Geoffry Smalley. “Catskill Creek, Citi Field,” acrylic on inkjet print, 2012
The group of shows at Packer Schopf Gallery ruminates on intrusion. There is technological and environmental encroachment, and the intrusive mythos of masculine and feminine ideals.
Michael Dinges’ “Lifeboat: The Wreck of the Invisible Hand” hangs center stage as a retired boat and a lesson. Made with vinyl siding, the scrimshaw declarations ring around this dramatic piece as if conversing with Victoria Fuller’s work across the room. Her piece, “Deep Down,” meditates on the inherent commingling in nature: a snake, an earthworm, and roots rise from the dirt to touch the air. At the same time, some of her materials, like gas pipe and metal tubing, interrupt the state of the nature she presents. Read the rest of this entry »
“Wood Glue Apophanie,” oil on aluminum, 2014
Anthony Adcock’s paintings appear so much like the actual sheets of metal or plywood that they represent that I’m not sure I could tell the difference if they were placed side-by-side. Other trompe-l’oeil paintings have never fooled me so completely. In that genre, there’s typically some area, large or small, that says something like, “this is not a pipe—or fly—or candy wrapper.” And even if one cannot sense the brush or paint in Adcock’s work, other trompe-l’oeil artists have used them to establish lyrical modulations of tone and pattern, and a strong sense that this is someone’s private, cherished world.
Adcock’s pieces feel just as impersonal as the panels would have felt before he began painting on them. Or, almost. There is a barely perceptible difference if you look up at the exposed rafters in the low ceiling of the gallery. The rough, dark surfaces of those old beams are so harsh, cold, and unfriendly that, by contrast, you can feel the warmth and softness in the paintings that hang just below them. It’s a very faint softness, but it’s Adcock’s voice—and that makes his paintings more compelling than an entire lumberyard full of actual building materials. Read the rest of this entry »
untitled, charcoal, paint, paper and glue, 2013
About half of the seventeen pieces in Monica Rezman’s exhibition “The Pollen Path” are straightforward acrylic and charcoal works-on-paper. Those familiar with this Chicago artist’s oeuvre will note that, though her driving obsession with hair is still present, it’s not always front and center. In this show, the black serpentine marks that once appeared to be her works’ sole raison d’être are tempered by the inclusion of flatly colored geometric shapes. Read the rest of this entry »
There are few spaces better suited to an encounter with the unknown than the faintly eerie, subterranean chamber at Packer Schopf Gallery. Like the crypt of some secular church, its exposed masonry and weathered cobblestones house curious objects; musings on death and rebirth personified by artist Lauren Levato’s ten spare, graphite-on-paper self-portraits.
Precisely drawn, the works in “Wunderkammer” envisage the body—only superficially the artist’s own—as time’s reservoir; a site where life’s events, both tragic and triumphant, accumulate and transform. Levato’s drawings achieve this emotional resonance by uncynically mining a rich vein of symbolic narrative that’s fast become an endangered species in more academic genres.
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Nancy Mladenoff’s exhibition, “The Ladies,” provides an antidote to the discouraging anti-birth control and abortion disquisitions and the other disconcerting fundamentalist fantasies in the news, like the appalling female submission movement. Mladenoff’s collection of twenty-six portraits of woman mentors reminds us that before there was a woman’s movement and a general cultural push toward emancipation and equality, there were always women who went their own way and acted autonomously in the world. Read the rest of this entry »
The collapse of the market for stippled illustration might have been the best thing that ever happened to William Harrison, even if it took him more than ten years to realize it. Up until the mid-nineties he made photo-realistic drawings of commercial products for companies like McDonald’s and Burger King. But then his fanatically precise technique of rendering objects with little black dots was replaced by computer software, and like so many other workers in a changing economy, he had to reinvent himself. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually he discovered a talent for portraiture. The results are breathtaking, and it’s not all about the tiny black dots. He has a real feeling for character and design, as well as an uncommon ability to compose small forms over large ones, so although he shows dozens of tiny facial wrinkles, he doesn’t lose the volume of the head. That’s what masters like Jan van Eyck or Dirk Bouts were doing as they celebrated civic and religious life at the dawn of bourgeois civilization, and it’s no less enjoyable when Harrison applies it to the outlaw bikers of our age. Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s be up front, behind, and on top of it; Monica Rezman has a big-time hair fetish. The tresses are everywhere in her color photos, spilling, sprawling, spewing, spreading and always uncoiffed, whether she is bewitched by the unkempt clumps and piles of the stuff in a wig factory or lavishly bedecking her daughter with it. There is never enough of it for Rezman, so she scrawls more locks in charcoal over the original image, creating a veritable raven-black tsunami. In the title image of the show, “Woolgathering,” Rezman has swamped her daughter in unruly hair and then has put her to work knitting an enormous hair tapestry. Make no mistake, Rezman is not aiming for the perfect “do”—everything is out of place and out of control. She has taken to head and heart a line from the famous song “Hair” enjoining us all to make it “snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty.” It’s an untamed force. (Michael Weinstein)
Through June 18 at Packer Schopf Gallery, 942 West Lake
photo by Marian Frost
By Laura Fox
In a day and a half in Bridgeport last weekend, connections both professional and personal formed between local art groups and artists. The catalyst was the new MDW Fair.
The fair’s genesis itself is a bit of a feat in community-building. In February, Ed Marszewski, the founder of The Co-Prosperity Sphere, Version festival and Public Media Institute, asked threewalls and Roots and Culture if they wanted to help host an art fair focused on Chicago artists and art organizations. In two months and with less than $10,000, the three partners recruited sixty-plus exhibitors to fill 25,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Geolofts warehouse, plus a separate sculpture garden. Read the rest of this entry »
Lilli Carré: Untitled, 2010, screen print, 8 x 8 inches. Photo by Angee Leonnard.
Top 5 People and Places We’ll Miss
David Weinberg Gallery
Rowley Kennerk Gallery
Green Lantern Gallery
James Garrett Faulkner
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
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 »
The African-American community of Chicago’s “Black Bottom” neighborhood, dispersed by white “urban renewal” in the 1950s, is presented here in a mix of faux historical documents, artifacts and maps, colliding a repertoire of symbols associating European racial and nationalist mythology with African-American history and nationalism. There is a knight’s helmet, for instance, incorporating a raised Black Power fist in its design. Likewise, the black panther becomes the center of a heraldic tapestry that, in this case, is a quilt. Corporate and local icons such as the Nike Swoosh and the Maxwell Street Polish take on the aura of legend when isolated from their daily contexts and presented as symbols of a lost world. Read the rest of this entry »