Cafe at Prairie Lights

  • Gaia Nardie-Warner, 'Nowadays'

    Gaia Nardie-Warner was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1984. She has a MFA in painting and printmaking from Boston University (Boston, MA). Nardie-Warner has shown her work at Backspace Projects (Peoria, IL), Brooklyn Fire Proof East, Public Space One (IA), The Plaines Project, Hamill Gallery of African Art, The BOX, and 808 Gallery. Brian Prugh published a review of her work in the Little Village.  Nardie-Warner is included in the edition of New American Paintings Vol. 107. Recently, she received honorable mention for the 6th Annual Dave Bown Projects Competition. Gaia has attended national and international residencies and will participate in the Vermont Studio Center’s residency program coming year. Upcoming she will be in the June edition of Forget Good. She lives and works in Chicago, IL.

    Artist Statement
    Tantra: indulgence with awareness, vision without judgment, observant not evaluative. I paint along this continuum. Unwedded to mere media indulgence, these works come from an engagement with the materiality of paint and the complexity of the expressive mark. My paintings enter into a dialogue beyond their powers to represent. Using smears, scratches, scrapes and copious amounts of paint, I compose visual interrogatories of cultural minutia: metallic flashes, fake eyelashes, yoga mats, coconut water, glossy magazines, platinum blonde hair, gold hoops, turquoise, worn leather, furs, and painted nails. Such cultural signifiers dictate my mark as I paint to transform culture while maintaining true to its basis. These paintings confront and expose cultural socio-political connotations that are closeted by such little details. My challenge to culture displaces the framework of its associations onto the multifaceted language of gestural abstraction. Cultural identifiers are the portals by which we may gain insight into our own personal and societal secrets. Their investigation sustains my interest in Guatemalan textiles, prayer rugs, kivas, Navajo sand paintings, mandalas, Shibori, Haitian voodoo dolls, Butoh, and Berber rugs. With paint, I enervate what at first sight, seems most lifeless.

    More information about Gaia's work is available at

  • Jeff Robinson + Michael Rutherford, 'Water and Stone'

    In the book, What Painting Is, James Elkins defines painting as a combination of two ingredients: water (medium) and stone (pigment). The action of painting is a process of negotiating the two. Water and Stone presents two artists whose work necessitates material functions. Abandoning the image, these works make visible the central role of color and substance in producing sensation. In Michael Rutherford’s work, the support on which the paint is applied performs as a prominent character in the piece, asserting equality between a colored shape and the curl of the paper. Jeff Robinson’s work organizes relationships between paint and non-paint; requiring the viewer to consider the difference between the canonical art material and the detritus of human consumption.

    Jeff Robinson received his MFA in painting from Illinois State University in 2011. In addition to his studio practice, Jeff teaches full-time as an Instructor of Art and Visiual Arts Gallery Director at the University of Illinois Springfield.

    Michael Rutherford is the creator and editor of Painter’s and its companion site, Postmodern Toaster. He was born and raised in Iowa and was introduced to art while working as a guard at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. In 1999, he graduated from Buena Vista University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

  • When I Was Your Age

    Storytelling as collaborative knowledge making. Storytelling is a fundamental source of knowledge and agency. To tell a story is to remember, contemplate, question, interpret, and ultimately voice a particular history. When I was Your Age is a collaborative project that uses storytelling to explore the relationship between artists and their elders. Participating artists asked their mother, grandmother, or like-figure to share a story from their past. Each pair constructed a piece of text reflecting the life of the elder when she was the age of the artist. Each artist created a visual response to complete the piece. The following pages present a dialogue between generations, where the residue of the past is deeply felt in the present and maintained by one’s willing imagination.

    Mary Coats and Shari Coats
    Zoe Hawk and Phyllis Hawk
    Elizabeth Davenport and Paul Davenport Jr.
    Cheryl Robinson and Maryjane Robinson
    Andrea Dejong and Margaret Dejong
    Jared Wittenmyer and Ruth Wittenmyer
    Sarah Smith and Kathi Smith
    Danielle Kimzey and Jean Alys Lindow Huey
    Mary Laube and Edmund Laube

  • Ty Smith & Ken Dubin, 'Fish Nor Fowl'

    Fish Nor Fowl features the work of Ty Smith and Ken Dubin in an exhibition that envelopes absence, presence, and everything in between.

    Ty Smith was born in Montgomery, AL in 1979. He received his BFA in painting from the University of Alabama in 2001 where he worked with Professor Alvin Sella. In 2006, he moved to Tulsa, OK, where he completed his MFA and began teaching at the University of Tulsa. This past year he has been teaching as an Adjunct Faculty for Auburn University and has recently taken a new position as Museum Preparator at the Jules Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn, AL.

    Ken Dubin's paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad.  He has participated in a number of residencies including the Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  Dubin received an MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Iowa in 2009.