Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Christian Vincent/Ann Nathan Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Christian Vincent. "Peninsula," oil on canvas

Christian Vincent. “Peninsula,” oil on canvas

Christian Vincent’s recent figurative paintings are 2,000 miles removed from what has characterized Chicago figure painting for the past fifty years: invitational instead of confrontational, gently thematic instead of intensely personal, conventional instead of weird, cinematic instead of graphic, pleasant instead of disturbing. Painted in Los Angeles, they might even serve as storyboards for a Hollywood teenage romantic comedy. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Carson Fox/Linda Warren Projects

Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Carson Fox. "Rose Crystal," 2013, cast resin

Carson Fox. “Rose Crystal,” 2013, cast resin

RECOMMENDED

There is something inherently playful, yet disconcerting, when one first approaches Carson Fox’s “Mimesis.” The resin sculptures seem, at first blush, almost coquettish, climbing the walls, sitting upon pedestals, protruding in amaranth and aqua and palatinate, their familiar organic forms exaggerated, coated and made fantastically approachable. They dominate Linda Warren Projects; on every surface sans the ceiling, Fox approaches the installation as an integral aspect of the art itself—see “Orange Coral,” shades of heat, from tangerine to rosso corsa, which spreads across the back wall like an anatomist’s plastinated arterial system, impossibly similar to the real thing (if viewed from no deeper than a few fathoms, of course) down to their dimpled surface. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Aron Gent/Devening Projects + Editions

Garfield Park, Prints No Comments »
Aron Gent. Both works "Untitled," 2014,  Epson UltraChrome K3 ink on Arches hot press watercolor paper,

Aron Gent. Both works “Untitled,” 2014,
Epson UltraChrome K3 ink on Arches hot press watercolor paper,

RECOMMENDED

“Pure Pictures, Perfect Prints,” Aron Gent’s solo exhibition at Devening Projects + Editions, is immediately pleasant, with its ample white space and idiosyncratic chintz of flowers, leaves, printers and arabesques, all rendered in a subdued palette. These images, culled from clip-art collections, are composed and then printed onto an ink-resistant material. This printout is then transferred onto watercolor paper by press, which squeezes and drags the beaded ink into the perfect drips that tress the features of each composition. Such painterly distortions give the sense of an individual hand at work, but of course, it is anything but. These gestures are dictated by blunt forces: the irregular texture of paper, the volume and viscosity of the ink, the magnitude and direction of the pressure exerted by the press. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums/Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, Painting No Comments »
Carlo Dolci. "Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist," 1665–1970

Carlo Dolci. “Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist,” 1665–1970

These forty paintings may not be the best way to exemplify 500 years of Italian painting. They have the stylistic elements but usually not the powerful emotive achievements of that great tradition. There’s only one piece, and a rather decrepit one, done before 1480, so the devotional intensity of the Italian variety of Byzantine icon is hardly evident. Also absent is the bold excitement of the Caravaggisti who are represented here by Antiveduto Gramatica, one of Caravaggio’s teachers who later decided to imitate his famous student. He came up short, just as, in the same gallery, the eighteen-year-old Titian could not yet achieve his later glories. “Christ and the Adulteress” feels like nothing more than a conglomeration of figure and drapery studies. One figure has even been lopped off and reframed over the intervening centuries. Here, it hangs beside the original, and yes, it probably looks better that way. But it’s fascinating to see a powerful mind beginning to assemble the visual elements that Titian will eventually master, just as it’s fascinating to see Carlo Dolci’s life-size depiction of Salome hanging beside an example of his work done fifty years earlier. Dedicated to painting that, in his words, “would inspire the fruits of Christian piety,” Dolci is usually too saccharine for anyone but the faithful. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Josiah McElheny/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Josiah McElheny. "End of a Love Affair," 2014, handblown and polished glass, douglas fir, speakers, amplifier, industrial audio player, electric wiring, cut and polished blue sheet glass, brass control knobs, felt, hardware, 55 x 43 x 23 inches

Josiah McElheny. “End of a Love Affair,” 2014,
handblown and polished glass, douglas fir, speakers, amplifier, industrial audio player, electric wiring, cut and polished blue sheet glass, brass control knobs, felt, hardware,
55 x 43 x 23 inches

Aided by a fake ID, I was baptized into the church of hard-bop sometime in the mid-nineties in one of Cleveland’s many hidden jazz spots; a cramped subterranean chamber where sound and smoke, perfume and sweat mixed freely in the dimly lit haze. The music was immediate: thundering drums coupled with blowing horns that rang-out joyous one moment, mournful the next. Spiritual by way of the body—the experience possessed a physicality so intense it was transcendent.

