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Too Much Is Not Enough

Curtis Bartone at the Elmhurst Art Museum

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"Artists either try to put everything into a painting or take everything out," says Curtis Bartone. "I'm in the first category." Bartone, who grew up in Pennsylvania, came to the Chicago area in 1989 for graduate study at Northwestern University and stayed. Influenced by 17th-century Dutch still-life painters, natural science illustrators, and Chicagoan Ivan Albright, Bartone crowds his canvases with intensely realistic images in impossible groupings. Inspiration comes from anywhere, he says--travel and gardening catalogs, wildlife books, even cookbooks--for realistic but unreal "still lifes that don't exist in one place." Bartone says he isn't aiming for symbolism and never wants to be preachy. What fascinates him is the visual overload of dense, lush, overworked surfaces. "I try to make beautiful paintings," he says. "Sometimes it's too beautiful." A survey of his work over the last ten years, comprised of 43 paintings (acrylic and oil), drawings, and etchings, is on view at the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Avenue in Elmhurst, through October 29. Hours are 10 to 4 Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; 1 to 4 Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Admission is $3, $2 for students. Call 630-834-0202.

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