Art Bar Exhibition: Happy Accidents

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

– Scott Adams


Friday, July 15 | 5:30 PM
Comments and awards | 8:30 PM


Thursday, September 1st, through Sunday, September 6th
Thursday & Friday from 3P to 5P
Saturday & Sunday from 12P to 5P

*If you can not retrieve your work at this time please make arrangements to have your work picked up by someone else. Any unclaimed artwork will be collected by Erin and incur a storage fee.

Sometimes art is messy, chaotic and unpredictable. In these instances art can often end up happening to you more than you happen to it.

We visualize, we compose, we execute our technique and when we get to the post portion of our process we are often surprised. The image we thought would be the one can often disappoint; while a test shot or a mistake electrifies.

We want to see that great shot…that didn’t go according to plan. The Happy Accident.

Wendy Andrews

I had finally met Kona, my son’s puppy.
“I can sit & put him in my lap”…
Kona had other thoughts than sitting for a portrait.

This mom had the weight of the world on her shoulders, and her 2 year old son by the hand.
She was so attentive to his apple picking and saw his gaze at the red apples high up in the tree.
She lifted him to better his reach. I was hoping to photograph the moment where he touched the apple.
Only when the image was on my computer screen, I realized she lifted her kid, over her head, with ONE hand.
Clearly, SUPER MOM.

Brendan Quirk

While on a walk at Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky, I was having troubles with the lens fogging up from the humidity. As I passed from hill top to river valley, in and out of the forest, mist kept forming on the lens and viewfinder. No amount of cleaning would prevail. Not wishing to quit so easily, I pressed on. I would make something of this! The result is a wonderful series of prints that appear to be viewed through a fantastical haze. I don’t know if I could recreate this if I tried. Surely a Happy Accident!

Michael Havice

A Halloween themed photo shoot by west shoreline of Lake Michigan. The windswept masquerade adds to the haunted scene. Model & MUA/HAIR: Christina DeGroot.

Jack Kleinman

Came across this peculiar installation at Schlitz Audubon Center, whose purpose is obscure. Only when looking at image on computer, I thought of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, where children enter a magic wardrobe and emerge into a magical land. This “Happy Accident” is a riff on that idea, achieved in post-processing, by darkening foreground & lightening background. We’re walking in the darkness, we see a magic portal, on the other side of this is a bright land.

Took this picture when walking to a street photography workshop in Chicago. Being a little early in the season for outdoor dining, the area was protected by plastic sheeting. Only when getting feedback at the workshop and looking at the image on the computer did the image of me taking the picture of the server become evident; post-processing helped to emphasize this “Happy Accident.”

Took this picture at Weston Beach in California prior to a printing workshop I attended. It was meant to be an homage to the photographer Edward Weston. Only when getting feedback at the workshop did the “Happy Accident” of a baby bird in its shell become evident to me by flipping the image vertically. Post-processing combines image as originally shot with its flipped version.

We get this newspaper delivered daily. It’s always wrapped in plastic when thrown onto our threshold. On this day the wrapper looked like an image of the Virgin Mary as depicted in Renaissance art. So, before even opening the outer door I grabbed my camera to record this “Happy Accident.”

Julie Norman

To me, the expressions captured in this image are the happy accident. I detect resolve, concentration, calm, contempt, wariness, and concern across these beautiful faces. Some are looking to their right, while others are focused on something to their left, something that triggered a negative reaction…I wonder what that was…

Al’s is a little diner in Minneapolis, and it’s my favorite breakfast joint. They only have counter service, and there’s always a wait for a spot. While trying to capture that backlit sliver of space between those eating and those waiting, I also caught someone’s Birkentock-ed foot in the sunlight. That outstretched foot was a happy accident. What’s the longest I ever waited for breakfast at Al’s? One hour in the blazing sun (the line went out the door and down the block). Was it worth the wait? You bet.

Phyllis Deicher-Ladwig

We just checked into the Sofitel Hotel in Chicago and were sitting outside waiting for lunch. It was an unusually beautiful day and I took my camera out and pointed it straight up meaning to get the sky and clouds above but instead, I captured the reflection of nearby buildings, blue sky, and clouds that appeared to be fragmented by the curved glass of the hotel.

