Ryan Spencer Reed: “Despite Similarities to Reality, This is a Work of Fiction”
Urban Edge, 220 W. Clayton St, Waukegan
9/11 through Veterans Day, Monday – Saturday, 11AM – 8PM, FREE

Ryan Spencer ReedRyan Spencer Reed (b. 1979) is an American photographer whose journey documenting critical social issues began in 2002, in east Africa. Since Spring of 2012, Reed took on a long-term project on the modern incarnation of the Band of Brothers: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne through training and a deployment to Afghanistan. This body of work focuses on these soldiers’ experiences through modern surveillance and tactics as they have shaped policy and changed the way the world’s superpower went to war.

Despite Similarities to Reality This is a Work of Fiction exhibitThe installation gestures toward a military environment, often devoid of color, as the backdrop for displaying four subsequent bodies of work under this project. Preparation for War, images are presented on walls assuming the shape of bulletproof barriers or gunnery positions allowing for the foreshadowing of all that follows the experience of training. Dissonance, perimeter imagery encapsulates a viewer widening the gap between the myths and realities of war through the solider’s experience at war. Soldier’s Eye View, pictures are presented on walls now reminiscent of the MRAP vehicles – the windows of voyerism and relative safe passage through a land feared by fallen empires. Drone’s Eye View, light boxes emerge evoking the scenes from aerial reconnaissance viewed on a monitor, positioned to give the vantage point of a peaceful and abstract war-zone from ten-thousand feet.

Mortar men brace for the concussive force of a 120 mortar system as they fire in support of their Afghan security counterparts conducting a night mission outside the wire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
Mortar men brace for the concussive force of a 120 mortar system as they fire in support of their Afghan security counterparts conducting a night mission outside the wire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

The project spans two and a half years of documentation of one Army battalion – the Band of Brothers. In the aggregate, 61 images convey, myth, reality, and glimpse into the scope the idea of enduring freedom. The layout represents a maze inviting the viewer to lose sight of the exits in order to fully commit to the consideration of a reality not their own – lured into a choke point – where getting out becomes difficult and the time spent within uncomfortable. Sounds of war, captured audio by the artist, bombard at a low-grade whisper where specific signals are nearly indistinguishable amidst the fog of war. The experience of the installation, echoes the fiction through which most Americans consume war: clean, safe, and sterile. The work aims to catalyze a dialogue on the dissonance between the myths and realities of war.

Read about Ryan Spencer Reed and his award-winning photographs.




Benjamin Busch: “The Art in War”
Waukegan Public Library, 128 N. County Street, Waukegan
9/11 through Veterans Day, Monday – Thursday 10AM – 8PM, Friday 10AM – 6PM, Saturday and Sunday 1PM – 5PM, FREE

Benjamin Busch, USMC, Invasion of Iraq, 2003Benjamin Busch is an acclaimed actor, writer, filmmaker, and photographer. He served 16 years as an infantry and light armored reconnaissance officer in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2005 where he was wounded in Ramadi.  He is the writer/director of the award winning films Sympathetic Details and BRIGHT and was an actor and military consultant on the HBO mini-series, Generation Kill. He also portrayed Officer Colicchio for three seasons in the HBO series The Wire. He has three traveling exhibitions of photography and a forthcoming book of selected images. He is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Dust to Dust (Ecco), winner of the Debut-litzer Prize, and his essays have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, The Daily Beast and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is the winner of the James Dickey Prize for poetry and his poems have been published widely. He teaches nonfiction in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada College, Tahoe and lives on a farm in Michigan where he is a stonemason by day and illustrates books at night.

"Cubism" by Benjamin Busch
by Benjamin Busch

“The Art In War” exhibition features photographs from Busch’s deployments during the invasion, occupation and liberation of Iraq. The photographs explore themes of war and memory by focusing on ephemera, from torn posters to bloodstained walls. It’s a gripping exercise in evoking a particular time and place, made all the more powerful by the photographer’s presence as an officer in the war he is documenting, blurring the line between observer and participant. These are documentary photographs that are not the work of a journalist; they chronicle a specific time and place without the luxury of distance.

“I tried to record Iraq as its past was dissolving and its future uncertain. Photographs allow me to hold on to what I notice as I pass through time and place. This collection is a condensed rearrangement of my selected memory from 398 days in Iraq. It grants me the right to assign longevity to impermanent observations. I am often drawn to record fragile evidence and temporary debris for this reason. [They depict] moments that cannot occur again. What I photographed there has already been repainted, burned, or discarded. I only had one chance to take a photograph of any moment there. These are the chances that I took.”

-Benjamin Busch

Combat Photographer: Waukegan’s Albert Klein in World War II
Waukegan History Museum, 1917 N. Sheridan Road in Bowen Park, Waukegan
9/11 through Veterans Day, Tuesday and Thursday 10AM – 4PM, Saturday 1PM – 4PM, FREE

Combat Photographer Exhibit LogoThe Waukegan Historical Society will be displaying a special collection from their archives for ArtWise starting on September 11th. On special exhibit will be the photography of Albert Klein. Klein, a graduate of Waukegan High School, learned the profession of photography from his father, Herman, who owned North Shore Studios at 4 N. Genesee Street. During WWII, Klein was commissioned as a lieutenant and served in the US Army Signal Corps as a combat photographer. Klein served in North Africa. Two of the four Klein photographs that will be on display pertain to the North African campaign. After the war, Klein returned to Waukegan and remained a commercial photographer in the city until 1965.

Read more about Albert Klein and his role as combat photographer.





