Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

The Top 5 of Everything 2010: Art

News etc., Top 5 Lists No Comments »

Lilli Carré: Untitled, 2010, screen print, 8 x 8 inches. Photo by Angee Leonnard.

Top 5 People and Places We’ll Miss
Kathryn Hixson
David Weinberg Gallery
Rowley Kennerk Gallery
Green Lantern Gallery
James Garrett Faulkner
—Jason Foumberg

Top 5 Solo Exhibitions
Edra Soto/Ebersmoore Gallery
Philip Hanson/Corbett vs. Dempsey
Lilli Carré/Spudnik Press
Gladys Nilsson/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
Ian Weaver/Packer Schopf Gallery
—Jason Foumberg

Top 5 Public Art Projects
Ray Noland’s “Run Blago Run”
Pop-Up galleries in the Loop
Nomadic Studio/DePaul University Art Museum
Hui-min Tsen’s tours of the Chicago Pedway
—Jason Foumberg Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Jordan Eagles

Artist Profiles, River North No Comments »

"LF4-5," 2008. Blood, UV resin, plexiglass

Cattle blood taken from slaughterhouses, Plexiglas and UV resin make up the components that Jordan Eagles uses to create his preserved-blood paintings. “Most people come into the studio and expect it to smell. It doesn’t even smell. I know,” Eagles says. In the past, he needed to leave the blood in Tupperware containers to get the blood from red to black. This would leave such an offensive odor he would have trouble breathing and would need a mask at times. This prompted him to develop a new technique for aging the blood.

In 2006 Eagles won the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) award for best emerging artist. His exhibition at David Weinberg Gallery is his first show in Chicago, with nine pieces on view. Their colors are exquisitely bold and rich, and each image is reminiscent of the solar system with sunspots, exploding stars, the cellular structure of the body, or fireworks.

“What I am hoping is that the viewer is drawn into it and the imagination starts to wander and starts to feel wonder in the material,” Eagles explains. “That experience for them brings them to a place to experience their own set of circumstances in spirit and body. What is also interesting is that you take something that is no longer living and it is killed and making something beautiful out of it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: David Burdeny/David Weinberg Gallery

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David Burdeny, "River Nile, Cairo Egypt," c-print


The allure of unplanned urban form is everything to photographer David Burdeny, who shoots clusters of buildings around the world in slightly muted color to emphasize the patterns that they disclose when they are considered together in a single display. Although Burdeny depicts compelling configurations when he snaps at middle distance or from above, his most arresting images are panoramic ribbons of skyline taken from afar that bisect expanses of water and sky, revealing in a frozen moment the energizing experience that we have when we approach the towers of a city’s center. Burdeny’s masterpiece is a shot taken on the Nile River in which most of Cairo’s skyline is bathed in mist and a cylindrical tower stands forth sharply etched like a sentinel, its reflection plunging into the vasty deep. Burdeny belongs to the tradition of straight photography that alerts us to the sights and sites that we overlook in our daily round, and that offer us delight when we are willing simply to look. (Michael Weinstein)

Through October 30 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 West Superior

Review: Miss Aniela/David Weinberg Gallery

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"Growing Pains I, Brighton, UK," 2010


Starting on Flickr as a rank amateur and garnering a million hits in a year, Miss Aniela has glided into the gallery world with her color photographic self-portraits that are redolent with seduction. Projecting herself as her own kind of playmate, Miss Aniela puts on sportive and wry performances laden with hooks that would prick even the most repressed puritanical gentleman. There she kneels in waiting in a black bikini, on a mousy carpet in a blasted rubble-filled bathroom, surrounded by moldy picture magazines, with her expression fixed in the dare: “Take me if you can.” At the top of the image she has placed the text: “The Sea Serpent gracefully holding his tail Led off the first dance with the lovely Miss Whale And Mr. Sea Lion a gallant young spark Requested the pleasure of dainty Miss Shark.” Playboy magazine, not. Arousing for certain male eyes, you bet. Miss Aniela will be taken, but only on her terms; call it post-feminism gone over the top. (Michael Weinstein)

Through September 4 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 West Superior.

Eye Exam: What Is a Curator?

Curator Profiles 4 Comments »

Susan Aurinko

By Jason Foumberg

A friend recently asked me what a curator does. Are they like librarians? he asked. For an art outsider like my friend, the definition of a curator is limited to a stereotype suggested by the quiet halls of the museum. In the art world, though, the title of curator is totally unfixed. Just as the definition of artist was blown open in the early twentieth-century, the role of curator is no longer an elite, academic-bound job title.

Museum curators create solo retrospective exhibitions or thematic group shows, and biennial curators are jet-setting networkers. Often these types of curators have the highest degree offered in their academic field (art history or art studio), but that doesn’t mean they work in cushy, first-class jobs. They do more fundraising and donor development than actual exhibition planning, they give lectures and write catalogue essays, and they build and sustain their museum’s collection, if it is a collecting institution.

