Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: New Catalogue/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Photography, West Loop No Comments »
New Catalogue. "Book (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley): Images for a New Golden Record," 2014 ink jet print, 10" x 10", print; 12.75" x 12.75", framed.

New Catalogue. “Book (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley): Images for a New Golden Record,” 2014
ink jet print, 10″ x 10″, print; 12.75″ x 12.75″, framed.

RECOMMENDED

In 1977, celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan realized his conceit of sending into outer space on NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, a “Golden Record” composed of aural snippets of human culture and slices of life, accompanied by greetings, to be received by any extraterrestrial beings that might come across it and make something of it. The conventional humanism of Sagan’s project got conceptual photographers Luke Batten and Jonathan Sadler, who collaborate under the name New Catalogue, thinking of how they would represent humanity today to other intelligent life forms in the great beyond, and came up with a grid of sixteen small black-and-white shots of hands holding up familiar objects like a pencil, a hammer and a banana, against white backgrounds. The artists recruited Judd Greenstein to compose generally placid contemporary classical viola music, which is piped into their exhibit, and put text on the walls of the gallery’s front room transcribing some of the tracks on the original Golden Record, including the cloying greetings. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Paula Henderson/Linda Warren Projects

Drawings, Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Paula Henderson. "Traffic Patterns," 2012 acrylic and ink on canvas

Paula Henderson. “Traffic Patterns,” 2012
acrylic and ink on canvas

RECOMMENDED

The brutal abstraction of the human body is among the most beautiful and appalling motifs one could hope to work in or imbibe; there are images online, untold millions of them, people made into pieces, and these ghoulish tableau are debrided, are rendered by the mind, instantaneously, as corn syrup and food coloring and irrigation tubing, because the alternative is simply beyond benign processing. Beautiful violence is real, if maligned; surely I cannot be the only one who views a list of “Photoshop fails!” and is overcome by a desire to steer into the spin, to take the neck-elongating, rib-removing joint floating all the way to the screaming bloody edge and drape our finest fashions on plasticine horrors, Jean Paul Gaultier-cum-John Carpenter; surely the line between pulchritude and terror is thin, as thin as the flesh rent in its creation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: DOGS CHASE BALLS/Carrie Secrist Gallery

Art Books, Installation, Painting, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Josh Reames. "Infinite Scroll (#1)" and "Infinite Scroll (#2)," both 2014, acrylic on canvas

Josh Reames. “Infinite Scroll (#1)” and “Infinite Scroll (#2),” both 2014, acrylic on canvas

RECOMMENDED

DOGS CHASE BALLS is a show for, (occasionally) by, and about our four-legged companions, with many of the works situated low to the ground for convenience of canine access and interaction (dogs are welcome and frequently present in the gallery throughout the run of the show). NO SPACE, the Mexico-based duo comprised of cool kids Débora Delmar and Andrew Birk, curated this group effort and contributed two pieces. Tennis balls stenciled with their logo are scattered throughout the gallery; evidence of interaction exists in the form of ricochet marks on Secrist’s white walls. A video loop showing happy pups using these props projects onto the floor, harkening to the curatorial impetus for the show (witnessing the unadulterated joy of a dog playing with a ball). The film is a virtual who’s who of Chicago’s art pupperati: breakout stars are Vincent Uribe’s Milo and Wolfie Rawk’s Rudi. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Orr Menirom/Aspect Ratio

Video, West Loop No Comments »
Still from Orr Menirom's "Limited Speech Holds Endless Misunderstandings" 2013 single channel HD video 9 min 55 sec TRT

Still from Orr Menirom’s “Limited Speech Holds Endless Misunderstandings” 2013 single channel HD video 9 min 55 sec TRT

RECOMMENDED

Orr Menirom’s first American solo show presents a rigorous and challenging work of video collage that begins with excerpts from a 2010 interview between Noam Chomsky and Dana Weiss, a television journalist for the Israeli Channel 2 media network. Having attempted to enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories to give a lecture at Birzeit University near Ramallah, Chomsky was turned away by Israeli border control officials and put on a plane to Amman, Jordan, where he sat for the interview with Weiss that is the material of Menirom’s digital manipulations. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Shio Kusaka/Shane Campbell Gallery

Ceramics, West Loop No Comments »
Shio Kusaka. Installation of ceramic pots currently on view at Shane Campbell Gallery.

Shio Kusaka. Installation of ceramic pots currently on view at Shane Campbell Gallery.

