Gaylen Gerber’s ongoing project draws attention to the things taken for granted in art and culture. By creating gray backdrops for other artist’s projects he reveals hidden normative structures. One such work with Heimo Zobernig consists of a “Gerber gray” canvas that Mr. Zobernig has subsequently covered with slick white oil paint. In another Mr. Gerber covers a work by an unknown painter with rolled on white paint. The dimpled matte surface makes the painting resemble the wall subtly insinuating that the background to all fine-art painting is the Sunday painter. Also included is Allan McCollum’s and Louise Lawler’s “Fixed Interval.” The interval is a shiny brass wingding that is supposed to be used as a stand-in for a painting that has been removed. Here the decorative ornament presumably stands for all high-art painting. Given McCollum’s and Lawler’s history of critique, it’s a slightly corrosive and commercial gesture. Gerber’s real triumph in this exhibition is recognizing how malleable and pregnant the normative really is. Here he acknowledges his responsibility to a wide variety of precedents, including covering a Daniel Buren souvenir panel with his signature gray paint. Lastly Gerber’s gray appears on the front of a canvas completed with Adrian Schiess. In the end Gerber cannot only show the normative—he can manipulate it too. (Dan Gunn)
Through Feb 29 at Rowley Kennerk Gallery, 119 N. Peoria.