Chicago Art Review


MiniReview: Party Crashers @ Concertina Gallery by Steve Ruiz
January 5, 2010, 8:52 pm
Filed under: MiniReview

Party Crashers was Concertina’s curatorial take on the family and all the domestic confusion attached. They show featured a good balance of media, mostly photographs, but also prints by Canadian Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook, fax letterpresses by Micah Lexier, and a gallery-wide performance by Stan Shellabarger and Dutes Miller of their ongoing and ever distancing Pink Tube piece. Of the photography, Carrie Schneider‘s Bathtub basically stole the show for me, presenting a beautifully composed figurative rhythm, a blend of the sibling intimacy and abstract weirdness of sharing traits with other humans. Dick Blau‘s family photographs were good instances of his work, but had too much familiarity and not enough mystery, seeming to demand a wider collection to communicate best. The poster piece from Davida Nemeroff was a well capitalized accident, a photo of a photo that spoke to the reinterpretation of family roles when parties are separated, not unlike Lexier’s re-reproduction of his father’s faxes. Together, the works in Party Crashers mostly showed the family as a sideways approach to self portraiture, revealing more about the artists’ particular relationships to their siblings, parents, children, than of the particular challenges those relationships create. While it may not have taken on the heavier stuff, and just skimmed the domestic/public space issue, it still was another good show from Concertina Gallery.

Carrier Schnieder, Derelict Bathtub

Carrie Schneider, Derelict Bathtub

Micah Lexier

Micah Lexier, Fax Test

Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger

Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger

Davida Nemeroff, What Window Light Can do For My Dad

Davida Nemeroff, What Window Light Can do For My Dad

Dick Blau

Dick Blau

Party Crashers opened November 21st, 2009 and ran through December 13th, 2009 @ Concertina Gallery, 2351 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor.

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MiniReview: Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson & Bernard Williams @ What It Is by Steve Ruiz
January 5, 2010, 7:58 pm
Filed under: MiniReview

Holly Holmes and Tom Burtonwood‘s domestic gallery space project, What It Is, provides a nice and homey retreat for contemporary art in Oak Park. Their last show featured the work of Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson, a Chicago native and painter who presented bright textile pattern work inspired by a pair of Blum Jerro shoes, and Bernard Williams, who displayed a monstrous hammer in the home’s back yard and smaller sculptures indoors built from the hammer’s scraps and discards. These reassessed accidents, monochrome, heavily material and chaotic, opposed and balanced the feminine and colorful references of Collazo Anderson’s paintings, full of purpose and design. A very nice pairing of artists and a good space to check out in the future.

Bernard Williams, Sharkhammer

Bernard Williams, Sharkhammer

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson and Bernard Williams

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson and Bernard Williams

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson and Bernard Williams

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson and Bernard Williams

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson, Blum Jerro Series 2

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson, Blum Jerro Series 2

Michelle Welzen Collazo Anderson & Bernard Williams opened Saturday, December 5th and ran through December 20th @ What It Is, 1155 Lyman Ave. in Oak Park.

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MiniReview: Brennan McGaffey, Fire & Judgment by Steve Ruiz
December 7, 2009, 7:12 pm
Filed under: MiniReview

Last Wednesday I drove in the middle of a rainy night to a place I’d never been before, parked in a gravel lot, and descended a staircase into a basement to see Brennan McGaffey‘s Fire and Judgment purging event. A model of the KC-135 Stratotanker occupied most of the basement, sitting on sawhorses, connected at nine points to propane tanks, and spouting nine jets of flame burning blue and yellow. The air inside was warm and thick with the fuel’s sweet ethanethiol smell, and despite the twenty or so others standing around the display the room was silent except for the steadily fluttering flames. Given the circumstantial trappings of a secret society – the invitations, the general secrecy, the time and place and community – it is surprising that the event had basically zero political attachments, real or imagined; I felt instead like I’d been allowed in to witness some ritual, the revealing of some mystery, and stared quietly entranced, inhaling gas.

