Art Letter


February 2011 Archives

Diverse Art in Chicago
Art shown in Chicago, like art made here, is diverse.  If Chicago imprints its artists with a single characteristic it is a work ethnic. The art I previewed for this ArtLetter, be it from here or not, reflects that diversity. 

Duncan Robert Anderson whose show opens tonight at Firecat Projects makes wonderful, funny, poignant, quirky vignettes that comment on the doom, gloom, optimism and odd sensibilities of our society.  He mines troves of curio and junk stores to gather the elements for his art, which he then modifies, combines and juxtaposes to arrive at these serious, yet goofy, things that make me smile. 

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I'm impressed with Josh Kolbo's art at Tony Wight.  Trained as a photographer Kolbo has pushed his medium into the realm of 3-dimensional sculpture.  He's added physicality to his work as a means of delving into the texture and materiality of his work. I think it brave territory he's entering and appreciate the beauty and presence of what is not simple work.

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I love seeing broad, diverse, solid exhibitions of works on paper - especially drawing and that is exactly what's opening at Rhona Hoffman this evening.  There's an immediacy to works on paper.  It shows the artist hand more than other mediums, rendering the artist's soul more visible and their intent more clear.  Why is it that sculptors are invariably the best drawers?

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Western Exhibitions has a colorful and fun show by three artists from New Orleans - a wonderful city, highly supportive of the arts, full of rich culture that still beckons and needs our support.  I'm pleased to see the work from there, some of which I don't associate with a New Orleans aesthetic, and I appreciate the education.  Shows like this are good for Chicago artists, giving us the ability to see something that isn't cookie-cutter-ish and that suggests the likelihood of reciprocity that exhibits like this foster. 

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The internal clash between art and gimmick intrigues me.  There are somethings that just don't seem to transcend their materials and become art - like chrome or neon. And there are others, like push pins, in the hands of Eric Daigh opening tonight at Carl Hammer, that dance in limbo.  I'm sucked in by the pixilation and image-orming right in front of (or is that between) my eyes. The hand of the artist is so removed that I'm left wondering if this is art,yet many of these portraits are of known people who agreed to have their photo taken and transformed.  Where does gimmick stop (or overlap) and where does art begin?

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L1040384.JPGThanks very much,


Strong Exhibits for a February Spring
Most artists make art because they have to.  Not much choice about it.  They have a compulsion that drives them.  And the new exhibit opening tonight at Zolla / Lieberman examines the expression of that fervor. Titled Repertoire, there are a handful of gallery artists in the show and quite a few newcomers from out of town. There's a lot of exciting work, mostly abstract - with plenty of repetitive, obsessive mark marking.  

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Claire Sherman's new paintings at Kavi Gupta are impressive.  Elegant, considered and thoughtful paintings, theyelie their meticulous rendering, and rehearsal through drawing to panel to completed canvas.  The technique and the energy are palpable; the mark-making intentional, and the results convincing.  

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Jeanne Dunning's new work opening at Donald Young is further evidence of her maturing aesthetic - growth from the more clichéd, yet interesting, one-liners I historically associate her with. This is meticulous, beautiful work. Not particularly original, it contributes to the lineage of decaying fruit that has been rendered for centuries.

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It took a long time for Renee McGinnis to hit her stride.  Though she's always hustled, it is only in the last few years that her art and technique have gelled. She's found her voice and a painstaking process that yields solid results - on view in her new exhibit opening at Packer Schopf. I'm proud of her.  She's stuck with it and segued into a genuine talent. (There's seemingly off-putting El construction near the gallery, which in actuality can still be easily accessed from the east.)

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Some of the best Chicago shows are out of town.  Not necessarily that far away; in this case at the Evanston Art Center where the artist Susan Sensemann has curated Physiotasmagorical - a show  that delves into the relationship between a person's body from the outside and the myriad, invisible things that go on on the inside.  Too many curators uncomfortably force their context on the artists' aesthetics and draw them into territory they wouldn't want to enter.  Not here.  Sensemann augments the artists' intent and adds to our undersatnding of their work.

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Let's go see some art before winter returns!  Thanks much,


Strong & Diverse Exhibits Open in Chicago
Maybe all of us start out green - particularly to ourselves.  I met Charles White briefly in the 70's.  He justified my belief in art.  He drew with great purpose.  He addressed the powerful issues of his time and embraced and emphasized all the races that weren't white. And his work was beautiful.  For me, it was the gateway to all art.  Plain and simple: someone who could draw and had something to say.  An exhibit of a body of his work opens tonight at N'Namdi 

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Having a show named after me is humbling - and also a signifier of age. Last fall I created Klein Artist Works, a 12 week class to empower artists.  The first group gelled beautifully, creating a synergy and a desire to celebrate their growth with a group exhibit.  The Paul Show, opening Saturday at the Charnel House, includes 14 artists who participated. You can tell by looking at the art that there's a disparate aesthetic, objective and quality to it. It doesn't and didn't matter.  All participants worked to elevate the level of the pond and all benefited from each other - and or course, the class too (Jess Beyler, Jason BrammerAndrew RigsbyTom Burtonwood, Robert Fields,  Doug Frohman, Teresa GettyTatjana JovancevicJill PopeRené Romero Schuler, Johannah Silva*, Hoyun Son*, Victoria Szilagyi,  Peggy Wolff.)

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All the artists in the show are stronger, wiser and more focused than they were when we first gathered.  It was my profound pleasure to work with them.

Thank you,
Paul Klein

* Johannah Silva and Hoyun Son are in Love Projects, an exhibit also opening Sunday at Portage Art Space.