Guest Post by Jeriah Hildwine
Stephanie and I took the Metra to Hammond, Indiana, where Linda Dorman and Tom Torluemke picked us up at the station, and brought us back to their place.Â We ate pizza around their dining room table and then drank beer around a campfire in their backyard. Â (Linda drank Coke, Tom Oâ€™Doulâ€™s.)Â Tom had built a perfect teepee fire, abashedly using compressed firestarters (which he called â€œcheatingâ€) to light the fire.
They took us to Sidecar Gallery to see â€œWater,â€ a show of work by Tom Burtonwood, Holly Holmes, and James Jankowiak.Â Tom Burtonwood created a wallpaper of a computer-generated alphabet consisting of isomorphic perspective renderings of three-dimensional blocks (like Tetris pieces), each rendered in a different, simple pattern of marks.Â It looked like a 1980s visualization of some kind of data set, but in fact represented an alphabet or code.Â Apparently it incorporated QR codes which stored a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for a website that would decode the alphabet for youâ€¦but, lacking a smartphone, we didnâ€™t try it.Â Burtonwood also created some small wooden sculptures that mimicked the form of the wallpaper.
James Jankowiak also created a wallpaper of sorts, covering several walls of the gallery with parallel strips of brightly colored plastic tape.Â But his major works are small, square, incredibly precise paintings of minutely varying shades of color.Â The works in this exhibition consisted of concentric circles.Â In one, each circle was a slightly different shade of blue.Â In another, a green torus vibrates electrically against a red field.Â In a third, blues, browns, and whites alternate on a beige field.Â Oneâ€™s first thought is of course of sectioned Jawbreaker candies but a momentâ€™s thought links them more closely with Josef Albersâ€™ color studies.
Both Jankowiakâ€™s and Burtonwoodâ€™s wallpapers served as backdrops for their own, and each otherâ€™s, small paintings and sculptures, turning the exhibition into more of a collaboration than a group show.Â In the front room was one of Holly Holmesâ€™ recent wooden sculptures, in which thin strips of wooden lathe are bent into a complex, looping form, like a diagram of the flight of a bumblebee, or a crazy zero-gravity roller-coaster.Â Iâ€™ve seen a previous work of this type by Holmes, at Chicago Urban Arts Society, as part of Wood Worked, in which the material of the piece was left raw and unfinished.Â In Water, it was painted in blue and white.Â In each case the color and surface seemed an homage to the theme of the exhibition.
We had tickets for the 11:10pm South Shore Line Metra train home, but Sidecar was shutting down at 10pm, so instead of waiting around the train station in the cold for an hour after the show, Linda hooked us up with her friend Erik, who agreed to bring us back to Chicago.Â But, he said, we had to make what he assured us would be a brief stop at a friendâ€™s birthday party.Â Thatâ€™s how we ended up at Cisa Studio.
The birthday boy is this kid Flex, one of the guys who runs Cisa Studio in Hammond Indiana.Â I call him a kid because heâ€™s full of youthful energy, but in fact this is the eve of his 40th Birthday.Â The vibe is like a house party or maybe like the office Christmas party for a tattoo parlor. Â Erik introduces us as we walk in the door, and everybody is so nice, welcoming us with warm handshakes and cold beer.Â The bathroom is immaculately clean, and the main space is stylishly decorated, with mood lighting and music befitting the occasion.Â We meet Flex, see some of his work (a portrait, in spraypaint on canvas, very realistically executed), and then he shows us the backyard.
This involves three layers:Â first, downstairs to an indoor, basement-like space where people gather to smoke around a big plywood table covered in drawings and graffiti writing. Â A massive digital printer sits against one wall.Â Signs advertise various services:Â fine art paintings, signs, and airbrushed images for your motorcycle helmet, gas tank, leather jackets, and cars.Â Thereâ€™s a motorcycle helmet with an absolutely flawless airbrushed rendering of the comic book character Venom on it:Â more of Flexâ€™s work.
From there we moved into the garage, where a classic car sat, grind marks showing bare metal through the primer:Â a work in progress, speaking of infinite potential.Â In the back corner, a motorcycle sported a Minigun-type cluster of barrels emerging from its exhaust pipes.Â I donâ€™t know, but I imagine that they spin and belch fire when the motorcycle is running.Â I sat there, spinning the barrels by hand, entranced.
