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        News — Joseph Renda Jr.

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        Joseph Renda Jr. 'Larger Than Life'

        Joseph Renda Jr. 'Larger Than Life'

        Vertical Gallery is very proud to present ‘Larger Than Life,’ a solo exhibit featuring Chicago painter Joseph Renda Jr. ‘Larger Than Life,’ which runs from June 4-25 at our 1016 N. Western Ave. location, assembles two dozen paintings and watercolor studies exploring the outsized impact of humankind on the natural world. In conjunction with the show’s opening, taking place Saturday, June 4 from noon to 6:00 pm, Vertical will release two new prints by Renda as well as a book, also titled ‘Larger Than Life.’ Renda will return to the gallery Saturday, June 18 for an artist talk beginning at 11:00 am.


        ‘Larger Than Life,’ which follows two years after Renda’s first solo Vertical showcase, ‘Biophilia,’ contrasts the vastness of nature with the relative triviality of the humans who nevertheless pose Earth’s greatest threat — an imbalance the artist portrays via human figures dwarfed by surrealistic landscapes (the first time he has incorporated landscapes and backgrounds into his work).

        “The title ‘Larger Than Life’ speaks to the feeling of walking in nature, looking out into the wilderness and feeling engulfed by your surroundings,” Renda explains. “Some of these pieces touch on eco-activist themes, while others focus on our connection to nature in a more whimsical way. Having the human element in these pieces means viewers can relate to the ideas more directly. Conceptually and visually, this is my most cohesive body of work to date.”

        Highlights of ‘Larger Than Life’ include “Through Innocent Eyes,” created in conjunction with Renda’s 12-year-old brother Reagan. “I asked him to draw a house and a tree, and then I created a trompe-l'œil version that looks like crayon,” Renda says. “The way kids draw trees and houses is very innocent. They look at nature as something to explore — something to interact with. Half of the pieces in this show encourage people to recapture their childlike innocence about nature; the other half is about our impact on nature, and how we use it for personal gain. It’s up to the viewer to choose how they want to interact, but if we keep going the way we’re going, there isn’t going to be nature anymore.”

        Renda earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the American Academy of Art in 2018, a year after making his Vertical Gallery debut as part of an all-star holiday pop-up event. He has since shown in numerous group exhibitions both at home and abroad, and in 2021 curated two Vertical group shows, ‘Water the Plants’ and ‘Atomic Number 13.’ Renda has also created murals throughout the Chicagoland area, and owns and operates the art services and custom framing company ArtBuilds.

        Joseph Renda Jr.
        ‘Larger Than Life’
        June 4 – 25, 2022
        Opening Day: Saturday, June 4th, noon-6pm
        Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave.

        Vertical Gallery, ArtBuilds prove their metal with aluminum group show ‘Atomic Number 13’

        Vertical Gallery, ArtBuilds prove their metal with aluminum group show ‘Atomic Number 13’

        Vertical Gallery is very proud to present ‘Atomic Number 13,’ a year-end holiday group show featuring new work from a local, national, and international roster of artists, curated by Chicago-based art services and custom framing company ArtBuilds.

        ‘Atomic Number 13,’ which runs from Dec. 11 to Jan. 8 at Vertical’s 1016 N. Western Ave. location, brings together close to 80 artists in all, each working on an 11x14 aluminum composite panel handcrafted by ArtBuilds. The company’s founder, artist Joseph Renda Jr. — the subject of the summer 2020 Vertical Gallery solo show ‘Biophilia’ — also handpicked each artist included in the exhibit, some of whom (including Renda) will be in attendance at the gallery on Saturday, Dec. 11 in celebration of the show’s opening (noon-6pm). 

        The title ‘Atomic Number 13” honors aluminum’s spot on the periodic table of elements. Renda began painting on aluminum composite panels five years ago, inspired by his mentor Anthony Adcock, an instructor at the American Academy of Art. “Once I realized I could make these panels whatever size I wanted, or build them in different shapes, I was hooked, and I stopped painting on canvas and wood,” Renda says. “These panels are the smoothest, most archival surface you can paint on, and unlike other surfaces, they don’t absorb moisture, so they’re not going to warp over time.”

        Renda launched ArtBuilds in 2018 to provide much-needed framing and construction services to his peers in the artist community. “I make everything by hand, all from natural wood — not just frames, but also custom canvases, shipping crates and pedestals. Artists make up 90 percent of my clientele, and the other 10 percent are galleries and collectors.” ArtBuilds has been working with Vertical since before Renda officially founded the company: when the gallery needed assistance with multiple projects, Renda offered his support, and the partnership continues to this day.

