Chicago Fall Exhibitions
Donald Young Gallery Closes
After twenty-nine years and almost two hundred exhibitions, the Donald Young Gallery has shuttered its doors. On Friday, November 2nd, the gallery had its final reception to say goodbye. On view was the sixth show in the series: In the Spirit of Walser including new work by Rodney Graham and Josiah McElheny. Published in conjunction with the series is the book A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser (available for $35) which brings together work by contemporary artists with Walser’s writings and includes a forward by Donald Young. Each of the artists included in the book was invited to respond to the writings of Swiss writer Robert Walser and was featured in one of the shows at the gallery. Included are: Peter Fischli and David Weiss (December), Moyra Davey (January), Thomas Schütte (February), Rosemarie Trockel (March), Tacita Dean and Mark Wallinger (April) and Rodney Graham and Josiah McElheny (September). The book was initiated by Donald “who saw in Robert Walser an exemplary figure through whom connections between art and literature could be discussed anew.”
The gallery opened in 1983 and Young became known for his early involvement with media artists, installations artists, and Chicago artists including but not limited to: Bill Viola, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Sophie Calle, Tony Cragg, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Martin Puryear and Jeff Koons to name a few. After a brief relocation to Seattle, Young returned to Chicago in 1999 and in 2009 the gallery moved to its current location in the Santa Fe building. Young passed away in April of 2009 and has left an indelible mark on art history. His presence in Chicago will be deeply missed.
Catherine Edelman Gallery Celebrates 25 Years
I have to be honest, I did not have particularly high expectations for this show–not because of anything having to do with Cathy or the gallery, but because anniversary shows hung salon style are not typically my cup of tea. But I was actually blown away by the amazing work that I saw and the breadth of artists that Cathy has worked with thus far in her career as a gallerist. She should be very proud.
December of this year marks the twenty-five year anniversary of the gallery which has always exhibited work by both the known as well as emerging photographers. I have included images of some of the standouts for me.
The above work by Alex Webb bursts with color. The light seeps through the red, yellow, and green window covering saturating the interior almost making silhouettes of the four figures. And above that, Viktoria Sorochinski’s “Learning a Lesson” in which a child carefully observes her mother opening a pomegranate is brilliant. The careful study and concentration on the child’s face shows determination and focus. Meanwhile, the mother is absorbed completely in the task at hand.
The above work is almost abstract in its starkness. The blue sky and white tanks with gold form the reflecting light give the work a minimalist quality. Though the subject is industrial, I find the work very beautiful.
Blackmon is a younger artist who stages scenes of children and sometimes families in odd situations such as the one above. Children, including infants huddle around a fire, one roasts hot dogs, and there is no adult supervision whatsoever. Discomfort is just one of the emotions her work elicits.
It’s hard to determine if this is an elderly man or woman but the teeth and the sagging face scream “old.” Details such as the light reflecting in the glasses dangling from the figure’s neck and the unfinished edge of the developed image keep the viewer intrigued.
The show also includes early works by the famous artist Nan Goldin showing intimate details of her and her circle of friends’ lives in NYC in the 1980s.
This picture needs no description. Sorry the image is so small but what a great photograph.
Unfortunately, this image does not do the work justice at all. It is, in fact, a small lucite box made up of layered black and white photos. Each sheet has a different image and when stacked together, they create what you see above. Clouds make up one layer, the interior of a bedroom another, and the nearest to the viewer is the wedded couple kissing though that image looks like the negative ghostly image.
Another famous artist Cathy has worked with is Annie Leibovitz. This image of Ray Charles lounging from 1987is fantastic. Look at all of the dark solid colors he wears contrasted with the competing patterns in the rug, on the chair, on the wallpaper and in the painting on the wall. Brilliant.
Other images I loved were Herman Leonard’s “Ella Fitzgerald, Ellington, Goodman, 1948″ which is great because it emphasizes the audience (that happened to include Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington) and not Ella as much, a great camera obscura work by Abelardo Morell, and William Klein’s 1956 black and white photograph, “Hat Five Roses, Paris”. It is priceless. The woman’s cigarette smoke billows up in her face while her head is in the bottom half of the composition leaving a great deal of negative space at the top of the image.
John Opera at Andrew Rafacz Gallery
People, Places, and Things is an exhibition that just ended at Andrew Rafacz Gallery. “For the artist, the act of experiencing and the act of observing are simultaneous.” Opera has a keen interest in the history of photography and the early processes used by photographers. In previous shows he has explored different methods for creating photographs. The works in this show use the process of the cyanotype in which an image is created through “liquid chemical processes.” This technique is no longer used except for in architectural blueprints. The resulting images created from this process are both photographic and also painterly. The blue color is the calling card of the cyanotype but their appearance on stretched linen canvases gives the viewer pause as to the process used in their creation.
“The collection of subjects simultaneously feels like broad signifiers for the human experience, while remaining mysteriously personal and intimate to their author.” The simplicity of the bottles and rope used as subjects contain references to seeing, time, and memory. The ropes connote restraint but also connection. The bottles make us think of still lifes.
Aspect Ratio Gallery Opens
The gallery will focus on video work by established and emerging artists working in media. Aspect Ratio’s first exhibition is a video work by Gilad Ratman who will represent Israel in the next Venice Biennale. This clever work explores human behavior and the need for community versus the strength of self. The viewer must suspend his/her disbelief as he/she watches what appears to be figures creating an unimaginable human pyramid. While we know the figures are actually laying on the floor and the camera is tricking us, the actors and friends of the artist help make it believable scrunching their faces in anguish as someone “climbs on their back.” Legs shake and muscles appear to tremble. This looped video was only a few minutes long, but I stayed to watch it a second time because I found it so enjoyable and I could follow a different person’s expressions each go round.
Jacob Hashimoto: super-elastic collisions (origins, and distant derivations) at Rhona Hofmann
The installation by Hashimoto was so fantastic! This is the artist’s third show at the gallery and these installations are considered to be his most ambitious to date. “Often employing colorful paper structures, he plays with alterations of space and our surrounding environment in his multi-layered and geometrically complex works, evoking the phenomenological effect of nature through elements of artifice.” The artist is fascinated by our environment and in his art, seems to attempt to break it down into geometrical shapes and patterns and colors, layering these upon one another to create an alternate environment. Not only was the installation amazing, but the drawings which give insight into the artist’s process were also on view, a first for Hashimoto.
Clare E. Rojas: Spaces in Between at Kavi Gupta
This show came down October 21st but I really enjoyed these paintings and so I had to write about it. My iPhone images can’t begin to do the work justice. Inspired by folk art, her previous work has always included a narrative; however, the works in this show are completely abstract (though we know they are based on some element of the real–some “place” based on her previous paintings). The bold blocks of color either ask us to figure out what Rojas is trying to convey (if we are familiar with her oeuvre) or allow us to simply ponder their existence and the brilliant use of color and line. This is a real shift for her and I like what I see.