I always enjoy watching street performers when I travel. We were in Quebec City, BC and this performer drew a large crowd. He was quite entertaining with jokes and was recruiting volunteers from the audience to lay down and trust him. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, however, in a fast leap he was flying over the volunteers laying on the ground. Before that, I happened to move from where I was standing to another spot to see him better. I held up my camera at the right moment when he jumped over the volunteers. I was able to capture that leap and the faces of his volunteers.

 Leroy Skalstad  

I was shooting a church calendar that involved portraiture at St Ben’s community meal in Milwaukee. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing but probably chimping when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a young person making himself comfortable on my posing stool and seemingly challenging me with a gaze. I broke my rule of always making contact with the parents first and just shot on instinct. I later made a print for the subjects Mom and Dad. What makes this a happy accident? I am a slow shooter and have always thought out the elements that are presented in my viewfinder before releasing the shutter. I think that I still hear my first mentors voice, my Mom, telling me not to waste film in the back of my head after all these years. Because this shot is so contrary to my shooting style and yet presents, I believe, Good elements, makes this a happy accident.

Marcella Jones

A true “Happy Accident” in the shooting. Hiking past a series of kivas in Mesa Verde National Park, spied my shadow at the bottom of one as I passed. Stopped, took one quick shot, turned and continued onward.

Kristine Hinrichs

I was shooting bus trails in a mode where (after the initial frame) the camera only picks up changes in light. Then a guy dressed in dark clothing, but with white shoes, crossed the street and the camera picked up the shoes, but not the rest of him.

I was in the middle of a long exposure at sunrise at Big Bay Park when this woman appeared and walked to the end of the jetty for her morning yoga.

This is the stairway at the Bradley Symphony Center. It is a very tight space, difficult to shoot even with a super wide lens. I took two shots, intending to merge them as a panorama. When I loaded the files to merge, this is what the software gave me.

I was shooting The Hop trying to capture the motion of its stop – in a mode where (after the initial frame) the camera only picks up changes in light. Someone wearing white shoes rushed to get on the car and the camera picked up only the shoes.

At the Milwaukee lakefront photographing the sunrise, suddenly this wave crashed in the middle of my shot.

Marcia Staum

How Happy Accident: This shot was taken spur of the moment. The composite of reflected tree branches and salted asphalt meld into an image of winter’s end.

The photo was taken as a part of a series of family pics at Millennium Park in Chicago. Upon opening the image, a face of a tiger or cat is discernible in the reflected chaos of the sculpture.

Kevin Hansen

I ended up cropping out the intended subject to make a stronger image. Plus, I never even noticed the background when I shot it!

Kris Gould

My photography is almost always done outside. I like to capture landscapes and flowers in their native setting. But a combination of boredom and bad weather caused me to try something different. My ad hoc ‘studio’ setup for this photo consisted of black poster board for the background and two desk lamps for lighting. I’m very happy with the results and it was definitely an accident that the photo turned out so well.

Erin Maddox

Coming out of lock-down it had been a while since I’d needed to fill up. Never noticed the cone or the spill until I was standing in it – car was 1/2 full by then.

My nieces received this “cute clown” chia pet. I didn’t realize that was going to be an afternoon activity until I dropped the scoop in the sink. Imagine my surprise.

Carl Hartt

“Fortitude” was made using a 110-year-old 8×10 large-format camera. I used film that had expired over 30 years ago and was speckled with mold and the edges were water stained. I was curious if or what this film would render. I further experimented by using a homemade film developer of Tylenol and drain cleaner. One might say, to help purge a little of the film’s distress, yet still allowing the fortitude remaining within the film itself, to show through. Needless to say, I was very impressed with the final image.

“Garden Chair” was made using an 80-year-old folding Zeiss roll film camera. The film back leaks light, and the lens is rather soft and out of alignment, thus the images it creates are a bit wonky. But, I think the camera’s defects works well with this found lounge chair in a garden.

Guntis Lauzums

New York City Living Room

The Handoff


The Shoe

Roy Schmidt

In a darker room I took photograph of rose – on closer inspection was strange image of a clown behind the rose – the image of rose also has some interesting facial qualities

Photograph of boy during Dia de Los Muertos parade – only thing in photograph in focus was the chips – I liked composition

Original photograph was a bottle upon cropping – in the cropped portion , I saw this interesting image