For the past thirty-ish weeks, art critic Lori Waxman has adapted her 60wrd/min project to review work by artists whose practice has been affected by the pandemic—exhibitions that were closed or postponed, artists who started making work at home or online. In this iteration, Waxman has written 163 reviews, numbers 49-163 of which appeared in Newcity (the first batch ran in The Quarantine Times). As summer nears and more and more exhibition spaces re-open to the public, Waxman presents her final column, covering a broad swath of Midwestern projects.
Lee Robson Spence has endured the pandemic by building nine fifty-inch-square canvases with angled corners and filling them with overlapping biomorphic shapes. Vaguely reminiscent of scientific diagrams, his compositions comfortably recall an era of chic order, excellent pharmaceuticals and an exciting space race, and are colored in combinations that perfectly suit those mid-century leanings. The five paintings that do this exactly right appeal in ways as cool and soothing as the modernist style to which they hew. Those that break from this mode unsettle, naturally, but sometimes it works to shake things up: the ovals in “Circus,” bisected by a line that loop-de-loops across the surface, act differently on the beige and lavender sides of that divide. “Calliope,” meanwhile, reveals a welcome sense of humor, allowing its overlapping lines to resolve into a goofy forest green face with hot-pink lip arcs, a baby-blue tongue and mismatched eyes, one of them a bright nazar. Laughter, protection from evil, and a good palette—what else does one really need?
—2021-04-26 11:39 AM
Although it’s spring, and flower exhibits are the art perennials of the season, there’s nary a tulip on view in “Boom Bloom,” a two-person show at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan. Paintings by Renee Robbins present riotously colored and marvelously dense studies of the natural world, in highly stylized configurations that recall the wonders of a coral reef in full health. Even those pictures that obviously aren’t of underwater scenes feel as if they are—or else perhaps they depict the glorious afterlife of plants. Echoes of Robbins’ forms can be found in the sculptures of Nikki Renee Anderson, also on view, but here they connote female bodies and sugary foods, whose excesses feel grotesque rather than gorgeous. Anderson’s ceramics, prettily hued, so glossy and smooth, are at once soft ice cream sundaes and pimply backsides; meringue puffs and disembodied breasts; caramel-sauced marshmallows and bloody intestines. Not quite the usual splendors of spring, but then, it’s been an unusual year.
—2021-04-27 1:51 PM
Art spaces have spent the past year figuring out how to share the work on their walls with an audience that due to measures of public safety could not be physically present. Is there a more beautiful solution than that of the Bradley University Galleries? To fill the void left by visitors, curators Erin Buczynski and Hattie Lee installed “Seen but not Felt” on every square inch of flooring, creating a gesamtkunstwerk out of the overlapping textiles, prints, reliefs, small assemblages and quilts of fourteen artists, themselves included. Photos of the exhibition (which can also be seen, in person, through the gallery’s ground-floor windows and by students from a second-floor catwalk) reveal a thrillingly cacophonic patchwork, a crowd of strangers, a scene of artworks laying across one another, mingling freely and without concern. Without a schematic it’s impossible to know who made what, but it hardly matters in the face of so much desperately missed, if totally surrogate, collective touching. I want to be that art.
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-28 2:26 PM