How a hush-hush event is blurring the line between fine art and wide-format printing.
By Joe Holt
It’s Bartolotta’s search for beauty that’s inspired two decades of intricate event themes. This year, it was about “the beauty of being apart from, yet being a part of.”
Working closely with ER2 Image Group, a full-service large-format printing company in Bloomingdale, Illinois, Bartolotta begins the process early. “Installation alone for these events takes just over a month,” adds Gary Schellerer Jr., ER2’s COO and VP of operations. “This is our second time producing materials and collateral for Bill. On both occasions, a few months prior, we attend a production meeting with all of the people involved and go through concepts as a group.”
This pre-event collaboration is crucial, Schellerer explains, because his team is able to give some upfront recommendations on ER2’s capabilities and ensure his shop is able to deliver the right product and materials. “They’re one of the easiest groups to work with,” says Schellerer, “and giving them suggestions is something that they’re always open to.”
The Theme Is the Thing
To accompany this year’s theme, Bartolotta lays out his vision for the gathered ensemble, which includes a trio of local artists. “‘Sing, Sing, Sing.’ Have you heard it?” he asks. “It’s this big band song from the ’30s. I’m sure you’d recognize it if you heard it.”
Using this song as their muse, as well as the 1934 black-and-white film “The Thin Man” for inspiration, Bartolotta’s group is invited to explore the art deco motifs of the ’30s and ’40s in what he calls a “creative sandbox.” It’s here, he tells them, that they can use the “apart from/a part of” theme to tell a story by finding a fascinating part of themselves and sharing it with the world “without fear and without expectation, forsaking ego.”
One of the artists, Barbara Morley, a fine art photographer from Lake Bluff, has been working on these events almost as long as Bartolotta. It’s her striking photographs, featuring a mix of male and female models rendered in gorgeous sepia tones amidst beautiful surroundings and luxurious estates, which adorn the walls of the event space from floor to ceiling.
Barbara Morley’s photography came to life with standoff installations reaching 8 x 10 feet in size. Photo courtesy of Warren Brown.