Chicago Art Review


David Horvitz @ Believe Inn, and a Brief Word on Fried Okra by Steve Ruiz
June 30, 2009, 1:39 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

I spent Saturday afternoon back at the Hyde Park Art Center for their Fryvalry event, hosted by third annual fry daddies Philip von Zweck (local mover and shaker whose curated show at Western Exhibitions runs through to August 1st, 2009) and Kevin Jennings (local white, working class, straight male without a website). I came there late with bananas to fry, which was a lot like being the last person on a karaoke list wanting to sing Thriller. While I missed out on most dishes fried, highlights on the vegetarian side were fried green beans and okra, and on the meatatarian side the fried catfish was a clear standout. Also, someone double fried a quarter-pounder.

Philip Von Zweck at last year's Fryvalry

Philip Von Zweck at last year's Fryvalry

Leaving Hyde Park, the next stop on the art tour was all the way up in Bucktown where H. Mathis‘ goddamned beautiful Believe Inn space was hosting David Horviz‘s Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time. As the space is the front third of Sighn‘ studio (the middle third being a social space with curios packed with art and Golden Age literature for sale) there wasn’t a great deal of room to work with, but the perfectly clever stark painted-floor white-cube effect marked each zone for what it was and allowed the gallery space to function as more than spillover.

David Horvitz at Believe Inn

Worlds Collide: Marco from Golden Age at David Horvitz at Believe Inn

The show consisted of photo projects by Horvitz, many of which were distributed digitally along with instructions for recreation, which is itself an interesting reboot of an old conceptual hit and caused me to google Yoko Ono for the first time in years. The photographs themselves were deceptively clever, coming off at first as quick conceptual jokes but resonating like haiku. In How To Exit a Photograph, we see three images: the first shows Horvitz setting up a ladder in a field, the second shows him climbing the ladder, and the third shows the latter alone – with Horvitz assumed to have climbed out of the frame.

David Horvitz, How to Exit a Photograph

David Horvitz, How to Exit a Photograph (image c)

It reads like a three panel conceptual art cartoon, packed with questions and challenges about photography and photographer that could easily be air dropped as leaflets over countries without 20th century art history professors. As a bonus, the piece in its full resolution entirety is available for free download along with instructions to reproduce the piece.

The interaction between artist and viewer through some digital/tangible crossover medium is a hallmark of Horvitz’ wok. Other works in this instructional series include Walk in Sun (download it here) and an instance of his disposible camera project, which should send you to the nearest Walgreens immediately:

David Horvitz, Disposible Camera Photos

David Horvitz, Disposible Camera Photos

The impressive use of interactive media should by no means suggest that this spider work stands on those legs alone; David Horvitz is a real photographer who makes real photographs complete with eyes and heart and guts. In one corner, a slightly broken black view-master is installed with a image of Horvitz mother at a beach kinked between the stereo lenses. Beside it is a description of the event, telling in plain language how he and his mother stood at the beach for more than an hour in silence, him snapping photos and her staring at the ocean with her back to the camera. Its a quiet, emotional, intimate and excellent piece of art which doesn’t fuck around.

David Horvitz

David Horvitz

Skating so close to punch lines, Its Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time shows a deftness of concept that should make any artist jealous. Horvitz brings the poetry of conceptual photography into 2009 in a way that is both delicate and confident, dependant and inviting, and which can even make snapshot narratives worth paying attention to.

I give the show an:

8.8

David Horvitz’ Its Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time will run through to July 26th at Believe Inn, 2043 N Winchester.



The Edge of Intent @ Museum of Contemporary Photography by Steve Ruiz
June 29, 2009, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Reviews

Located on Michigan Avenue, Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography is one of the lucky institutions to be part of that great easternmost edge of the downtown, that decorative sea-wall which can be seen from the parks and water as the outer cliff which begins a city. You can cross the street and turn around and see Chicago. Its a perfect venue for a show about cities, and The Edge of Intent is all about cities.

Simon Menner, Chicago Images: Wells and Harrison, 2005

Simon Menner, Chicago Images: Wells and Harrison, 2005

That is, its a show about urban planning and cities, and how those two seemingly accordant ideas run into and against each other. To describe it a third time, here we see some creative ways of displaying the conflict between centrally generated urban possibilities and emergent urban realities. Its a classic human struggle between our individual nature (that of the artist, the single-point generator) and our group nature (that of the ant), which is of course a hopelessly intractable battle which must be fought forever and is my favorite and gives form to government agencies of white collar sisyphi and chaotic satellite photographs.

