Thursday, September 12, 2019

" I have a lot of things to say and a lot of ways to express them!"

This was Onli's positive and bold response when asked why he doesn't do one type of art. One style. In a single category so folks would understand exactly what he was doing.  Onli is highly appreciative of all of the people who visited his exhibitions, hired him along the way, contributed to his education and were willing to take classes he taught..  He call it the real stuff of life. Sometimes there just ain't no cure for who we are.




However so much in the upper levels of the international Art World is conducted through the lens of power, politics and trends.  But in the United States of America one can throw down by pulling one's self up by one's boot straps.  This applies to a life as an artist too.

Onli likes to think his is an example of living the American dream. Or as Sly Stone once sang: "You can make it if you try!"

This is a picture of Onli from 2004. Over his long and varied career he has known the challenges of being censored, blackballed and often erased for his practice that was independent, diverse, multi cultural, open, heterosexual, Black Male, yet comfortable with non-Blacks, talented, creative, skilled, commercial, esoteric and all the other things that seemed to naturally flow from and through his natural practices.

 Now as he approaches 70 years of age...comes ageism.

Yet Onli is still working to secure positive gallery representation, museum acquisitions, and full professorships along with major commissions from those who see his flow as the positive powerful promising innovative timeless practice it tends to be. 




Along the way Onli has had incredible moments.  Like earning two degrees from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago while freelancing for the likes of WGN and Playboy Magazine, being covered by the New York Times for being a part of the Cool Globes traveling exhibition.  A bench in the Chicago Children's Museum. Winning a drawing contest in Paris. Exhibitions in a host of not for profit non-commercial independent galleries. Positive reviews.



While actually teaching at the public school and college levels.  These moments have always shown Onli was ideal for bigger more lucrative opportunities.  But then comes to politics of selection. The process where king & queen makers seek out those to elevate and control over those who innovate and toil.



As the upbeat Onli had put on his answering machine in the late 1970s and on his  smartphone today...

 "If you are looking for creativity, you have come to the right place."


In the definitive book that serves as a guide for institutions and serious collectors of fine art, "African Art: The Diaspora and Beyond", authored by the dedicated collector of Black & African art Daniel Texidor Parker, in its Chapter III Masters of the Diaspora there is a vital section:" Black Esthetics."

 This was book published in 2004. 

On page 63 it reads:

"The discussion of Black Aesthetics is ongoing. It ranges from the development of new technology to arts profound effect upon the viewer.  We hear the voice of Chicago artist Turtel Onli, who focuses on elements of rhythm and flow in art. The term he uses to  express this concept is rhythmism,  

Onli says, "This a futuristic approach to visual Africanism that distinguishes  the work of many contemporary artists."

Saturday, August 17, 2019

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Friday, August 9, 2019

 During this talk Onli went over core aspects of his life long artistic practice and how it stems from the hard wired impulse of humans to exaggerate when creating images of humanity.

He reviewed how he discovered this trait about himself in elementary school and nurtured it over his 50 plus years of being a professional/career artist.

His term "Rhythmism" addresses how the past.present/& future are always about and within the intuitive and imaginative flow of most artistic practices.  More than a style.....it is the root of his practice.

 The Box Factory For the Arts knows how to promote the Arts as a vital part of community life.
 Onli showing the Rhythmistic treatments he and quilter Patrick Whalen gave this traditional Teke masque icon.
 During his presentation Onli went into his professor model and opened with the BBC DVD insightful feature "More Human Than Human".
 Onli's fine art works tend to be produced on themes. Collections such as the Watermelon or No Evils typify this practice.
 From personal books to major Rhythmistic fine art....a life long practice yields a great deal to appreciate.
 The press is often open to Onli's works. The greater challenge is having his works included in museum collections, corporate collections and collections of serious fine art collectors. The trends and times are catching up to Onlis decades long practice as curators and art directors are becoming more accepting of his future-primitif distinctions.
A major female art collector on a studios visit questioned how Onli could depict women as natural positive powerful goddesses, not simple sex objects,..... though he is a practicing, openly heterosexual male.  She went onto say that had he been a woman of even Gay she would have purchased his artwork.  

Onli thanked her for her candor and felt she spoke the logic that so many others operate with when they have such a dysfunctional response to him as the artist behind these impressive art works.  She also added that she was impressed at how his art was legit, skilled, expressive with substance not fluff, and real.  But she still was not willing to buy from him.  

Hmmmm! Her lost.  More enlightened collectors, curators and dealers are out there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Prof. Onli  is currently preparing selected Rhythmistic Visual Fine Art for a major exhibition Summer of 2019 at the Box Factory For the Arts in upscale St. Joseph, Michigan-USA.

