Chicago Art Review

Oscar De Las Flores, Tiny JPEGs by Steve Ruiz
May 23, 2009, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Chicago
One of the few artists who has remained memorable to me three weeks after Art Chicago/NEXT, Oscar De Las Flores is a man who can fucking draw. His best works come off as relics, souveniers from a weekend spend time traveling to candyflip Parmigianino in Florence and blotgob Bruegel in Antwerp; a mad mad all-over magic realism dream soup with a surprising amount of content behind its intial slap in the eyeballs.
Oscar De Las Flores, The Even Sweeter Death of Oscar de Las Flores

Oscar De Las Flores, The Even Sweeter Death of Oscar de Las Flores


Four inches square, that last one. Pen and ink. Bar-raising madness.


Oscar De Las Flores , Tragic Portrait of the Artistic Talent of Mr. Oscar Camilo de Las Flores,Dead in the Flower of it’s Infancy

Oscar De Las Flores, Tragic Portrait of the Artistic Talent of Mr. Oscar Camilo de Las Flores, Dead in the Flower of it’s Infancy


While not from Chicago, he’s at least in posession of Chicago’s new must-have artist-accessory: a Canadian citizenship. If that’s not good enough for you, Santa Ana, El Salvador is only two longitudal degrees off  from Chicago, a fact that makes him more midwestern than all of Davenport. 


Oscar De Las Flores, 21st Century Calligraphy
Oscar De Las Flores, 21st Century Calligraphy


Check out more of his work at Katharine Mulherin, Ontario, Canada.

Also, as that link is a prime example of a problem I’ve been running into more and more, now would be a good time to strongly encourage artists and galleriest to host some high quality, reasonably high resolution photographs of your/your artists’ work. Somewhere. Anywhere. Watermark them if you have to, though you really have nothing to worry about. Its no fun when anyone can grab full resolution photos of every unknown and unskilled artist in the world, but nearly every gallery worth its salt somehow believes in keeping their best work thumbnailed to hell. Awful waste, ridiculous nonsense, especially in the case of dense work like De Las Flores’.

Zoe Crosher @ 65GRAND by Steve Ruiz
May 20, 2009, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

I should admit straight out that my impression of Zoe Crosher’s Selections from the Analog Collection opening at 65GRAND last May 1st was undoubtedly effected by the fact that I could not feel my legs. I’d become disconnected somewhere between the winding, uneven stairclimb up to the gallery and the two full days of no-where-else-to-go standing and wandering like an art fair zombie/pilgrim at the Merchandise Mart, so with floating hips and two smoking sockets I prepared for what I hoped would be the last art I would see that day.

I thought it was a fascinating show.


Beautifully painted and Powdered Geisha Neck Very Important part of makeup


As the title suggests, Crosher is here working from her massive Michelle Du Bois project, a corpus of photographs and journals obtained from Du Bois herself that has the tragic, enslaving qualities of being both so vast as to confound curation and so compelling as to demand it. In its natural state, the project contains the scattered narrative of Du Bois’ travels abroad as shown through her own obsessive photographic documentation. While that alone would be enough to support a show like this, in Selections we see Crosher binding down the wild Found Magazine quality of the word in order to tell a different story — one that exists as much on the backs of the photographs as on their faces. 

Selections from the Analog Collection is not about the life story of Michelle Du Bois, nor is it about the life story of analog photography, though it is about both. The overlap is what concerns Crosher, and given the incredible presence of Du Bois and the relative silence of Kodak paper, turning focus to the intersection isn’t easy. The approach Crosher takes is algebraic and, given its complexity, surprisingly successful. 


Zoe Crosher, A Kodak Paper, no.1, 2009

Zoe Crosher, A Kodak Paper, no.1, 2009


By photographing the backs of aging analog photographs from her Du Bois collection (some with handwritten notes or tears or simply the Kodak logo), Crosher negates the purposed narrative to focus more on the sad tale of technological obsolescence. Alone, these photo paper images are too straightforward and not very memorable stuff — however their inclusion works like a rudder for the show, steering a reading of the more descriptive Du Bois images away from the plain entertainment of found photo voyeurism and into a much more satisfying consideration of a kind of personal obsolescence. To that end, they’re perfect foils.

