Stan Shellabarger’s most recent solo show at Western Exhibitions exhibits his durational work through which he contemplates the residue of time and the physical impressions left behind on materials such as paper, wood and steel. Throughout the galleries, he fully embraces each passing moment while creating a collective imagery that is focused, somber and quiet.
At the center of the show, there is the artist’s homage to Carl Andre’s “Plain” called “Untitled (Drypoint).” This work investigates pacing and time as the artist walked on steel plates he arranged to resemble Andre’s work while wearing heavy-grit sandpaper on his shoes. The work hovers on a plinth just above the gallery floor and is marked with a red snaking shape that sets the stage for the remaining pieces in the galleries. This work is the heart of the show, guiding visitors to also pace themselves with his command of minimalist formal strategies.
The artist’s “Walking Ball” series in the second gallery is a highlight with sculptural balls of twine either perched onto handmade metal stands or stuck at the ends of metal rods. The thread tangibly documents the time he walked, including several hours through Brands Park in Chicago, to shorter blocks of time while walking Logan Boulevard or Palmer Square. The arrangement of these round globes of twine on the walls and their neutralized, even washed, coloration give the series a solid geometry alongside a soft minimalism.
Crafting his minimalist abstractions from materials found in our daily lives, Shellabarger’s treatment of time is characterized by a sense of the familiar. His new body of work is powerful in its quietude and testifies to the artist’s ability to wrangle so much from the banal, simple and innocuous parts of each second in a life—breathing, walking, thinking—and the traces they leave. His array of twine balls act as micro-sculptural records of time, while his rubbings of street grates and poetic drypoint works on paper document movement through those times, collectively making this show solidly cohesive with hushed intensity. (Carrie McGath)
Through December 6 at Western Exhibitions, 845 West Washington.