        With ArtBuilds manufacturing an increasing number of aluminum panels for use by Renda and clients alike, he decided to assemble a large group show spotlighting the possibilities inherent in creating on aluminum surfaces. ‘Atomic Number 13’ boasts contributions from friends, collaborators and strangers Renda admired from afar, many of whom he discovered via social media. There was no theme for what the artists had to create: the theme is the panel itself, Renda says. 

        “Beyond showing the versatility of the aluminum panels, I wanted to show the diversity of art out there,” he explains. “With so many artists working in so many different styles, everyone who attends this show is going to discover something that they love.”

        The artists featured in ‘Atomic Number 13’ include:

        Adam Augustyn, Alex Face, Allie Kushnir, Anthony Adcock, Arrington Porter, B. Robert Moore, Bird Milk, Blake Jones, Cera, Chris Cosnowski, Chris Rentas, Christy Grossmann, Collin Van Der Sluijs, Courtney Collins, Crop, Daniel Wilson, Danny Torres, David Heo, Dazeyface, Delisha, Denise Duong, Diosa, Dj Auld, Ellena Lourens, Elloo, Elsa Muñoz, Emmy Star Brown, Face, Goosenek, Grant William Thye, Greg Gossel, Hama Woods, Isabella K. Cancino, Jake Merten, James Lipnickas, James Sturnfield, James Thistlethwaite, Jamiah Calvin, Jason McPhillips, Jason Brammer, Jennifer Cronin, Jenny Frison, Jesse Hora, Jettila Lewis, Joseph Renda Jr., Joshua Lawyer, Karl Jahnke, Kayla Mahaffey, Keelan McMorrow, Kelly Yarbrough, Keya Tama, Kirsten Valentine, Kristine Campbell, Kurt Kreissl, Kyle Cobban, Laura Catherwood, Lefty Out There, Lie, Liz Flores, Martin Whatson, Miss Birdy, Oscar Joyo, Philip Bosmans, Pipsqueak was here!!!, Pizza in the Rain, Ramiro Silva Cortes, Rubén Aguirre, Sabrina Sabella, Samantha DeCarlo, Sentrock, Sergio Farfán, Steve Seeley, Troy Scat, Vivian Le, Wingchow, Z

        ‘Atomic Number 13’ curated by ArtBuilds
        December 11, 2021 – January 8, 2022
        Opening day: Sat Dec 11, noon-6pm
        Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave., Chicago

        Email us to be added to the digital collector's preview

        Water The Plants! curated by Joseph Renda Jr.

        Water The Plants! curated by Joseph Renda Jr.

        Save the date for: Water The Plants! curated by Joseph Renda Jr., April 24 – May 30 at Vertical Project Space


        This special exhibition includes collaborative paintings between: Joseph Renda Jr. and: Collin Van Der Sluijs, Sergio Farfan, Steve Seeley, Jason Brammer, Karl Jahnke, Kate Lewis, Kayla Mahaffey, Wingchow, and Grant William Thye.

        Plus hand painted flower pots by: Adam Augustyn, Ant Ben, Bird Milk, Blake Jones, Elloo, Emmy Star Brown, Fedz, Goosenek, Vivian Le, James Sturnfield, Laura Catherwood, Merlot, Samantha Decarlo, Sentrock, and Tracy Danet.

        Plus the release of Joseph Renda Jr.'s first sculpture.

        Opening weekend, Sat & Sun April 24 & 25, will be by reservation appointment only. CLICK HERE to make a reservation

        Email us at to be added to the digital collector's preview. 

        Vertical Gallery brings Miami heat to Chicago with all-star winter group show

        Vertical Gallery brings Miami heat to Chicago with all-star winter group show

        Vertical Gallery, Chicago’s premier urban-contemporary art gallery, presents “Miami in Chicago,” a winter group show running Dec. 1–26, 2020.

        “Miami in Chicago” features new work from the same talent — Martin Whatson, Alex Face, Mau Mau, Collin van der Sluijs, Joseph Renda Jr., Mysterious Al and David Heo — that Vertical planned to feature in Miami Beach in conjunction with Art Basel’s postponed Miami Art Week 2020 event. Vertical kicks off the month-long exhibit Tuesday, Dec. 1 from noon to 6:00 pm at the gallery’s 1016 N. Western Ave location.

        “Just because the in-person art fairs have been cancelled doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate the artists that have been working all year on their collection of work,” says Patrick Hull, owner of Vertical Gallery. “We have a very strong group show roster for Miami Art Week, and are excited to feature all of the artists in our Chicago gallery for the entire month of December.”

        “Miami in Chicago” gathers artists from across the globe:

        Martin Whatson is a Norwegian street artist best known for calligraphic scribbles in grayscale voids. Over the past decade, Whatson has developed an unmistakable aesthetic combining abstract movement with figurative stenciled compositions: His works mirror the rise and fall of the streets, as he symbolically recreates the urban environment, then vandalizes it to reveal his vibrant transformations.

        Alex Face is one of Thailand’s most respected and prolific street artists. On the surface, his work appears playful and lighthearted, but upon closer inspection each of his pieces explores deeper themes of poverty, environmental crisis and the present and future of society. His iconic bunny character, Mardi — initially inspired by his daughter — represents the feeling of confronting a troubled world as a vulnerable child.

        Mau Mau is a renowned British urban graffiti artist who’s gained an international following with his humorous street, print and graffiti work. His efforts incorporate political, environmental and cultural commentary, often featuring his trademark character, a mischievous and fun-loving fox. With roots planted in the surf and country vibes of the North Devon coast, Mau Mau brings an air of rural sophistication to the art he has been creating for 20 years.

        Collin van der Sluijs is a category-defying Netherlands-based artist whose dreamlike, deeply personal work employs a rich color palette and vibrant brush strokes evoking the Dutch masters of centuries past. His third and most recent Vertical Gallery solo exhibit, 2020’s “A Garden of Trust,” revealed profound new depths and dimensions, with van der Sluijs drawing on influences as diverse as vintage comics and his grandfather’s exotic bird aviary to produce his most ambitious, immersive canvases to date.

        Joseph Renda Jr. is a Chicago-based artist whose paintings capture the symbiotic connection between humans and the natural world. Inspired by leaders in surrealism including Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, Renda often depicts highly realistic human forms interwoven with illusive natural elements; his use of classical oil painting methods and modern materials, such as spray paint, provide his work with a distinct combination of old and new artistic techniques.

        Mysterious Al is an Australian-based contemporary artist who rose to fame in the early 2000’s alongside contemporaries/fellow street art pioneers D*face and Banksy, developing a notoriety for wall paintings, paste-ups and street installations. His latest paintings are based on ancient tribal masks, reimagined in wild contemporary colors. His work is striking and at first glance intimidating — but look closer, and you’ll see pieces that poke fun at man’s vulnerable psyche and fragile sense of self.

        David Heo is a Chicago-based artist known for paintings and collages using non-traditional materials like crayons, house paint and construction paper. Named one of New City’s Breakout Artists for 2020, Heo’s visceral, provocative work frequently documents observations and experiences from his own life, with an emphasis on the complex, emotionally charged interactions taking place in bars, nightclubs and other after-hours milieus. “Honey and Smoke” — his debut solo show at Vertical in March 2020 — sold out on opening night.

        Miami in Chicago
        December 1 - 26, 2020
        Opening day, Tuesday, December 1st, noon - 6:00pm
        Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave., Chicago

        Joseph Renda Jr. Explores the Surreal World with ‘Biophilia’

        Joseph Renda Jr. Explores the Surreal World with ‘Biophilia’

        Vertical Gallery is very proud to present “Biophilia,” a solo exhibit spotlighting Chicago artist Joseph Renda Jr.

        Running from June 6-27, 2020, “Biophilia” brings together 32 new paintings and drawings examining humankind’s innate desire to connect with the natural world, urging viewers to contemplate their own role and responsibility in maintaining this relationship for the benefit of future generations.

        “Biophilia,” Renda’s first-ever solo gallery showcase, juxtaposes intricate, highly realistic imagery with boldly surrealistic flourishes to illuminate humanity’s complex relationship to the flora and fauna that enrich our shared environment. “I’ve always had an interest in nature and an interest in the connection between humans and nature, and that’s what the term ‘Biophilia’ embodies,” Renda explains. “I don’t mean for this work to be political. I simply want people to connect with the show in their own way — to experience their own Biophilia effect.”

        While ‘Biophila’ draws on the classical oil painting techniques that distinguished Renda’s earlier work, these new pieces also pay explicit homage to the Surrealist and Dadaist movements of the early 20th century, in particular the innovations of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. “My work has always had a surreal outlook, but it was very subtle. This time I pushed it more,” Renda says. “I’ve always been in love with the Surrealists, but they were about what was going on in the subconscious. That’s not how I create. It doesn’t come from the subconscious — it comes from the outside world.”

        Renda first attracted attention for his work while in high school, claiming first-place honors in the 2012 Congressional Art Competition. He entered the American Academy of Art with a focus on illustration, but embraced fine art and oil painting at the urging of his instructor and mentor Anthony Adcock, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2018. Renda made his Vertical Gallery debut in 2017 as part of an all-star holiday pop-up event, subsequently exhibiting at another Vertical pop-up headlined by Collin van der Sluijs and LIE. Renda has also curated and shown in numerous group exhibitions both at home and abroad, created public murals and graced the pages of magazines including New York’s Creative Bloch. In addition, he owns and operates ArtBuilds LLC, an artist service and woodworking company.

        Joseph Renda Jr.
        June 6-27, 2020
        Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Ave., Chicago