October 19, 2010 · Print This Article
I’ve written a piece on painter Raychael Stine in this week’s issue of New City.Â I’ve been interested in Stine’s work ever since she was included in Columbia College’s Object of Nostalgia exhibition last year. She has a nice selection of paintings up in the lobby gallery at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage through December. Here’s the intro to the piece; just click on over to New City to read the full profile:
“Thereâ€™s a lot of excess baggage that comes with being a young female painter who makes paintings of her dogs. Just ask Raychael Stine. A 2010 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicagoâ€™s MFA program, Stine is sometimes asked if she does commissionsâ€”â€œI have a Chihuahua too! Can you paint him?â€ When she was an undergrad at UT Dallas, Stine was referred to as â€œThe girl who paints her dogs.â€ Even more vexing is the persistent assumption that Stineâ€™s representational approach to painting is something she has yet to â€œoutgrow,â€ as if it were not, in fact, a tactic she has consciously chosen for its ability to encapsulate emotionally inchoate and often covertly personal subjects within forms that have themselves been cast off as degraded, subservient, less-than.”
Can I also just add that the exhibitions Barbara Wiesen has been organizing at the McAninch Arts Center have been rocking my world as of late? What I especially admire and appreciate about Ms. Wiesen’s programming of the Gahlberg Gallery space is the consistent attention she is paying to Chicago’s mid-career artists. The College of DuPage, which is located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, can be a bit of a hike to get to – but the exhibitions here are never less than totally worth the effort, and as a perk parking is free and easy-peasy.
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.
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. 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