The age of the forward-facing photographs and the age of Du Bois in those photographs allow us to make some guesses as to where Du Bois is today. The idea that the person we’re looking at is probably still alive, but in all likelihood finished with whatever fascinating and self-absorbed quest left us this collection, is slightly problematic. With her known and named and still around somewhere, the nostalgia in the old pictures reinforced by the neck-revealing, turned-away poses in the photographs, feels as premature and slightly awkward as mourning the decline (but not yet death) of analog photography.

Like analog photography she is both obsolete and still around, dissapearing but not dissapeared, and so (for now) jamming any pure archaeological reading of her photographs.


Zoe Crosher, B&W Back of Neck, from the Auto-Flipped Series, 2008
Zoe Crosher, B&W Back of Neck, from the Auto-Flipped Series, 2008


The point then, and what I walked (or lurched) away with, and really the remarkable achievement given just how strongly these images lend themselves to the aforementioned narrative voyeurism, is a portrait of that narrow slice of a story between the end and The End or, in Crosher’s own words: the “just-past.” While such an idea would be present in the photographs presented regularly and a-side only, such a small conceptual target needed the analog/Kodak foil to tease it out through intersection. It makes for a successful and oddly quiet use of the Du Bois project, and a memorable show too. 

Finally, while I enjoy Crosher’s ability to push this body of work into new conceptual realms, keep an eye out for Crosher’s thick artist book on display for all your straightforward delicious freak voyeurism needs. Du Bois does not disappoint.

Here’s an 7 point 3

Zoe Crosher’s Selections from the Analog Collection runs May 1st through June 13th, 2009 at 65GRAND, 1378 W Grand Ave.

Artists Run Chicago @ Hyde Park Art Center by Steve Ruiz
May 18, 2009, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Reviews
My passion for kimchi and an irradiated, blood-hound-like sense of smell led me down to the Hyde Park Art Center where Roots and Culture was running a demo for kimchi pancakes this Saturday. Looming over this small fragrant affair was Michael Rea’s Prosthetic Suit For Stephen Hawking w/ Japanese Steel, the imposing wooden robotic bouncer for the Center’s Artists Run Chicago.

Artists Run Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center


A city-wide showcase of the best artist-run spaces from the last decade (though where is MurderSpace?), Artists Run Chicago is highlit by Guy Richards Smit’s indecipherable watercolors and Art Ledge’s in-your-face, no-holds-barred thank you list that pulls no punches and asks no questions as it thanks the shit out of some people. Beyond the very appropriate and sensitive curation, the show is also displayed in a way that manages to have a deliberate smacking of the crowded apartment openings with clustered, sort-of-amateur hangings, yet in a way that works gorgeously and cleanly in the space. The reference is not lost,  but the added result is that there are more pieces in the show than you’d expect on first glance, and digging the use of space is half the fun.

I give it a:


Artists Run Chicago runs (haha) from May 10 to June 5, 2009 @ The Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Avenue.

But wait, there’s more!  If you’re there (which you should be by now) don’t forget to pop around and take a glance at the Kenwood Academy photo show, mainly for Justine Jackson’s stellar photograph, Suicide by Train.


Justine Jackson, Suicide by Train

Justine Jackson, Suicide by Train

Overall however I feel like the entire Kenwood show looks like it was made by a bunch of fucking highschool kids or something and I give it a:



Notes on a NEXT fair. by Steve Ruiz
May 2, 2009, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Reviews

Notes taken at Thursday night’s preview of Next:

Merchandise mart. Feeling underdressed. My black pass doesn’t mean shit but a free coat check. Whiteface singers scaring me. The money is staying on the elevators, shooting for 12. China white with the tokyo crew.  Jello wrestling highly over hyped and over clothed. Artists springing from behind pillars. Got the gush. Lost. Crowded. Artropolis, the dickensian tale of urban modernity. Artropolis, the dystopian cityterrorjail, um. Artropolis, the scaled city awaiting costume monster foil. Grolsch barman’s fingers riven, bleeding from cracking the swingtops; disgusting, horrible, bottles slippery with gore, free, whatever. Poppers at the Threewalls space (small drawing of an eyeless face). Its getting late. Where are all the red dots? I should have brought my own red dots. Hahaha must remember that. Absolutely incapable of pronouncing Rafacz. Bulls win.