An informal, first-person, chronological account of eleven gallery and museum visits made in Chicago, IL, during the ten-day period from March 2 - 11, 2012
(1) Cobalt: Prima Sakuntabhai
7:56 PM, Friday, March 2, 2012: SAIC student Prima Sakuntabhai offers an installation, the main sculptural component of which is available to be seen not only in the gallery but also (by means of wall-mounted documentary photography) as it has been situated outdoors in various locations around Chicago. Said "main sculptural component" is built from construction-grade lumber and found (tires) objects.
OK. It is, not surprisingly, a young crowd. Attire is, surprisingly, formal. Several people appear to have brought "personal" bottles of champagne. Prima, however, is not pretentious; and she readily agrees to be photographed. But, as we begin to shoot, a fellow in his 20s (?) walks over, identifies himself as a professional photographer, and proceeds to provide Prima with modelling instructions.
The proprietors of Cobalt, Adriana Baltazar and Antonio Martinez, are present at the opening and take time to engage me in conversation. Adriana lets me know that I speak with an accent; lacking a better response, I share a brief family history. Saul Aguirre, who's work I've seen at both Antena Gallery and also at the (late) NEXT art fair, enters the space shortly before I make my own exit from it. The parking on 21st Street is easy. Heineken in a can is served to everyone. And Prima makes an effort to say, "Thank you," as I depart.
March 2, 2012
1950 W. 21st St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(2) Mission: Mariana Sissia
8:45 PM, Friday, March 2, 2012: Here, Mariana Sissia presents a collection of graphite on paper drawings. With exceptions, the pieces tend to be small in scale; and, within each frame, the worked area of the paper constitutes only a fraction of the available whole. It reminds me, a bit, of Robyn O'Neil's treatment of the material at Tony Wight's place in 2009. But, contra O'Neil, the human figure is absent in Sissia's renderings. I bump into Sibylle Friche and Daniel Quiles at the gallery's entrance. Inside, in Spanish, Quiles explains to a very attractive stranger that I'm an "event photographer." Gallery owner Sebastian Campos is most gentlemanly, in spite of the fact that I've arrived ten minutes before the closing time. No booze; no pics; it's a fairly quick look around the room.
Mar 2 – Apr 13, 2012
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
(3) Lloyd Dobler: Carl Baratta
9:21 PM, Friday, March 2, 2012: I catch painter Carl Baratta on the sidewalk: he's rolling cigarettes, standing near to the staircase leading up to the second-floor gallery. While Baratta is occupied with other people (as many people begging tobacco as complementing his show) I set-up the camera, flash and diffuser. Ready, I approach and find him to be a willing subject. In spite of the falling temperature, increasing wind, and steady crowd of friends and fans, his patience allows for twenty good shots. James Kao chats with us for a few minutes, outside; Samantha Bittman chats for a few minutes, inside. Bittman lets me know that I sound like I'm from Brooklyn, New York. No worries.
In the apartment gallery's kitchen, at the end of regular hours, apropos of nothing, I broach the subject of Chicago art fairs with Lloyd Dobler proprietors Patricia Courson and Jason Jozwiak. Maybe: (a) I remember seeing them (Patricia and Jason) at NEXT in 2010, near Saul Aguirre; and, (b) NEXT was recently cancelled? No beer; a few quick pics inside; I'm out.
March 2 - April 28, 2012
Lloyd Dobler Gallery
1545 W. Division, Second Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
(4) Johalla Projects: Wow-house
10:30 PM, Friday, March 2, 2012: "Wow-house" is a group show. Again, I'm late. Johalla's Anna Cerniglia graciously tolerates my behavior (lying on floor, drawing too near the artwork, etc.) as I work my way around the room with the camera. In the exhibition, Jessica Taylor Caponigro's name is familiar to me. And I remember seeing a sculptural installation which she executed at Eel Space in Pilsen. Actually, several names, e.g., Chad Kouri, are familiar to me. The last show which I saw within this space belonged to Heidi Norton.
Maybe, Johalla reminds me of Julius Caesar? but larger? If Lloyd Dobler or The Suburban often show a similar style of work, they do so in a very much more compact, and quasi-domestic, context. The building complex at 1821 W. Hubbard in its own way affects the viewing experience within the galleries which it houses: the (fragmented? sprawling?) physical parameters of its architecture are such that individual artworks often struggle to connect to one another. It's easy for things to feel "lost" or (nasty little word) "de-contextualized" here.
