Top 5 Weekend Picks! (2/26 & 2/27)

February 24, 2010 · Print This Article

1. Pamela Fraser at Golden Gallery

Golden Gallery, generally a crowd pleaser, is putting up another strong show. This round it consists of works on paper by artist Pamela Fraser. The works (from what I could find and discern) are all abstract, hyper-color pieces. Is “eye candy” a bad word in the art world?

Golden Gallery is located at 816 W. Newport Ave. Opening reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

2. Alumni at David Weinberg Gallery

I went to SAIC for grad school, but I don’t believe that gives me a complete bias for SAIC grad work. However, when I see good work from my fellow alums, I got to give it a shout.  David Weinburg is putting on an exhibition of “recent” SAIC grad work, including that of Amy Mayfiled, Noelle Allen, Helen Maurene Cooper, & Michael Ratulowski. If you haven’t seen their work yet (which, if you’ve been in Chicago a while, is unlikely) make sure you stop by. If you already know their work, head over for a refresher on why they’re awesome.

David Weinberg Gallery  is located at 300 W. Superior St. Opening reception is Friday from 5-8pm. Read more




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




Episode 224: Carroll Dunham

December 13, 2009 · Print This Article

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This week: Guest interviewer Anna Kunz (accompanied by Pamela Fraser) talks to Carroll Dunham about his show at He Said/She Said and more!

Carroll Dunham
American painter. He completed a BA at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 1971 and later settled in New York. Initially influenced by Post-Minimalism, process art and conceptual art, he was soon attracted to the tactility and allusions to the body in the work of Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Spurred on by the revival of interest in Surrealism in the 1970s, Dunham began to make abstract, biomorphic paintings reminiscent of the work of Arshile Gorky and André Masson, executed with a comic twist enhanced by lurid colours and the suggestion of contemporary psychedelia.

In the 1980s he began to paint on wood veneer and rose to prominence in the context of a broader return to painting in the period. Age of Rectangles (1983–5; New York, MOMA) is a highly abstract composition of differing forms, symptomatic of his work at this time: geometric sketches co-exist with eroticized organic shapes while the forms of the wood veneer show through the surface of the paint to suggest surging forces.

Towards the end of the 1980s he began to move towards single, dominating motifs; wave-like forms were particularly common. In the Integrated Paintings series he applied paint-covered balls and chips to the surface of the canvas to further develop the sense of organic life. Mound A (1991; priv. col.) is typical of Dunham’s work of the early 1990s in which his forms began to resemble mounds of live matter, covered in orifices. Around 1993 his paintings began to feature schematic, cartoon figures which suggest the influence of Philip Guston. Read more




Episode 166: Meg Cranston at He Said She Said.

November 3, 2008 · Print This Article

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This week Pamela Fraser of He Said She Said joins Duncan in interrogating Meg Cranston about being cool, getting punched, smashing sculptures and the substance of air.

From Wikipedia…

Meg Cranston (born 1960) is an artist who works in sculpture and painting as well as a writer. She has exhibited internationally since 1988. She received and M.F.A in Studio from California Institute of the Arts in 1986 and a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology in 1982. She also attended the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht, The Netherlands in 1988. She is on the Faculty at Otis College of Art and Design.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards including a New School of Social Research Faculty Development Grant, an artist grant from the Penny McCall Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship,a faculty research grant from the Center for Asian American Studies at UCLA, Architectural Foundation of America, Art in Public Places Award, and a C.O.L.A. Individual Artist’s Grant from Los Angeles Cultural Affairs.
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