• Meet the Photographer: Elia Alamillo

    Everyone is a photographer nowadays. When it comes to those important moments, however, sometimes it’s better to hire an expert; someone with the eye and charisma to calm your testy child or capture that warm embrace without it being a selfie. If you are looking for a photographer to capture those moments than look no further than Elia Alamillo Photography. Elia is a local wedding and portrait photographer. We are lucky to see her work in person as she comes into the Frame Shop to put the finishing touches on her client’s photographs. Her attention to light and perspective draws your eye to all the right places. She puts her sitters at ease to get those true genuine smiles. We are excited to feature her on our blog this week!

    How long have you lived in Chicago?

    I am a born and raised Chicagoan from the South Side. I grew up in many different areas including Pilsen, Brighton Park, Gage Park and Midway area.

    Did you go to school for Photography?

    I started my passion for photography at a very young age. I come from a background of artists. Both my parents are painters and hobby photographers. I always had a camera on me and my mother always encouraged me to photograph my friends and family. In High School I attended Marwan a free art class program for Chicago Youth.

    I began college at Richard J. Daley starting with black and white photography then transferred into Columbia College Chicago. In 2010 I received my Bachelor in Fine Arts in Photography.

    When did you decide to become a wedding/portrait photographer?

    Portrait photography came very naturally to me. Early on when photographing Family and friends, I enjoyed documenting memories and capturing moments. My interest in wedding photography came a little later after College; I am still building up my wedding portfolio. It’s such a pleasure to document such an important day for my clients.

    What kind of camera do you use?

    I have used a wide range of cameras but really enjoy film photography and the process of developing and printing in the dark room, but it’s been a few years since I have used a film camera. Nowadays I use DSLR Cameras, a Nikon D700 & D800. The convenience of having a digital image is necessary in these fast pace social media days.

    What has been your favorite moment/job that you’ve encountered so far?

    My favorite part and most satisfying point for me in photography are delivering the final product of images to my clients. The joy and sometimes tears of clients viewing their images and prints brings me a lot of happiness because it is something they will cherish and pass on.

    If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

    I find it hard to see myself not doing photography but I would be a teacher. I love children and I think education is where it all begins.

    Where is your favorite place to photograph?

    It’s hard to pick one favorite place but I love finding hidden urban areas thru out Chicago. The skyline is a must but just walking around different neighborhoods and photographing them thru street photography is always fun.

    Who is your favorite artist/photographer?

    Bruce Davidson, Henri Cartier Bresson, Dawoud Bey, Paul D’Amato and so many more….

    What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago?

    Enjoying and exploring our city. I love my Chicago. It has so much to offer from diversity of different cultures to so much good food.

    I want to thank the frame shop for your wonderful work on framing my clients and personal image work. Colleen & Micha have been nothing but nice and very knowledgeable in assisting me in my purchases.

    See more of Elia’s work on her website:


  • Meet the Artist: Ruth Esserman

    Meet the Artist: Ruth Esserman

    In Chicago, we are lucky to be surrounded by great works of art and those who create them. One such artist is Ruth Esserman. Esserman has been working here in Chicago for decades. As an artist and educator, she has been tackling the how we interact with architecture and how buildings manipulate the flow of our own lives. Next month she is having a retrospective at the Bridgeport Art Center and we couldn’t be more excited. Not often do we get to reflect with the artist amidst their long and prolific career. Thankfully, Esserman shares her images of construction, deconstruction, and how our bodies move within it. I was lucky enough to interview Ruth Esserman as she shared insight into her work and life.

    How long have you been painting?

    Perhaps from the womb on!!

    You work in many different media- do you feel more comfortable with one media in particular or do you allow a project to dictate your tool?

    Last number of years I have mostly been working with ink drawings–some mixed media.

    How has teaching informed your practice?

    As an artist, teaching and producing art are inter-related–one informs the other.

    What are your feelings about Chicago? Have you always lived here?

    Born and bred in Chicago and/or environs. Love it, but periodically also love to leave it!

    Your work is quite detailed. Do you find the work/labor cathartic?

    Can’t imagine living without working at something I love!

    When looking at your recent work, I am reminded of Google maps street view. It is neither lifelike nor animated. What interests you in describing scenes of masses of people in this way?

    Our world is quite extended…no real borders horizontally across space, or upward into the cosmic space! The surrounding deconstructed and reconstructed environment emphasizes the constant changes and energies surrounding us.

    Your assemblage works feel mechanical. They are more than collages of joined materials but seem to move to music or method. Can you tell us more about these works?

