Art Letter

February 2012 Archives

Chicago Art is Getting Decentralized
I've gone to meetings about a new Cultural Plan for Chicago and have heard the citizens insightfully want art & culture in their communities.  I applaud their wisdom.  The beauty of Chicago's segregated communities is that the neighborhoods have their own cultural heritage and identity and we are all benefited by seeking it, sharing it, and not homogenizing it. Matt Tuteur honors the dignity of the people of the 46th Ward in his photographs and presents those images in the Ward in a one-day show Saturday, from 4 PM.

Jason Brammer is one of the stars of my Klein Artist Works program.  He's got massive talent, a disarmingly unique vision, and I can't tell where he'd be without me, but I'm proud to be associated with him.  Brammer lives in Wicker Park and is showing in Bucktown at Firecat Projects.  He's subtly segued from his previous time machines to a reflective, yet futuristic, look at global cartography and the human soul.  Trend following is ridiculous and Brammer steadfastly carves his own successful path.  He is an artist of the people and it is appropriate that his art is in a gallery where the people go.

Part of bringing art to the people is to present it beyond the usual locations.  It is possible to meld local interests with a global perspective as seen in Catherine Forster's works at the Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum where she examines the human instinct to mess with nature; improve it, stamp it, record it, document it and alter it.

There's still strong art to be found where we're accustomed to seeing it - in gallery districts and museums more or less in the city center. Joseph Seigenthaler, at Carl Hammer, is a powerful, focused, sculptor now rendering (political) icons of culture and commenting on his and their world view like Ralph Nader, David Rockefeller, Shel Silverstein and Ron Paul, or maybe their hunting trophies.

L1060231.JPGL1060230.JPGL1060232.JPGSynergies abound in the paired exhibits of Dana DeAno and Camille Iemmolo at Packer Schopf where DeAno's elegies on the 'positive' possibilities of detritus complement Iemmolo's search into the near-tragedies she's endured, like being thrown from a horse a year ago, breaking 7 vertebrae and emerging on the bright side of life with her humor intact. 

Bill Conger's formal paintings at Roy Boyd suggest complex cityscapes with highways, byways, waterways and a lush and crowded panoply of color, but are more akin to color poems and the pleasure of painting.

Okay.  So wherever you are, wherever you're going, go see some art.  It's out there.

Paul Klein 

Of three really powerful exhibits opening this weekend the one that most excited me is Crossing Wires at the Evanston Art Center, opening Sunday. Powerful, new media, intelligent work, with timely commentary on today's social issues abounds.  Much of the work is interactive; you get close and it barks, or starts spinning. Innovative and a great Sunday afternoon opportunity for the entire family.

oijljkld7.jpgL1060161.JPGsxcvg.jpgTwo exhibits opening tonight are also splendid.  I've seen two good shows at the Chicago Artists Coalition recently.  Last month Homa Shojaie's show was truly challenging and inspiring, and this evening Dan Giordan's exhibit makes a powerful statement, made from materials (tyvek or paper towels) that literally and figuratively resonate with his content, in a show called Hits Close to Home. L1060157.JPGL1060155.JPG
At Dubhe Carreno, Melissa Weber's work resembles a reincarnated Ruth Duckworth, with elegant, formal, quiet, beautiful porcelain sculptures and wall pieces.  The subtleties, details and shadows augment the spiritual, pristine forms and surfaces.

L1060158.JPGL1060160.jpg100422_MG_7393.jpegLet's get out there folks.  The perennial Fall is turning into an early Spring.  It's a great time to see some art!

Thank you,
Paul Klein

There's a lot of new talent emerging on the Chicago art scene, right now; talent that is art-historically knowledgeable and relevant. Artists are taking risks and galleries are following suite. 

Antonia Gurkovska is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute and makes a worthy entrance, participating in two exhibits opening tonight.  In a one-person show at Kavi Gupta, the gallery matches the artist's brave, creative, new look at minimal and historical issues, by letting her totally remake one of the galleries exhibition spaces.  I'm impressed.

Gurkovska's art sits comfortably in a definition-pushing exhibit at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, titled The Question of Their Content, curated by Carly Silverman.  The show looks at the fresh perspicacity of artists under 30. Issues for today's younger artists perpetually morph, treading new ground.  Those who do so most convincingly are those whose art historical knowledge enables them to comment and create instead of existing in a void.  This show does a good and enjoyable job of broadening our expectations and serving up glimpses of inconsistent delights.

L1060103.JPGL1060106.JPGL1060110.JPGL1060109.JPGThis is also evident in Molly Zuckerman-Hartung's paintings and installations at Corbett vs. Dempsey.  Brave, aggressive, fragmented, disparate, yet beautiful, Zuckerman-Hartung's playful, confidence reiterates and reinforces what is revealed at multiple venues; young artists who - or a first time, again - have a sense of the history that informs their media, expression and art; and have the talent and energy to comment on it intelligently and engagingly.  Given just a bit more time, several of these artists are going to explode to significance in a larger-than-Chicago realm.

The same is true of Brooklyn-based artist Sharee Hovespian, opening Saturday at Monique Meloche, where she expands on the history of photography and the sub-context of photo-grams as she elegantly explores minimalist forms.  Her exhibit is accompanied by a large window installation by Kerry James Marshall. 

Artists invariably say they make art because they have to.  They're compelled.  There's something explained in their art about their calling.  At Linda Warren, Alex O'Neal 's buoyant, colorful, over all, peoplescapes and Nicole Gordon's sculptures on paintings and intensified, magical interiors from the "Velvet Age," synergistically reveal the artists' inner drive.

At Chapel Projects at The Charnel House, Robin Dluzen presents skeletal, minimized, ghosts of urban history; the remains of the scaffolding that supported Chicago's ubiquitous water towers. And she does so in Chapel Projects - a theater and former funeral home, at the Charnel House (Charnel means "building where bones are stored.")  The romantic, nostalgic installation is a distillation of our recent past and a commentary by an engaged and socially aware artist. Another development that I'm seeing more of in recent months - art that forays outside the traditional restraints of gallery spaces, to be more contemporaneously engaged in community.

Some of this can also be seen at Secrist Gallery, in a group show about "Holes," that deals with the subject literally, by including images of holes, and metaphorically, in the portraits of men who could fill the hole of the an artist's fatherless childhood.  The show has promise, but I was there too early to get a sense of whether the entire gestalt congeals. 

One of my favorite painters is Ted Stanuga whose show is opening at Park Schreck.  He, too, is nostalgic and romantic in his consideration and dialog with abstract expressionism; yet he is more direct and purposeful in the creation of his lyrical paintings. 

Russell Bowman presents a show of drawings by diverse American Artists from Elizabeth Murray, to Philip Guston to David Smith.  It is always a pleasure to be surprised by Bowman's presentations and the joy of seeing relatively recent examples of art-historically relevant work.  Obviously some examples are better than others, but there's always a treasure or two that make the jaunt worthwhile. 

Lastly, let's welcome Bert Green to Chicago.  Green's Gallery has been a significant contribution to the LA art scene for years. and he's upped and left LA for a small but worthy space across Michigan Avenue for Millennium Park.  Always a dealer who has been interested in the dialog with artists and their art, it's clear than his inventory and exhibits are going to grow beyond his collectors' present enthusiasm for LA artists to embrace the local scene.   Bert Green is a good dealer.  He's going to be rewarding to watch.

That's it for now. With no need to shovel, we have so much more time for art.  Go find some somewhere you haven't been before.

Warm regards,
Paul Klein