Chicago Art Review

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:


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

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is the best review I’ve ever read.

Comment by David Eng. Master

the perfect way to spend my saturday in the city next weekend! can’t wait to see the show.

Comment by michele bosak

[…] 3) Dutes Miller @ Western Exhibitions […]

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