Art Letter

November 2009 Archives


It's always rewarding to see a rock solid painting exhibit by one of Chicago's finest artists.  Jim Lutes' exhibition of new work at Valerie Carberry is refreshing after having seen a survey exhibition of his work at the Renaissance Society, which was solid, but by definition, backward looking.  This show looks like a bit of a breakthrough with fewer paintings executed in egg tempera - a painstakingly slow medium - in favor of more oil paintings. Not only that, there are strong moves into new a new, more figurative direction, overlaying abstract strokes on quirky representation compositions. This is really good work that makes me want to pay attention to see where it's taking us.

Corey Postiglione has been a mainstay of Chicago's art community for decades - as an art maker, a teacher and a critic.  Through all means he has left an imprint. His art, at Thomas Masters is thoughtful, meditative, formal and slow. Slow in that his art takes time to decipher.  It's damned hard for a lot of artists who teach to have the energy to focus on their own aesthetic and not have it compromised by their "straight" job. Impressively, Postiglione succeeds on both counts.

Congratulations to Julie Walsh and her eponymous gallery and her 16 years of presenting fascinating, insightful art that offers us an insight into Asian cultures and provides a foil for us to better understand our own taste and visceral responses.  Her new exhibit features just about every artist she has ever worked with in a celebration As hard as it is for any gallery to succeed, it's got to be a lot harder for someone constantly presenting art to an audience that hasn't quite experienced anything like it before.  Thank you Julie for the didactic, creative contribution.

Ed Marszewski (Edmar) is the most innovative, conscientious art impresario and provocateur I know. Of course, he couldn't squat without his wife Rachel keeping him focused (ha!) and on task.  This evening, Edmar and Rachel's Co-Prosperity Sphere is presenting Super Bad Ass, a fine show of appropriately aggressive and talented art, along with an evening full of not very mild music.  You want to be there.

Sad to say
I Space's tenure as the University of Illinois' Chicago gallery outpost is over - a result of cost-cutting.  One exhibit features the late works of David Bushman who educated perhaps a 1000 artists over his long career.  Also on view is Architecture of Crisis, which moves beyond the desire to be Green and highlights the vast amount of forsaken buildings and projects that lay fallow and suggests the need to recycle and reuse existing materials. Provocative and timely.  Over the years I Space has presented a lot of great art and provided a significant service to their school, its artists and teachers and Chicago.  Logic indicates that they'll be back. I hope it's soon.

The following two exhibitions open Saturday. Patience.

James Welling's innovative and seductive photographic works open Saturday at Donald Young's beautifully situated gallery across from the Art Institute.  To say that Welling works in photographic media is to limit him. Over half a century ago Ansel Adams created the 'cookbook' that almost all photographers still pay allegiance to. By tossing the book and working with lensless cameras or even film without a camera he explores the medium, or anything at all, he pushes beyond the limits of "normal" and makes some really beautiful work.

Apartment galleries come and go; typically because they were never intended to be a long term project. Some mature and move on to greater legitimacy than they anticipated, but many are a short term exercise for artists or curators in training. Coming up with stimulating group exhibits is hard for museums and galleries. Too often the curators think they are artists and try to make an artistic statement instead of serving the interests of the artists themselves.  The new
Concertina Gallery is getting it right in their new exhibit titled Party Crashers, which considers the role of artists in their documentation of family matters. Innovative, insightful, intrusive and fun.

That's some damned good art and solid exhibitions opening this weekend.

Let's go!

Paul Klein


There's some superb art coming on view this weekend.

First and foremost is an exhibition of
Gregory Scott's work at Catherine Edelman. I've been awaiting this show for some time and it gloriously surpassed my expectations. I've known Greg for maybe 5 or 6 years and here he is hitting his stride.  This is precisely the kind of art I like: accessible, complicated, fun, technologically savvy, full of self reflection and simultaneously a commentary on the artworld.  To me this is the breakthrough of someone who is going to be significant.

You know how we can go to YouTube and embed a video on our website?  Well, how about embedding a video in a painting - or a photograph - seamlessly?  These are great - full of personal content, humorous, metaphorical and poignant.  I love 'em. (There are some great excepts on
the gallery's website.)

Like most sculptors
David Smith drew beautifully and a healthy selection of outstanding Smith drawings and paintings on paper are on view at Russell Bowman.  It is wonderful to see fresh material from a significant sculptor - a museum quality show, full of familiar motifs and divergent presentations of iconic Smith forms. Perhaps a revelation - or maybe just a beautiful exhibit.

Certainly we're all familiar with decades of
Jules Feiffer's cartoons from 40 years of inclusion in the Village Voice and the New Yorker. Seeing them up close and personal is revealing, without the uniformity and squashing generated by reproduction. They're good, direct, economical in execution, concise and pithy.

Those shows open tonight.  Opening tomorrow is an insightful group show at
MoniqueMeloche, with new works by gallery and invited artists.  More cohesive than most group exhibitions, Sign of the Time presents divergent parts that coalesce to make a salient commentary.

On Sunday, is a one day show/opening/studio presentation at
Bruce Thorn's studio warmly referred to as Chicago's 10 of senior artists getting together to present their work ensemble. I love it. Artists taking responsibility for getting their work out - just plain doing it without the interference (or assistance of a gallery. Want to really speak with an artist who's been around, knows the scene and is comfortable taking about their art? Then go Sunday.

Over at
FR Works on Paper is a presentation of old (maybe 50 years) industrial photographs showing the men and women who made honed the precision machinery of 'the greatest generation.' Hardworking Americans getting their due - in retrospect. And it's a good thing hair styles have changed.

This is
SOFA weekend.  The opening was last night, but I was there when they were still installing.  Maybe I'm changing.  I used to find this show annoying - way too much glass. But after looking at it for years - and my becoming more interested in work that is accessible I'm finding the SOFA show at Navy Pier intriguing - a lot of beautiful pieces and no where near as much 'attitude' as were used to seeing at art fairs. Here's a lot of pictures for you to make up your own mind.

Okay.  No excuses. Go see some art. Support your community. Have fun!

Paul Klein