fabulous interview in the gallery. Pattie and Henry were invited for interviews on WDRV (The Drive) and then Pattie was off the WBEZ. And Michigan Avenue Magazine did a fabulous article on the show with a half page photo of Keith and Ronnie in their lear jet.
Carinthia was a special guest of Elysabeth Alfano’s “The Dinner Party” with Chicago darling, Hebru Brantley and Co-founder of Kickstarter, Charles Adler. Carinthia shared her stories of Prince Charles. Afterwards, Carinthia, Pattie and Henry were the stars of Elysabeth Alfano on WGN Plus. “Over quintessential savory pies and bangers and mash made by Chef Art Jackson and his wife Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson from the Pleasant House Bakery, along with lots of Guinness, Pattie, Carinthia and Henry share great stories from the 1960s and 1970s rock era and just how much has changed in today’s celebrity world.”
Henry Diltz, "Tina Turner" On the cover of the exhibition catalogue “Who Shot Rock & Roll”, a music photography show curated by Gail Buckland for the Brooklyn Museum, shown nationally and internationally, is a photograph by Henry Diltz of Tina Turner. Her bright red lips form an open-mouthed smile; sweat rolls down her face and a nearly indescribable emotion is reflected in her eyes – pure ecstasy. As one rock n’ roll photographer stated, “Too much bullshit is written about photographs and music. Let the music move you, whether to a frenzy or a peaceful place…Let the photography be one you remember – not for its technique but its soul. Let it become a part of your life – a part of your past to shape your future. But most of all, let the music and photograph be something you love and will always enjoy.”
As Ronnie Wood lovingly put it, Carinthia took photographs while we were getting on with life…”
A client at the opening saved her 16 Magazine featuring an article by Pattie Boyd about hair care.
Whether I am making a portrait of a monk in Bhutan or of an American rock star on the side streets of Istanbul, the one absolute parallel in what I am trying to convey to the viewer is the simple humanity found in one's eyes, body language or facial expression. That unspoken sense of 'Here we are - all in it together.'
Steven Tyler soulfully playing the piano, Joe Perry busking in front of Red Square in Moscow, a vibrant young monk in Bhutan, horses galloping gracefully in sunlight and a soot-smeared girl holding up a Turkish sign in protest. All of these images compose the artistic vision of emerging photographer Zack Whitford.
On opening night, a wonderful energy filled the gallery. Zack enthralled guests with the colorful stories behind his works and laughter reverberated throughout the space. Red dots splattered the walls. Within the first two days of the show, half of the exhibition sold out. Whitford's "CONTRAST" was featured in Crain’s, Huffington Post, New City and Euro News.
Official photographer for Aerosmith and son of rhythm guitarist, Brad Whitford, 32-year old Zack Whitford had his debut exhibition at Hilton | Asmus FOTO on May 29th. Documenting photographs of people, animals and cities in their natural state, sometimes with irony and humor, and at other times he surprises us with the contrast of the experiences he shares, his photographs are a telling commentary on our times.
Casually, yet thoughtfully, dressed in blue jeans and t-shirt, Stetson hat, a bandana knotted around his belt loop and a camera slung around his neck, Zack was what I envisioned – rock n’ roll, Los Angeles hip, fused with a creative soul. He warmly introduced himself and began to tell me about his time in Chicago so far. Accompanied by his father, Brad was the opposite of the stereotype that comes to one’s mind when we think ‘rock star’ – very warm and humble. In jeans and cowboy boots with a warm smile, he shook my hand. Rather than going off to see the city, Zack offered to roll up his sleeves to set up for the show and Brad insisted on helping us spackle the walls in preparation for Zack’s exhibit.
“CONTRAST” was the result of a conversation between curator Arica Hilton and her friend Maria Leone. Maria grew up with Terry Hamilton, the wife of Aerosmith bass guitarist Tom Hamilton. Aerosmith was on their way to Istanbul for a concert. Maria wanted to take them to a special, non-touristy place while there. Arica suggested they visit one of our favorite artists at Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, Yasemin Aslan Bakiri, one of Turkey’s most respected internationally renowned glass artists, whose studio and gallery is comprised of two ancient Byzantine houses excavated nine years ago. This was a special place beyond parallel, Arica told Maria, that would impress her rock star friends.
Upon her return from Istanbul, Maria suggested Arica take a look at a budding new photographer’s works. Upon seeing Zack’s imagery, Arica knew he was more than just a rock n’ roll stage photographer. Capturing the spirit of musicians playing on stage and behind-the-scenes, to national and international street scenes and wildlife, Hilton was inspired to curate CONTRAST.
