Art Letter


More and more, as a viewer of art, I look for impressive content accompanied by quality execution. Rarely is it sufficient to have one without the other. I see a lot of crap masquerading as art, but pretty much it's just crap.

I previewed a lot of exhibitions for this ArtLetter and frankly some of them just don't measure up, and frankly neither do some of the galleries.  There is no excuse for an absence of professionalism.

Let's start at the top.  There are two special shows at
Rhona Hoffman GallerySiebren Versteeg is smarter than me. His art is accessible, but not easily decipherable.  He's exploring notions of non-linear time, like the way (algorithmic) computer formulas fold back on themselves, or if you want to think more simply, the way times compresses and expands when we pass through time zones.  Fascinating, heady, beautiful literal examples abound in his work. I find it warmly challenging, making me feel younger as I'm compelled to embrace and comprehend new ideas. 

Also at Rhona's juxtaposing Siebren's mainly monochromatic mental exercises are
Chris Garofalo's organic, luscious, sensual and fantastic ceramic "creatures." Looking like animals resembling plants there are imaginative sea anemones like I've never seen.  It is easy to get lost in the macrocosm of the installation while examining the microcosm of her detail. This is an exhibit that makes me happy.

Next door at
Monique Meloche, Laura Letinsky's new photographs show impressive growth accomplished over a short few years.  Classically beautiful, arranged compositions, of contemporary detritus expand on her vocabulary.  The work remains a little eerie, somewhat lonely, but oh so lyrical, subtle and strong.

Across the street at
Bodybuilder is a small group show featuring works by a couple of my favorites: Ken Fandell and Diana Guerrero-Macia, among others.  I was particularly impressed with Diana's new work.  There's significant growth in her work too - more layering and more challenging composition. I find it really gratifying to enjoy the artistic growth I witness in artists who I've long respected.

Juan Angel Chavez is savvy and talented.  His art at Bucket Rider is smart, direct, multilayered, fun and compulsively anti-elitist. He makes art people can relate to - art about and full of life.  More than most his art transcends his materials.  He creates elegance from the mundane.

Renee McGinnes has been making art in Chicago for at least a decade. When I first encountered her art I thought it was pretty weak, without much ability and without much to say.  She's always been a gracious person, attending openings and visiting galleries and she's always cared. Her show at Packer Schopf is evidence that, over the past 3 years or so her art has undergone significant change.  Her ability has skyrocketed and her content has matured. She's become a wonderful artist.  The point is - that for some - perseverance has genuine rewards. It sure has for Renee.

Each of these artists we've seen exhibited in Chicago in the last 18 months. Each has grown since that last exposure. Each is making better work that they ever have.  This is predominantly a young to pretty young crew, making a living from their art.  They are competent and professional.  We should be proud and more importantly we should be supportive.  I think it's time to spend some money.

A noteworthy enhancement to culture in Chicago is the expansion of the
Spertus Museum, which opens tomorrow night.  With a glorious new facility on Michigan Avenue next door to where it has always been, curator Staci Boris, who used to be at the MCA, gets to strut her impressive curatorial ability with an exhibition focusing on varying amounts of Jewish content in contemporary art.

It's good out there. Let's be a part of it.

Thank you,