David Maisel, Oblivion #5n, 2005

David Maisel, Oblivion #5n, 2005

Most of the works here cheer for one side or the other, showing us direct reimaginings of recognizable cities or unusual, unplanned, or subverted portraits of familiar urban elements. The show is hung in complementary pairings, with a lot of proximal conversation between the works. David Maisel‘s Oblivion series, which shows highways slashing with alien precision through organically chaotic human neighborhoods, shares space with Dionisio Gonlzalez‘s Nova Heliopolis III, a gorgeous digital image of a Brazilian favela, modified here with modern architecture. The two works together present us with a clear statement of conflict between the two ways cities are built: centrally planned development and emergent, organic development.

Dionisio Gonzalez, Nova Heliopolis III

Dionisio Gonzalez, Nova Heliopolis III

The rest of the show then answers (or dodges) this thesis statement with a mix of absurdity and fascination.

Andrew Harrison’s (new) jersey collages, Danielle Roney’s eGoli video, and Liset Castillo‘s impossibly well crafted sandcastle cities all give us imaginative but ultimately dismissive responses. Harrison’s works in particular were frustratingly shallow as prints rather than original collages, lacking a hand-made element that would have shown more than a material interest in the subject matter.

Eric Smith, Untitled, from the series Michigan Central Train Station, 2007

Eric Smith, Untitled, from the series Michigan Central Train Station, 2007

More document than critique, Tim Long’s excellent kayak photography and Christina Seely‘s Metropolis series both take much more quiet, less concerned approaches to the city as a strange and sparking phenomenon. Simon Menner addresses the subversion of designed public spaces by the homeless or displaced, while Eric Smith‘s HDR photographs revel in the graffiti ruins of Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, both here showing the human element as the quiet opposition to a planner’s intentions. Smith’s photographs should be seen – they’re truly haunting, beautiful pictures of the urb-ex world’s eighth wonder and give a strange saturated glimpse into the past and the future.

Joel Sternfeld, Looking East on 30th Street on a Morning in May, 2000

Joel Sternfeld, Looking East on 30th Street on a Morning in May, 2000

The most constructive pieces in the show come from Joel Sternfeld, who offers not only beautiful images but also poses a way to profit from decrepit planned design by helping us imagine unused rail lines as intra-city raised walkways. Here we have imagination that is practical and intelligent and inspirational. Although its in the same room at the Maisel and Gonzalez pieces which form a thesis for the show, I’d return to it as a closing statement before heading out.

Though I enjoyed the exhibition, I’d say I expected more out of a show which addresses so directly (and academically) the problems that arise when of lots and lots of human beings live close to one another. Instead of more pieces like Sternfeld’s, the majority of the work hung restated the problem or pointed out how cool cities look when photographed at various distances. I am a fair-weather geek for this stuff though, so my expectations may have been more than the average fanboy art journalist. The photographs themselves were nearly all excellent (with a few mild exceptions) and the space is so beautiful that the Man wouldn’t let me photograph it, and its next to the Spertus which has that neat Deb Sokolow drawing so ah, go, but then go home, visit LongNow.org and watch these two videos.

I give it an:

8.1 (but it could have been better, really)

The Edge of Intent runs from May 1st, 2009 to July 5th, 2009 at Colombia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography.



Christian Rieben, oh and Lloyd Dobler Gallery RAIDED BY THE FEDS by Steve Ruiz
June 24, 2009, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Chicago

While following Proximity Magazine’s blurb about Chicago police trying to close up Lloyd Dobler Gallery (reportedly for sight compaints, disturbing pieces, and providing alcohol to minor artworld celebrities), I decided Christian Rieben’s work was pretty great. If you’re in Wisconsin you can swing by Stumptown Gallery until July 14th to see the work yourself.

Christian Reiben, Monument to Failed Love: Spun, 2005

Christian Rieben, Monument to Failed Love: Spun, 2005

Rumor is he’s teaching a painting class at College of Dupage this fall. Specific rumors indicate that class as ART-2222-001.

