I've never seen a December with so many good shows.
More group exhibits show up in December than many months, in part because artists and galleries perceive it as a difficult month for sales and because with the holidays galleries want to hedge and present more pieces and smaller pieces. So with the prerequisite that a good December exhibit be a group exhibit there are some group shows that really distinguish themselves.
Carrie Secrist has been fun to watch since she's moved into the West Loop. She has expanded her aesthetic, gained confidence and parlayed that energy into some really good shows, like this one called Departures. Here she has challenged Chicago's leading artists to make a different kind of work of art, something they wouldn't normally do. You've got a table by Richard Hull, abstractions by Tony Fitzpatrick and a really nice sculpture by Victor Skrebneski. Even if you don't like the work the show is still worth seeing.
Upstairs from Carrie, Kraft Lieberman also has a super group exhibit. "Artists Gifts," is the idea so again artists are doing work they wouldn't normally do, but it is a different sort of a departure.
Also in the building at 835 West Washington are McCormick Gallery with a show of new work by Vidvuds Zviedris. And Kavi Gupta has a show of paintings by Angelina Gualdoni.
I was really impressed with the Andrew Lord exhibit at Donald Young Gallery. Per usual Donald's presentations warrant a second look. There is a forceful presence to these narrative sculptures. While acknowledging their ceramic antecedents I found them strikingly refreshing in how much they gave and simultaneously demanded of me. They are remarkably 3 dimensional and as one travels around them they reveal themselves. One journey is not enough. There's more there.
Sometimes I think Dzine has so much hustle that his work lacks substance. While waiting for his show that opens tonight at Monique Meloche I've only seen a smattering of Dzine's art including one very wide piece in the gallery at the State of Illinois Building. Seeing one piece and seeing it covered with zillions of clear little glass beads is a lot of beauty and not much else to relate it to. That, plus it seems this is the show everyone in town is waiting for, makes me want to run the other way. So I had to go look. And lo and behold, I really liked them. Disarming. I was surprised. And all these are covered in beads too. There are 3 large paintings in the show and a row of little ones. It was the little ones that sealed the deal for me. Yeah, the big ones are strong, but the row of little puppies shows a remarkable range and a constant ability. Maybe most of you already have, but I'm ready to step forward and say Dzine has shown me good enough work long enough that as much consideration as he has been getting he deserves more. Nice going.
Over the years, I hope I've grown from my macho boy roots - heck I'm even really responding to and liking embroidered art these days, but every once in a while I see a show of honkin' big ol' sculpture like the show at Jason Verbeek's studio at 14 North Peoria Street. Makes me seriously want to start welding again. Felt like I was visiting old friends who've gotten even better the last couple of years - especially Tom Scarff whose new piece is a triumph.
I'm reminded how sad it was when Michael Rooks left he MCA (he'd curated the glorious Westermann exhibit) to head to the Honolulu Art Museum. In a really swift move Tony Wight of Bodybuilder & Sportsmen Gallery asked Michael to curate a show of contemporary Hawaiian artists. This work is really good, fresh and sheds a whole new light on our awareness of Hawaiian culture today. Oh yeah. Some are so cheap I can't believe it.
Susan Gescheidle has a super exhibit called birds & b(ees). I really like seeing some of these thematic group shows dealers are generating. There are fun, creative, and expose new relationships between works of art that would otherwise not arise. Likewise over at Schopf on Lake, another solid group presentation, and at Bucket Ryder, Jean Albano, David Leonardis, Carl Hammer, Zolla/Lieberman and Aron Packer as well.
Rhona Hoffman and Alan Koppel, have interesting, thoughtful presentations.
Let's save the best for last: Jerome Powers at Roy Boyd gallery and Melissa Oresky at Van Harrison Gallery. Essentially these two are painters.
I've never seen Melissa' Oresky's work before walking into Van (check out his new mustache) Harrison's yesterday and these paintings are eye-openers. They're like tangy orange juice, with pulp, the way she paints these rather benign looking semi abstract objects with Thiebaud shadows. That's all fine and dandy. And then with a little brush she lays down little trails, vines, fragmented networks that want to hover just in front of the picture plane. These are really nice. If you get there before me, save me one.
I used to exhibit Jerome Power's work before I closed my gallery. His work is sparse, reduced, warm, elegant and slightly quirky. I first saw Jerome's art in a reception a graphic design firm was having because somebody's wife wanted to et their art shown somewhere, somehow and god it was hard to find. I only went because I liked the image in the email I'd been sent, and it wasn't Jerome's. I'd never seen anyone use hair to draw a line like Jerome did - sort of a cross between Brice Marden and Richard Tuttle (okay Jerome, stay humble!). Jerome never seems to be in a hurry. I asked him to bring me some work. He said he would. A month later I called him and he said he wasn't ready. Maybe a month later he brought me a few pieces and I really liked them and people responded immediately - I think Jerome was pleasantly surprised. Some people didn't like that they have hair in them - seems a revulsion to the personal content, but all this hair is handed to Jerome; it is not as if there is some ritual that involves his procurement. His work keeps growing, keeps getting better, and his pieces at Roy Boyd are the best ever. Here, want some voyeurism? The long horizontal one at the end my wife and I commissioned to hang in our bedroom.
Aren't you glad you read this far?