More and more, as a viewer of art, I look for impressive content accompanied by quality execution. Rarely is it sufficient to have one without the other. I see a lot of crap masquerading as art, but pretty much itís just crap.
I previewed a lot of exhibitions for this ArtLetter and frankly some of them just donít measure up, and frankly neither do some of the galleries. There is no excuse for an absence of professionalism.
Letís start at the top. There are two special shows at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Siebren Versteeg is smarter than me. His art is accessible, but not easily decipherable. Heís exploring notions of non-linear time, like the way (algorithmic) computer formulas fold back on themselves, or if you want to think more simply, the way times compresses and expands when we pass through time zones. Fascinating, heady, beautiful literal examples abound in his work. I find it warmly challenging, making me feel younger as Iím compelled to embrace and comprehend new ideas.
Also at Rhonaís juxtaposing Siebrenís mainly monochromatic mental exercises are Chris Garofaloís organic, luscious, sensual and fantastic ceramic ďcreatures.Ē Looking like animals resembling plants there are imaginative sea anemones like Iíve never seen. It is easy to get lost in the macrocosm of the installation while examining the microcosm of her detail. This is an exhibit that makes me happy.
Next door at Monique Meloche, Laura Letinskyís new photographs show impressive growth accomplished over a short few years. Classically beautiful, arranged compositions, of contemporary detritus expand on her vocabulary. The work remains a little eerie, somewhat lonely, but oh so lyrical, subtle and strong.
Across the street at Bodybuilder is a small group show featuring works by a couple of my favorites: Ken Fandell and Diana Guerrero-Macia, among others. I was particularly impressed with Dianaís new work. Thereís significant growth in her work too - more layering and more challenging composition. I find it really gratifying to enjoy the artistic growth I witness in artists who Iíve long respected.
Juan Angel Chavez is savvy and talented. His art at Bucket Rider is smart, direct, multilayered, fun and compulsively anti-elitist. He makes art people can relate to - art about and full of life. More than most his art transcends his materials. He creates elegance from the mundane.
Renee McGinnes has been making art in Chicago for at least a decade. When I first encountered her art I thought it was pretty weak, without much ability and without much to say. Sheís always been a gracious person, attending openings and visiting galleries and sheís always cared. Her show at Packer Schopf is evidence that, over the past 3 years or so her art has undergone significant change. Her ability has skyrocketed and her content has matured. Sheís become a wonderful artist. The point is - that for some - perseverance has genuine rewards. It sure has for Renee.
Each of these artists weíve seen exhibited in Chicago in the last 18 months. Each has grown since that last exposure. Each is making better work that they ever have. This is predominantly a young to pretty young crew, making a living from their art. They are competent and professional. We should be proud and more importantly we should be supportive. I think itís time to spend some money.
A noteworthy enhancement to culture in Chicago is the expansion of the Spertus Museum, which opens tomorrow night. With a glorious new facility on Michigan Avenue next door to where it has always been, curator Staci Boris, who used to be at the MCA, gets to strut her impressive curatorial ability with an exhibition focusing on varying amounts of Jewish content in contemporary art.
Itís good out there. Letís be a part of it.