Art Letter


2/17/06

There are several openings tonight; two of which really impress me.

Not in a long time have I seen a gallery new to Chicago like
NavtaSchulz.  Located in the West Loop, this is their second location. The first is out-of-state. Most of their collectors are from Chicago, so sensing an affinity, they came here. This isn't a half-vast fledgeling effort. This gallery feels solid, confident, warm and strong. Because I didn't discern a single aesthetic running through all the work, I asked and was told the guide was whether or not they'd hang it in their home. 

I like the NavtaSchulz Gallery.  The space is clean, but not over done. And friendly.  Too many galleries are snooty when a stranger walks in before the show is completely ready for viewing, as if they have some pretense, pretext and predisposition that says they have to perpetuate artifice.  Not here. They didn't know me from Adam and they made me feel welcome. Then I introduced myself and their tone was consistent. 

Jodi Navta and Ryan Schulz clearly love the art and artists they are showing, some of whom are from Chicago. Though they surely have solid business instincts, it is the love and the art that comes first and guides the professionalism they demonstrate in their first exhibit.  Bravo.

Rowland Contemporary is another gallery I respect. And they are located nearby. They do not have an opening tonight but do have a tight, humorously challenging, stimulating, exhibit updating our notion of trompe l'oeil. Convincingly using technology and technique, Kelly Kaczynski and Todd Matei get us to question what we are looking at. I thought it was fun and it made me think. That's a good thing.


Okay, the other show that opens tonight that got my juices flowing is at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery. I've like Cheonae Kim's work for years. When I had a gallery I represented her. The art is fresh, abstract and intuitive. A lot of it comes from her knowledge of language and word structure. And a lot comes from her Korean culture which she didn't realize until she went back to visit after a decade long absence. It fascinates me that she has had substantially more success, read sales, outside Chicago than she has here at home. We should fix that.


In another one person exhibition at the expansive Zolla/Lieberman is a tour de force exhibition of 'archeological' sculptures by Stephen de Stabler. These works just plain sing.  I first saw his work 30 years ago and now, as an artist in his 70's, de Stabler is making his best work.  So many artists work so hard to grow, progress and rise to the top, that by the time they are 50 they either start doing greatest hits, or they just fade away.  What a joy to see the strength and understanding in these de Stabler sculptures.  He has mastered the media and explores wonderful nuances in his glazes and how they add to the content and meaning of his work.


Some museums feel empty when I visit and some don't. One museum that always impresses me as popular is Chicago's
Museum of Contemporary Photography which is affiliated with Columbia College. They have a special exhibit called Made in China.  I was surprised to learn that this quality exhibit was curated at the MoCP and does not travel.  I've really like the large scale, large content photographs of Canadian Edward Burtynsky since I first became familiar with him about 10 years ago. I just bought his book about a week ago because I couldn't wait to see his Chinese work and then at this exhibit I see them full scale.  And Burtynsky is only one of several photographers in the well-curated show that gives a fuller understanding of what China produces, how it produces it and what it recycles.  This is a beautiful exhibit that is as informative as it is artful.


Something special is being inaugurated tonight.  Five galleries  make up the Bronzeville Art District (Gallery Guichard, Neleh Artistic Expressions, Nicole Gallery, SteeleLife Gallery and the historically significant South Side Community Art Center). Together they've coordinated to have receptions every third Friday of the month. And to make it really easy for all of us they'll have a trolley that runs between all of them as well as McCormick Place.  Easy parking, easy accessibility, camaraderie, new art. This is good.


That's it,

Thanks for stopping by,
Paul Klein