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Friday, December 2

Gapers Block

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Editor's Note: This column originally ran June 22, 2006. "Three Questions For" will return next week with a fresh interview.

In The Break-Up, Jennifer Anniston plays a painter who also works in an art gallery. So was Danielle Klinenberg, who was working in a River North gallery when she met set dresser Dan Clancy while he was visiting Chicago in search of art to use in the film. Klinenberg's paintings are now featured in the film, and her first solo show (of paintings), Close-Up, opens June 23 and runs through July 30 at Thomas Masters Gallery, 245 W. North Ave. Her abstract watercolor compositions have been compared to maps and landscapes, and are informed by her work in dance and the qualities of expansion and discovery she's experienced in her travels. Klinenberg is also an entrepreneur; she started a business producing arts events for children — Art Party Play Dates — after years of developing arts education programs for children through museums and nonprofit arts organizations.

Q: I enjoy abstract paintings because of their wonderful ability to embody a sense of musicality. In what fashion do you prefer to engage abstraction's quests, as a conductor or as someone down in the pit with an instrument in hand?

Klinenberg: Nothing takes my breath away quite like being in the presence of a great musical ensemble. I have to admit, there's no man I find quite as attractive as one who is conducting a symphony orchestra. What command. I've never thought about myself being in that same position when I make a painting. There are forces that take over, loud as music, and come together to make a painting work. I use a lot of color in my work, stroke, movement, line, mood, light and dark. You could compare the different qualities that come together to make a painting to musicians playing their instruments. If you were to tell me my paintings have the emotional resonance to overwhelm the senses like a good piece of music, I'd be happy.

Q: Do you view the act of titling a painting as one of defining it as a purely optical artifact, or do you view the act of titling a painting as one of releasing it from the confines of being purely visual?

Klinenberg: "Optical artifact" is a funny concept. I hope my works don't feel like artifacts, but that their presence is felt, and available to be considered and taken in. There are some works of art where a title sends the mind to a place where it wouldn't otherwise go. There was a piece by Marie Krane Bergman, for example, in the Figures and Fields show at the MCA that documents the color of a hydrangea over time. The title of the piece was "(like April through October)". Without this title the piece wouldn't have touched me the way it did. On the other hand, I wouldn't need a title for "The Man with the Blue Guitar" at the Art Institute by Picasso. I think when a painting touches you, the mind does work that releases your experience from "the confines of the visual" into intellectual and emotional realms. Sometimes a title helps set off the imagination.

Q: I could be way off the mark here, but the manner in which you engage and apply your chosen materials — watercolors — reveals to me that you're more infatuated with the process than you are with the finished product. I'm wondering how and/or where the intersection of cause and effect exists for you in your work?

Klinenberg: With watercolor you can see every mark that's made. In this way the finished work reveals the process. Yes, this intrigues me, although for me the end point is also important. If it weren't, there would be no paintings to show. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I love teaching children to mix colors. Often the palette and changing-color water engage the little ones most, commanding far more attention than the work of making a painting.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to

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