Brennan McGaffey, Fire & Judgment

Brennan McGaffey, Fire & Judgment

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MiniReview: Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery by Steve Ruiz
November 29, 2009, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Chicago, MiniReview

Austin Eddy apparently hasn’t let the attention he’s received prevent him from turning corners, swapping influences, and sliding into new bodies of work. Trading trippy magic stages and Keegan McChargue for Matisse-ey interiors and Tyson Reeder, Eddy’s latest work was an intensely colorful look into work in flux. There’s something going on in painting – I’ve seen many painters starting to use traditional representative tropes like an interior or a still life as frameworks for material  investigations, exploiting the commonality and relative lack of content in such imagery over riskier abstraction, where content might be created by accident or interpretation. Eddy is apparently doing the same, demonstrating in his works some interesting uses of paint, but his interiors and flowerpots come off as more sincere, dipping here and there into narrative, and worked over with more than superficial care.

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy, my what a glorious view you have of the milky way there pete

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy, what next no more a/c?

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy, still trying just as hard to hold on to the good things.

Austin Eddy @ Golden Gallery

Austin Eddy, things should only get simpler from here, right?

Austin Eddy’s i feel better already, at least i think i do runs until December 12th @ Golden Gallery, 816 W. Newport Ave, no. 1.

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MiniReview: Site Unspecific @ O’Connor Art Gallery by Steve Ruiz
November 16, 2009, 1:38 am
Filed under: Chicago, MiniReview, Openings, Reviews

(Note: I’m catching up on my backlog of shows I attended, photographed, and never wrote about. Enjoy the pictures and the brief summary.)

At the end of September, Dominican University’s O’Connor Gallery opened Site Unspecific, a group show which included work by Heather Mekkelson, Mara Baker, Adam Farcus, Rafael E. Vera, Brian Yates and Heidi Norton. The pieces were linked by the thread of site specificity, though each referenced a specific site outside of the gallery. Not all of the artwork here sustained the interest and had the conceptual skin to carry the theme, and some merely suggested an unknown place without going any further, but there were notable works. Adam Farcus’s sculpture, a paper chain draped over the track lights and doing much for the exhibition’s overall framing, was constructed from photocopied maps of the stars that would have been visible above at the time and place of his birth. Heather Mekkelson’s Debris Field was a reconstructed disaster, with artifacts of tragedy such as melted aluminum and burnt file cabinets meticulously reconstructed by Mekkelson from photographs of real remains. The show ended up relying on and challenging my trust in the artists’ claims, an interaction highlighted best by Heidi Nortons photographs which may or may not be accurate to their titles, and I spent the drive home wondering about that intersection of representation and belief. Without any way to validate the fact, would it matter if Farcus’s stars were from yesterday?

Site Unspecific @ O'Connor Gallery

Site Unspecific @ O'Connor Gallery

Brian Yates, Untitled

Brian Yates, Untitled

Heidi Norton, Hariett Tubman's Birthplace

Heidi Norton, Hariett Tubman's Birthplace

Mara Baker, deterioration of: (boardwalk)

Mara Baker, deterioration of: (boardwalk)

Brian Yates

Brian Yates

Rafael E. Vera, Two Stairs

Rafael E. Vera, Two Stairs

Brian Yates, untitled (for HM Tomlinson)

Brian Yates, untitled (for HM Tomlinson)

Heather Mekkelson, Debris Field

Heather Mekkelson, Debris Field

Site Unspecific opened on September 29th, 2009 and runs until December 13th, 2009 @ Dominican University’s O’Connor Art Gallery, 7900 W Division St. in River Forest.

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MiniReview: Group Painting Show @ Ebersmoore by Steve Ruiz
November 14, 2009, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Chicago, MiniReview, Openings, Reviews

(Note: I’m catching up on my backlog of shows I attended, photographed, and never wrote about. Enjoy the pictures and the brief summary.)

The first show at the new Ebersmoore space was also the last show at the Ebersb9 space. Given the straightforward title of Group Painting Show, and including the work of Amy MayfieldHoward FondaTyson ReederSebastian Vallejo, and Paul Wackers. True to its name, it reflected more of a cool contemporary collection than any other curatorial theme. There were, however, some very interesting examples of bleeding edge interplay, including  the shitty-nouveau, grungy, sculptural use of paint as used here by Reeder, the taped off, layered look used here by Wackers, and a return to traditional content such as still lifes, interiors, and even portraiture.

Group Painting Show @ Ebersb9

Howard Fonda, Untitled; Paul Wackers, Hybrid

Paul Wackers, A Passing Glance

Paul Wackers, A Passing Glance

Group Painting Show @ Ebersb9

Group Painting Show @ Ebersb9

Group Painting Show ran from September 25th to October 23rd @ ebersb9, which became ebersmoore, 213 N. Morgan, #3C.

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