Art Letter


June 2011 Archives

I'm not the only one out there empowering artists.  For over a decade, the Artadia folks have been generously supporting visual artists in numerous American cities.  Not only have they given financial support, advice and contacts, they are now enabling exchange exhibits to introduce artists from one city to another.  A few months ago 8 Chicago Artadia Award recipients showed in Houston.

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Sunday at the Hyde Park Art CenterMessin' with Texas opens.  Of the 7 Houston artists, I exhibited 2 before I closed my gallery in 2004. And another went to school with my wife.  The point being that the art villages themselves are rather small, and lots of people in one know members from others.

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Artadia solicits artists through an open call and then uses national judges to make their selections.  We are seeing national quality on a local stage, which is another way of saying these artists are on a rising trajectory to significant recognition and some have already attained it - perhaps because of their Artadia support.

J2272x1704-01411.jpgArtadia even takes their support further by recently publishing a handsome book of 2 years of their awards. It adds perspective to the talent we see at the Hyde Park Center.  I don't think we can say anything stereotypical about the batch of Houston artists.  There isn't a cowboy hat or a pair of boots anywhere, anymore than the Chicago artists had pizza or snow. 

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The point is that the most talent isn't necessarily in New York.  It's just noisier there.  There is equal or superior talent across the U.S and the world. Who gets recognition and who doesn't is often a byproduct of preparation and whimsy. Artadia's mission of discovery and support levels the playing field, enables artists nationally, and recognizes diverse talent.  We are fortunate for their presence and that Chicago gets to view this rising talent. 

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I appreciate artists who take the initiative to improve their careers and especially those who do so creatively.  Such is the case with a two-person show of beautiful nude photography in a space that never shows fine art.  Finnegan Gallery, a warehouse of antique outdoor extravagance into which Jennifer Wolfe and Peter LeGrand have placed, juxtaposed and harmonized their art. The whole thing works disarmingly well. Tonight only.

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Summer is clearly the time for group shows and none I saw came with the weighty hand a curator sometimes imposes.  Thomas Masters has a four person group show of artists from Europe and the U.S.  Matt Schommer makes strong, large drawings of a portion of known people's faces.  The scale and harsh cropping sharpens our focus and our memory.

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Valerie Carberry's summer group show is of drawings.  I'm not sure I've ever seen en Eva Hesse drawing before. And the proximity of a Jim Lutes drawing to one by Hans Hoffmann creates a dynamic relationship of similar mark-making. 

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I had a meeting at the Cultural Center and took a moment to see and be seduced by Aristotle Georgiades' beautiful sculptures.  The work elegantly transcends its materials while being true to their antecedents.  Not a preview, the show has been up for a while, but it is definitely worth a closer look.    

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Thank you,
Paul Klein




Summer Art Seen
Often, good art results from collaboration.  Such was the case with the William Wegman photos at Carl Hammer Gallery.  Over a decade ago Wegman asked Hammer if he could borrow a slew of sideshow banners as backdrops to use in his photos with his dogs.  So Hammer shipped off over a dozen pieces.  All went well. The photos were exhibited in museums and elsewhere.  End of story - until recently when Director Yolanda Farias and Hammer decided to mount a summer exhibit of sideshow banners and remembered lending pieces to Wegman, which they proceeded to borrow and share with us.  Some are thoroughly wonderful and the oversized Snapp Wyatt banner is a remarkable work of art.
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Sometimes art happens by accident - and/or, we don't recognize that it's happening.  Frank Paluch is the director of Perimeter Gallery and he is having a exhibit of his art, up the street, at Judy Saslow.  Frank doodles when he is on the phone and he makes rather elaborate renderings that have a relationship to the person with whom he is speaking.  Fortunately, I could not recognize myself in any of Frank's drawings. It was perceptive of Judy to notice Frank's large drawing pad and make the appropriate leap to offering Frank a show. 

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One of the core messages in the Klein Artist Works program is that artwork should resonate with the artist's heart and soul.  In so doing the artist can explore what makes them unique and present that distinctiveness to their audience.  Distinctive art - art that is distinguishable from all others is of primary importance.  I've always found Joanne Aono's masterful art distinctive; with the invariable pairings of atmospheric water imagery, realistically rendered objects and obscured text.  Meaning is ostensibly withheld though we are given enough clues to construct our own truths.  Aono is showing at Images Gallery, a cooperative that annually reaches outside its membership for a show that draws from the community - like this one.

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I'm impressed that Walsh Gallery can continually work directly with Asian artists and do well enough from a Chicago base to perpetually present strong exhibitions like the one which opened last night with Zhu Ming.  In his bubble/balloon performances there is balancing of the real and the dream, reality and imagination, fact and fiction; the two different parts that occupy us and balances our existence.  In Zhu Ming's work these forces are in greater balance than in my life.  And though the photographs of the performances seem in contrast to the glow-in-the-dark paintings presented here, each body of work delves into the balance and the dichotomy.   

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Thank you,
Paul Klein