Review: The Object of Nostalgia at A+D Gallery

February 15, 2010 · Print This Article

I was a bit behind the curve when it came to checking out The Object of Nostalgia, up through this Saturday, February 12th at Columbia College’s A+D Gallery, having only learned about it last week in conjunction with the CAA panel on the same topic. The show’s central organizing question–what is worthy to speak about when one is making “important” art?–is of great personal interest (I’m also keen to apply that same question to criticism, but that’s another post). So any exhibition that takes an unapologetic look at our (so-called) “nostalgic” connection to the object in contemporary art-making, or as the curators put it, contemplates the nature of “sentimentality and its conflicted relation to contemporary art” is a most welcome thing for me to behold and overall, a project to which I’m pretty much automatically sympathetic.

Curators Rene Marquez and Lance Winn invited four artists to participate in the show, and asked each of them to select another artist  whose work resonated with the exhibition’s themes. This all worked quite well, and the result is an exhibition filled with strong pieces, in which aesthetic genres such as portraiture, ceramics, the family snapshot (framed and resting on shelves, no less) and even 19th century dog paintings make a return. I especially liked Dawn Gavin‘s altered paper map pieces, which serve to remind us that in the age of augmented reality, the two dimensional map has already gone the way of the LP record. Although I tend to think maps alone are compelling enough to contemplate as-is, Gavin’s delicate incursions into the map-as-physical object changed my mind. They’re surgically precise yet seem to tremble with unspoken feeling.

Dawn Gavin, Lung (2005-2007), detail.

Dawn Gavin, Lung (2005-2007). Altered US interstate map and insect pins.

I also thought Clayton Merrell’s paintings were terrific (the one featured in the catalogue is actually not in the show). They’re old fashioned plein-air type landscapes in oils and egg tempera, but their surfaces have been brushed over, scratched and scraped and otherwise distressed, if you will, in a manner that suggests a desire to caress the surface, perhaps to the point of being unable to leave it alone.

Clayton Merrill, New Particle Cascade, 2008. Egg tempera on panel.

What’s more, Merrill adds all manner of abstract geometric as well as biomorphic forms to his open skyscapes–sunbursts, droplets, along with numerous fractal elements that skitter and unfold and otherwise ladder their way across his compositions.  Like all great paintings, Merrill’s look better in real life than they do in reproduction, so try and see them in person if at all possible.

Clayton Merrill, Zinc Exhalation, 2004. Egg tempera on panel.

There’s not a single bad piece in the show. I would, however, have liked to have seen a lot more of Julia Lothrop’s tiny oil portraits — there are only two on view here, not enough to make the impact that I’m betting a whole long row of them would have made. Also: if this is the same Julia Lothrop who is a RISD alumni and makes cloth dolls out of vintage fabric — someone made a very grave error in not including those dolls in this show as opposed to the more acceptable little oil paintings. I shouldn’t have to elaborate why – take another look at the show’s main argument. But if it’s not the same Julia Lothrop, then, uh, scratch that.

Elaine Rutherford, installation view.

I also liked Elaine Rutherford’s installation very much, but wished that the small video screen of lapping waves wasn’t part of it. It’s not that I’m against the presence of technology in a show like this, I just didn’t want my attention to be taken away, even for a second, from the gilded porcelain cabbage leaves strewn on the wooden shelf before me. Read more




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.




Don Colley’s Insane Clown Posse

July 6, 2009 · Print This Article

If Don Colley’s drawings were movies, I’d be first in line to see them. The Chicago-based artist’s noirish, grab-you-by-the-throat depictions of evil clowns, brawling boxcar hobos, and flamboyant carnie types are intensely cinematic, evoking angsty narrative scenarios that are part Nicholas Ray, part Coen Brothers, and part Mad Men, with a dash of Bruce Nauman thrown in for good measure. They’re sinister and alluring, able to suggest entire storylines within a single drawing (many of which are seen in close-up, tightly wrapped in beautifully carved wooden frames that are themselves reminiscent of artisinal tramp art).

Colley’s drawings and paintings can currently be seen in Midwestern Blab! (on view through July 22nd at Columbia College’s A+D Gallery), an exibition of five Midwest-based contributors to Monte Beauchamp’s Blab! magazine. There are some terrific large-scale works by Colley there that can only be seen in the exhibition (photography was not permitted in the gallery) so if you’re in the Chicago area, try to check it out before the show closes in a couple of weeks.

Colley has also had shows at Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago, George Adams Gallery in New York and Philip Slein Gallery in St. Louis.

Don Colley

Judicious, 2004

Don Colley

Glimmer, 2004

Calling of the Falls

Calling of the Falls

Hindsight

Hindsight

Fuel, 2006

Fuel, 2006

The Sunny Disposition

The Sunny Disposition

Nocturne

Nocturne

DC 21, Appeal

Gemelos

Gemelos

Sweat Lodge

Sweat Lodge

My Burdened Heart

My Burdened Heart

Picture 6




Episode 186: The Print Show for Southern Graphics

March 22, 2009 · Print This Article

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It’s all Duncan all the time this week. This week’s show is a three for the price of one deal!

In preparation for the biggest printmaking event of the year, the Southern Graphics Council meeting for 2009 hosted by Chicago’s Columbia College, Duncan interrogates Mark Pascale (Curator of Prints and Drawings, Art Institute of Chicago), Debora Wood (Senior Curator, Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum) and Christine Tarkowski (Associate Professor, Fiber and Material Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago) about the current state of Printmaking as an autonomous art form and its position in the academy.

We had better see all of you in Wicker Park this Friday for a kick ass set of openings at the Green Lantern, Roots and Culture, Llyod Dobbler, and Heaven!

See you then. Read more