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.
Is This Real?
At Gallery Oh in Chicago, Ellen Holtzblatt’s moody, sublime landscapes share wall space with Kathy Weaver’s deceptively cheery illustrations of a robot war. Holtzblatt’s pictures, done mostly in charcoal, ink and oil on paper, descend from that era of romantic painting when artists found connections between tumultuous skies, mottled seas and equivalent human emotions. Two portraits of the artist’s mother, her craggy visage and electric tunic as one with gray vistas and thunderous skies, are the exception that prove the rule. Weaver’s “Origin Story,” meanwhile, feels utterly contemporary, narrating in colorful gouaches the horrors perpetuated by two antagonistic factions, missile-shaped bots and cube-headed ones with strap-on wings. As usual with war, good versus evil hardly covers it, and no one side can ever really win. Both artists’ bodies of work hold their own, but one can’t help but wonder, what are they doing here together? One possible answer lies in the sets of human-size, patterned papier-mâché wings mounted in the gallery’s storefront window and set in the center of its front room—sprung to life from Weaver’s images, they suggest a radical way of entering Holtzblatt’s.
—2021-04-19 12:38 PM
Artists are like everybody else, feeling the losses, the isolation and the lassitude brought on by the pandemic. Unlike the rest of us, they have the skills and determination to make something concrete out of a morass, as displayed here in a survey of new work by the twelve residents of the Chicago Artists Coalition’s HATCH program (curated by its trio of curatorial residents). Standouts, or at least those works that speak to my current state of mind, include Unyimeabasi Udoh’s black hole embroidery hoop and illuminated no-exit sign; Katie Chung’s mind-numbing canvas covered all over in thousands of sewing pins; Julia Klein’s tortured, headless but resiliently stable yogi; Juan Molina Hernández’s quiet, light-filled photographs of domestic care in the form of plants and intergenerational love; and Gericault De La Rose’s scary, fabulous, mythical apparition, who, post-performance, leaves behind only a wig, chains, wings and other residue. When will she rise again? When will we all?
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-21 11:33 AM