Veterans Visual Art Exhibition
Lake County Courthouse and Administration Building, 18 N. County Street, 1st Floor Lobby, Waukegan
9/11 through Veterans Day, Monday – Friday, 8AM – 5PM, FREE

Leticia Knight "Sunday Run" Oil painting
Leticia Knight
“Sunday Run”
Oil painting

The artwork displayed is by Veterans receiving care from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC). The Lovell FHCC is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense (DoD), integrating all medical care into a fully-integrated federal health care facility with a single combined VA and Navy mission.

A combined mission of the health care center means active duty military, their family members, military retirees and veterans are all cared for at the facility. The health care center ensures that nearly 40,000 Navy recruits who transition through Naval Station Great Lakes each year are medically ready. They care for nearly 67,000 eligible military and retiree beneficiaries each year, including Veterans throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.

Many Veterans create their artwork to cope with mental health issues, such as PTSD, anxiety and stress. Other Veterans use their artwork as a form of escape and are able to get lost in the art process.




Richard Laurent: Paintings
Karcher Artspace Lofts, Karcher 405 Gallery, 405 Washington Street, Waukegan
9/19 through Veterans Day, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11AM- 8PM, FREE

"Norm" by Richard Laurent 36" x 36" Oil on canvas
“Norm” by Richard Laurent
36″ x 36″
Oil on canvas

Karcher ArtSpace Lofts will display the oil paintings of Richard Laurent, an art instructor at Columbia College Chicago who served during the Vietnam War. Laurent was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reporting to the agency chief who was credited with the discovery of Russian missiles in Cuba during the Kennedy administration. His tour of duty involved monitoring the Ho Chi Minh Trail and various missile sites around the Middle East. Prior to leaving service, Laurent was assigned to assist the curator of the Pentagon Art Collection.

His painting of “Norm” depicts Norman Jefferson who served in the Army in the Persian Gulf campaign during WWII. He was one of a select number of American soldiers chosen to guard the motorcade containing Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt en route to the Yalta Conference. As Norm told this story, Stalin’s mandate was to have the American guard stand facing away from the motorcade to make them a little less formidable. Franklin Roosevelt, in turn, asked the military for the tallest men they could provide for this duty. When Stalin saw the G.I.s lining the road to Yalta he remarked that the Americans were the biggest soldiers he had ever seen.

Norm Jefferson returned to civilian life at the end of the war and went to work as a union carpenter. One of his favorite sayings was, “Jesus was a carpenter—just like me.”

In addition to Laurent’s paintings, the Karcher 405 Gallery will also display work of resident and veteran artists representing the theme of “Through the Eyes of an Artist.” Featured artists include AB Blair, Angie Bongratz, Evan CR Ford. Evelyn Larsen-Ford, Richard Laurent, Eric Marston, Tom Pedersen, John Petersen, and Nicole Romany.


Leisa Corbett: “Honorary Man: Adventures of a Military Woman”
Dandelion Gallery, 109 S. Genesee Street, Waukegan
9/19, 9/24, and 10/17, 5PM – 9PM, FREE

"First Marriage" by Leisa S. Corbett 24" x 20" Acrylic on canvas
“First Marriage” by Leisa S. Corbett
24″ x 20″
Acrylic on canvas

Dandelion Gallery will feature the work of artist Leisa Corbett—a landscape, figurative and abstract painter with a passion for creating psychological and spiritual depth in her work.

The first time Leisa thought of herself as an honorary man was during U.S. Army basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama (at the time the home of the Women’s Army Corps). She had been running, jumping in and out of fox holes, throwing grenades, and learning to shoot the M-16 rifle. She was tanned as a farmer and felt stronger than ever in her young life. One day after returning from the firing range, she stared at her freckles, bruises, and newly hard muscles. She didn’t feel like this new body was her own. She felt like the Army was turning her into a man.

Since that day, Leisa has been wondering…apart from visible physical differences, what does it mean to be a man and what does it mean to be a woman in American culture? For years she was confused about her gender identify. The Army expected her to have the skills of a soldier, but wanted her to “look like a woman.” Did doing things like driving a jeep or interrogating a prisoner make her a man? In her personal art work, Leisa is exploring gender roles in the military and the different ways men and woman are expected to look and behave in our society.

The “Tribute to Those Who Serve, Artist Collective” includes the works of Dandelion Gallery artists Sandie Bacon, Tom Bartlett, Noreen Cashman, Leisa Corbett, Mary Neely, Bob Nonnemacher, Michelle Misenic-Patch, Peggy Raasch, Stitching Bevy, and Skip Wiese.



Through the Hands of Children: Veterans and Their Service Dogs
New Lake County Tech Hub and Business Incubator, 13 N. Genesee Street, Waukegan
9/19 – 11/11, Monday – Friday, 8AM – 5PM, FREE

Kids RankThe Greater Waukegan Development Coalition will host artwork from children of military families depicting veterans with PTSD and TBI, and their rescued service dogs. Through the hands of children, based on photographs taken of the actual veterans and their service dogs, the children’s drawings show how our beloved heroes are coping with daily life post deployment.

Kids Rank provides military children a sense of stability through interactive group learning experiences. War Dogs Making It Home is a two-year program of service dog training and ongoing group support at no cost to the veteran. By pairing veterans with rescue dogs they help train to be their service dogs, they are able to better manage the invisible and lifelong challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI).

The partnership between Kids Rank and War Dogs Making It Home will draw attention to how lives are being saved right here at home, both human and canine.