RECOMMENDED

Japanese-born, American-trained ceramicist Shio Kusaka appears to be standing in both worlds. Formally, she’s one-hundred percent Japanese, making the cups and bowls of conventional Japanese pottery with a simple, gentle, flowing, balanced, slightly off-kilter, understated sense of design and craftsmanship. Every detail is rewarding—from the firm footing, through the delicate thin walls, up to the inviting, sharply drawn orifice. But conceptually, she’s a contemporary American artist, hunting for that mysterious, ever-alluring boundary between tiresome banality and unique revelation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Philip Vanderhyden /Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Installation, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Philip Vanderhyden. "Volatility Smile, 2014, installation view at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Philip Vanderhyden. “Volatility Smile, 2014, installation view at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

RECOMMENDED

In economics, a volatility smile is a buckling curve that appears in certain graphs that trace the hypothetical prices of commodity exchanges in a fluctuating market. As the title of Philip Vanderhyden’s dual channel video installation, the ambiguous moniker seems to imply a sinister joy in the chaos of complex economies. The video repeats over nine flat-screens hung in a zigzagging row across the long wall of the gallery. In a seamless fifteen-minute loop, these several screens glow with the sleek and shiny surfaces of hypothetical pleasure objects: copper-hued cubes, silver-clad slabs and crumbled porcelain sheets glide with seductive ease across the long plasma terrain like an iPhone billboard set in motion. The slick on-screen movement of these imaginary things recalls the tactile displays of electronic visual technologies, pointing toward the strange collapse of image and object in the contemporary moment of touchscreen everything. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Even Formalist Artistry Is for Living

Garfield Park, Installation, Painting, Suburban, West Loop No Comments »
Edmund Chia. "Diagram 02 for New Architecture with David Salkin," 2013

Edmund Chia. “Diagram 02 for New Architecture with David Salkin,” 2013

By Matt Morris

This is not a roundup of fiber art exhibitions currently on view around town, though that temptation perpetually lingers because at any given moment in Chicago there are plenty of artists exhibiting smart hybrids of textile and painting, fiber art and installation. This is no doubt attributable in part to the Fiber and Material Studies department at SAIC—still a rarity with few comparable programs around the country—and more generally the deconstructive, interdisciplinary thrust of most of the fine arts programs to be found here. The aftereffects of Modernism in Chicago aren’t really the Greenbergian isolation and purification of a medium’s potential; instead, painting’s frequent conflation with sewing is a recurrent signal of a Modernist project to apply the arts broadly across other parts of life—keenly designed forms for living integrated with art-making as was seen in the De Stijl and Bauhaus (and its offspring, Chicago’s New Bauhaus begun in the late 1930s). Modest and succinct or madly layered, a few artists’ current projects carry us into this new year with propositions for art’s visual and material elements brought in various proximities of closeness to the lives being lived around its production. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ben Herr/McCormick Gallery

Collage, Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Ben Herr. "Transformation Ritual," 2006, oil and collage on canvas, 31 3/4" x 32"

Ben Herr. “Transformation Ritual,” 2006,
oil and collage on canvas, 31 3/4″ x 32″

RECOMMENDED

This exhibition is about Abstract Expression as a lifestyle. After beginning a promising art career in the 1950s, Ben Herr (born 1935) moved back to rural Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1960 to pursue a different profession and better provide for his growing family. But his life in painting continued, and over the past few years has come back as strong as ever, recalling the antic playfulness of Paul Klee and the jazzy intensity of Romare Bearden. This is his first one-person commercial gallery show in more than thirty years. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Jeff Gibson

Artist Profiles, Digital Art, Installation, Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Jeff Gibson. "Product (detail)," 2014,  ink-jet wallpaper, dimensions variable

Jeff Gibson. “Product (detail),” 2014,
ink-jet wallpaper, dimensions variable

Jeff Gibson culls images from the internet’s massive store, choosing JPEGs of products silhouetted against white backgrounds, highlighted perfectly by their surrounding vacuous atmosphere. When combined, the images call out to each other in a fashion not immediately recognizable, playing against the objects’ shiny machinery or garish design. “My roots are in pop and conceptualism so a lot of my subject matter is from popular culture and bears that stain, and I am only happy to rub the world’s nose in,” says Gibson. Gibson views all his images as products, calling attention to the aesthetics of consumerism via visual taxonomies. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Intuit Appoints Debra Kerr New Executive Director

News etc., Outsider Art, West Loop No Comments »

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art announced that Debra Kerr has been appointed as its new executive director as of November 3, succeeding Joel Mangers, who had served since June of 2012. In a letter to the board upon her hiring, Kerr writes, “My vision for Intuit is to enhance its mission and serve as a model in the international museum community.” She goes on to set goals to break expectations for how outsider and intuitive art is understood and to “be a leader in the movement of museum as forum—a gathering place and community catalyst for good.”

Intuit's new executive director Debra Kerr

Intuit’s new executive director Debra Kerr

In an email exchange, Kerr elaborates on the one component she hopes to implement at Intuit, “One change is to firmly state that Intuit is a museum. I’ve been an advocate for the need for museums to increase their role as centers of dialogue and catalysts for change. I see Intuit as a place that can model what museums can and should be in the twenty-first century—and that’s much of what attracted me to this position. Intuit has huge potential as a place that presents phenomenal outsider art, a place that can activate each audience member’s own creativity, as a place that serves as facilitator for social change for good, and yes, a model of museum as all the above.” Read the rest of this entry »