In contrast to that overwhelming sensuality, MacArthur award winner Josiah McElheny’s “Dusty Groove,” a meticulously crafted four-piece sculptural ode to some of the twentieth century’s great musical minds (among them jazz legends Wes Montgomery and Sun Ra), comes off coolly intellectual, even a little remote. Imagine jazz goes to grad school featuring Donald Judd as your thesis advisor, and you’re part way there. These pieces stimulate the mind, but they don’t necessarily stir the soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Stan Shellabarger/Western Exhibitions

Drawings, Installation, Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Stan Shellabarger at Western Exhibitions

Installation view of Stan Shellabarger at Western Exhibitions

RECOMMENDED

Stan Shellabarger’s most recent solo show at Western Exhibitions exhibits his durational work through which he contemplates the residue of time and the physical impressions left behind on materials such as paper, wood and steel. Throughout the galleries, he fully embraces each passing moment while creating a collective imagery that is focused, somber and quiet.

At the center of the show, there is the artist’s homage to Carl Andre’s “Plain” called “Untitled (Drypoint).” This work investigates pacing and time as the artist walked on steel plates he arranged to resemble Andre’s work while wearing heavy-grit sandpaper on his shoes. The work hovers on a plinth just above the gallery floor and is marked with a red snaking shape that sets the stage for the remaining pieces in the galleries. This work is the heart of the show, guiding visitors to also pace themselves with his command of minimalist formal strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Pictures of the Year, International/Chicago Photography Center

Lakeview, Photography No Comments »
Photograph by National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer, one of the winners in the Chicago Photography Center's "Pictures of the Year International"

John Stanmeyer. “Signal”

RECOMMENDED

In its annual competition for the best photojournalistic images, “Pictures of the Year, International” received 52,000 submissions and selected 240 winners, fifty of which are on view here, for its 2014 traveling show. The exhibit shows that, despite the financial problems of newspapers and magazines, photojournalism is thriving: indeed, the quality of work is at least as good as it has ever been. The judges eschewed depictions of the rich and famous, and staged scenes in favor of hard-hitting, emotion-laden and power-packed shots that pull the viewer up short with searing glimpses of world hot spots like Afghanistan, Iraq-Syria and Ukraine; heat-of-the-action sporting moments; refugees and victims of abuse; natural disasters and touching slices of life. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Chicago Cultural Center Inaugural Artist and Curatorial Residencies Announced [UPDATED]

Loop, News etc. No Comments »
Alexandria Eregbu's performance "Father's Heart," 2013. Photo by Noah Krell.

Alexandria Eregbu’s performance “Father’s Heart,” 2013/Photo: Noah Krell

Last week the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and The Joyce Foundation announced the two curators and six artists who have been selected for the inaugural year of the DCASE Studio Artist and Curatorial Residency Awards at the Chicago Cultural Center (CCC). For the 2014-2015 year, Allison Glenn and Ross Jordan have been selected as curatorial fellows. The selected artists will be provided three-month residencies. The schedule of artist residencies is as follows: Alexandria Eregbu (October-December 2014); Adebukola Bodunrin, Mahwish Chishty and Faheem Majeed in collaboration with Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford (January-April 2015); Cecil McDonald and Cheryl Pope (May-August 2015).
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Review: Carlos Javier Ortiz/David Weinberg Photography

Photography, River North No Comments »
Carlos Javier Ortiz. "Untitled," 2009, archival pigment print, 24" x 36"

Carlos Javier Ortiz. “Untitled,” 2009, archival pigment print, 24″ x 36″

RECOMMENDED

The real protagonists of Carlos Javier Ortiz’s black-and-white photo-documentary of the impact of gun violence in American cities today are the neighborhoods where it happens and is felt most directly. “We All We Got” is comprised of images of funerals, vigils, grieving families, commemorative artifacts, detention lock-ups, crime scenes and much more to create a comprehensive visual grasp of the phenomenon; but the places themselves and the sense of the stark realism of everyday life there overtake all the details. Read the rest of this entry »

News: The Suburban Reopens Gallery Space This Weekend

News etc., Oak Park No Comments »
The newly mended structure of the Suburban in Oak Park

The newly mended structure of the Suburban in Oak Park

Over the past two weeks, Michelle Grabner has been sending me image updates on the reconstruction taking place on the small freestanding building that serves as one of the two gallery spaces for the Suburban, the prominent humble-but-mighty exhibition space she operates in her backyard with her husband and collaborator, the painter Brad Killam. I’ve received word that the building has been refurbished just in time to resume being used in presenting artwork this weekend. On Sunday, November 2, they will open exhibitions of work by Alan Belcher and Joel Otterson with a reception from 2pm-4pm. The Green Gallery Oak Park, a third small room in the architectural cluster in which the smartly curated Milwaukee space presents artist projects, will open an exhibition with Jennifer Bolande. These exhibitions will remain on display through December 12, viewable by appointment after the opening.
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