Top 5 (7/31-8/2)

July 30, 2009 · Print This Article

Here’s my picks, yo.

1. Milwaukee Ave. Arts Fest.

MilwaukeeAvenueArtsFestival

Just ‘cus there are a ton of things going on of this ‘Fest, there’s bound to be something good happening. My suggestion: hit The Whistler and see Plural’s installation. All along Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 11pm.

2. Printer’s Ball at Columbia College

PrintersBallColumbiaCollege

Columbia College hosts their 5th Printers Ball. It’s gonna be huge, and it’s free! Come see all things print! Friday night from 5-11pm.

3. Burn at Ben Russell

BenRussell

Their press release sold me. All things summer and all on fire. Come and celebrate your inner (or outer) pyro. Sunday 6-10pm.

4. Public Works at Andrew Rafacz

AndrewRafaczGallery

Four boys on display at Rafacz. The exhibition was organized by Andrew and Someoddpilot to celebrate Chicago artists who’ve played large parts in the local art and music scenes. Friday night from 6 to 9pm.

5. Double Closing Fun: Home and Golden

JennyBuffington

Jenny Buffington at The Diorama Show

AspenMays

Aspen Mays

Two closing receptions are happening this weekend, both for good shows you should see if you haven’t yet: The Diorama Show at Home Gallery, and Concentrate and Ask Again at Golden. Go by for one last horah. Home closing: Sunday noon to 3pm. Golden closing: Sunday 3 to 6pm.




Rachel Mason at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

March 20, 2009 · Print This Article

Rachel Mason’s show at Andrew Rafacz Gallery inspired something in me I never thought I’d feel: the desire to pick up the grizzled Fidel Castro and put him in my pocket.

Rachel Mason, Fidel Castro, President of Cuba

Rachel Mason, Fidel Castro, President of Cuba

Or at least, the little bust of him that Mason has made, along with dozens of other late 20th century political figures that have been arranged on a shelf spanning three of the gallery’s walls.

Mason has done a pretty good job at capturing the likes of Castro, Margaret Thatcher, Leonid Bhreznev and an astonishingly numerous array of  others whose heads we’ve seen on television screens or in newspapers but which have here been reduced to the scale of domestic knick-knacks. This editioned series of sculptures is part of a long-term project in which Mason fantasized about the emotional lives of world leaders embroiled in war and conflict.

Rachel Mason, I rule with a broken heart

Rachel Mason, I rule with a broken heart, installation view

In an attempt to gain a subjective and emotional understanding of their controversial actions, she’s projected herself into their personas via live performances, videos, writings by herself and others, and sculptural figurines made over the last four years (check out the artist’s website for examples of texts, music and performances from this project, which is titled “The Ambassadors”).

Rachel Mason, "I Rule With A Broken Heart"

Rachel Mason, "I Rule With A Broken Heart"

andrewrafaczgallery0001221This multi-faceted project is difficult to contain in a single gallery (Rafecz is showing the sculptures, an artist’s book, and apparently a video which wasn’t on when I visited the gallery last Wednesday). I have to admit I don’t always have a lot of patience for sprawling, multi-part performance-based works of this type. It’s a weakness on my part, I know, but the fetishist in me remains fully under the sway of objects, be they two – or three-dimensional, and I do tend to think that objects work best when left to their own devices. Mason’s great feat is her ability to take historical leaders, some revered, some loathed and feared, and shrink them to the size of Hummel figures without simultaneously rendering them objects of kitsch. There’s a certain pathos to the artist’s labor-intensive efforts to create things that could so easily be dismissed as cutesy jokes; but Mason’s sincerity comes though in the way she inserts her own, slightly smaller ambassadorial figure into the parade of statues as a persistent disruption. The empathy with which Mason approaches the subject of war and political leadership is an anomaly in this age of hard-line factionalism and harsh political rhetoric. It’s easy to wear your politics on your t-shirt, but far more difficult to cloak yourself in the garb of your political Other and, heart on sleeve, sing a song or write a poem in their name. The show closes Saturday, so if you want to see it, go over right away.