Chicago Art Review


Artphone: 360 SEE and Carrie Secrist Gallery by Steve Ruiz
July 17, 2009, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Art Phone, Chicago, Openings

Another week, another two audio previews! My internet phone won’t stop internet ringing!

Fittingly, Works on and of Paper @ 360 SEE

Jordan from 360 SEE called in to talk about their’s new show, Fittingly, Works on and of Paper, which will kick off this Friday, July 17th, 6 – 9 PM, and run through to August 28th, at 1924 North Damen Avenue.

Curtis Frillmann, Iron Pastoral #2

Curtis Frillmann, Iron Pastoral #2

Matthew Brown @ Carrie Secrist

And here’s a clip from the Carrie Secrist Gallery about their show Ark, which features paintings by Matthew Brown. Show opens Friday, July 17th, and runs through August 15th, 2009 at 835 W Washington.

Matthew Brown, Untitled

Matthew Brown, Untitled (1934)

Update, July 20th:

I just went to Carrie Secrist and I didn’t this show at all. Whats going on?

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Works on Paper Juried Exhibition @ Around the Coyote by Steve Ruiz
July 16, 2009, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Chicago

The full title of this latest show from Around the Coyote (2nd Annual Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Juried Exhibition) may be all the introduction you need. This is indeed a works on paper exhibition, the second in as many years, and it is in memory of Joseph Frasca. If you haven’t read the history of Around the Coyote, spend a hot minute reading it here. For more recent history, including the exodus from the Flatiron Building to the Splat Flats spaces, dig through this juicy Chicago Reader article too.

Around the Coyote

Around the Coyote (not pictured: the Flat Iron building)

As interesting as the space’s story is, as with all things its what’s inside that counts. With so many artists represented, this exhibition brought pause and praise in the same breath – for a juried exhibition, there is a lot of work, but almost all of that work is well done or better, and reflected the polished, high aesthetic that has been sneaking into studios this year.

Its hard to complain, but I did feel the show as a whole would have breathed better had a few pieces been left out. If nothing else, the breadth of what Zg Gallery‘s Myra Casis and Meg Sheehy chose to juried in spoke to the amount of quality work that had been submitted, so ten points there to the artists.

Around the Coyote

Elizabeth Kauffman, Amoeba

Stephen Mishol, TAMP

Stephen Mishol, TAMP

Some highlights from the show include Stephen Mishol‘s painting TAMP (above), a baffling vinyl paint construction and one of the most eerily balanced compositions I’ve seen this summer, Kristin Reger‘s MothsHans Habeger‘s Composition with Orange Door, Susan Wolsborn‘s Housefire, and Josh Reame‘s Insatiable.

Those picks may seem slanted toward painting, but so was the show. And after all, what better surface for the young 21st century painter than paper, free from the presumptions of canvas and at a fraction of the cost? Crank out a hundred paintings, burn all but the ten best!

Kristen Reger, Moths

Kristin Reger, Moths

Composition with Orange Door

Hans Habeger, Composition with Orange Door

I liked this show and enjoyed almost all of the work included, though it could have been cut down a little. While satisfying on its own, it helps that two other galleries are having their own excellent summer shows just around the block, making Wicker Park / Noble Square a significant clutch of art this month.

I give it a:

8.2

The 2nd Annual Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Juried Exhibition runs July 11th, 2009 through August 15th, 2009 @ Around the Coyote, 1817 W. Division St.

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Selections from the Fabio-Mueller Collection @ Mini Dutch by Steve Ruiz
July 15, 2009, 1:18 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

Last Saturday saw the final show at Mini Dutch, Lucia Fabio‘s seasoned apartment gallery in Logan Square. Having ran the gallery for more than two years (a truly respectable amount of time for any alternative space), Lucia and her fiance Robert Mueller chose to close it out by exhibiting the art they’d personally collected along the way.

As sorry as it is to see a space like Mini Dutch go, all apartment gallery owners take note: if you’ve got to go out, this is the way to do it.

Lucia Fabio and Robert Mueller

Lucia Fabio and Robert Mueller

By some luck I arrived at the gallery early and despite my tics and ticks was graciously invited in to snap some pictures and chat and distract while the titular duo finished up the final points of the show. Though I missed the meat of the event – the memories and good-byes and champagne toasts – I was allowed a sunny private view of the work, which was a great thing indeed considering the art in the space.

I don’t think it would be entirely appropriate to critique a personal collection, so I’ll limit myself to congradulating Lucia on bringing the work out for us to see in a way that could have easily passed for a dream-team group show of Chicago artists. Many small and medium-sized works were presented here from artists like Chris Millar (who I’d call one of the the best artists living in the city at the moment), the soon-to-be-in-New-York Stacie Johnson (her new project named Wandering Caterpillar is well worth a look), E. C. Brown, Mark Porter, and many, many more.

