Every painting Sonya Lucas creates has an allusion to her roots growing up in West Virginia, but the artist is usually very subtle - and thoughtful - about referencing her upbringing.

"The Hard Way Home"

Every painting Sonya Lucas creates has an allusion to her roots growing up in West Virginia, but the artist is usually very subtle - and thoughtful - about referencing her upbringing. It's often represented by the use of coal dust Lucas mixes in with oil paint, creating a subtext to the paintings' vivid color palette.

"Everything is always using coal dust, and the title of the exhibit does reference growing up in a certain place in Appalachia. I think it's a common thread for many people, in defining 'home' and how that defines you," said Lucas. "But you want to keep your images open enough that people can insert their own history and connect with it on their own. The power of a good painting is that hopefully someone can inject their own narrative."

While Lucas imbues some of her personal roots, "The Hard Way Home" is a varied collection of imagery, from human moments to landscapes and animal totems. Lucas also stated she was influenced by some current events - the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling - and modern relationship dynamics.

If there's a motif that is always present in Lucas' work, it's a humanity within each painting that anyone will connect with. A good example is the nude figure gazing into a phone screen with a buoyant cityscape in the background for "Modern Love." It's representative of something Lucas finds both "fascinating and terrifying."

"[The nudity] isn't so much about vulnerability. It's more about hearing friends' stories … and dating in this whole internet-Tinder-swipey-culture. I'm just fascinated by this reliance on devices to connect with people. Or even the dismissal of people, by swiping."

There's a somber vibe to "Modern Love" as well as others - including the exhibit's titular painting (pictured) - that is isolative and compelling, but there are moments of joy and vibrancy to others that show the balance and comprehension of the artist's practice.

"Chicken or Egg"

The magnificently graphic and whimsical paintings by Robert Falcone are easy to appreciate, but his annual solo show at Lindsay Gallery comes with an even more commendable aspect. Each year, Falcone's sales of new work benefits the charity Annie's Fund, which supports the local arts community. Falcone's late wife, Anne Miller, was a glass blower and longtime patron of the arts. Since 1998, Annie's Fund has raised over $75,000 to service arts institutions and individual artists.

"Andrew Lidgus: Duality"

Chicago-based artist (and concert pianist) Andrew Lidgus unveiled a new series of mixed media pieces focusing on the duality of nature in mid-July at the Sherrie Gallery, but the collection is well worth visiting during the Hop. The artist uses paint, paper and found objects to create intricate and abstract pieces, buoyed by a wonderful physical relief and depth.