Richard Voss uses his computer to create art

ART REVIEW

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ANNA POPLAWSKA

The Buzz Café at the Oak Park Public Library is featuring a unique father-and-daughter art exhibit. The father is Richard Voss; the daughter is 7-year-old Hallie, whose budding creativity gets plenty of encouragement.

Though Voss' art has a very primitive feeling, it's actually generated on the computer. He starts with photographs he's taken, or he may scan painted sections and interesting pieces of paper. Then the fun begins as he manipulates textures, cuts, pastes, and collages his images. He doesn't start out with any sort of plan; he just waits to see what happens and credits some of his best pieces to luck. As happens with computers, sometimes he doesn't even know what button he pressed to achieve a certain effect.

In "Window to a Dream" the woman's skin tones were derived from a photo of a wall in Prague that he loved. The dress comes from a photo of horsetail grass taken at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, which he repainted, keeping the same colors and textures, then manipulated on the computer. The red comes from a photo that he took in Southern Illinois of a grain silo, as it was caught by the light from a setting sun.

The theme of windows and alternative states is common in his work, which often features women. "Window to a Dream" is set against a background that's red on the right side and yellow on the left. Though the woman's dress and skin is the same color throughout, we have to look twice to be certain of this. Like some optical illusion, the color seems oddly different depending on what the color of the background is. Thematically it reflects how the same person placed in different settings might give a very different impression.

In "Stony Field" the woman is seen looking out of a window?#34;-or perhaps at a painting. Her dress below the window sill is colored in streaks of red, orange, and green. But the dress above the level of the window is set with blue, purple, and peach tones, like the field she's looking at. The blue of her hair also blends into the field, which suggests she's become so absorbed in what she's looking at that she's become one with it.

Hallie Voss' "Star Light" is somewhat similar. A little man cut out of felt is reaching towards the stars in the night sky. Ironically the stars and moon are dark, green and blue felt set against a white background which intensifies the sensation of looking into another realm. The white is shaped like a hole ripped out of a computer-generated blue, brown, and green background. Dad helped her with this part. It suggests a hole ripped out of the space-time continuum, which allows the viewer to see into other realms.

Richard and Hallie Voss are on exhibit at the Buzz Café at 834 Lake St., just inside of the Oak Park Public Library. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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