Myrna Petlicki reports on Nina's latest show for the Sun-Times Media group.


Nina Weiss loves to travel and everywhere she and her husband go, the Highland Park artist finds scenes to photograph. When she returns home, Weiss captures those images in oil.

The walls of her bright Highland Park studio — a bicycle ride away from home for this trim, fit artist — are covered with her gorgeous landscapes. Visitors are transported to far away places like France and Ireland and as near home to the Chicago Botanic Garden and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, where Weiss is having a one-person show called “Hidden/Protected” through Dec. 23.

Weiss works with a dark palette, creating warm images that are both faithful to her settings and unique. Her love of nature is obvious in every piece. Her works also reflect what Weiss calls a major influence, the German Expressionists.

The native New Yorker, who earned a BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, first came to the Midwest to study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she earned a K-12 art education certification. “I started biking around and getting out into the Midwestern landscape,” Weiss said. “I was stunned at how vast it was.”

Her fascination with the Midwest hasn’t waned. “I spend a lot of time out in the cornfields and biking around, and do a lot of road trips,” she said.

Although her landscapes have a comfortable familiarity, each piece reflects Weiss’ unique style.

“They’re not pretty little landscapes, which I never set out to make,” Weiss said. “I can’t help the way that they come out. I paint the way I feel and what I see. Some people like them and some people actually do think they’re too dark.” These images are reflective of Weiss’ feelings about the landscapes she captures. “Nature is really powerful,” she declared. “It’s not benign and pretty.”

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