Here are some pictures!

Chris Millar, Life Inside a Very Small Painting

Chris Millar, Life Inside a Very Small Painting

Andrew Holmquest, New Heart (The Bob Newhart Show)

Andrew Holmquest, New Heart (The Bob Newhart Show)

Blazo Calovic, Untitled

Blazo Calovic, Untitled

Stacie Johnson, Frontside: Starburst with Mirrors

Stacie Johnson, Frontside: Starburst with Mirrors

 Carol Jackson, I burst from my confinement then hid unseen amid the rocks until the flies gave way to gnats.

Carol Jackson, I burst from my confinement then hid unseen amid the rocks until the flies gave way to gnats.

I wish Lucia the best in her new place on the left coast and hope that if or when she ends up starting a new alternative (or more standard) space, she would choose to open it with this exact same show. It would be as perfect a Hello show in California as it was a Good-Bye show in Chicago. Good luck!

I give it a:

See ya!

Selections from the Fabio-Mueller Collection was held Saturday, July 11th at Mini Dutch, 3111 W. Diversy (1st floor apartment).

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Size Matters! @ Packer Schopf by Steve Ruiz
July 13, 2009, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

The problem with titling a show Size Matters! is that it places a dozen professional artists under the flipsy membrane of a cock joke. It also forces every reviewer to pun off of the title. So, while many of the pieces in this show did live up to the name in terms of scale, the double entendre must bite both ways:  if this latest show from Packer Schopf had a dick, it would have to be a pretty average sized dick.

Victoria Fuller, Safety Star

Victoria Fuller, Safety Star

I can appreciate the strategy as a way to make a bigger group show come together, but bringing out large-scale works just wasn’t enough here. Many pieces made no sense being next to eachother, and worse for a show hinging on large works, it was difficult to even appreciate any given piece’s scale because of the eleven other large pieces in the room. I would have liked to have seen some of the smaller works from other Packer Schopf artists brought upstairs to support the larger works, allowing for scale reference and visual play between pieces.

But while I didn’t enjoy the full presentation, many of the individual pieces were very solid. Doug Smithenry‘s Coming Out Online series was excellent to finally see in person and described an enormous, prodigious effort by the artist. Victoria Fuller and Michael T. Rea‘s sculptures ended up being more interactive than I expected, with the Safety Star acting as a megaphone echo chamber and Rea’s Sleeping Beauty being groped like an IKB to prove its sheen really was raw graphite.

Michael T. Rea, Sleeping Beauty

Michael T. Rea, Sleeping Beauty

The misses came in the form of high craft, low impact art objects such as Jud Bergeron‘s jig sculpture, or Catherine Jacobi‘s Mary. A few skated the purely decorative line, with Mark Crisanti‘s flying bird men (click here to see a writer struggle to puff Crisanti’s work) and Renee McGinnis‘ Merchandise Mart painting both being very pretty and pretty forgettable.

Size Matters! at Packer Schopf

Mark Crisanti at Packer Schopf

Despite its lapses, Size Matters! does earn a spot on any respectable West Loop gallery tour, though partially as an entry-way into the catacomb halls below, where the smaller treasures of Seeley and Dettmer and Wortendyke live. And the work upstairs isn’t really disappointing; If you can focus on one large work at a time upstairs, Size Matters! will reward you with some highly polished, pretty humorous work.

And unfortunately for us all, since someone is going to say it anyway I may as well be the first: its not the size of the work, its how you use it! Haha! At least the show was hung well, or was it well hung? Heyyooh! Pippen to Jordan!

I give it a:

6.9

Size Matters! runs July 10th, 2009 to August 15th, 2009 at Packer Schopf, 942 W. Lake.

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Karolina Gnatowski @ Spoke by Steve Ruiz
July 13, 2009, 1:53 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

While many are busy bemoaning the stable review shows that are up for this summer, one shouldn’t get the impression that interesting art in Chicago takes the same vacation as the universities do. This weekend, crush in the heart of the West Loop’s 119 N. Peoria building (home to many local faves), the Spoke gallery hosted an epic performance by Karolina Gnatowski entitled In Memory Of…A Love Story.

Karolina Gnatowski, In Memory Of... A Love Story

Karolina Gnatowski, In Memory Of... A Love Story

A crowd of over thirty were packed into the front of the Spoke space, and when the lights went down Gnatowski’s show began. While best described as a puppet show, In Memory of… brought together all elements of a good show:  music (including a full play-through of Stairway to Heaven and a full-piped rendition of Harry Nilson’s Without You), high-proof whiskey (passed around the audience in the real and shot on stage in the fake), and weed (a legit spliff shared with a puppet), all laid over the most personality-driven artistic struts imaginable. The show was at parts endearing, painfully geeky, and erotically bizzare as anything Dutes could dream up a floor below.

