Chicago Art Review


Weekend Preview (Romance) by Steve Ruiz
July 30, 2009, 1:49 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Chicago Art Preview

Lots of cool stuff happening this weekend and I’ll miss all of it; so enjoy it twice over, I’ll be somewhere else.

Chris Silva & Lauren Feece @ Believe Inn

Believe Inn opens a new show this weekend titled Mating Call and featuring the kinda adorable collaborative work of husband and wife team Chris Silva (dope tunes) & Lauren Feece (dopest strokes). I had such a good time with Believe Inn’s last show, I’ll recommend this one sight unseen. Show opens Friday July 31st (with reception 6-10 PM) and will run through August 23rd @ Believe Inn, 2043 N Winchester.

Chris Silva & Lauren Feece, Couples Meditation Party

Chris Silva & Lauren Feece, Couples Meditation Party

Joanna Goss @ Dovetail

Speaking of adorable, Noble Square’s plushest vintage shop is showing brand new work by Joanna Goss. Probably the best match of art and calender ever, with summer camp summer tans summer vans cookout sleepover craft craft. Show opens Friday, July 31st with reception from 8-11 PM @Dovetail, 1452 W Chicago Ave.

Joanna Goss

Joanna Goss

Megan Plunkett @ Golden Age

Like Kingsboro Press? Then you already like Megan Plunkett! Her installation’s been up all month, but I’ll plug now because it closes Saturday. Catch Megan Plunkett’s I don’t care about the rest of the yearGolden Age, 1744 W. 18th Street.

(click the dog)

(click the dog)

Justin Cooper @ The Museum of Contemporary Art

Local SAIC professor and all around good guy Justin Cooper will be performing Vay Kay, another clutch of very wacked summer-centric vacation art, all weekend at the MCA. His first performance, Crater, actually started this last Tuesday, but you can catch some kind of video of it here and see the other three today (Noon – 5 PM), tomorrow (all day), and saturday (Noon – 5 PM) @ The Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue.

Justin Cooper, Untitled (Pumpkin)

Justin Cooper, Untitled (Pumpkin)

Happy summer.

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Keil Borrman & David G.A. Stephenson @ The Suburban by Steve Ruiz
July 29, 2009, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

Two little shows opened this Sunday at The Suburban, the backyard super-space of Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam. The first, Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo, is a small collection of works by Borrman and six others. The second, located in the original ten by ten space, is a multimedia installation by David G.A. Stephenson entitled Songs for Suburbanites, an art rock display shipped in from the United Kingdom along with the charming artist himself.

@ The Suburban

Amelia Saddington, Notes

I thought Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo represented interesting work from interesting artists, but casually presented. Borrman‘s four paintings were good but scrappy (all were suggestively entitled November 3rd, 2008), Divya Mehra‘s photograph was also enjoyable but was only a selection of a series, and Malika Green & Alex Jovanovitch‘s piece was a funny one-off exquisite corpse. The Virginia Poundstone/Bel Canto design pairing was smart,  and the Amelia Saddington was beautiful.

Keil Borrman

Keil Borrman

What I mean is that it’d be impossible to complain about the work or the quality of the work, but the whole show together felt like it was curated by way of “So, what have you been up to?”. I’m okay with that. These shows are one of the benefits of having alternative spaces. And it led me to watch Divya Mehra‘s holy shit, insane videos like this one.

Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo

Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo

While the outbuilding was still done up as it was when Konsortium installed their “Eurostyle” show last month, Sebastian Freytrag‘s wallpaper fit perfectly (and ironically) with David G.A. Stephenson’s installation. I really enjoyed the three pronged iconoclastic combination of Americana (though limited specifically to the overlap between artists and musicians) by way of English fascination laid on a background of German design.

The show featured clips and collages of music and art history from art reviews to raisin boxes to magazine spreads pinned to the walls or spread on the ground before a television which played videos accompanying musical pieces by Stephenson and about, well, art.

David G.A. Stephenson, Songs for Suburbanites

David G.A. Stephenson, Songs for Suburbanites

Stephenson’s tunes were great, both poetic and funny in an appropriately Lou Reed-y way, and I liked being reminded of the history of (and crossover between) art and music and appreciated Stephenson’s enthusiasm in pointing out all the polymathic artists who made it happen.

Here’s his song, I Want Paint a Joke Like Richard Prince:

And another, I Want To Hang Out With Ed Ruscha:

The Suburban has an extensive description of his life and work here. For now, at least.

Dave Muller (Untitled)

Dave Muller (Untitled)

Not a new show, but one that I saw for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed, was a show of xerox prints put together by (and with the proceeds benefiting) the long-time, longest-time running New York alt space White Columns. With each piece in editions of 50 and priced at or around $150, it makes for a really smart, affordable show, and a great way of fund-raising with excellent art on a relative dime.