Christian Rieben, Assfixiated, 2006

Christian Rieben, Assfixiated, 2006

Make sure to see Assfixiated at Lloyd Dobler Gallery before the cops take it as evidence!

Christian Rieben, Depression (in the grass), 2005

Christian Rieben, Depression (in the grass), 2005

More of Christian Rieben’s work can be seen at his website.



Post-Scarcity @ 65Grand by Steve Ruiz
June 19, 2009, 3:59 am
Filed under: Art Phone, Chicago, Openings

Well, I had really wanted to get the artists and curator from 65Grand‘s new show Post Scarcity to record a little introductory puff piece, but I just couldn’t get a hold of them. Instead, I got a few of my little sister’s friends to read from a script I wrote.

Post-Scarcity opens tomorrow, June 19th, and will run through to July 25th at 65Grand. I can’t go, so you should!


Eliza Fernand, Gushing (performance)

Eliza Fernand, Gushing (performance)



Frank Kozik @ Rotofugi by Steve Ruiz
June 18, 2009, 3:18 am
Filed under: Art Phone, Chicago

If you’ve ever been to Rotofugi, you’ve seen Frank Kozik‘s toys. If you’re there right now, you’re seeing his paintings! The show, Hell Comes to Chicago, will be up at Rotofugi June 12th to June 30th, so check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.

I’ll let Frank himself explain the rest:


Frank Kozik, No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Frank Kozik, No Such Thing as a Free Lunch



Pop Sizzle Hum, Single Channels @ Tony Wight Gallery by Steve Ruiz
June 16, 2009, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

There are two shows going on right now at Tony Wight. Pop Sizzle Hum, a fairly small show of eerily similarly sized paintings in the main space, and Single Channels, a three-part video installation with work from Timothy Hutchings, Allison Schulnik, and Jacco Oliver, tucked away in the rear project space.

Steven Husby, Untitled, 2009

Steven Husby, Untitled, 2009

Pop Sizzle Hum was came off as very understated, with mild colors, quiet patterns, and gentle geometry in every work. The most confrontational painting, Judy Ledgerwood’s Honeypot, was still a beautiful painting before it could be anything else and Steven Husby’s Untitled (and awesome) diptych reminded me in its hard-lined mellowness of listening to a midtempo crowpop album from three rooms away. Pamela Fraser’s untitled (tearjerker) makes me wish the exit via sky really was just a right turn away.

Pamela Fraser, untitled (tearjerker)

Pamela Fraser, Untitled (tearjerker)

With its primary insistance on greys and cools and geometric abstraction and pastels, Pop Sizzle Hum turns the Wight gallery into a kind of extremely well curated chillout tent, where you can rest your eyes, have a juicebox, and come down from your afternoon trip through the West Loop. Perfect last stop for your next crawl.

Timothy Hutchings, Battle of the Mass (still) 2008

Timothy Hutchings, Battle of the Mass (still) 2008

In the back room, Single Channels presents a rare treat: video art that is extremely well made, clever, and and beautiful. At least, Timothy Hutchings’ Battle of the Mass was a dazzling, highly enjoyable video and Allison Schulnik’s Hobo Clown showed claymation at its most painterly and Grizzly Bear soundtrackly. However you feel about Hobos or Clowns, Schulnik’s video is one of the finest things to see in Chicago right now. If you’re not in Chicago or are behind a corn wall, that link above points at the full length, high definition version. Great!

Allison Schulnik, Hobo Clown (still), 2008

Allison Schulnik, Hobo Clown (still), 2008

While it would have been a huge benefit to see them projected in HD, these two videos nonetheless departed so much from my common understanding of (and admitted prejudice against) video art in their highly appropriate and developed craft, their evasion of common video art tropes of shittiness and stupidity, and in their both being uniquely enjoyable experiences that I was nearly convinced that I had been wrong all along, or that a new leaf had been turned, and the breakthrough had occured without my notice.

Then Jacco Oliver’s Wood came on and grounded me.

While technically two shows, I’ll have lump both together for the sake of numbers. I give it a:

8.0

Pop Sizzle Hum runs June 12th, 2009 to August 1st, 2009, and Single Channels runs June 12th, 2009 to July 10th, 2009, both at Tony Wight Gallery.


