Art Letter

January 2012 Archives

The value of three points I stress in my artist empowering, Klein Artist Works course, are borne out in exhibits unveiling tonight in Chicago.

In a studio visit with Veronica Bruce, perhaps 3 years ago, I noticed her paintings felt like they were constrained and wanted to burst out.  I encouraged her to think about sculpture.  I also suggested that she wasn't going to get very far until she quit her day job and reminded her of the Vikings who went to war and upon landing on foreign shores burned their ships. (The message being to have genuine conviction and to make the big commitment.) We've barely communicated since that visit, but I've been watching her art and career.  For the next 5-6 weeks she is an artist-in-residence at Three Walls, where the entire room she is working in is a work in progress, ever responding to the subtleties that came with the space, playing with form, angles, light, imperfections, ambiguity and humor. This is fresh stuff, without ready antecedents, and I find it particularly strong and brave.  There's a real sense that significant things are going to happen for this young artist. I've felt it before and been right. There's an opening at Three Walls tonight and Veronica, and her art, can be seen then or any time the gallery is open.

L1060047.JPGSeveral years ago, when I first saw Wayne White's painted words on thrift shop art prints I thought he'd stumbled upon a fun, flighty gimmick.  I advise artists to make art that is distinguishable - and White's art certainly is.  Years ago, it felt shallow.  But not anymore. As evidenced by his show opening tonight at Packer Schopf, the artist and the work have grown, getting more complicated and proficient as the text he applies plays off the trite supporting content and comments on the art world and life in general.  Fun, pithy and unique. 

L1060049.JPGToo much art today feels too loose and void of intent - the stuff my wife, Amy, typically refers to as dorm art, and I was afraid that was what I was going to encounter in New Formalism II at 65Grand.  But instead I found a show, curated by Chicago critic Abraham Ritchie, of well-considered, conceptually intriguing, beautifully created and attractively installed paintings dealing with contemporary formalism - meaning it has to do with form and the spatial relationship of one form within a painting to another.  I tell artists to make art that works from a certain distance and encourages the viewer to step forward, to better engage with the art, and the works on exhibit here do precisely that by rewarding the viewer for taking that extra step.


Up north a bit, two strong painters are opening at Eyeporium. Joanne Aono obfuscates text within seascapes or patterned abstraction, creating art that exists on two (or more) levels and series of work that evolve like stanzas in a poem.  Her work is paired with the impressive, lush, painterly, richly impastoed, not-so-new, formalism of Brenda Barnum's nature-inspired abstractions. Thoughtful and meditative, they play off their components and each other. 

Thanks for reading!
Paul Klein

Art Rules
One of my latest fascinations is how artists use rules - constraints or systems - in the process of making their art.  In a show called Moves Thinks Repeats Pauses at Tony Wight, five artists employ arbitrary constraints.  One of the artists photographs, prints, creases, rephotographs, reprints, recreases and does it again. Another documents tossed children's blocks and feeds the images into a randomizer before deciding what colors he should employ.  All this is done in an effort to remove the artist from the creative process, or a part of it.  And then there's the thought that the 'proof of the pudding is in the eating' and 'what you see is what you get.'  Or are we supposed to ask for clues or read the wall text that explains what we are looking at?

John Fraser's new work at Roy Boyd is more beautiful than the last body of work which I thought was as good as it can get.  He too uses constraints in geometrically rendering found objects as a reflection that seeks to stop time, but the results are Modern and attractive.  (I published a status question on Facebook about Rules that's yielded over 50 insightful responses.)

RenĂ© Romero Schuler's work at Jennifer Norback is more about content and technique than rules, as she delves into feminist issues, but with a universal language.  All of us put on 'costumes' on a daily basis, but women mask their strife with pretty dresses and make up and present a strength that belies their history more than I do.  Some of the paintings are seductively glittered that make more literal the surface beauty Schuler pushes beyond. 

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Also opening tonight is a show of Barbara Cooper's work at Perimeter, which is gorgeous as she realizes a constancy of undulating forms through an ever diverse array of media.  She's a gifted crafts-person who delivers sensuous, mature, sexy forms.

At Catherine Edelman, Vicktoria Sorochinski photographs a mother and daughter whose synergy is theatrically fascinating as I can't help but wonder who (what) this only child is going to grow up to be.  It's the kind of work I think of as 'Voyeurvision' - as if we are peeping through a keyhole into a private world where we know we don't belong but have massive difficulty pulling ourselves away or forgetting what we saw.

2012-01-05_0855.png2012-01-05_0853.png2012-01-05_0851.pngI enjoy seeing galleries grow up and make a larger statement in support of their artists. Ebersmoore has outgrown their live/work space and have moved to a space solely dedicated to art.  Congratulations to them.  May their accomplishments and success continue. 

ebersmoore photo 3.JPGIn a previous ArtLetter I wrote about the beautiful show of Karen Reimer's work Monique Meloche.  The night of the opening there was a fire in the ceiling and the gallery closed for over a month to rebuild  But not all is bad news.  The gallery has reopened, Reimer's show has been extended to the end of January and there'll be an informal conversation between Reimer and Shannon Stratton on Thursday the 12th.  They have earned and deserve our support.

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Thanks folks & Happy New Year!
Paul Klein