Xerox Show @ The Suburban

Xerox Show @ The Suburban

Pretty cool stuff all around. I’ll mash both shows together and give the whole experience a:

7.6

Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo & David G.A. Stephenson’s Songs for Suburbanites both run July 26th to September 5th @ The Suburban, 125 N. Harvey, Oak Park. Hours by appointment.

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Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture @ Hyde Park Art Center by Steve Ruiz
July 28, 2009, 2:27 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

Mystery replaces history this month at the Hyde Park Art Center, where the heavy and the high of contemporary art have been shaken south for one of the hottest shows of the summer. Following the curatorial undertaking that was Artists Run Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center’s Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture is a doomsday blend of local and international artists curated by Front 40 Press, who publish the critical survey book of the same name and from which is born this exhibition.

Eduardo De Soignie, Saint Child of Atocha

Eduardo De Soignie, Saint Child of Atocha

Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture immediately brought up place and time as contributory issues. However foreboding the subject matter of this show, the HPAC’s main gallery space is so beautiful that the imagery of ruin and whirlwind destruction echo like hellfire in a megachurch. Whats even stranger is that the content of the show seemed five years old and politically unsynced, as if some time around the re-election of George W. Bush would have been the more appropriate moment for this show, the peak of doom, back when we were fucked for sure whether it was the terrorists or the neocons or the fags or the devil who would push the button.

Jon Elliott, Continental Drift

Jon Elliott, Continental Drift

Back then I could stare at a Julie Mehretu and imagine myself exploding.

Back then if someone asked me how I expected to die, I would have said “violently.”

Today, I’d say “broke.” Its a different kind of horror.

Ricky Allman, Apocolyzer

Ricky Allman, Apocolyzer

Emilio Perez (detail)

Emilio Perez (detail)

But while the horrible specter of poverty might be overlooked in the content of the artwork shown in Signs of the Apocolypse/Rapture, the quality of artwork does invoke it. Putting an Emilio Perez next to a Julie Mehretu is enough to make any collector ache, and that pairing represents only two of the many top shelf artists who are represented. Though there are plenty of scenes of chaos and collapse, they’re matched with more somber images (David Opdyke‘s Undisclosed Location and Richard Misrach’s Swamp and Pipeline, Geismar, Louisiana) along with a few pictorial, appropriately scaled rapturous paintings (Nicola Verlato‘s Mothers 2, John Prianca‘s Autumn).

Caleb Weintraub

Caleb Weintraub (detail)

The only piece to actually disturb me was from Caleb Weintraub. I think. His painting is hung on the ominous black object in the middle of the gallery and, like the other pieces on that object, whether for misfortune or mystery or mistake, isn’t tagged so far as I could see. Hopefully they are by now.

Andrew Shoultz

Andrew Shoultz

Hisham Akira Bharoocha

Hisham Akira Bharoocha

In addition to the artwork in the main gallery, two wall pieces are included, both stellar and massive. The first is a boggling, visually ecstatic wall painting by Hisham Akira Bharoocha (who also has work in control c, control v), and directly across from it Andrew Schoultz‘ mural rampages down the hallway in a flaming ticker-tape parade. Both are excellent installations, and Schoultz’ piece is an especially appropriate up-sized companion to his painting in the main space.

Andrew Schoultz, Running with Chaos, Nature, War, & Power

Andrew Schoultz, Running with Chaos, Nature, War, & Power

I wish I had greater access to Front 40 Press’ Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture book, whether at the show or online, as without the critical writing that informed the show I feel like I’m only getting one half the experience. I’m curious. However, when considering the quality and work on display, even my partial slice of the curatorial team’s complete vision may be enough. Signs of the Apocolypse / Rapture is simply an excellent show, a highly appreciated opportunity to see top flight work, and yet another excuse to get down to Hyde Park.

I give it a:

9.3

Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture runs from July 19th to September 20th, 2009 @ the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

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Weekend Preview (i dont know what to dooo) by Steve Ruiz
July 24, 2009, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Chicago Art Preview, Openings

This weekend is pretty light for openings, but here’s what I’d see if I were you:

NAH POP NO CAT

NAH POP NO CAT @ Roots and Culture

SAMAD @ Nightingale Theater

Shirin Mazaffari and Ehsan Ghoreishi have curated an exhibition of short underground Iranian videos which, due to political or otherwise controversial content, have never been screened publically in Iran. Very cool event that I will definitely miss, so here’s hoping it plays again somewhere. SAMAD will be shown @ the Nightingale Theater, 1084 N Milwaukee Ave tonight, Friday, July 24th at 7:00 PM. $5 at the door.

