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Paul Henry's Art Gallery exhibiting faces in 'The Crowd'

"The Crowd" exhibit is on display at Paul Henry's this month.

Paul Henry's Art Gallery in downtown Hammond is exhibiting "The Crowd," a collection of portraits and caricatures by veteran commercial artists Mark Anderson and Greg Johannes.

"A commercial artist is given a problem and is asked to solve it," said Johannes, who has done commercial work for big-name clients such as Budweiser, McDonald's, Corona and Geico. "A fine artist creates his or her own problem and then goes about trying to solve it."

He and Anderson, who are artists and illustrators, are displaying their portraits of "faces you know from all walks of life including finance, politics, entertainment and sports" in the historic hardware store-turned-gallery at 416 Sibley in downtown Hammond through the month of September.

Johannes, whose influences include David Levine, Philip Burke and Mad Magazine's Mort Drucker, works with colored pencil, gouache and air-brushed acrylic inks.

"My creative process generally begins with a rough composition, always thinking about contrast in relation to shape, size and color and trying to make sure the viewer's eye does not leave the work," he said. "I try to add shadows and break borders to create as much depth as I can... After 28 years of toiling with ridiculous deadlines, and unbearable revisions I have settled into observing and commenting on the wonderful world of politics. In a theater where an endless stream of lies and vulgarity follow one after the other and each day is more unbelievable and breathtaking than the day before, I have found that my true talent, perhaps, lies in creating humorous likenesses of people I cannot stand."

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Anderson, who ran a design and advertising company in Chicago, has done commercial work on commission for The Jewish Review of Books, Triumph Books and Leo Burnett's Allstate account.

"I love designing the image with a good client. It is always how can it be displayed in the most interesting fashion? It evolves as a team. The client always owns a piece of it. Illustration is commercial art. It’s what you sign up for as an illustrator," he said. "I think it’s critical as an artist to always be learning, thus evolving. Sometimes commercial art can contradict the meaning of a true fine artist. In commercial art, you need to market your style. That’s how your assignments are commissioned. If you change it after you’ve been hired, the client will generally be unpleasantly surprised. So you will need to 'assembly-line' your style. That simple nugget closes the door on true artistic expansion."

"The Crowd" exhibit will remain on display through October with the work of more than 170 other artists.

Paul Henry's is open from 11 a.m. through 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call 219-678-5015 or visit paulhenrysartgallery.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.