Series 5 Art Exhibition Opening ReceptionFeaturing the artwork of Susan Teague, Erica Roberts, Turtel Onli, Marcy Mitchell and Jennifer Zona
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
 The Box Factory for the Arts1101 Broad Street, Saint Joseph, MI 49085
The Rhythmistic Smorgasbord":

This showcase will give intelligent curators and collectors the unique opportunity to experience varies pathways in Onli's decades long dynamic Rhythmistic practice as he is now on the threshold of his Vintage Phase.  Onli grew up during the last era of Great American Illustrators. 

 He wanted to be one and during his early 20s he illustrated for the likes of Playboy,  WGN, Delmark Record"s, National PTA Magazine, The Singer Society For Visual Education and other clients. 

Working from the outside in!

 He was shocked when he finally was accepted to the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago to discover their entire studio curriculum was absolutely into "Conceptual Art" and devalued the robust American legacy of figurative painting along with its lavish commercial illustration  applications.  However he remained true to his ambitions to express himself using the narrative aspects based on the human face or body with his future-primitive flavor. 

He may use photographs or live models as references but tends to modify them away from their original state to arrive at a more distinct, less sterile impact, not limited by simply copying  the references to a common or boringly flat "Paint-By-Numbers" result or marred by the dedicated  use of opaque projectors. 

The Oustider looking In!

 Onli did go on to earn a BFA in Art Education and a M.A.A.T. in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Both practices and degrees lead to a long career as an Arts Educator and clinical-community based Art Therapist.  Except for a few years in the 1980s, when Onli was with the Younger Gallery in Chicago, and in 2001 with the Divine Gallery in Saugatuck,  he has not been represented by galleries, curators or art representatives. This created a sort of outside the mainstream presence in Onli's practice. This on balance with his works being presented in alternative spaces, not for profit galleries and museums,


 Onli has maintained a nexus of fine-art esthetics and commercial applications fueled by his experimental undercurrent of narrative future-primitive stylizations that he long ago referred to as "Rhythismtic" which is expressed in bodies or collections of work centered around a unifying theme. Concepts such as the metaphysical, the health giving watermelon, the morality of the "No Evils" proverb are a few.

Theme 1: “Outsider In”
“All hail the outspoken, the outrĂ© and the odd,” the report declares, somewhat breathlessly. “As we become ever more inundated with mass-replicated imagery and aggregated articles, our appetite for unique messengers and standout visuals increases with each and every share… consumers are rejecting anything that has even the slightest whiff of Goliath… We’ve entered a new Age of the Strange.”


Current world events are causing hesitation in spending–buying patterns show some caution, but not when it comes to the arts.


Most art market report and agree that current uncertainty in politics and economics is affecting high-end spending. People are turning to experts and data to guide their decisions, and statistics show a shift from buying art from auctions to art dealers.


Recently art dealers are closing 63% of art sales, while auction houses experienced a 19% decline in sales in 2017. Trust, transparency, and discretion are key factors that collectors seek in a dealer’s reputation.

Overall, the outlook for the global art market is increasingly positive with an 18% increase in a positive outlook combined with an 8% decrease in negative opinions.

Mid-market prices between $10,000 and $50,000 see an uptick, while artworks over $1 million see a pullback.


Meanwhile, because of changing spending patterns, galleries are reserving high-dollar art pieces in their stock to avoid flooding the market and driving prices down. Buyers are feeling more confident with mid-market prices, and with this rise in optimism, collectors are purchasing more emerging, though riskier, artists.



Monday, May 6, 2019

CHICAGO- Rhythmistic visual artist, Turtel Onli, is preparing selected art from his various collections to be in his coming retrospective-type exhibition this Summer in the Series Five Exhibition Program of the Box Factory For the Arts in St. Joseph Michigan.  Onli is known for his Rhythmistic narrative paintings and drawings that he produces around a unifying theme resulting in a compelling body of work.  With the Series Five program he is expected to present for curators, smart collectors and art lovers samples from several of these collections.  Onli coined the term Rhythmism in the early 1970s to explain his future-primitive practice.  Series Five, including artists Susan Teague, Erica Roberts, Lauren Stienhofer & Jennifer Zona, will showcase their art throughout the Box Factory For The Arts.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

EXHIBITION NOTICE: Summer 2019
Box Factory For the Arts 
in St. Joeseph Michigan, USA

Rhythmistic visual fine art by Prof. Turtel Onli will be featured in the annual  prestigious Series Five artists' exhibition at the Box Factory For the Arts in St. Joseph Michigan July 19th until Aug. 24th, 2019. Onli will be presenting a rare insightful sampling of important  Rhythmistic works created since 1999. Including watercolors, textiles, oils , acrylics and selected drawings.



Curators, collectors, and educators will especially appreciate experiencing Onli's varied Rhythmistic treatments of media,  concepts and humanity in a future-primitive narrative context.

Exhibition Link