In this weekly column, art critic Lori Waxman adapts her 60wrd/min project to review work by artists whose practice has been affected by the pandemic. Waxman covers shows that have been cancelled, postponed, shuttered, made remote or opened by limited appointment, as well as art made during quarantine. Reviews are written in the order in which requests are received. This iteration of 60wrd/min is a democratic, good-faith effort to document more of the art making that is happening at a time when much of it is relatively unobserved.
A duet by one would be no fun. Good, then, that romantic partners Shir Ende and Max Guy are exhibiting together in this aptly titled show at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery in Springfield. Though their prints, videos and floor sculptures are individually authored, many are conjointly executed, and the overall effect is of two people pushing, pulling, posing and bending in reaction to one another. The spaces framed by the limbs of Guy’s “Quarantine Yoga” sculptures, hinged black MDF cut-outs with an unsettling morbidity, echo structures made by the junctures of the artists’ bodies and the Lake Michigan horizon in a video made by Ende. Ende’s playfully mobile screenprints of the gallery floor plan, looking more than a little bit Constructivist, form an architectural companion to Guy’s greenish his-and-hers photographic portraits, in which the artists are compressed by their reflection in a box. With so much flattening and contorted movement in evidence, it comes as no surprise to learn that most of the work here was completed during quarantine.
—2021-03-05 12:24 PM
How did you get through the past year? If Jennefer Hoffmann’s solo show of ceramics at Volume Gallery in Chicago is any indication, rituals, body awareness, open water swimming and the sky above—together and apart—helped her make it through to today. Daily casts of the artist’s little finger provide the primary sculptural element throughout: in variously glazed piles, they conjure a bird’s nest, a pile of turds, a tower of burnt newspapers. That seems about right for 2020-21. Unvarnished and laid out in rows on a table, the molds are a school of albino minnows, tiny missiles, the dead—anything but fingers, which is exactly how a digit feels after being plunged in wintry Lake Michigan. Other sculptures deal with the rest of the winter swimmer’s body, with wounded skin, grotesquely spot glazed, and hands that feel like stiff clubs. The picturesque gets a nod, too, in an unabashedly pretty clay image of the sunrise over dappled open waters. It’s been a long, hard year, with all panaceas welcome.
—2021-03-12 12:31 PM
At Chicago Artists Coalition, the two-person exhibition “Repository and Repertoire” contains multitudes. Some fit inside the six baskets of José Santiago Pérez, woven from coiled silver emergency blankets tied together with colorful plastic lacing. What those shimmery vessels might hold is the question, not least because the loads we carry, and often need help shouldering, can be both literal and figurative. Open rehearsals Pérez has been running in the gallery with three dancers reveal a range of possibilities: a pear-shaped vessel with a small opening becomes a wounded child, a wide shallow basket a shield, a tall conical urn an altar, all of this discernible until the next series of movements enacts further mutations. On the walls, light-filled photographs by Jazmine Harris painstakingly reposition and recombine elements from the artist’s life: family photos, scrapbook pages, newspaper clippings, sticky notes with motivational messages, even the experience of having her hair done at home. The complexity of a life, her life, is not easily revealed to the viewer, but it is contained here, and there’s no mistaking the artist’s control.
—2021-03-15 4:53 PM
In a year of no touching, Liat Yossifor’s solo show of recent work at Patron provides a welcome balm, full of paintings as tactile as those of early childhood. “Letters Apart” features a dozen small framed oils on paper, made as part of a daily practice, and one large canvas that, under the strange circumstances of the pandemic, overwhelms with more stimulus than I, for one, can handle. Oozy, rich and visceral, Yossifor’s paintings look to have been created by dragging fingers on clay, a knife through frosting, anything but a delicate brush in paint. The outcomes are less images than evidence of tactile experiment, records of sinuous strokes, short dabs, smooth blends. The colors are neutral with exciting daubs of color. The end results have a 1950s feel that is hard to know quite what to do with, so maybe don’t. This has been a year where all rules were broken; the antidotes will inevitably do so, too.
—2021-03-16 2:34 PM
Doing the laundry for my family of four is exhausting, relentless and monotonous. It is a daily performance of the unconditional love and care I provide for my partner and children. Also, it smells good. All of this and more is reflected in “Performative Memory,” an installation by Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, viewable virtually while the Monterey Museum of Art is closed to the public. What Rosenbaum offers is a laundry room deconstructed and remade through the tools of an artist: the lines of a washing machine hand-embroidered to scale on a cotton sheet, stiff ironed undershirts represented as delicate collagraphs, prayer candles scented with popular detergents, a drying rack meticulously silhouetted in ghostly cut-out acetate, hundreds of worn blocks of amber soap done as etchings and piled monumentally high. “Maintenance Art” was what Mierle Laderman Ukeles named it back in 1969, when as a young mother she struggled to find time for both art making and care taking. It feels no less necessary a category in 2021.
—Lori Waxman 2021-03-17 11:35 AM