Some might think the term “Chicago Imagism” describes a sensibility that is typically Chicago, but the artists in this show are so diverse, one wonders what could possibly unite them under one name. Jim Nutt’s monstrous bodies, Ed Paschke’s cool neons and Karl Wirsum’s cartoon hieroglyphics have defined what Chicago Imagism is for many people, but it is the other artists who show what a surge of creativity and experimentation it really was. Margaret Wharton took a wooden chair, cut it up in little cubes, stitched it back together with wire, hung it up on a wall and called it “Martyr,” a dark, emotional work that is more than feminist. Barbara Rossi’s “Lady Waiting for Dinner” borrows turn-of-the-century design elements (think Chris Ware) and created an obscure surrealist fable in acrylic on masonite. A collage work by Ray Yoshida is refined and restrained, almost classical; he takes unnoticed details of newspaper cartoons and uses them as structural elements in a tense but coherent composition…but then a tiny cutout “AAAIIEE EEAAH!” is thrown in that makes the whole work scream. The works in this show make one appreciate that this was not so much a movement as a time of invention, experiment and indulgence in things that the post-minimalist New York scene just wasn’t interested in—enjoyment, grotesquerie, bodies. (David Mark Wise)
At Russell Bowman Art Advisory, 311 West Superior, (312) 751-9500, through August 16.