Meg Onli @ Twelve Galleries

More than just a travelogue, more than just an art show, Meg Onli‘s Underground Railway Project is a multimedia exhibit which traces her journey from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Dresden, Ontario,  following the path of Josiah Henson, the man who inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Identity pilgrimage, very highway cool of course. Check out this more in-depth article (from Bad at Sports) and check out the show itself @ Twelve Galleries, 2156 West 21st Place (2nd Floor apartment) this Saturday, July 25th, 7:00 – 10:00 PM.

Keil Borrman @ The Suburban

Our friendly Oak Park ultra-alternative art space will be hosting a multi-media group show entitled Keil Borrman: I have not painted in a year. I have been listening to my stereo, with a bonus six-song presentation/wall installation from americana altrocker David G. A. Stephenson, and a triple double bonus of having bar-b-que for the opening. Check it out @ The Suburban, 125 N. Harvey Ave, Oak Park this Sunday, July 26th, from 2:00-4:00 PM.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, get down to the Hyde Park Art Center for their on-going show, Signs of the Apocolypse/Rapture. Say Hi to the Emilio Perez for me, I miss it already.

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Claire Rojas, Last Chance Weekend by Steve Ruiz
July 23, 2009, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Chicago

One of the shows I enjoyed but never wrote about was Claire Rojas’ Believe MeKavi Gupta. A folk fantasy on massive and micro scales, Believe Me is a blender trip through imagination and culture with narratives as endearing and bizzare as any real folk lore. As a kicker, their second space features the show Variations on a Theme, worth seeing for more than just the Angel Otero pieces.

Recognize the Lights?

Recognize the Lights?

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

Claire Rojas @ Kavi Gupta

If you haven’t made it up to Kavi Gupta yet, this weekend is your last chance for a bit – the shows go down on the 25th, and the next exhibition (Melanie Schiff) isn’t scheduled until September 11th. Some other shows to catch before they close: SAIC’s Making Modern closes this Saturday, Tony Wight will be taking down his two shows next Friday until the Robyn O’Neil show on 9/11, and Western Exhibitions will close out its two shows show next Saturday, with their 9/11 openening featuring Paul Nudd and Dan Attoe. Lots of stuff to see.

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NAH POP NO STYLE @ Roots and Culture by Steve Ruiz
July 23, 2009, 3:40 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

I first dropped by Roots and Culture’s latest show on opening night, squeezed past the crowd outside and poked my head over shoulders of an unusually tall crowd to see the art, decided the tide had turned to afterparty early, and ran out. While too much crowd to see art with both eyes, not bad for a space looking to engage the community.

Luckily what I did manage to see convinced me to make a return stop.

Clay Schiff, Nine and a Half Objects

Clay Schiff, Nine and a Half Objects

NAH POP NO STYLE features art – mostly paintings – from Providence and Baltimore. Despite the geographic differences, the work here tends to homogenize; there isn’t enough dramaticly different between the art out of Providence/RISD vs. Baltimore/MICA to see the work separate into camps. That doesn’t really matter, except to say that the show doesn’t have as much internal contrast as a two-city show might suggest.

Geography aside, the work in the gallery was some interesting stuff.

Anabeth Marks, Rumspringa

Annabeth Marks, Rumspringa

I’ll run through what I liked quickly: Annabeth Marks‘ paintings were grungy, clever abstractions that made pukey pallete-goo oil paint look less gross than, say, Kent Dorn‘s Figutives,  but more fuck-around-ish too. Clay Schiff’s work was more reserved, but made up for straightforward material use with excellent composition and color choices. Blade Wynne not only has one of the most bad assed names in the world, but his gouache paintings were very skilled, advanced pieces too. Wynne was definitely a standout in this show and someone I’d keep an eye on in the future.

Blade Wynne, Garden

Blade Wynne, Garden

Lucy Campana’s work ended up using paint in a beautiful way, but for mediocre ends. I enjoyed her After Laughter Comes Tears up to the point where I recognized the profiles traced into the paint, at which time I tried hard to un-see them. The way she uses paint, I can imagine her work losing the pictorial or figurative elements and being better for it. Unfortunatey I have neither a photo or a link for Ms. Campana, so you’ll have to take my word on this.

(Update: You can see her work here.)

Quinn Taylor, (Untitled)

Quinn Taylor, (Untitled)

I liked Quinn Taylor’s two pieces both as works themselves and as foils to the work around them. The curatorial team (Michael Thibault and Hugh Zeigler) made good use of Taylor, and in turn Taylor’s pieces looked great in the show.

