Review: Compelling Viewpoints of Earth and Sky at Triple R Gallery

The current exhibition at Triple R GalleryTouch the Sky and Feel the Earth—displays 26 works by photographer Kelly Manteck  and painter Evan Koby Foster. Although they work in different mediums, together their works complement each other to create a visually stimulating show.

In Foster’s landscape paintings, a brooding element is at play through his depiction of clouds moving across vast skies. Foster creates a sense of depth and drama by creating clouds in vibrant shapes and colors. The foreboding quality of the clouds creates a contrast with the serene-like ground elements of trees and meadows.

Tadglau Fen
Evan Koby Foster, Tadglau Fen. Oil on wood. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Through these works, Foster shows us how nature is ever-changing and in constant flux. Good examples of this are Between the Steps of Mulduhr and Tadglau Fen. In both works, Foster invites us to study landscape scenes that can quickly change due to a shift in light and shadow. Foster also leaves it to the viewer as to how to interpret his landscapes—either as idyllic and peaceful or as ominous.

In some of his other landscapes such as Storms Edge and Golden Hour, we experience that sense of resilience and strength that exists in nature through his depiction of trees. In these works, the viewer can see a tree that has either survived a storm or perhaps is about to experience the onslaught of a storm.

Nude Femme Posing in Water
Evan Koby Foster, Nude Femme Posing in Water. Acrylic on cotton canvas. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Besides his landscapes, Foster also creates cubist works that incorporate elements of nature. In Nude Femme Posing in Water, he captures the strength of the female spirit by creating the female form through boulder-like stones that are stacked on top of each other at various angles. Three Women at the Coast is another cubist work that celebrates body diversity as three women bond together while they commune with nature.

While Foster’s works focus on landscapes and cubist images, the photos by Kelly Manteck show a dynamic interplay between high-rise buildings in downtown Chicago against vibrant skies. Manteck creates striking perspectives with her low-viewpoint shots of buildings where the viewer experiences an immediate impact of buildings soaring upward. The photos have an ethereal effect that is reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ mountain photographs. A good example of this is Pinnacle—a building that resides in the Gold Coast area. We experience the majestic beauty of this building because the composition’s angle makes this high-rise structure seem as sharp as a razor’s edge.

Kelly Manteck, Pinnacle. Photograph printed on metal. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Manteck’s photos also create an immediate impact because of the rich blue color of the skies that act as a backdrop to the buildings. Equally impressive are the clouds scattered across the sky that add a sense of drama.

It is interesting to note, that in many of Manteck’s shots, the buildings aren’t identified. And this is a good choice because she avoids being a documentarian. She instead acts as a street photographer, capturing those elusive moments that can change within a second. It’s as if Manteck is always aware of her surroundings to take that fleeting shot where the combination of various elements—the color of the sky, the clouds, and the reflective surfaces of the buildings—come together to create a dynamic view.

Touch the Sky
Kelly Manteck, Touch the Sky. Photograph printed on metal. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Manteck also shows how old and new architecture co-exists in Chicago. In Old v New, Manteck creates a dramatic contrast as she shows the Roosevelt University Building (built in 2012) as a backdrop behind the Auditorium Building (built in 1889). This work also tells us about the rich diversity of architecture that exists in Chicago.

old vs new
Kelly Manteck, Old v. New. Photograph printed on metal. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The works by Foster and Manteck in Touch the Sky and Feel the Earth, remind us how we should be in awe of our environment whether it’s in an urban or rural setting. Manteck’s photography not only captures the beauty of high-rise buildings, but allows us to experience that sense of exhilaration when we see buildings soar upward. And Foster’s landscapes and cubist paintings invite us to experience the mystery of our natural surroundings.

About the artists:

Kelly Manteck is the owner of KAMera Chicago Photography. Her photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House were published in WTTW Channel 11’s national documentary—10 Buildings That Changed America. Manteck’s work has also been shown in various art galleries around Chicago.

Evan Koby Foster is a Chicago artist and has been influenced by Cubism, Absurdism and Zap Comix. His Chicago underground comic series, The Hackneyed Homegrown Hipsters, satirizes contemporary American culture.

This exhibition will run through September 30. Triple R Gallery is located at 5031 W. Montrose Ave. Hours are Thursday thru Friday 12-5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.  The exhibit can also be viewed by appointment. For more information, visit their website or call 773-960-1998.

Did you enjoy this post and our coverage of Chicago’s arts scene and sometimes beyond? Please consider supporting Third Coast Review’s arts and culture coverage by making a donation by PayPal. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support!

Thomas Wawzenek
Thomas Wawzenek