Juan Uslé – Pretty Pretty by Steve Ruiz
June 15, 2009, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Chicago

Ooooo:

Juan Uslé,  Cada Vez Mas Cerca, 2006-7

Juan Uslé, Cada Vez Mas Cerca, 2006-7

Ahhhhh:

Juan Uslé, Soñe Que Reverlabas (Tigris), 2007

Juan Uslé, Soñe Que Reverlabas (Tigris), 2007

Oh, wow!

Juan Uslé, La Camara Oculta, 2007

Juan Uslé, La Camara Oculta, 2007

Ohhhhhh, ha ha yay!

Check out more of Juan Uslé’s work at Cheim & Read.



Krista Hoefle @ EbersB9 by Steve Ruiz
June 13, 2009, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Art Phone, Openings

Something brand new that we’ll be trying out here at Chicago Art Review: the cellphone interview. Here’s Krista Hoefle discussing her show, The girl who stopped being human, which runs June 12th, 2009 to July 11th, 2009 at Ebersb9.


Krista Hoefle

Krista Hoefle



Dutes Miller @ Western Exhibitions by Steve Ruiz
June 13, 2009, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

In the rare case that your only exposure to Dutes Miller is through his sensitive and extremely human collaborations with Stan Shellabarger (who is also extremely human), prepare to have your understanding tilted, because this is something entirely different.

Like an Atlantis Cruise missile spunked from the bleached bowels of Fire Island, Dutes Miller’s The Ecstasyist will blow your mind with unstoppable waves of shattering, irradiated penises. Miller conjures up a wet-nightmarish post-homopocolypse where men have become cocks and cocks have gone mad, and in this swirling ballscape we are felched and greased and lost.

Dutes Miller, Collages

Dutes Miller, Collages and Plaster Condoms

You may know first hand the second layer of vision, built by years of internet browsing, which serves to guard against flashing jpegs of gaping assholes or otherwise undesirable content. This internal nictitating membrane, this sweet delayer of perception,  allows for an extra moment of observation to close the tab or look away without having to absorb the explicit imagery, and this natural defense is exactly why I initially found my eyes ping-ponging around the gallery searching for something to look at.

I was not alone in this.

Dutes Miller. Also Pictured: Deb Sokolow, ashamed.

Dutes Miller. Also Pictured: Deb Sokolow, who stared at the floor and blushed the whole time.

However if you are able to calm your eyes and examine the works for more than a heartbeat, you’ll be well rewarded. The Ecstasyist is far more fun than the content sign on the door might suggest, and the amount of humor present in these collages and mixed-media paintings makes the show the success it is. In one cluster of works we see professional wrestlers, some transformed at the hip into wagging dongs, battling and body slamming eachother into the canvas. Testicular sculpture hangs from hooks, stretching nearly to the floor in smiling scrotumous agony. There are gestural, cloudy asses.

But don’t let the humor fool you either: the show’s titular piece, a collage and mixed media book at the center of the gallery, presents a more intimate, slightly darker view, and and is generally an excellent work of art.

Dutes Miller

Dutes Miller

I was a little put off by the disparity in craft within the show, as some pieces had the flimsy appearance sometimes achieved when collaging on paper, and when placed in the same space as the 36 framed and perfectly gridded collages on the east wall, looked sorta underfed. All that said, The Ecstacyist comes off as a fun and well executed and panoramic romp through sexuality and, despite the twenty seven thousand cocks and the content warning on the door, never lets its explicitness get in its own way. I give it a:

8.2

Dutes Miller’s The Ecstacyist runs June 12th, 2009 to August 1st, 2009 at Western Exhibitions.



Jay Boeldt, I’m a Sucker for Enamel by Steve Ruiz
June 8, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Chicago

What can I say, its the shit.

Jay Boeldt, FLAVORICEAD

Jay Boeldt, FLAVORICEAD

Check out some other work at Jay Boeldt’s website.

I ran into Jay’s work at the smARTshow at the Flat Iron Arts Building. The show, which was huge and comprised mostly of sorta amateur art that wasn’t that stellar but for the fact that it was all local and there was a metric fuckmile of it on every surface of three floors of the building and also the show itself was a five dollar donation, is now over. If I’m able to confirm that posting cell phone photographs on an image- and surface-intensive art blog isn’t career suicide, expect to see some more information on who I enjoyed.

One artist there was a complete laughable fuck.

I won’t mention his name for fear of accidental hype.




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