Park Avenue Beach by Nelson Armour

Surface Tension: Nelson Armour and Ted Glasoe

Surface Tension: Beauty and Fragility in Lake Michigan

Two person exhibition: by Nelson Armour and Ted Glasoe

OPENING: MAY 19, 7-10 pm

It’s a beautiful summer day in Chicago. The sun beats down on the azure waters of Lake Michigan, the fifth-largest lake in the world. Gentle waves lap the sands of a beach. Puffy clouds drift across the sky. But no one is in the water. The lifeguards stand watch over an empty beach.

Why? Because raw sewage has fouled the water. It was released into the lake after a torrential rain overwhelmed the municipal storm sewers. This scene has become all too common along the shores of Lake Michigan and in much of the world’s water supply.

BP Oil Spill by Nelson Armour
BP Oil Spill by Nelson Armour

But untreated municipal sewage overflows are only one of the threats to the health of our water. For example, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes (, other major areas of concern for Lake Michigan are nutrient runoff/algae growth, plastic and plastic microbeads, pollution from petroleum refineries and other industries, pharmaceutical pollution, and invasive species.

So we are faced with two uncomfortable realities: Lake Michigan is a beautiful, vast, life-sustaining natural wonder and, at the same time, a valuable resource under silent siege from pollution and other perils.

In Surface Tension, we explore these opposing realities. Ted Glasoe’s photographs of Lake Michigan invite us to contemplate and appreciate the lake’s power and its ever-changing moods, textures and colors. Each of these is juxtaposed with a Nelson Armour photograph of the lake altered to unsettle the viewer. These multilayered images reveal the unseen forces and traumas that threaten the lake.

Surface Tension challenges viewers to reconcile the outward beauty of Lake Michigan with the dangers that lie beneath the surface. It also asks that we all consider how our water is being polluted and what we can do to protect our water supply.

Inbound to O'hare by Ted Glasoe
Inbound to O’hare by Ted Glasoe

Artists’ Biographies

Nelson Armour

Nelson Armour is a Chicago-area artist whose work focuses on rural and urban landscapes, environmental portraiture and photojournalism projects. Raised with a love of the outdoors, he began photographing nature as a teenager. He is a member of Jane Fulton Alt’s photography critique group and Sarah Krepp’s Dialogue Chicago.

Armour has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally and has been published in exhibition catalogs. Armour had a solo show as part of Eight Photographers, Eight Solo Shows, in Eight Chicago Neighborhoods, sponsored by the Filter Photo Festival 2012.

The work for Surface Tension arose from images taken at Park Avenue Beach, Highland Park, IL. His passion for the world’s water supply underlines this work.

Ted Glasoe

Ted Glasoe is a Chicago-area artist whose photographic work explores natural and urban environments, particularly Lake Michigan and Chicago’s landscape. The Minnesota native moved to Chicago in mid-1980. He was immediately taken with the city’s architectural and natural beauty with its proximity to Lake Michigan. This appreciation sparked an interest in exploring the relationship between the two through an artistic lens.

Glasoe’s work has appeared in Chicago-area galleries and photography shows and has been exhibited internationally. He has been recognized with various awards.

A 20-year resident of Evanston, Glasoe maintains a close connection to his community. He actively supports the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Freshwater Future and community organizations.Park Avernue Beach

The images in this exhibit are presented in pairs consisting of one image from each artist. They are intended to be considered together as both complementing and contrasting each other on different levels.

Prints suitable for framing are available from the artists. Please contact them directly via the exhibit website: