top of page

November/December 2019 JMG

EHCO: Featuring the work by: Maureen Fritchen, Julie Vondervellen, and Reni Gower

Opening Reception: Nov 1st 5:30-8

Exhibition runs 10.31.2019- 12.30. 2019

ALOGOMA, WI – James May Gallery presents, ECHO- a three-person exhibition featuring Reni Gower, Maureen Fritchen, and Julie VonDerVellen. The exhibition focuses quiet, monochromatic works created using paper- paper cutting, weaving, collage and pulp painting techniques explore ideas of memory, repetition, and sacred geometry.


Join the artists for the opening reception November 1st from 5:30-8:00 with a brief informal artist talk at 6:00. 


The exhibition runs Oct 31- Dec 30 2019.


Free and open to the public.

Reni Gower:



In 2017,Reni Gowerreceived SECAC’s Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. In 2014, she received the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teacher of Art Award, as well as distinguished teaching awards from Virginia Commonwealth University and VCUarts.  Her art work is represented in many prestigious collections and has been exhibited at international and national venues for over 40 years.  In addition to her painting practice, she curates award winning traveling exhibitions that include FLASHPOINTS: Material/Intent/Fused, Geometric Aljamía: a Cultural Transliteration, andPulped Under Pressure: The Art of Handmade Paper.After 37 years, Professor Emerita Gower retired from Virginia Commonwealth University in December 2018.She holds a MFA from Syracuse University, a MA from University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a BS with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



My artwork recognizes geometric perfection as the matrix of humanity. Since ancient times, perfect forms (circle, square, and triangle) have been thought to convey sacred and universal truths by reflecting the fractal interconnections of the natural world. One finds these similarities embedded in decorative patterns around the globe.  Incorporating these designs into contemporary artwork promotes understanding through a shared perspective that can reinforce cross-cultural bonds.

Historically, Islamic artists appropriated key elements from the classical traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia to create a new decorative style based upon geometry.  Through ongoing migrations, comparable interlaced motifs and meanings are also found in Celtic designs.   Likewise, I produce new geometric iterations based upon the traditional patterns embedded in Islamic tile work and woven Celtic knots.  Cut by hand, some imperfection does occur in my artwork.  Despite this discrete difference, a sense of unity prevails.   Tied to the belief humankind cannot achieve godlike perfection, my meticulous process is meditative and prayer-like for both the maker and the viewer.


For the papercuts, stencils are traced and hand cut into large single sheets of painted paper.   To produce the pulp paintings, stencils tiled into a nine-square grid and cut out of Mylar are used to mask the complex patterns onto handmade paper with pulp painting techniques. The pulp paintings may be installed singly or 4” apart in variable grid combinations.  The vinyl window installations are produced using vector files derived from the same patterns.  

Given our troubled times, my art speaks to a shared artistic legacy between the West and the Middle East with hope and optimism. Viewer response worldwide has confirmed the prevalent yet profound spiritual and emotional qualities of color, light, and pattern central to my art. Through the universal language of sacred geometry, my art celebrates slow work made by hand, while it counters visual skimming and encourages quiet reflection.  As such, it is a perfect conduit for conversations that embrace cultural awareness through mindfulness and mutual respect.



Maureen Fritchen



Born in Chicago, I currently live and work in Racine, Wisconsin, where I have a studio at the 16th Street Studios. My work concerns itself with how found materials can aid in forming a connection to place, and in turn, a connection to people.

​Racine is a town that produces a lot of manufacturing waste. This found material is the bases of my current work and dictates form and defines place. Reusing material to make art without further use of resources appeals to me. Whether using corrugated board, drywall tape, rubber, asphalt or other abundant and free material, I most welcome how the material forces me to form new ideas and concepts.

Play is vital to my process. I work intuitively as I arrange seemingly divergent components to form a harmonious whole. My work continues to become more minimalist and repetitive, seeking to create stillness hard to find in the urban, human-influenced world.



I live in an urban, Midwestern city that produces a lot of manufacturing waste. Lately, corrugated cardboard, drywall tape and National Geographic magazines holds my aesthetic interest.I welcome how diverse materials forces me to form new ideas and concepts and often dictates form. I am drawn to how waste materials can aid in forming a connection to place, and in turn, a connection to people. 

Play is vital to my process. I work intuitively during the exploratory phaseas I arrange seemingly divergent componentsinto a tactile, harmonious whole. My work continues to become more minimalist and repetitive, seeking to create stillness hard to find outside the studio.



Julie VonDerVellen:



Julie VonDerVellen is an artist, graphic designer, and instructor. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design at Edgewood College and her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an Assistant Professor at Carroll University in the Graphic Communication Department and has taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Design at the Hubei University of Technology in Wuhan, China. 


Julie has held solo exhibitions at the Cameron Art Museum, Clarke University, Carroll University, and the Foundry Art Centre. She has participated extensively within group exhibitions held at the Racine Art Museum, Dishman Art Museum, Indiana University, High Point University, South Dakota University, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Her work has been acquired by the special collections libraries at the Kohler Art Library in Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of North Texas Library. 





“Memory is the most elemental thread of which the tapestry of experience we call reality is woven.”

— Maria Popova


Human emotions play a role in how the brain captures a memory. Not only do our feelings help encode the moment, but they are believed to aid in the recollection of the experience. Memory allows us to travel from clips of our past, observe the present, and envision the future. Elusive, ephemeral moments are captured through the influence and intensity of our emotional states.


My work narrates the fusion between emotion and memorization. The intangible marriage of experience and response is conveyed through textile-inspired surfaces. Sculptures, collages, and paintings document the influential landscapes, individuals, and events of my personal journey. Overlapping columns and rows parallel the psychological dissection of experiences and correlating human emotions. 


Piece-by-piece, the paper unravels into remnants. It transitions from sheet, to strip, and back to formal shape. As the paper fibers warp and weft into spatial and temporal narratives, the resulting patterns challenge the linear, left to right, top to bottom physical act of reading. Instead, a pixel-like network binds fragments of thought and are then viewed as a unified page. External influences weave over, under, and through my internal sentiments while 
abstract marks capture the essence of the environment.

bottom of page