It’s not really the kind of show you would expect at this old-fashioned arts club – because Arnold Turtle was not a conventional landscape painter of the beautiful, remote places we all would like to visit. I don’t think he gave a hoot about streams, trees, hills or how the morning light might be falling upon them. Arnold Turtle cared about paint and how he could make it dance. In other words – he was an abstract expressionist – or as his personal history might suggest – he was a composer of music who ended up composing duets for brush and canvas. I’m not sure how his life carried him from Birmingham, England (born in 1892) to Chicago, Illinois (died in 1954) – but he found a home here – and critical respect as well, from both the progressive and reactionary Chicago art critics of his time (C.J. Bulliet and Eleanor Jewett). I find his portraits and figurative work pretty hard to take – but his landscapes are in a class by themselves – especially enjoyable when studied up close. Indeed, they should probably only be seen up close –like those ancient Chinese scrolls that are unrolled and examined on special occasions among fellow aesthetes, rather than hung up on the wall to decorate a room. And this brief exhibit at the Palette & Chisel is one of those special occasions. (Chris Miller)
Arnold Turtle shows at Palette & Chisel, 1012 N. Dearborn, (312)642-4400, through November 12.