The collection features photographs taken on the road with Aerosmith in the United States and various countries, including Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Peru and Bhutan. One portrait of Steven Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith, shows him surrounded by young fans taking “selfies” with their iPhones. Titled, “These Are Our Times,” the photo a commentary on the digital obsessed culture of today.
From the stage to the streets, Whitford navigates his way seamlessly into the lives of his subjects. The exhibition will feature images of Johnny Depp on stage with Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer. In contrast, Whitford presents us with a man playing a guitar who is missing a hand. He presents us with the cycle of life, a little girl and an aging woman from the Quechua tribe in Peru, and Syrian children in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. He travels the back roads of America and rivers in Africa, allowing us a lens into worlds we may or may not know.
Coincidentally, the Aerosmith concert in Istanbul was cancelled due to protests for the mining disaster that killed hundreds of people. Instead of photographing Aerosmith on stage, Zack photographed the protesters in the streets of Istanbul which have become an integral part of our show.
Documenting but not interfering, with the exception of a photo that captures a homeless woman sitting in front of a large banner advertising, “New York’s Next Great Neighborhood.” States Whitford, “After I photographed the homeless woman, I tried to give her some money and she spit in my face.” Ironically, the company in the banner recently sold an apartment building on Wacker Drive in Chicago for $333 million. His ability to capture human beings in their environment is elevated by their social relevance as a documentary of our times.
Writer for New City, Michael Weinstein states in his review of the exhibit, “Sometimes it can be playful and sometimes mordant or sardonic, but it always defies the myths of promotional culture. Whitford makes one wish that more street photographers would invade the entertainment landscape.”
Beyond just traveling with the band, Whitford submerges himself in various cultures. While at a monastery Bhutan, a young monk wearing a vivid red robe, bounced around corner. Like many young boys, he playfully leapt down the hallway and sprung up and down the wood planked floor, showing off his impressive athleticism. With a captivating smile on his face, he jumped up, sandal-clad feet against one wall and palms outstretched on the other. Whitford beautifully captures the young monk’s playful and uninhibited spirit. He aptly titled the piece “Nonconformist.”
In his podcast with Elysabeth Alfano for Huffington Post, he explains what he has learned from his travels, "Everybody cherishes their children's future. Most people love dogs. I'm not really interested in people who don't like dogs. By traveling you realize that the world is a much smaller place than it seems."
We are also grateful to Crain's Shia Kapos and Fox News' John Kelley for taking the time to interview Zack.
Hilton Asmus Foto is proud to introduce this fine young artist's works to art loving public. We are excited to continue working with Zack and share the powerful images he has and will produce.
~ Erin Benator
Hilton | Asmus Contemporary
“...it’s impossible not to be calm once you immerse yourself in water since it takes on its own rhythm. Of course the second you go below the water’s surface you can barely hear the tiniest sounds. It’s an all-enveloping, womb-like world,” Hugh Arnold.
Despite the tumultuous economic times in Greece, the art market continues to thrive. Debuting in North America at Hilton|Asmus Contemporary last September and later opening in London, renowned fashion photographer, Hugh Arnold’s “Agua Nacida” exhibition makes a big splash in Mykonos.
Agua Nacida, meaning “water born” in Spanish, is a unique collection of large-scale underwater nudes, photographed amidst the unspoiled depths of the seas surrounding the Fiji islands and Gozo, off the coast of Malta in the Mediterranean.
The vibrancy of the ocean is stunningly highlighted through the quality of his Lambda Chromogenic prints mounted on Dibond, an aluminum substrate and finished with an acrylic surface. Lambda printing is quite a unique printing process in the field of photography, combining the continuous tone of traditional chromogenic prints (also known as “C-Prints”) with the control of today’s digital printing, Lambda prints, or Digital C Types, are often considered to be some of the most beautiful and accurate prints available.
“Aqua Nacida” illustrates the elegance of the female figure beneath the serene depths of the Pacific, while capturing the dynamism of life beneath the sea and within the feminine sprit. Arnold further explores the beauty of the human form and symbolic transition from womb to womanhood, while also showcasing the body so that the humans appear to become one with the sea life around them.
Arnold explains, “We are entirely governed by the power of nature: the sun, the moon and, above all, the tides. We humans are so infinitesimal that we barely register above the power of the ocean, so we must submit to it and respect it.”
