Chicago Art Review


Gimme Baby Robots @ The Empty Bottle (tonight!) by Steve Ruiz
August 31, 2009, 7:33 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a sweet auction tonight at The Empty Bottle. If you’re looking for top shelf art on a dime, Gimme Baby Robots is your kind of event: auctions start at just a few bucks – and with works from over a hundred artists including Jason Dunmars and Mike Rea on the block, you’re sure to make those dollars stretch.

Melissa Steckbauer

Melissa Steckbauer

Gimme Baby Robots is tonight only, August 31st from 8:00 – 10:45 PM @ The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.

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Artphone: Wildlife Features @ Fill in the Blank Gallery by Steve Ruiz
August 30, 2009, 4:56 am
Filed under: Art Phone

Better late than never: Mary from Fill in the Blank Gallery called last Thursday to talk about the relatively new gallery’s definitely new show, Wildlife Features from artist and illustrator Kyle Harter. The show opened Friday, but it runs through to September 26th at 5038 N. Lincoln Avenue. Here’s the free sounds:

Kyle Harter, theramin

Kyle Harter, Theramin

And as always, if you’ve got a show and want to leave voicemails for me about your show, you can do that!

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Weekend Preview: When the oceans rise, we’ll be the new New York by Steve Ruiz
August 27, 2009, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Chicago

Its an alt-space weekend!

Open House @ Evan Lennox’s Apartment

Its an SAIC party! Its a one night apartment gallery! Evan Lennox sent me an e-mail about this show he’ll be hosting with André Lenox and Lynnette Miranda, featuring work by a dozen Chicago artists including Brad TroemelEric Ashcraft, and Syniva Whitney. Check out more information at Curatorial Community, or view the full flyer here.

Opening reception this Friday, August 28th, from 5:30 – 9:00 PM @ 3106 W. Fullerton, Apartment #1.

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Ephameron @ Believe Inn

From Antwerp and beyond and with prints and drawings and tape comes the very prodigious Eva Cardon, aka Ephameron. Her new show titled Letting Go will be showing this month at Believe Inn, but also keep an eye out for the Moneybags project (a shared pet of Stan Chrisholm, who was recently reviewed here for the Built show in St.  Louis).

Opening reception this Saturday, August 29th from 6:00 – 10:00 PM @ Believe Inn, 2043 N Winchester.

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Ephameron, Drowning in Nostalgia

No More Perfect Moments @ Scott Projects

Speaking of Brad Troemel, and speaking of apartment galleries too,  two Maryland artists will be showing at Brad Troemel’s Scott Projects apartment gallery. With photos and video and paintings, No More Perfect Moments will see Andrew Laumann and Justin Kelly tackling cultural rot and personal banality and other Nathan Williams-y themes.

Opening reception this Saturday, August 29th from 6:00 – 10:00 PM @ Scott Projects,1542 N Milwaukee, Apartment #3.

Andrew Laumann

Andrew Laumann

Julia Hechtman @ Dan Devening Projects + Editions

Sunday brings cropped up nature photos from Julia Hechtman at Dan Devening’s space. The show is titled Irrationalism and will include some new photos which look to trade clever irony for compositional carpendry on an unplaced mystery safari.

Opening reception this Sunday, August 30th, from 4:00 – 7:00 PM @ Dan Devening Projects + Editions, 3039 W Carroll.

Julia Hechtman, Orange Top

Julia Hechtman, Orange Top

That’s all I know for now. If you’ve got the scoop on something worth seeing, let us know.

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Seven Artists for Seven Sisters by Steve Ruiz
August 26, 2009, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Artists of the Week

Another set of artists to check out courtesy of Ryan Travis Christian. Delicious. As always, click images for more, and don’t forget to check the ebersb9 review I just put up and immediately bumped down with this.

Chris Vasell, SELF (landscape)

Chris Vasell, SELF (landscape)

Jules De Balincourt, Holy Arab

Jules De Balincourt, Holy Arab

Justin Eddy, There is a party in bed and we're all invited

J. Austin Eddy, There is a party in bed and we're all invited

Carol Dunham, Leaf (two)

Carol Dunham, Leaf (two)

Jen Stark, Candyland

Jen Stark, Candyland

Dan Attoe, Accretion #39 (The World is Expanding - You Don't Know Anything)

Dan Attoe, Accretion #39 (The World is Expanding - You Don't Know Anything)

Patrick Brennan, Coat of Arms (detail)

Patrick Brennan, Coat of Arms (detail)

Blackest part of night.

