Renee McGinnis's 'Tales From the Biosphere' on display in Munster

Renee McGinnis's "Gary, Indiana" painting is on display at the The Center for Visual & Performing Arts in Munster.

Rusting blast furnaces, billowing clouds and eerie abandoned ships have taken over one of the biggest and best-known art galleries in Northwest Indiana

Renee McGinnis's "Tales From the Biosphere" presents a unique vision of heavy industry, encroachments on the natural world and otherworldly maritime vistas. The dream-like and off-kilter exhibit is now on display at The Center for Visual & Performing Arts at 1040 Ridge Road.

"McGinnis’ works are painstakingly painted to perfection in her romantic but melancholy style, in which decaying structures of abandoned ships and eerie industrial factories are contrasted against vibrant flowers, enchanting clouds and shimmering emeralds," South Shore Arts said in a press release.

It's the Munster-based group's seventh installment in its Outstanding Midwest Artist Series.

Bridget Covert curated the exhibit, which features McGinnis's oil paintings. The Chicago-based artist, who's represented by the Zg Gallery in Chicago, has widely exhibited her work in Chicago, as well as across the world. The Illinois native, a descendant of yacht builders, often paints "rusting megastructures" like steel mills, power stations and ocean liners.

“The structures that I paint are surrounded by the gardens of a misdirected beauty, suggesting man’s infallible desire to control nature," she said. "The once luxurious ocean liners, the highly sexualized iron ore uploaders and Battersea-type power stations are staged in deceptively beautiful landscapes or stricken on violent seas. The purity of the clouds and botanicals juxtaposed with the lonely decay of the steel structures create a potent marriage of emotion in the viewer. One has to make the decision whether to attend to the monument of human labor or the serene beauty enveloping it, just as we all must choose between material consumption and the conversation of the natural system that sustains us all.”

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The post-modern painter has exhibited with the legendary Chicago artist Ed Paschke.

Some of her canvases are circular and meant to “recall porcelain collector plates, the kind issued when the great ocean liners were the benchmark of technology, human arrogance and aesthetic attention."

"Once filled with every luxury, yet finite in resources, these ships become a tender metaphor for the earth and her fragility,” she said.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, runs through August 26.

For more information, call (219) 836-1839 or visit southshoreartsonline.org.


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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.