If scuba diving with supermodels wasn’t exhilarating enough, Hugh Arnold and Agua Nacida’s debut in Chicago was featured in 25th Anniversary Edition of CS Modern Luxury, and Hunger TV.
While Arnold shares his stunning oceanic images throughout the Mediterranean, along Lake Michigan, Hilton|Asmus continues to communicate the beauty of water and femininity through Arnold’s work.
By Erin Benator
From its inception Hilton | Asmus Contemporary has represented a number of talented photographers, including Peter Sorel, Hugh Arnold and Gail Mancuso inspiring us to launch a separate division this summer, HILTON | ASMUS FOTO. We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Hilton| Asmus FOTO online photography store.
Curated by Arica Hilton, the collection will showcase the works of a variety of artists from around the world. The gallery's mission is to exhibit prominent contemporary photographers, as well as emerging artists, showcasing a variety of subject matter and photographic techniques. From documentary/photojournalism to street and fashion photography, landscapes to socially-conscious photography that exemplifies the state of the human condition through the visual language photography offers.
The past few months and the following months are an exciting time celebrating our series of A Summer of Music exhibitions: Zack Whitfords’s Contrast this Spring, Paul Natkins’ Blue’s Legends and Herb Greene’s Dead Fifty Years over the 4th of July weekend, concluding with Visions of a Magic Time, with Carinthia West, Pattie Boyd and Henry Diltz. From capturing the sprit of Rock and Roll during the 60s and 70s to the soul of the Blues scene in Chicago, these photographers have documented the musicians and singers who changed the culture of the world.
The website allows clients, local and across the globe, to explore and purchase works. Whether it’s a photograph of Steven Tyler and his fans, a photo collage of Chicago, or a Mark Rothko inspired image of Lake Michigan, Hilton| Asmus FOTO brings out the photographic sprit in everyone.
For Immediate Release:
HILTON | ASMUS FOTO DEBUT EXHIBITION
“CONTRAST” BY DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER ZACK WHITFORD,
featuring photographs of his travels as the official photographer for Aerosmith
Hilton | Asmus Contemporary will launch HILTON | ASMUS FOTO, a new division dedicated exclusively to photography on May 22, 2015.
On May 29, Hilton | Asmus FOTO will debut an exhibition of documentary photographs by Zack Whitford, the official photographer of Aerosmith. Whitford's work is a powerful commentary on our times. From the musical stage to urban streets and the countryside, regardless of language, age, gender or income barriers, the 31-year old documents people, animals and cities in their natural state, sometimes with irony and humor, and at other times he slaps us with the contrast of the experiences he shares.
"When I was much younger and training to be a stage actor, my teacher said something that has always stuck with me.
He said: 'As actors, you are investigators of humanity.'
Before settling in California, he spent his early years in Massachusetts, as well as ‘on the road’ with his father, a member of the rock group Aerosmith. Zack’s career as a photographer began in 2011 when his craft quickly transitioned into a full time job. His early work was purely freelance, focusing mainly on commissions and events. Eventually, he made his way into the music business where his photographs caught the attention of the members of Aerosmith and their management. Zack was reintroduced to life on the road, but now as the Aerosmith’s official photographer.
The collection features photographs taken on the road with Aerosmith in the United States and various countries, including Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Peru and Bhutan. One portrait of Steven Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith (above), shows him surrounded by young fans taking “selfies” with their iPhones. Titled, “These Are Our Times,” the photo is a commentary on the iPhone culture we are witnessing today.
From the stage to the streets, Whitford navigates his way seamlessly into the lives of his subjects. The exhibition will feature images of Johnny Depp on stage with Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer. In contrast, Whitford presents us with a man playing guitar who is missing a hand. He then takes us on a journey presenting an aging woman and a little girl from Peru, capturing the cycle of life, young monks from Bhutan, and Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebanon. He captures a protest in the streets of Istanbul and travels the back roads of America, allowing us a lens into worlds we may or may not know. Documenting but not interfering, with the exception of a photo that captures a homeless woman sitting in front of a large banner advertising, “New York’s Next Great Neighborhood.” States Whitford, “After I photographed the homeless woman, I tried to give her some money and she spit in my face.” Ironically, the company in the banner recently sold an apartment building on Wacker Drive in Chicago for $333 million. His ability to capture human beings in their environment is elevated by their social relevance as a documentary of our times.
