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North Shore Arts & Culture

Here, for our annual roundup spotlighting culture’s finest hour, we give you the people, places and performances you’ll be raving about.

The gallery at Re-Invent in Lake Forest

Photo courtesy of the gallery

Re-Invent, a quirky 4,000-square-foot community art space in Lake Forest, was created by two 24-year-old Lake Forest natives who’ve been friends since they met in an art class at 11 years old. After returning from their respective colleges in Colorado and San Francisco in 2011, lifelong friends Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon wanted to make art an integral part of everyone’s living and giving experience. With a leap of faith—and a few guts—they rented the former Kondradt’s Florist building to create a multipurpose space that is one part retail (representing more than 100 artists), one part gallery (with exhibitions changing every six weeks) and one part workshop space for classes and artists-in-residence. This month, from Jan. 10-Feb. 22, the gallery presents a retrospective of the artist Renee McGinnis’ work over 30 years, including her powerful paintings of great fallen ocean liners.

Putzel This is one of those heartwarming films that should join the ranks of Moonstruck and When Harry Met Sally. Co-written (with Rick Moore), produced and directed by Wilmette native Jason Chaet, the film is a contemporary fable about the life of Walter Himmelstein (the putz), a young Jewish man whose life is confined to his family’s fish store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Seasoned actors Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Park Ridge native John Pankow (Mad About You) add depth to the cast in this can’t-miss feel-good film. Just goes to show what a great story, $200,000 and a lot of ingenuity (they filmed the entire movie in two weeks) can produce. Look for the digital release this spring.

Lake Forest resident and self-taught fine artist René Romero Schuler’s career is on a fast trajectory—straight up. On the heels of Schuler’s first gallery exhibitions in Rome and Paris last summer, Ellen DeGeneres commissioned the artist to create a custom “Jackie O” painting from Schuler’s Icon Series, and Jennifer Norback Fine Art gallery in Chicago, which represents Schuler’s work, compiled an eponymous book of the artist’s work released last month ($45, JNFA Projects). “René’s paintings convey at once vulnerability, beauty and great strength,” says gallery owner Jennifer Norback. “Ever since the first time I saw them, they have affected me viscerally. I’m fascinated by the dichotomy between her abstracted, almost brutal female forms, and her richly layered, thick impastos that effortlessly demonstrate both a deeply sophisticated color sense and her years of expertise with a palette knife. The paint itself, sculpted in three dimensions, resonates with vitality and force that seems to emanate from the figure itself.” To create her richly layered works, Schuler literally sculpts her two-dimensional paintings out of oil with a palette knife. “With every work I create, I strive to show the imperfection, stress and underlying beauty of the beings I portray,” says Schuler. “There are no fine characteristics or clearly defined attributes in these figures. They are everyone and no one. I work on several pieces at one time; my mood dictates the direction of a piece, and if I don’t finish it in a day, my mood shifts.” That’s one reason Schuler embarked on sculpting two years ago. “My small sculptures give me instant gratification,” she says. “I love the tactile experience of working on them and bringing my painting to another dimension.” Schuler’s art is in the permanent archives of the Art Institute of Chicago and hangs in the homes of numerous prominent Silicon Valley executives.

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