A bit back I saw this beauty on Pinterest and knew I had to know more. Luckily, you get to know more too. Enjoy getting acquainted with the fabulously talented Martina Nehrling

“Compelled by the pulsation of the beautiful and horrific relentlessly clashing I create visual rhythms in compositions of accumulation. I use multiple distinct brushstrokes for their staccato quality and graphic directness, but highly saturated chroma in order to heighten the effect of color’s mercurial language. Utterly seduced by the formal complexity of color, I revel in its emotive slipperiness and enjoy mining its controversial decorativeness. The inextricability of these aspects unique to color, continually spurs my engagement. In patterns akin to note-taking, listing, or the currents and eddies of stream of consciousness ranting, I muse in lush celebration, high pitched lament and raucous rebellion.”

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Martina Nehrling

Chicago, Illinois

Self portrait in studio 1

What is your training? 

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I have a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MFA from the University of Chicago.

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What inspires you and your designs?


The cacophony of daily life inspires me.  I’m particularly compelled by the relentless clashing of joys and sorrows, of the meaningful and the senseless.  In visual rhythms akin to note-taking, listing, or the currents and eddies of a stream of consciousness rant, I try to unpack or simply observe the frenzied pulsation of these tensions.  I use multiple distinct brushstrokes for their staccato quality and graphic directness, but highly saturated chroma in order to heighten the effect of color’s mercurial language.  Utterly seduced by the formal complexity of color, I revel in its emotive slipperiness and enjoy mining its controversial decorativeness.  The inextricability of these aspects unique to color, continually spurs my engagement.  I muse in lush celebration, high pitched lament and raucous rebellion.
  
What is your favorite piece?

Usually (and hopefully) I’m especially excited about my most recent pieces.  Half Light, is among a few pieces in which I was responding to that aching feeling for spring as winter lingered too long this year.
 
Half Light,  33H x 24L in.,  acrylic on canvas,  2014 300dpi 
 
How has your area influenced your work?


The physical environment, the commotion, and history of the city of Chicago, my neighborhood Logan Square, and the old four-flat where I live all tremendously influence my work.  At the very least these are the places where I hang my thoughts, but there’s nothing passive about that.  Renowned for its violence as much as its arts, larger than life characters of corruption as well as social justice and creative vision, both innovations and time warps into the past everywhere you look, the vast episodic constant of Lake Michigan – a different color every day, and a very noisy elevated train…  There is no end to the layers of rhythm all around me, I am enthralled.
 
What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?


This is the hardest question you’ve asked me.  More than any other cultural arena in the city the restaurant scene in Chicago is on fire.  It’s such a joy to eat in this town!  There are many celebrity chefs here and hot spots that really are worth the wait.  Though I often want a more subdued atmosphere for dinner, especially on the way home from a chatty night of gallery openings. 

Bella-Notte

Bella Notte is this wonderfully unhip little Italian restaurant we’ve been going to for about 20 years now.  The décor is a bit strange (neon colored wall murals of the Trevi Fountain) but the lights are low with candles at the table and the food is invariably as delicious and comforting as remembered from the last visit.  They make a wonderful grilled octopus appetizer, their red sauces are always fresh and bright tasting and the meatballs could make you weep, but I usually have to have the eight finger cavatelli – long hand rolled dumpling style noodles, tossed in garlicky olive oil with heaps of bitter rapini.    

 What is your favorite cocktail?

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It’s not only a joy to eat in this town; it’s also a joy to drink in this town, maybe especially if you’re a gin drinker right now as there are several new boutique distilleries in the area.  The guy who developed one of my favorite gins, Letherbee, lives down the street, and nearby is what’s billed as a true gin joint, Scofflaw, where there are more than 55 gins on the menu (great food too, including a “secret sandwich” which is only available in a limited number each night and purported to include everything on the menu that is fit for a sandwich – it’s crazy good, shh).  So, much to the consternation of mixologists I prefer a gin martini up with no vermouth.  Yes, that’s just cold gin, but I’m kindly open to myriad suggestions by bartenders for the garnish pairing.  At home it’s the Letherbee Autumnal and orange peel when we’re fancy, or Bombay Sapphire and an olive when we’re pedestrian.   (Very many smiley face emoticons should follow for the pretension of the last sentence.) 

 
How do you balance personal life and work?


Not very well, but mostly I’m okay with that.  I mean there really isn’t much division for me.  My husband is nearly as close to my work as I am and we are not parents so “shop talk” is very much part of our personal life.  I love to work in the garden and enjoy cooking for friends.  Sometimes I think I should “clock out” more often but I also feel very privileged to feel so engaged in my work. 

 
Dream trip?


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I feel rather insatiable about travel.  I’d like to go to Istanbul to see the way the Hagia Sophia holds light,

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and to Amsterdam to see van Gogh’s drawings in particular, and to Greece for all the colors of blue, and more and more and more…

 
 
Dream commission?


Hmmm, how about I get a lovely space to create large scale work with complete artistic freedom for which I’m handsomely paid—and all my brushes are cleaned for me!   No, okay, I’ll clean my own brushes.
 

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give? 

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Something for the garden or something from Penzeys Spices.

 
Who is your style icon?


 
Ha, ha, I need a style icon!  Most of the time it would appear a sloppy mime is my style icon as paint-stained black yoga pants and a long sleeve t-shirt tend to be my uniform in the studio – and all too often elsewhere too.

 
Your favorite up and coming artist?

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There are too many artists I like to speak so superlatively.  Here’s just one: I especially like Jason Karolak’s large paintings.  I want to climb them.
 
 
 
What is your most treasured possession?

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My dogs, but of course I don’t really possess them.

 
What are you reading?

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I just finished Thomas Dyja’s, The Third Coast, a great cultural history of Chicago which looks at the arts as much as the political shenanigans. 

I’m about to start Donna Tartt’s, The Goldfinch.

 
 What are you listening to?

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Not very au courant, I’ve been bingeing on old Beastie Boys lately – especially their instrumental album, The Sound From Way Out.

 
What are your favorite blogs / publications?

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The New Yorker

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and Cook’s Illustrated are the two publications I’m most devoted to, otherwise I’m an NPR junkie who follows up from time to time with Google searches and sorties into the blogosphere.
 
 
 

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Artist Spotlight Series: Martina Nehrling

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