    It is said that architecture is frozen music. My work has a large architectural component. I often use drafting implements as drawing tools. My tool of choice now is a technical drawing pen, but humanistic elements are always present. My early work was primarily figurative. Its implications are still present in my drawings.

    You have a show coming up at the Bridgeport Art Center. Did you get to pick the pieces in the show or was it curated?

    I curate my own shows.

    Among your list of many accomplishments, what job or event has had the most effect on your career?

    Working as artist in residence with Sybil Shearer and her dance company was a unique and important period to me. All my work has been a great interactive and stimulating experience for me.

    Having your show at the Bridgeport Art Center coming up, how do you feel seeing fence your older work and new works presented together?

    The Bridgeport exhibit is a good opportunity to see how my concepts have evolved and how early statements might still be visible in some of the latest work. Life, time, and work are a gestalt. Each day and piece seems different, but somehow they all connect. We’re not always aware of the interconnections until we have a chance to step away and look back…as I can do in my current show.

    For more information on her show at the Bridgeport Art Center, follow this link:


  • Meet the Artist: Paul Branton

    A visual collector, an observer, a documenter. Paul Branton is a Chicago artist who lets music and paint describe the world that surrounds us. Using bright and saturated colors, he revels to us what we should already know. He describes the faces of people we pass by each day. He observes musical trends and translates them to the canvas. This month at NYCH, you can see these documents for yourself. Branton’s first solo show at this gallery will open Friday. We were lucky enough to frame some works for this show and talk to the artist about where these observations come from.

    How long have you been a painter?

    My very first painting was at the age of 15. I am now 42.

    Do you paint from images mostly or from live models?

    Although I do paint live models often, for a lot of my art I will use my photography or close friend’s photographs as references. And when I say I use live models I literally use them as my canvas and paint onto their skin. After this, I then photograph them.

    Does the city of Chicago encroach into your paintings?

    My urban environment is a major subject matter in my paintings. I find the city to be this living, breathing organism that shapes the growth and death of many.

    Your work seems reminiscent of Basquiat and Warhol. Of the two eras in art which do you feel closer to- Pop or Outsider art?

    I am a child of sub-cultures. Although I reference and poke fun at some pop culture in my work, the visual language that I speak is that very much that of an outsider. Instead of admiring the beautiful architecture that Chicago has to offer, I was always attracted to rusted metal, dilapidated buildings and graffiti.

    Music seems to be a heavy influence on your work. Is there an artist who you reference specifically?

    Or an album you often listen to while painting?

    My love for visual art is almost matched by my love for music. Every time I pick up a brush, music accompanies me on the journey. My favorite albums to paint to are Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, and tons of Hip Hop.

    Your palette is rich with primary colors resulting in high contrast. Is there a reason you work in this way?

    There are actually 2 reasons for my color palette. When I was being traditionally trained in painting, I was not allowed to use Black or White. This practice forced me to look at colors and light in a totally different way. The other reason I painting in bright colors and high contrast is due to the somber subject matters I cover. I paint the most depressing events in vibrant happy colors.

    The paintings you brought into the shop have alternative materials on them. Why have objects been incorporated into your work?

    I have always been attracted to found objects and alternative materials in art. In this particular body of work, I was exploring the art form of Rap Music. I used broken cassette tapes to verbalize a disconnect between where that art form is now and the Golden Era of the late 1980’s / early 1990’s.

    Have you shown at NYCH Gallery before?

    My art collective 4 of a Kind has shown at NYCH before, but this is my first time at this gallery doing a solo show.

    Lyrics and their effect on your life drive the show happening at NYCH Gallery. Have you tried to write your own lyrics or songs?

    I have never officially written lyrics before, but I have written books of poetry. Hip Hop music to me is just street poetry.

    Have there been any other music genres that come close to influencing you beyond Hip Hop?

    I am a lover of Jazz and Rock. The Bee Bop era of Miles, Dizzy, and Coltrane are a big influence on my work. The improvisation and creativity of that brand of music always takes me away. The same goes for Hendrix, Clapton, and a few others that made guitars transform beyond what we thought music could sound like.

    Chicago’s Hip Hop scene is nationally recognized right now. Of the young artists out there right now, who are you most excited by? Its funny that Chance the Rapper went to school with my children. Years ago i remember listening to 10 Day and telling my daughter, this kids pretty talented. So from my city, the people I listen to the most are Lupe, Chance and Mick Jenkins. Its always substance in their lyrics.