We have enjoyed a great year in 2019 and it’s not over yet.
We set a goal back in 2014 to one day try to put together a group art show to exhibit the cartoon and comic art of the talented members of the Chicago Midwest chapter. It sat there on the agenda every annual meeting and frequently came up at our local watering hole get-togethers, but somehow we just couldn’t find the right location, timing, or general circumstances to bring this dream into existence. Until this year!
Our first ever chapter cartoon art show, Drawn to Humor: the Art of the NCS Chicago Midwest Chapter, opened on September 15 of this year at the Beverly Art Center on the South Side of Chicago, and ran until November 3. 19 chapter cartoonists participated in the art exhibit, featuring 85 separate works of art including a pair of 3’ x 4’ vinyl cartoon enlargements by Jon Plotkin; a large caricature of Muddy Waters performing on stage, done masterfully in oil by Chuck Senties; color digital print examples of the syndicated comic panel “Free Range” by the one and only Bill Whitehead; original process drawings of the award-winning webcomic “Buni” by Ryan Pagelow, Mad magazine cartoons and feature illustrations by Johnny Sampson; New Yorker cartoons by Ken Krimstein, single panel cartoons in vibrant watercolor by Brian Diskin, a unique Superman collage image by Jim McGreal; fine examples of the syndicated comic panel “Long Story Short” by Dan Beyer, and many other fine works too numerous to mention.
More than 30 talented young student cartoonists exhibited their work in a different gallery at the art center over the same time period, with their families and friends also attending the September 15 opening. In addition, the chapter also put together a small historical cartoon section that exhibited original and signed print cartoons of Chester Gould, Dale Messick, former Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonists Joe Parrish and Jeff MacNelly, and recently retired Chicago Sun-Times editorial cartoonist Jack Higgins.
We reconvened at the BAC the weekend following the exhibit opening for a one day Cartooning Open House that offered 2 hours of video presentations in the historic Baffes Theater by Richard Pietrzyk, Jon Plotkin, Johnny Sampson, Chuck Senties, and current “Underdog” cartoonist Matt Hansel. Live caricatures in the gallery by Chuck and Ellen Lustig were also quite popular, as well as Jon demonstrating his iPad cartooning techniques on a large flatscreen TV. Short and informal cartoon workshops were available for kids and adults with books, posters, prints, and original cartoon sketches also available for purchase at both the exhibit opening and open house.
It was a lot of work over about two years, but it was sure worth it.
In the membership department, we welcomed Holden Henry as our first 27 Club member early in 2019. We’re very glad to have him in the chapter as a source of new ideas and a bit of vision, especially now that 2020 is coming up so quickly. Richard Laurent also threw his baseball cap in the ring and joined NCS as a Regular member this summer. Richard has a lot of experience to offer to our group since he works in cartooning, illustration, and the fine art of oil painting as well as teach college level classes in all three areas. He has published work in a wide variety of publications including Business Week, Outside magazine, the American Bar Association, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He is deeply involved in a social justice fine art initiative – “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions” and has organized a show of original artwork on this topic that is traveling around the US in 2019. He also published his first book this year, entitled “Laughing Matters!” focusing on his editorial cartoons of President Donald J. Trump.
Matt Hansel is still preparing his NCS application, polishing it to a fine warm glow before submitting it at some point soon, we hope. Tim Jackson, former editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Defender is also in the process of applying to the NCS for Regular membership. We wish them both the best of luck in these noble endeavors and look forward to their participation in the chapter.