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Google Searching for God @ ebersb9 by Steve Ruiz
August 26, 2009, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

Despite what everything from the title to the content and presentation of the work might suggest, I’m pretty sure that Jason Ferguson isn’t really concerned with God, or finding God, as much as he is in searching for him. With only three pieces installed, two of which are photographic prints and the third a sculptural relic display, the latest show from the dynamic ebersb9 duo is much more of a thinker more than a looker – but that’s okay, there’s plenty to think about here.

Jason Ferguson, Google Searching for God

Jason Ferguson, Google Searching for God

If you’re into the classic omniscient Deity model, the idea of Google as God isn’t too far of a stretch. Even if you’re not ready to kneel on your keyboard, you could probably admit that there is something strange and magic and special about looking for something online. With the right eye, the search itself is fascinating.

Since we all add data to the searchable material (the internet) at a faster rate than any human can observe, the searchable material becomes (at least for the human user) functionally infinite. For every bean you count, two are being added to the pile. While less romantic than trying to count the stars (and filled with a lot more pornography), I’m sure everyone has at once time marveled at the kind of unknowable infinity of the internet. I’m sure Jason Ferguson has.

Jason Ferguson, Google Searching for God (detail)

Jason Ferguson, Google Searching for God (detail)

Ferguson’s sculptural piece (also named Google Searching for God) consists of a scroll on which has been inklessly typed the entire page source of Wikipedia’s God entry. Each instance of the word God has been lit from below, through cuts made on the wooden surface on which it rests. Like any good relic, it is both beautiful and appears supernatural, revealing a human craft and undertaking of monk-like dedication.

The important thing to remember is that like all religious material, the pieces in this show were artificial – not only physically but also in their content, determined by the crowd culturally or otherwise,  generated through emergence and individually selected on by the artist for elevation and confirmation. While this piece references God, the piece itself first references the Wikipedia page, another man-made structure and one that in this context makes a convincing real-time candidate for enlightened text.

Jason Ferguson, God Sighting A

Jason Ferguson, God Sighting A

Ferguson’s two Google Maps images, while not really adding anything to the content that wouldn’t be brought up in the scroll and sculpture, are none the less satisfying visual accompaniments to this central piece. Blown up and saturated, the satellite imagery works very well as art object, with their pixelation encouraging viewers to approach and retreat to bring them to focus in that well-known op-art gallery dance. If you feel like seeing the original to compare, here’s God Sighting A in its original context. It looks better at the gallery.

Jason Ferguson, Google Sighting B

Jason Ferguson, Google Sighting B

When you put these three works together and wonder at the point, you might come to conclusion that the deity most separate from humanity is most often found buried in its crawling development, its web-weaving, and its organic self arrangement. Wikipedia is the ultimate emergent model for knowledge, with millions of users determining its form; Google’s search engine runs on PageRank, a system is entirely dependent on the entire internet ‘s intelligence to decide what is most relevant and important; and the satellite/God’s eye image is constantly used as a method of illustrating the odd algorithmic growth patterns of human construction.

Using such real inhuman and limitless ways to search for the cultural embodiment of inhuman and limitless is a clever mirrored elevator, and it doesn’t bother me that this sort of recursion can easily come off as absurdity or humor. Recursion is always absurd, as in when I ask a dog to pronounce “bark” or put a car in your car so you can drive while you drive, and there’s always a risk that it may distract those who haven’t played blow-minded awe-struck with Google Earth for weeks like I have from getting past the humor. As potentially absurd as its premises are, if take Google Searching for God seriously, it crafts a compelling conversation between concepts as apparently diverse as the divine and the online.  Not bad for an end of summer show.

I give it a:

7.8

Google Searching for God runs August 21st, 2009 to September 19th, 2009 @ ebersb9, 1359 W. Chicago Ave, apartment B9.

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Transparent Reflect @ The Co-Prosperity Sphere by Steve Ruiz
August 25, 2009, 3:11 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

The very busy culture masters at the The Co-Prosperity Sphere put together a new show for us this weekend which features nine artists’ contemporary takes on the tradition of portraiture. Specifically, it was about the overlap between self portrait and portrait, that grey ground that exists in the relationship between artist and subject, the choice of setting and treatment as a reflection of the artist. In short, its that added context that makes portraiture the fun it is.

