Rhonda Wheatley and Lacey Pipher share Flatfile’s main gallery in a show that swirls, fans out and curves from floor to ceiling. Wheatley’s paintings, collaged magazine backgrounds of vibrant color overlayed with an insistent swirling paper cutout pattern take the walls, and Pipher’s sculpture, a significant collection of unlikely materials, takes the floor and pillars. Walking into the gallery, one is immediately struck by a significant contrast – the range of vocabulary of Pipher’s work in comparison to the exploration of one basic idea embodied in a repeating form on Wheatley’s canvases. Wheatley’s swirl does hold some of the power of a universal shape – in being the same, it is never the same
– and the later canvases in this “Recall” series, such as “Recall 31-34,” in which the collaged materials have been painted into a white field, and the swirl has taken on color and character, give the series a sense of progression. However, the swirl can only hold its own for so long against the fascination of works such as Pipher’s small “Warrior,” made from snips of text, red thread, a long piece of curved wood, hinges, clamps, all holding together a structure that resembles some kind of naturalist’s machine, if there is such a thing. And when Pipher takes these wooden curves from being small curiosities of semi-private imaginings to the monumental scale of architecture, in a work like “Morningside,” in which carved strips of poplar are hinged in long, streamlined arcs the height of the gallery, the curve takes on a character all its own. (Michelle Tupko)
Through February 22 at Flatfile Galleries, 217 N. Carpenter, (312)491-1190.