Michael McKean’s current sculpture exhibit at Three Walls, titled “brown gold braid and field and plant life,” reads much like the bleak interior of a Cormac McCarthy novel: post-apocalyptic, charred and twisted, bereft of ninety-degree angles and as much about what’s not there as what is. Some of the pieces are composed from disparate found objects. Assembled in groups, it seems as if the inhabitants have left town just before disaster. Others stand out starkly, black-and-white skewed enclosures battered together yet oddly segmented, and for all their menace they draw you inside and make you want to study the space they create to find some clue as to what exactly happened there. A solitary sculpture stands in a small room of the gallery, the lower half a lit terrarium containing a chainsaw with what might be spiraling chainsaw DNA emanating from its rough metal form, kept company by a bit of plastic topiary and a bag with some sort of telecommunication device inside. Resting on top of the glass box is another warped mass of walls creating a cityscape fit only for the insect life we can expect to succeed us. The impression is that the machinery of war will outlast those of us who fight, and that perhaps there will be just enough sustenance for the chosen few who will be secreted away in the night. McKean’s work feels like a cautionary tale, the architectural ruin, rot and deconstruction of a foreseeable future, yet with a few traces of innocence and mystery that will hopefully engage enough to make one wonder what other road might be possible. (Damien James)
At Three Walls, 119 North Peoria, (312)432-3972, through August 24.