Art Letter


The Fall Season Opens, Part II
We've got another weekend of strong exhibitions opening.  The long awaited arrival of the new DePaul Art Museum is here.  The first show, opening Saturday, is titled Re: Chicago and is exceptional; full of treasures, contexts and curiosity.  Some 40 Chicago art personalities (for lack of a better term) were asked to nominate an artist who should be known, with emphasis placed on the selection not being from the usual cast of characters.  

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L1050329.JPGBesides a beautiful new venue for seeing art in Chicago, the show is fun because of its imperfections.  This is curation by committee and it makes for curious juxtapositions. There are artists you might not think warrant inclusion, others that might be too obvious and some where collectors suggest an artist - and a piece - from their own collection.

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Seeing the exhibit makes one mindful of the strengths of good curators and the strengths and certainly weaknesses of assigning selection decisions to the others.

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Regardless, there's wonderful art here not seen sufficiently in Chicago in a long time, like Macena Barton, Maniere Dawson, Ralph Arnold, Arthur B. Davies, Gertrude Abercrombie and Harry Callahan, along with a number of contemporary favorites.  For lots of reasons, I find this a thoroughly wonderful show and definitely hope there's a curated sequel sometime soon. 

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Rhona Hoffman presents a painting show curated by former Chicagoan, Hudson of Feature. Hudson has long had a prescient eye.  I remember walking in to his Chicago gallery in the early80's as a show was being installed and the artist sitting on the floor injecting mercury into basketballs surrounded by Dr. J posters.  In the show at Rhona's, the premise is the 80's began a long stretch of 'brainy' art, where the art was predominately about theory and conveying information.  This show, and a lot of Feature's agenda, is about visceral art that elicits a body reaction and not solely a mental one,  He finds it more ambiguous and inclusive.  There's a lot of art and a lot to talk about here.

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L1050343.JPGDonald Young is presenting new work by Bruce Nauman, one of the first artists to succeed by agitating and annoying, pushing the envelope and expanding boundaries.  Never one of my favorite artists, I acknowledge that he has contributed to the freight train of art history, but his work invariably leaves me cold or bored.  Nevertheless, his dexterity is impressive in a new video where he follows his own prerecorded commands about how many and which fingers to hold up - supposedly "an exercise of coordination  as both artist and participant wrestle between body and language.".  I just wonder where his head is.

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There's another divergent, non-mainstream, solid exhibit at FireCat Projects where Ellen Greene offers an updated take on the tattoos of the 1930's and 40's, painted on long gloves and presented in pairs. There are also several paintings in this earthy, populist exhibit.

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L1050353.JPGIn an answer to the question about the relationship between the work artists make and their straight day jobs the exhibit at Architrouve presents 3 painters who work in painting conservation and restoration.  I don't suppose any restorers actually make sweeping, gesturalbrush strokes as there's clearly an affinity here for 'tight' work, but the question I'm still left with is whether these artists make this painstaking work because they are restorers or the other way around.  Regardless, the relationship intrigues.

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Go for it,
Paul Klein