How is a kitchen different from an art gallery? It’s busier, but also more relaxed—because this is the center of somebody’s home, where family mementos are up on the refrigerator door and everyone comes in to chat. It’s the place where all problems get fixed, whether it’s a hurt feeling or a craving for a bologna sandwich. It’s a positive, comfortable, predictable, non-judgmental place unlike, say, an art gallery. Which is just to say, I don’t think Deborah Maris Lader’s work especially belongs in one. But then neither do good contemporary statues of Buddha or the Virgin Mary. Lader’s “teeny etchings” are windows onto a happy, if harried domestic world, and unlike so many artists, Lader does seem to have a healthy, happy life that she expresses in song as well as prints and paintings. She has been performing and recording with her alt-folk trio Sons of the Never Wrong for ten years now, with the same kind of playful whimsy. She is clearly highly skilled as a printmaker and she ingeniously incorporates photographs into her multimedia, dreamlike images of birds and people swinging through space. But the most enjoyable art has a sense that the artist, not the just the subject, is performing a high-wire act, and Deborah Maris Lader is just too darned comfortable. (Chris Miller)
Through March 15 at Chicago Art Matrix Gallery, Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 W. 35th, 3rd floor.