Mini Dutch is both a breed of rabbit and a tiny art space. Currently, the front room of this apartment gallery feels claustrophobic, brimming with Stacie Johnson’s work-in-progress, “Mise-en-scene.” In her studio, Johnson composes clusters of objects found in her own space, transforming them into carefully crafted paintings, but in this exhibit, she uses Mini Dutch’s inaugural date, and the inhabitants’ birth dates and corresponding astrological signs—just as she had done in her solo show at Three Walls last May—to construct her temporary maquettes.
In the most dominant installation, the room is divided by a drab, retro curtain which links ceiling to floor with a mosaic-like ribbon. The ribbon is anchored by a cinder block, and a foil rabbit hangs from the curtain. In another installation, a nest of mirrors held together by fishing line reflects a construction-paper snowflake. What looks like an arbitrary slapping together of stuff found in a basement dodges dumbness in the context of the space and mission of the project. The real payoff will be Johnson’s paintings, which should provide the viewer with a point of reference for interpreting Johnson’s macro and micro views of her arrangements. Johnson’s rabbit-themed heaps of meticulously placed detritus will be translated into carefully crafted, clean paintings to be unveiled at the show’s closing on November 22. This show is her first public installation that reveals the process by which her paintings are made. (Natalie Edwards)
Through November 22 at Mini Dutch, 3111 West Diversey, first floor.