March 2, 2012- March 25, 2012
1821 W. Hubbard, Suite 110
Chicago, IL 60622
(5) Depaul Art Museum: Re: Chicago
4:45 PM, Sunday, March 4, 2012: It's the last hour of the last day of "Re: Chicago" at the Depaul Art Museum. All pretense aside, I'm here for a last look at “Living the Dream” by Davis/Langlois. Built, largely, from abstracted Pop iconography, the D/L installation incorporates both a relatively (rollerly?) painterly, direct application of vivid pigment to the museum walls, and a graphic, monochromatic treatment of geometric figures on traditional supports. Too, a freestanding, three-dimensional "screen" functions as a framing device: itself being filled with asymmetrical, linear elements "interrupting" a clear view. After this piece comes down, it won't be possible to appreciate the variable relationship between its parts by means of the surviving photographic documentation. The museum's attendants are great. And my exit is physically blocked till I've accepted a card advertising the next show: Studio Malick, opening March 29, 2012.
Davis/Langlois in "Re:Chicago"
September 16 – March 4, 2012
DePaul Art Museum
935 W. Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614
(6) Defibrillator: Force Majeure
5:20 PM, Sunday, March 4, 2012: The amount of time and energy invested in "Force Majeure," the two-part performance hosted by Defibrillator and New Capital, is amazing. I'm dumbfounded that these people haven't received more and better press.
Marek Choloniewski, et al,
1136 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
New Capital Gallery
3114 W. Carroll
Chicago, IL 60612
(7) threewalls: Alan & Michael Fleming
7:56 PM, Friday, March 9, 2012: Dance moves, aluminum cans, patterns of organization, etc., are all being recycled here. It strikes me as artwork drawn materially and theoretically from whatever was found to be convenient, pre-existing in the environment around SAIC. That's not to say that there's no effort evident; but whether there's any innovation is another matter altogether. Everything looks vaguely familiar. An obvious art historical reference, e.g., Carl Andre, can be a double-edged sword. It's a calculated presentation which manages also to feel at turns disposable; much of this genre is not intended to be precious. There's some staring and some snickering at me. I've worn the wrong sort of clothing; I've cut my hair; I have two cameras hanging from my neck; I'm looking too closely at the artwork. I'm not a part of the "community," and it's obvious. Marissa Perel is good to wave; she showed at LVL3 with the Flemings in "No Joke." I try to be fair, take the best possible photographs, understand what's happening, and leave.
Alan & Michael Fleming
March 9 - April 21, 2012
119 N. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
(8) Pilsen: Chicago Arts District
9:00 PM, Friday, March 9, 2012: I park. I wander along Halsted. Gavin Rehfeldt is good to say hello. I know not for whom this place is meant, but it is not meant for me. And that's OK. I take no pictures; I drink nothing; I leave.
(9) Eel Space: Kristina Paabus & Charles Mahaffee
10:24 PM, Friday, March 9, 2012: I'm late to arrive at Eel Space: the opening is scheduled to end at 10:00 PM, about which time it is when I grab the door's handle. An odd sort of "hummm" is audible in the stairwell leading up to the exhibition (apartment) space. Inside, proprietor Patrick Holbrooke appears to be gritting his teeth and holding his breath as he waits for the crowd to exit his gallery/residence.
Luckily, Kristina (Kristina Paabus, one of the artists who has work on display) is chatty. She's stacked progressively diminishing sheets of builder's insulating foam board to create a peaked form, subsequently covering the whole with gesso. And the story she's telling links Estonia to Azerbaijan to the sculptures which she's made. I reach into Patrick's fridge and grab a "Hamm's" beer.
Charles Mahaffee's installation occupies the room opposite Kristina. Amplifiers which he's placed at either end of the tight space are the source of the "hummm" heard earlier. The walls are papered with repetitive, circular doodles centered on (100?) individual sheets.
Packing-up to go, two guys introduce themselves as visitors from Cuba. They're interested in my camera, and want to learn about the video capabilities of Canon's 5DMKII. I'm not using a 5DMKII, but that does nothing to stop the conversation. Patrick's really not looking happy. Some blonde-haired woman (named Miriam? or Gillian? and working as a guide for the Cubans?) yells, "Vamanos!" and we all leave.
Kristina Paabus & Charles Mahaffee
1906 S. Throop St., 2F
Chicago, IL 60608
(10) Alderman: Brendan Meara & Robert Chase Heishman
5:00 PM, Sunday, March 11, 2012: Whichever of Chicago's art opening lists I've consulted, I've not been made aware that the central event at Alderman is a screening. I'm (mistakenly) in no hurry, and so I don't think twice about talking with Bill Gross and (Congratulations!) Dahlia for 15 minutes outside. Yet again, I'm late. Climbing up the staircase to the venue, I find at the top a film in progress: audience facing me. On the screen a fuse is burning. I give the fuse ten minutes. It's still burning when I exit the space. Visual content is being delivered too slowly, on this day, for me. I'm sorry.
Brendan Meara & Robert Chase Heishman
March 11, 2012
1138 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
(11) ACRE: Joseph Rynkiewicz
5:52 PM, Sunday, March 11, 2012: There seems to be substantial overlap between this crowd and the crowd which was at threewalls on March 9, 2012. At the center of the space there is a dirty fragment of particle board depending from a string.
March 11 - 12, 2012
1913 W 17th St.
Chicago, IL 60608