Zack Whitford “CONTRAST” opens May 29 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
HILTON | ASMUS FOTO • 716 N. Wells • Chicago, IL 60654 • 312.852.8200
In spring of 2013, Hilton Asmus Contemporary held a private luncheon in celebration of Ani Afshar’s exhibition Weaving Gardens Casting Shadows. A lovely table was set for 12 very special guests including curators, collectors and friends. Ani’s show culminated in abounding success as we had numerous collectors fly in from all parts of the country to see her show and ultimately acquire the intricate silk & mohair weavings and tulle constructions.
It was at that time we met the grand dame of Chicago collectors, the generous supporter of artists, Ruth Horwich. She was 93 years old. Ruth was one of the founding members of the Museum of Contemporary Art, a generous supporter of the Art Institute, the Hyde Park Art Center and the Smart Museum. She had donated the 29 foot Jean Dubuffet sculpture, “Monument with a Standing Beast,” which guards the James Thompson Center, and donated her Calder collection to the MCA. She had one of the most fascinating art collections ranging from dada & surrealism to known, unknown, self taught and Chicago artists.
In addition to Ruth, our dear friends and collectors, Jimmy and Ginger Meyer, joined us along with their son, Scott, and daughter-in-law Christen. David Lade, Lisette Cortes, and curator & art historian, Rolf Achilles also attended. Since Ani was born in Istanbul, I decided to cook a few of our favorite Turkish dishes to celebrate the exhibition. Ruth was living history and we were humbled and thrilled to have her join our meal. She couldn’t walk easily to view the show, so we brought some of Ani’s tulle constructions to the table for her to see and feel. Ani’s works are so tactile, it is impossible to look at them without wanting to touch them!
Ruth ultimately selected two pieces, a lovely, purple beaded tulle construction and an assemblage made with Japanese printing paper. We thought she was just being kind because she had been a great supporter of Ani in years past. They knew each other from the Hyde Park Art Center where Ruth was president of the board for the last 40 years. Apparently, Ani had woven a special bedspread for her 20 years ago and it ended up being stolen from her home!
When our luncheon ended, Sven drove Ruth back to her Hyde Park home. She kindly offered a reciprocal invitation to lunch in her home when we were to deliver the two Afshar works. It was an exhilarating ending to a deeply satisfying and successful exhibition by one of our favorite artists.
The following week, Sven, Ani and I drove to Hyde Park for our much anticipated lunch. We were speechless at the magnitude of Ruth's art collection. Touring from room to room, we were face to face with the Chicago Imagists, European Surrealists, Outsider artists and an assortment of famous and not so famous names. It was far more interesting than any museum. This was art in its natural environment, where someone had lived and loved.
Seeing the immense collection, we had even more respect for the collector and greatly appreciated the opportunity to be part of this vast and extraordinary assemblage of art from around the world We were surprised (but shouldn’t have been!) that each one of Ani's pieces Ruth acquired had a specially designated spot. After the tour, we hung the two works on a wall around the corner from the living room. Ruth knew exactly where and how the two pieces would fit in with her already existing collection.
It was now time for Carol's delectable lunch. As we sat in the dining room, behind me loomed a large Dubuffet canvas, to my left "Jazz Wall" by Marisol, and in the corner of the room was a Matta. But staring at me with one eye resting above an ear, lips and two noses was the pièce de resistance, Rene Magritte’s 1937 “The White Race." I had never dined with a Magritte before. Nor had I met a collector of such inimitable spirit.
Little did I know that one year later, that same Magritte would be hanging in the Art Institute at the Magritte exhibit, “Mystery of the Ordinary.” Upon seeing it in its new setting, alone on a dark gray wall, I was quite taken aback. Tears began to well up inside my eyes with the memory of this painting we dined with resting on a white wall surrounded in natural light. How many years, I can't say. And then a flashback of the lovely meal and our perfect hostess, a kind and generous woman who had helped so many artists over a period of decades, known and unknown, gave them inspiration and made each person feel like they were the most important one in the room.
Being privy to Ruth's personal world was a very special day in the life of a gallerist and artist. It really is people like her who make this world a better place for having been here. The last photo I took that day was of Ruth dressed in her leopard blouse in her dining room sitting in front of "Jazz Wall" by Marisol. She passed away in July 2014. She was 94 years old. When I saw the booklet in memory of Ruth Horwich's life, I was so touched to find that same photo was included in her memorium......
Ani Afshar's next exhibition "NEW WORKS –– A DIALOGUE" opens at Hilton Asmus Contemporary on Friday, November 7.