One of a Kind Show


Pop Culture Aficionados

03 . 14 . 2024

All things pop culture inspire these four one-of-a Kind makers whose playful, nostalgic work tell stories of past and current societal influences.

Mortgage banker by day, artist by night, Jason Accola largely draws from his childhood psyche, which was heavily influenced by pop culture, history, cinema, music, comedy and especially MTV.

Tell us about your work.

Jason: I love finding connections in my images that others may not see. It's like a puzzle I'm trying to figure out, but with pieces that you may not think would fit together. Today, we have a revised historical view of notable figures, which I like to explore and present as a new and unique interpretation. For example, I’ve used Marilyn Monroe at the White House with the Kennedys’ juxtaposed with the explosion of the Hindenburg. Call it a clash of historical pop artifacts if you will.

What led you to become an artist?

Jason: As a child, I believed I would become an artist, and in college even considered a career as an art historian, but somehow I landed in the residential mortgage industry. However, with interest rates rising over the past two years due to inflation, I found enjoyment by creating again. It is quite liberating to work both in one of the most highly regulated industries in the country and one that has no boundaries.

Can you cite an instance from your life that has served as inspiration?

Jason: About five years ago I started playing the guitar and I found while playing and singing the lyrics, it brought an entirely new meaning to the song. Now, I'll often hear or read a lyric and it sparks an idea that I would like to implement.

Tracy Vu and a few of her friends joined forces to pour their passion, love and attention into every stitch of their charming and unique handcrafted crochet amigurumi gifts.

Tell us about your creative process.

Tracy: The creative process is at the heart of everything we do. It all begins with inspiration, which comes from (mainly) pop culture. We then take that inspiration and translate it into unique and innovative designs. We experiment with different techniques and colors, continuously pushing the boundaries of traditional crochet. We use the best quality yarns and materials and meticulously hand-craft each piece, paying attention to intricate stitches and patterns.

What does your artwork represent?

Tracy: With the unlimited power of (just) a hook and some yarn, with some skill, a whole world can be "made". We experiment with different techniques and colors, continuously pushing the boundaries of traditional crochet. We strive to create pieces that are both stylish and functional, allowing our finished products to last a lifetime.

What is the inspiration behind your business name?

Tracy: The name was chosen by one of my team members, Phoebe. It means we are chic women and we can crochet, simple!

For over 30 years, mixed-media artist Mark Gleberzon has been working in painting, photography and collage-assemblage. He is unwilling to limit himself to one identifiable style and will jump from one series of works to another, only later noticing their commonalities.

Tell us about your work.

Mark: I have an ever ongoing series of paintings including my "Chairs" and "Guardians" but my photographic portraits of Barbies have been most popular since 2015. The Barbies came about simply because I am a culture enthusiast, enjoying pop culture and pop art.

Why Barbies?

Mark: The Barbies came about after I accidentally attended a Barbie Collectors convention. I came to admire both the dolls themselves as well as the rather colorful history of their creator, Ruth Handler. A fascinating woman! To me, Barbies simply seem to capture a fun departure from real life.

Why did you become an artist?

Mark: Once I graduated from University and began working in my career-path of Graphic Design, I became increasingly less thrilled of the dependence on computers being the primary tool for creativity. After a few years, I stopped doing that line of work and migrated towards murals, illustration, then my fine art paintings and later photography.

Lara Venema is a mixed-media artist that uses her work to reflect her personal history and explore themes of fashion, society, and female empowerment. Lara invites viewers into a celebration of pop culture and life with her multidimensional creations.

What is your creative process?

Lara: My creative process is a harmonious blend of acrylic painting, collaging, and epoxy pours. I begin by painting with acrylics, then fusing the paintings with unconventional materials such as money, cans, Swarovski crystals, disco balls, real butterflies, and more to create vibrant narratives.

What inspired you to pursue a career in art?

Lara: I come from an artistic family - my aunt, mother and grandmother were artists. My mother was an interior designer that always encouraged me to be artistic and used to give me different material samples from her interior design business to experiment with materials. So, I decided to go to Columbia college in Chicago and over time started experimenting with epoxy and developed my own personal style.

What nostalgic elements do you integrate into your work?

Lara: I incorporate recycled items into my pieces that were around during my upbringing such as cassette tapes, CD's, VHS tapes, and more. I like to repurpose and make art out of items that seem to have disappeared from modern day society.

Visit these unique makers and many more at the Spring Show, April 26-28!