My sabbatical during 2019-2020 was truly phenomenal. I was newly appointed the FH Sellers Chair in Painting with a research stipend, when an opportunity came up to travel to Umbria and study the frescoes of Piero della Francesca while living at the legendary Civitella Ranieri Foundation Castle for a week in November. I returned to Chicago to prepare for my first solo exhibition at the Monique Meloche Gallery, opening that February with a new body of double sided paintings, referred to as “Air Paintings” that rested within aluminum frames, liberated from the wall. In March, I traveled with the gallery to the Independent Fair, NYC to install new paintings inspired by my trip to Umbria. “The Vision Paintings” was a series of 20 paintings, 20 x 20 inches square, made during the year 2020. It was a successful event, but unfortunately, we returned back to Chicago on the heels of the Covid-19 epidemic. Because of the sabbatical, I escaped that Fall semester, filled with so many unknowns. To stay safe, I temporarily moved out of my beautiful Pilsen studio to work from my home studio, borrowing a French easel to work on smaller paintings, and creating drawings on my kitchen table. The work kept me going, as everything around me was falling apart. I missed my friends, family, and colleagues. After 6 months, thanks to the generosity of friends, I drove to Michigan and was in residence for a month. That magical experience ultimately led to a spontaneous studio/home relocation. With new keys in hand on Thanksgiving Day, 2020, any lingering bits of buyers’ remorse was quickly pushed aside in December, with the news that I was anonymously awarded the unrestricted 2021 Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. I returned to virtual teaching in Spring of 2021, zooming from my new home in Michigan.
I am grateful for the William Bronson Mitchell and Grace Slovet Mitchell Enhancement Fund Award for the 2021-2022 academic year which allowed me to finish a new body of 10 paintings entitled Palimpsest, which were exhibited September to November of 2021 in LA at Gavlak Gallery with a catalog essay by Sue Spaid to be released shortly. Currently, I am in preparation for my second solo exhibition at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago to open Fall of 2023. I will be graduate advising in the spring of 2023.
-Candida Alvarez, F.H. Sellers Professor, Painting and Drawing