Art Letter


November 2012 Archives

Three Strong Shows
Opening tonight, in an attractive new space, in an area of the city that is serving more and more artists, is a strong group exhibit at the Bridgeport Arts Center.  Anxious Object: Masterpiece or Junk was curated by Lelde Klamite and includes Bill Boyce, Mary Ellen Croteau, Sarah Barnhart Fields, Sharon Gilmore, Rita Grendze, Mike Helbing, Lisa Limas, Gary 'Hal' Link and Matt Runfola.

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L1070526.JPGArt must transcend it's materials.  What that means is that when you encounter the art, it is the art you see first and not the materials from which it was made. Several favorite artists are in the show and succeed beautifully.  Rita Grendze is new to me and presents thoughtful and emotional work that confronts societal growth, and how information is conveyed in a changing world.  Old, no longer appreciated, books are chromatically arranged as pages depart and information is redacted.  Culture moves on. Artifacts remain. 

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L1070521.JPGBill Boyce gets still stronger.  Mary Ellen Croteau does magic with coral beds made from no longer recognized, discarded, plastic bags, Sarah Barnhart Fields brings remnants of a rural culture back to life, as does Sharon Gilmore, albeit more holistically   Two of the most beautiful pieces I've ever seen of Mike Helbing's are on view; one large and wet, one small and also wet. Lisa Limas' elegant, diminutive homages to coral encourage us to pay more attention to the small, Gary "Hal  Link is a magician and Matt Runfola makes gorgeous, distinctive pieces.

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To an extent, all art is autobiographical.  With Connie Noyes, whose multi-meaning'd show, No Relation, opens at Evanston's Noyes Cultural Arts Center on Sunday, the art is all about her; her life, loves, failures, successes, attitudes, sexuality, relationships and solitude.  Noyes, who had been making extra-large paintings, broke her foot. While recuperating she returned to a former life of digitally altering photographic images, which she then loaded with the gloop and detritus she is known for. 

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Sarah Krepp's show opened at the Chicago Cultural Center a few weeks ago, but her work is so strong that I want to recommend it.  What I find striking are the multiple layers of content, the beginning point being of tracing wind currents and flight patterns to generate natural flow lines.  Imbued with a 'push me, pull you' balance of manipulating foreground and background, I love how she expands painterly issues as her art takes on greater dimensionality and movement. 

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Thanks very much,
Paul Klein

PS: Volume Gallery is more about architecture  furniture and design, but sometimes they'll present a thoroughly kickass art exhibit like this installation by Charlie O'Geen and Frank Fantauzzi.  (Checker Cab used to work out of this space.)

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Art Blooms in the Fall
I ran around like crazy trying to view all the good shows opening this weekend.

The exceptional photography dealer Catherine Edelman is celebrating her 25th anniversary in the business with a large exhibit of photographs from artists she's worked with over that period of time.  It is a tribute to her that all the artists she asked to participate did, including those she hasn't worked with for some time. Old images, new images; the show is a treasure hunt and a testimonial of how much Edelman has accomplished. 

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Right across the lobby is the joyous work of Anna Joelsdottir at Zg Gallery.  I've been a huge fan for years.  I love the serious playfulness, vibrant colors and consistent competence of her work, particularly the 3-dimensional pieces that cascade like rainbows of water.  

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There are two worthy exhibits at Zolla/Lieberman. Phyllis Bramson's dynamic works on paper are psychological mysteries that draw on herself, her childhood, and her fascination with Asian culture.  Seemingly playful, these complex works reveal themselves slowly (which is one of my requirements for truly good art) and allow us to discover her - and ourselves - over time.

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Dan Mills, who was once a Chicago artist and is now the director of the museum at Bates has curated a show for Zolla/Lieberman that includes no artists I know.  The work is all quite strong with a few exceptional pieces.  It's a refreshing injection of capable work that slows me down to absorb and appreciate the different content and techniques.

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Diana Guerrero-MaciĆ”'s work, at Threewalls, continues her look at the signs and symbols that have flooded our psyche and are an examination of the meanings we attribute to them.  Removed from their familiar context and isolated in her subtly dimension hybrid textiles, Guerrero-MaciĆ” confronts Arts & Crafts history, while propelling one's expectations about image making and painting.  I want one.

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Veranda8 is a nomadic gallery featuring artists from India. Presenting about 4 shows a year, they find beautiful spaces (this time at 401 N Racine) and present meaningful art that is new to me. Deepak Tandon's spiritual works are a mediation on unifying life forces, with images of veils of energy and flowing water. 

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At Monique Meloche, Justin Cooper builds intelligent sculptures out of unintelligent materials, sometimes based on word structures, phonics or meanings, but I like them for their formal qualities and pushing sculpture into new terrain because of those unusual materials.

cooper 1 image A.JPGJason Brammer's career trajectory keeps rising, as does his exceptional ability to make an image do whatever he wants.  From a very few feet away I think something is dimensional - or not - and invariably I perceived it wrong.  At his best he makes images that hit weighty philosophical concepts like the notion that the earth, or a rotating disk is, by definition, moving slower and slower towards it's own center, which when reached, is not moving. At Jackson Junge, Brammer shows with Jason Hawk, whose beautifully elaborate sculptures address aspirations and mortality, and the painter Keelan McMorrow.

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At Adventureland, Renee Robbins explores the fleeting pleasure of amusement parks with their lights, motion, and colors. Scaleless, the presentation of abstracted carnival stimuli engage our memories and imagination.

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And then there's SOFA, at Navy Pier, which is always a presentation of exemplary craft and accessible art.  There are numerous extraordinary pieces.  I particularly responded to a vibrant Jun Kaneko dango, and the remarkably fresh, 40 year old June Wayne tapestries, that were recently exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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I hope you get as much pleasure from these and other new exhibits as I have.

Thank you,
Paul Klein