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 artistÂ 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.
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.
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.Â 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.
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.
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
Here’s my picks, yo.
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.
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.
Their press release sold me. All things summer and all on fire. Come and celebrate your inner (or outer) pyro. Sunday 6-10pm.
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.
Jenny Buffington at The Diorama Show
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.
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.
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