Chloe Wessner, The Last Walk

Chloe Wessner, The Last Walk

However much talent was on display at NAH POP NO STYLE, there was a new artist smell to some of the pieces, with work that seemed to spring from the art school structure rather than from a developed body of work. Chloe Wessner’s The Last Walk and Kandis Williams’ I Saw What You Did, Bitch (Cunty Whisper) both felt like one-off, pointed constructions. These may be other cases of wait and see.

Thomas Harrington, Untitled

Thomas Harrington, Untitled

While there were few pieces I swallow whole, and despite minor problems with some pieces, NAH POP NO STYLE is still one of the most interesting shows up in Chicago right now. Thibault and Zeigler have put together a very balanced show, rich in content and interplay, honestly beautiful in the space, and with pieces that generated more opinions and discussion than most shows I’ve attended and/or discussed. I may go a third time.

I give it a:

7.6

NAH POP NO STYLE runs July 11th through August 8th @ Roots and Culture, 1034 N. Milkwaukee.

P.S. This was one of the more difficult articles to write, only because of the very sparse online content. I nearly wore out my googler trying to track down information for some of the artists involved in this show. While I can (only reluctantly) handle the gallery not putting up a piece list/images for the show, the artists themselves should really have some online presence for interested parties. If you’re an artist without a website, please, for my sake as well as your own, go set up a blog and put your name and work on it. Put a tiny bio. Include the word artist. For me. Please.

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control c, control v @ ebersb9 by Steve Ruiz
July 20, 2009, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

If you’ve been following Fecal Face‘s features this year and panting at work coming out of California, you’ll be happy to know that  Ebersb9‘s latest show control c, control v has brought lots of familiar Fecal Face featured (fecal?) faces to Chicago. This fecal feel probably has something to do with Ryan Travis Christian, sole contributor for Fecal Face’s Chicago bureau, local starlet, a person I once stole a killer painting from, and curator for control c, control v.

Alexis Mackenzie, Youthless

Alexis Mackenzie, Youthless

While a collage show, only half of the artists really take a direct and formal collage approach. Hilary PecisUntitled, Hisham Akira Bharoocha‘s All That Baggage, and Alexis Mackenzie‘s Youthless and Dust are all straighforward (at least in construction), whereas the other artists’ work feature a more collage of content rather than of form. In Eric Yahnker‘s Bearded Asterisk, the collage came before the drawing, chopped and composed digitally and reconstructed in graphite on the paper. Likewise, Bjorn Copeland‘s Kokomo and Tobacco/Beta Carnage’s Hawker Boat are both the kind of video collages you might wind up with whirling a razor in a local access hell-vault, composed of weird, surreal, and sort of familiar bits from just about everywhere.

Eric Yahnker, Beard Asterick

Eric Yahnker, Bearded Asterick

That slant towards extra eclecticism infects much of the art in the show. There is that certain aesthetic flavor to much of the work that is hard to name but easy to recognize. I’d call it psychedelic, but its visual intensity and chaotic content would be a hard microdot to swallow; no, this is closer to digital psychosis, a glitchy tour of shit culture with saturation at max, an intense absurdism. Its the flavor of Dan Deacon, Tim and Eric, of a purely aesthetic reading of Ulysses with 3D glasses on, and perhaps most crystally of the split second random commercial drop spliced between breaks of a show you recorded years ago on VHS. It feels very west coast, though its not entirely separate from the visual intensity and weirdo content of Chris Millar or Patrick Lundeen.

Whatever you want to call it, its here to see, more (see Pecis, Yahnker, and both video artists) or less (see Matt Irie’s Loomy Tombs) in every piece. Even Mackensie’s subdued natural collages have a hint of strange collission.

Hisha Akira Bharoocha

Hisha Akira Bharoocha, All That Baggage

By the way, I’m calling it drop culture.

Brion Nuda Rosch, White Mask/Mountain Mask

Brion Nuda Rosch, White Mask/Mountain Mask

Not only is this the strongest show yet at Ebersb9, control c, control v is really just way too good for being only the third opening at a brand new apartment gallery. Had Ryan and Sara and Dominic been given enough space to exhibit larger works from the same artists this show could easily compare to and compete with any exhibition currently in Chicago. As it is, control c, control v still packs in a solid group without overburdening the main space.

Though the backroom/bathroom is getting crowded.

The Artiest Bathroom in Chicago

The Artiest Bathroom in Chicago

I give it a:

8.53, give or take .01

control c, control v runs from July 17th to August 15th, 2009 @ Ebersb9, 1359 W. Chicago Ave.

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