The backyard itself hosted a bench that had been airbrushed by some of Flexâ€™s friends as part of a public art commission. Â I looked around, and admired the facilities:Â an absolutely gorgeous, spacious workspace.Â Whatâ€™s more, Flex told me, their rent is less than what Steph and I pay for our bedroom-and-a-half apartment in Ravenswood!Â â€œThis is why Indiana is the shit,â€ Flex explained.Â Itâ€™s hard to argue with that.
We smoked cigarettes, talked to the Cisa crew, and drank more beer.Â Then we were gathered, slowly and chaotically, into a rough herd, with the purpose of ambling down the alley to the studioâ€™s exhibition space, a separate building a block down, to see Arte Muerte 2011, the 4th annual occurrence of this â€œDay Of The Deadâ€ themed exhibition.Â On the way I met the crewâ€™s photographer, the most heavily-tattooed guy there, long-haired, with a rock-and-roll aesthetic that goes some way towards explaining his nickname, â€œTommy Lee.â€Â To look at him youâ€™d expect him to be biting the head off a bat or something, and turns out to be an incredibly sweet and super righteous dude.
Arte Muerte consisted of Day of the Dead altars and two-dimensional wall art, all encompassing themes of death, family, ancestry, tradition, ritual, and a Latino or Mexican cultural heritage.Â The aesthetic of the work ranged from psychedelic and graffiti to Aztec and Maya glyphic writing, Catholic saints, and plenty of skulls.Â What struck me most immediately about the show was that not a single thing in it felt ironic, exploitative, or appropriated:Â there werenâ€™t sculptures of altars, they werenâ€™t about altars, they were genuine and sincere embodiments of this tradition.
After checking out the exhibition we made our way back to the studios where some of the guys were breakdancing, and we all did tequila shots in celebration of Flexâ€™s birthday.Â The Cisa studio crew talked to be about growing up together, and about how they hung out with Keith Haring when he was in Chicago.Â They showed me a picture of them all, years ago, hanging out with Haring.Â Erik mentioned working at Genesis Art Supply back in the day, and I asked him if heâ€™d known Wesley Willis.Â They guys all started telling stories about hanging out with him back in the day, of setting him up in the store to sit there and draw.Â One of the guys proudly told me that Wesley had given him a drawing, which he still had.Â Another had Willisâ€™ old Casio keyboard from when he was growing up.
Many hours, many stories, and many beers later, we were all feeling pretty ready to head out.Â Another couple was catching a ride with us as well.Â Erik DeBat, our ride, had made sure to moderate his consumption and was quite sober and fit to drive.Â The rest of us were all pretty sauced, but I was still pretty lucid, and due to my long-leggedness our fellow passengers had afforded me the front seat, so I had much opportunity for conversation with Erik.Â We talked about his work, and he gave me a copy of the catalog from a recent exhibition heâ€™d had:Â Risk & Reward, at The Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, in August of 2011.Â I open it up, and I see this painting of The Hulk, and something looks familiar about it.Â The catalog essay is by Tony Fitzpatrick and it all falls into place:Â Iâ€™ve seen Erikâ€™s work, and probably Erik himself, at Tony Fitzpatrickâ€™s place.Â He gave me a card for an upcoming exhibition (Recursion, at 2612 Space) featuring Erikâ€™s work as well as James Jankowiak, Mario Gonzalez Jr., Victor Lopez, and William Weyna.Â I wasnâ€™t able to make it to that one, but he also told me that heâ€™s got a show coming up at Firecat Projects, in May 2012.Â I generally make it to all of the openings at Firecat, but Iâ€™m looking forward to this one in particular.
Work by work by Anthony Lewellen, Beth Pearlman, Chris Silva, Doug Fogelson, Eric Mecum, Jourdon Gullett, Justus Roe, Kim Frieders Tibbetts, Lauren Feece, Liza Berkoff, Matthew Hoffman, Renee Robbins, Robert Stevenson, Ruben Aguirre, and Tom Torluemke
Believe Inn is located at 2043 N Winchester Ave. Reception is Friday from 7-10pm.
Work by Brian Hubble
Autumn Space is located at 1700 W Irving Park Rd. Reception is Saturday from 6-9pm.