If you’re waiting for me to get to what the performance was about, don’t hold your breath. The narrative itself, while perfectly appropriate as a vehicle for the performance, never really moved beyond that. It wasn’t a bad story, its just that the quality and content of the show was far more present in Gnatowski’s telling of the story than in the story she was telling. The craft and trick and gimmick and humor were the point.

But if you must know: it began with a horizontal gill flex, went to sea, fucked in hell, ended in heaven, and taught the moral that there is no loss so great that it can’t be danced off.

Karolina Gnatowski, In Memory Of... A Love Story

Karolina Gnatowski, In Memory Of... A Love Story

One side to this performance I appreciated, especially in light of those aformentioned summer stable shows that are dominating the west loop this summer, was the complete one-offness of the show. Her backdrops, which were very cool watercolor on paper paintings, were torn, folded, and pitched out the roof of her puppet-house for each scene change. Her puppets were declothed in an apparently irreversible way. It was advertised as a one-time performance, it really was, and in the dark with thirty other people and a bottle of whiskey I couldn’t stop thinking of how lucky I was to be there for it.

I give it a:

8.5

Karolina Gnatowski‘s In Memory Of… A Love Affair was performed July 10th, 2009 and (apparently, somehow) runs through July 31st, 2009 at Spoke, 119 N. Peoria.

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Artphone: Mini Dutch / Around the Coyote by Steve Ruiz
July 10, 2009, 7:39 pm
Filed under: Art Phone, Chicago, Openings

Not one but two audio pieces for this weekend’s shows!

Selections from the Fabio-Mueller Collection @ Mini Dutch

Lucia from Mini Dutch is having her last show ever tonight! Its always sad to see good apartment galleries go. I’ll let her tell the rest: Be sure to check out the send off Saturday, July 11th, 6 – 9 PM at 3111 W Diversey Parkway, 1st Floor.

Mini Dutch

Mini Dutch

2nd Annual Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Juried Exhibition @ Around the Coyote

Not to be outdone, here’s Anne from Around the Coyote giving us some key info on their works on paper show opening this Saturday, July 11th, 6 – 9 PM at 1817 W. Division Street:

Joshua Reames, Insatiable (at Around the Coyote)

Joshua Reames, Insatiable (at Around the Coyote)

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Weekend Preview by Steve Ruiz
July 8, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Chicago Art Preview, Openings
While there are otherbetter places to get previews of weekend gallery openings and events, my recent exposure to Twitter feeds, press releases in my inbox, and clairvoyance (a power gained after being bitten by a radioactive clairvoyant) have all led logically to this: a weekend preview post. These are not top five lists or a listing of all reported gallery openings. These are simply events which I will attend, attempt to attend, or which I will attend astrally through radioactive projection.
Keep an eye out for me, in these shoes, this weekend.

Keep an eye out for me, in these shoes, this weekend.

Summer Residents Exhibition @ Threewalls

Gitte Bog, Susan Lee-Chun, and Kang-hyun Ahn! A perfect opportunity for those who were turned down for residencies to grouse over Grolsch, and a far rarer opportunity to see artwork this summer that skips the market and heads straight for sewing checkerboard wallpaper. Opening this Friday the 10th, 6 – 9 PM at 119 N. Peoria.

Size Matters Packer Schopf

Potentially the biggest and best fuck-all group show of the summer, Aaron Packer has really packed his gallery full of work, including (among many others) a bebonered, Han Solo inspired self portrait in wooden carbonite by Mike Rea, selections from the Coming out Online project by Doug Smithenry (who recently asked me for tips about gouache, go figure), and some kind of epic stag hunt painting by Jenn Wilson. Opening Friday, July 10th from 5 – 8 PM at 942 W. Lake Street.

Greg Murr @ Perimeter

Watercolors from the only painter with the guts to paint a stack of dogs. Remember to bang your lids left when traveling in the River North district. Opening reception Friday, July 10th from 5 – 8 PM at 210 W. Superior.

Antoine Catala @ Tony Wight

Proving one show at a time that video art can sometimes kick all ass, Wight’s latest show features a techno-trippy fourth dimentional video portrait which you can watch right here. No opening reception, but it will go up on Saturday the 11th at 119 N Peoria.

Big Youth @ Corbett vs. Dempsey

Thirteen emerging painters. Don’t you love the summer? Opening Saturday, July 11th from 5 – 9 PM @ 1120 N. Ashland.

NAH POP NO STYLE @ Roots and Culture

A painting show (!!!) featuring eleven Baltimore and Providence artists. Opening Saturday, July 11th from  6 – 9 PM  at 1034 N. Milwaukee. As a bonus: Roots and Culture are also hosting at their location, at 9 PM, the after-party for Corbet vs. Dempsey‘s current show, Big Youth. This is the place to be Saturday night.

And that’s all that I’m really excited about. Protip, galleries: if you’re having a reception, why not put those details online?

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