While not strictly a “Portraiture in 2009” show, a challenge to any show like this is that it inevitably operates like a body of evidence: here are thirty pieces of art picked from nine artists, all of whom are young and human and generally doing the same thing which has been done for a long time. But while the show includes some very strong works, detectives beware: if you’re heading in expecting to gain by commonalities some insight about how emerging artists are viewing themselves and their peers at the end of this decade, you might not find much of an answer.

Swoon
Swoon

Speaking of really strong work, the fact that the two prints from Swoon came from Ed (Edmar) Marszewski’s personal storage makes me wonder what else he’s got up there. Back from “before Swoon was Swoon,” these two pieces which apparently never made it to the wheat paste were instead well framed and hung wonderfully against the east wall like sentries for the black lit hollow of fellow street artist Goons‘ installation. While the latter presented fun and illustrative and modestly fucked up paste ups, Swoon’s pieces had the hammer elegance and expansive community narrative that one expects to find in a Courbet rather than in an alley way.

Goons
Goons

Then again, Goons is alive and well and in Chicago and had a display of random shit for free.

Nick Wylie, Men I Would Marry

Nick Wylie, Men I Would Marry

I probably got the full title wrong, but Nick Wylie’s Men I Would Marry (Drawn for as Long as They Lasted) is one of the most immediately visible and the more challenging works at the show. Sixteen crotches and cocks, hastily sketched in charcoal and gridded large on the wall present a visual document of friends or lovers or both and their stamina in one way or another. I liked the work’s dependence on experience to deliver its form and though its probably the most fitting example of the curator’s theme, I did have problems with the form itself.

While the work’s appearance and construction are intrinsic to the idea that generated them (provided the title can be believed), I found Wylie’s charcoal on rag paper distractingly plain despite, okay, its art school attachments to the nude and yeah, its utility as a fast medium. I’ve probably been spoiled by artists who can figure out how to fit strong and interesting craft into any concept that doesn’t specifically prohibit it.

Matt Austin

Matt Austin

To some degree, I felt the same about Matt Austin‘s photography and audio piece. This was probably the most conceptually gripping piece in the show, with a narrative that followed me out the door, into the car, and back home, but the presentation didn’t always strike well with the content. The work consisted of a tent, with an audio reading of an e-mail exchange surrounding his father’s eviction and a slideshow of photos detailing that eviction projected against one wall. I thought it all worked together well, establishing a sympathetic space for its narrative, but was a little put off by the delivery of the reading, which, while pretty hard to listen to after a few minutes, did render the eviction tale less dramatic, more common, and maybe scarier for all that.

Zach Aubucker, Breaking Cycles Like This is Really Difficult For Me (from Sleep)

Zach Abubeker, Breaking Cycles Like This is Really Difficult For Me (from Sleep)

While painting was surprisingly light (only one painter was included, Kristen Flemington, and her work was pretty straightforward portraiture and pattern), photography was well represented. Maureen Peabody‘s sparkling misty glamor portraits were easy on the eye and light on the head, and Anna Shteynshleyger‘s wigs were an interesting departure and, with their culture and fiber, a bit heavier on the head. Zach Abubeker‘s Sleep photos looked familiar, but still made for damn fine portraiture.

Adam Golfer, from *kin

Adam Golfer, from *kin

Adam Golfer‘s three photos from his German *kin travel series are the strongest of the bunch, especially the one featured above and titled in the show but nowhere else (someone find this out for me). The history and tradition of the traveling artist, while now mostly limited to photographers, still just might be the best overlap between self and sight and other. This picture isn’t really anything clever or tricky, only that somewhere in the excellent composition and movement and the mysterious model/travel-partner’s clenched fists the work excels.  Such easy snapping of an apparently unposed shot suggests an experienced eye, which an online tour of Golfer’s work definitely confirms.

While there were one or two artists who didn’t do much for the concept of the show, I’d say that Aron and Caitlin did a good job putting it all together. While the strength of the work included in Transparent Reflect (especially the two Swoon pieces) would make the show worth a visit on its own, there is plenty of conceptual meat on the bone too. I give it a:

7.5

Transparent Reflect runs August 21st through September 24th (?) at The Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 South Morgan.

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Sunday Night Discussion Post by Steve Ruiz
August 23, 2009, 2:30 am
Filed under: Chicago

I only saw two shows this weekend but I just know there were more out there. What did you see? What did you like? Use the Comment feature below and tell me all about it.

I think of Tony Tasset every time I pee.

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