All of that is fairly routine and traditional in relation to the curators that I recently spoke with. They call themselves curators, but do not work for a museum. Do their self-ascribed job titles expand the definition of a contemporary curator, or merely confuse it? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Judy Pfaff/David Weinberg Gallery

Painting, Prints, River North No Comments »

"Year of the Dog #8," woodblock print with collage and hand coloring


Despite a prolific output of work, this is Judy Pfaff’s first solo exhibition in Chicago. For a large part of her career, Pfaff has been known for her pioneering installations and sculpture. However, in recent decades there has been a marked transition within her work.

In a ­­­1998 interview with Richard Whittaker, Pfaff describes this transition as a shift from the exterior to an “interior landscape.” A 2004 MacArthur grant also spurred changes and increased production in Pfaff’s work. With the unrestricted grant she acquired five acres of land in upstate New York, a staggering amount of studio space, and legions of assembling assistants. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Alumni/David Weinberg Gallery

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Helen Maurene Cooper, "Tuskegee," 2008


As hip as they come, Helen Maurene Cooper and Michael Ratulowski are postmodern to the core, deploying their cameras to make ambiguous cultural statements in color. Seizing upon the conceit of commemorating the anniversaries of rappers’ deaths, Ratulowski would buy a 40 and proceed to shoot himself pouring out its contents in alleys and on stoops and sidewalks, without any discernible reverence and somewhat off-handedly, as though he was performing an assignment; yet he has encased his photos in ornate old-timey frames. Is it irony or camp? Cooper, who is blazing along with her third show of 2010, had previously exhibited images that played mercifully with fashion. Here she takes a walk on the wild side with scenario shots that place her subjects—mainly herself—among urban rubble or verdant glens where their passions are brought forth, although, of course, in provocative fashion poses. Bent over with her hands on her thighs, her dress riding up, her legs spread apart and her hair tousled over her face, Cooper stands in an orange-brown haze amidst construction trash as a forest looms in the background. Is it high concept or burlesque? (Michael Weinstein)

Through April 10 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 W. Superior

Review: Michael Parker/David Weinberg Gallery

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"Water Castle, Valparaiso, Chile"

"Water Castle, Valparaiso, Chile"


If you need your vision lifted in an orgy of magnificent architectural gestures, then Michael Parker will fill the bill with his black-and-white shots of soaring edifices, from inside and out, that would dwarf us were they not presented in the most accessible medium-format ultra-lucid prints. By shooting majestic skyscrapers, monumental public art, ornate ceilings and geyser-like fountains—always forcing our eyes to be raised—and then downsizing them in the prints, Parker allows us to play with the sublime and reduce it to the beautiful, yet still powerful, twists and turns and details. Only once does Parker break with his program; in his misty yet clearly delineated study, “Water Castle, Valparaiso, Chile,” he  gives us an inviting view of the fairy-tale structure that exudes pictorialist beauty and shows us where we must suspect that his heart lies. (Michael Weinstein)

Through February 20 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 W. Superior

Review: Social Landscape/David Weinberg Gallery

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Night Couple, 1984

Jay Wolke, Night Couple, 1984


The excitement of the city is the name of the game for James Griffioen, Dylan Vitone and Jay Wolke, the three photographers whom curator Aaron Ott has brought together to provide diverse probes into the “social landscape.” Wolke’s large-format color photos assault the eye with vivid energy, as in his dazzling study of the red streaks of car lights, coursing past a billboard featuring the Marlboro Man taming a stallion, down an expressway exit ramp. Vitone’s black-and-white panoramic images of street scenes and social events, which he pieces together seamlessly from separate shots in the computer, vibrate with activity that is never regimented into a single meaning. Griffioen gives us color studies of the ruins of Detroit that revel in teeming decay and destruction. Wolke hits the top of the mark in his separate series of small color candids of people sitting in their often battered sedans making love, deeply brooding or flexing their muscles. Don’t look for meditation here; these artists are visual pep-pill pushers. (Michael Weinstein)

Through October 31 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 W. Superior

Review: David Weinberg/David Weinberg Gallery

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A straight, classical, meditative photo-abstractionist, David Weinberg became fascinated by the visual intricacies in the details of a greenhouse complex in southern Wisconsin, revisiting the site over and over again, and shooting dynamic compositions in color and black and white. Looking into Weinberg’s images, we would not guess their provenance; instead, we see involved designs of undulating latticed rectangular patterns, vector-like juxtapositions of bars and wire, and turbine-like spools that seem to be spinning madly. “Reconstruction,” Weinberg’s latest series, represents a quantum leap in his pursuit of Zen photography; here he has surrendered himself to his strength—an intense receptivity to the power of elemental yet complicated and irregular forms—and gives us visualizations of force fields that function to enhance our sense of the vitality of the world and ourselves. (Michael Weinstein)

Through August 29 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 W. Superior