Around this time of year the torrent of new exhibitions that gives the spring season its step rapidly gives way to the summer’s starved trickle. That doesn’t mean that good shows aren’t out there, but in many cases you’ll have to look a little harder to find the gold. Case-in-point: Shane Rodems’ “Nifty Thrickel” at Peter Miller Gallery, a taught exhibition of mixed-media works that slipped quietly into the West Loop space last month with little fanfare and not even a formal press release.
The seven works on display by this downstate native are a cheery concoction of image and artifact, capricious line, brilliant color and obtuse form. Inspired by the pages of the Thrifty Nickel—a sort of Deep South AutoTrader that features classified ads for everything from firearms to wedding DJs—Rodems’ constructions, some kinetic but most static, feel awkward and homemade, reflecting the discordant aesthetic of the magazine’s variously juxtaposed items. But these shaped supports, whose surfaces are forged from large-format photographs of chaotic interiors staged by the artist, are anything but haphazard.
In “30’ Keystone w/ Slideouts, Has To Be Moved” an elliptical wood construction decorated by a litany of stains and multicolored stripes floats gracefully above a high-gloss image of itself. The sculpture, carefully placed within the erratic environment of the artist’s studio, has been surrounded by vibrant sheets of colored paper, pink and green ribbons, and highly reflective swaths of Mylar. The kaleidoscopic image, a sort of birthday party on mescaline, is an exuberant statement on the joy of creation.
The show abounds with examples of these unusual objects “dreaming” of themselves in florescent, photographic spaces. Beyond the obvious visual delectations, works such as the serene “Caroli Hoyer Lift, 2 Slings, Battery” and the chaotic “Four Winds Hurricane 34B__2007 3 Slides, bunk bed, pay what I owe” offer compelling accounts of the necessity of art to establish alternative realities, not simply regurgitate our own. Fun and thoughtful, “Nifty Thrickel” is not your typical summer fare. (Alan Pocaro)
Through July 20 at Peter Miller Gallery, 118 North Peoria