Work by Edra Soto, Jon Bollo, Liz Nielsen, Erik Wenzel, Catie Olson, and EC Brown
Floor Length and Tux is located at 2332 W. Augusta #3. Reception is Saturday from 7-10pm.
Work by Stephen Collier
Manifest Exhibitions is located at 2950 N Allen Ave. Reception is Friday from 7-10pm.
Work by Bruce Nauman
Donald Young Gallery is located at 224 S. Michigan Ave., suite 266. Reception is Friday from 5-7pm.
Curated by Jessica Cochran and Mia Ruyter, with work by Joseph Grigely, Mark Booth, Alex Valentine, Karen Reimer, Jason Pickleman, Stephanie Brooks, Steven Miglio, Robert Ransick, Rachel Foster and Rebecca Foster.
What It Is is located at 1155 Lyman, Oak Park. Reception is Sunday from 3-8pm.
Another week, another round of art. I am busy, busy, busy, but going out and seeing the work is an essential part of it. Time is of the essence. Shows to see, my friends…
Work by Tom Torluemke.
Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S. Morgan St. Reception Friday, 6-11pm.
Work by Lindsay Apatow, Ben Balcom, April Behnke, Luis Miguel BendaÃ±a, Joey Carr, Emilie Crewe, Matt Cummings, Lori Felker, Yasi Ghanbari, Samuel Gove, Jordan Grimes, Jeriah Hildwine, Randy Sterling Hunter, Seth Hunter, Tom McCormack, Ross Meckfessel, Josh Sampson, Kristen Stokes, Vincent Uribe and Corrine Webb.
Noble & Superior Projects is located at 1418 W. Superior St. Reception Friday, 8-11pm.
Work by Brandon Warren Alvendia, Caroline Polachek, Daniel Sullivan, Eleni Ann Kelaidis, Justin Thomas Schaefer, Marion Ramos, Michael Thibault, Scott Reeder and Tyson Reeder.
Parking Space is located at 2246 W. 19th St. 3R. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.
Work by Caitlin Arnold.
The Hills Esthetic Center is located at 128 N. Campbell Ave., Unit G. Reception Friday, 8-11pm.
Release party for Can I Come Over to Your House: The First Ten Years of The Suburban.
Golden Age is located at 119 N Peoria St, 2D. Release party Saturday, 6-9pm.
Hey ya’ll. There are quite a few shows I’m interested in the weekend, not all of which are getting dropped into the Top 5, but which still bear a mention: Bob Jones at 65 Grand, Ann and Maria Ponce at Packer Schopf, Joe Hardesty at Western Exhibitions, Creator/Curator at HungryMAN Gallery, and New Blood 3 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to everything, but you’ll be happy with any of the above mentioned selections along side any or all the shows listed in the Top 5 (which, by the way, are listed in no particular order). That’s it for now, get your ass out there and see some art!
Top 5 for 11/20-11/22:
1. Technically, It’s Art at Abryant Gallery
Abryant Gallery, run by Angela Bryant, is one of those spaces that Chicago is so good at producing, a space run by people just out of school, showing people just out of school, but actually doing it relatively well. For this round, Bryant is featuring the work of Eric Ashcraft, Madeleine Bailey, Mark Beasley, Rebecca Berman, GROUP CABIN, Andy Cahill, Lauren Gregory, Maxon Higbee, Aaron Hoffman, Nadia Hotait, Mik Kastner, Lisa MAjer, Gary Pennock, Sarah Perez, Micah Schippa, Briana Schweizer, Alan Strathmann and Synica Whitney in Technically, It’s Art.
Opening Reception: Friday 7-10pm. Abryant Gallery is located at 1842 N. Damen Ave., 4th Fl.
2. IN(DI)VISIBLE at Noble & Superior Projects
For their second exhibition, Noble & Superior Projects, a new apartment gallery space, is putting up the work of TW Li’ and Whitney Faile called IN(DI)VISIBLE. I am really impressed by N&S P, the couple who run it are damn professional, and though the work isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen in Chicago (a bit of a tall order), they show some goos stuff for an apartment gallery. I am particularly interested int TW Li’s work (have a look at his website), but I’m a fan of their paring strategy, so I bet the dialog between Li and Faile’s work will be worth seeing.
Opening Reception: Friday 6-10pm. Noble & Superior Projects is located at 1418 W Superior St. #2R