(This post has been featured on The Blogger Show's website)
Parts 1 and 2 of this post are arranged to read chronologically, so if you've read this post scroll down to Part 2--jm
Chicago is a great city for art. It’s big enough to have a range of good galleries in several locations, yet small enough to let you take in quite a lot in a short period. I hadn't been there in six years, and it was good to be back.
Two Openings, One Space .
I flew in on Friday, September 7, to attend the opening of my good friend, Julie Karabenick, who was having a solo show. Julie is the founder and editor of Geoform, an online curatorial project, international in scope, focused on contemporary abstract geometric art. She is also a fine painter, and this was evident at her solo at Woman Made Gallery.
Julie's geometry is rigorously plotted and cleanly executed; it’s beautiful in its order, cerebrally and visually satisfying. The newest work is a breakthrough because it has all that and more: a greater sense of space, more intense color and, well, I guess emotion is the word I’d use. You’ve seen Julie's work on this blog before—recently, in fact, as I included her in Luxe, Calme et Volupte, my big, beautiful curatorial effort at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta this past summer.
At Abstract and Geometric: Above, Eileen Goldenberg and Lisa Endriss; below, my painting, Quadrate 4, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 inches, 2006
Given her expertise with geometric abstraction—a strong sense of its history as well as who’s working with this particular visual expression, Julie also juried a show, Abstract and Geometric, for the large upstairs gallery. Artists I’ve mentioned on these pages were included: Rose Olson; Diane Ayott; Reese Inman, who flew in from Boston (surprise!); Kathleen Waterloo (more of whom shortly); and myself. I also liked work by Eileen Goldenberg, Penelope Jones, Naomee Guest, Paola Merazzi and Lynda Ray.
I don’t enter shows anymore, but this was a worthy project and a worthy gallery, so I broke my no-entry rule. The not-for-profit WomanMade, 15 years old last month, carries on a feminist tradition started by galleries such as A.I.R. in New York, giving women artists the opportunity to show and network, and giving younger artists the opportunity to interact with those a generation ahead who may function informally as mentors. Beate Minkovski, the co-founder, executive director—and heart and soul— of the gallery, has surrounded herself with able and talented women. Spend some time on the gallery’s website. Better still, visit the gallery.
Beate Minkovski, executive director of Woman Made Gallery
River North, Earlier in the Day
In the four hours between checking in at HoJo (not the Ritz, but the location, right in River North, was great) and getting to the Woman Made openings, I visited the nearby galleries ("river" being the Chicago River that meanders through town; "north" being its location in relation to the river). It’s half a dozen blocks chockablock with galleries. The main gallery street in this neighborhood is Superior, which, like the rung of a ladder, connects Wells and Franklin, two other streets with a strong gallery presence.
I can’t list everything—hey, I’m not Chicago Gallery News (if you're visiting the city, this is the publication to seek out, not Gallery Guide)--but I can take you from A to Z.Looking at the galleries on Superior Street, shot from the corner at Wells
Above, view of Addington Gallery from N. Wells Street; below, Howard Hersh's solo show at the gallery
I particularly responded to the exquisitely patterned geometries in egg tempera by Rebecca Shore, which were hanging in the office and in the middle gallery. As you know, I respond to materials, to geometry and to pattern, so Shore’s work was something of a trifecta for me. "I love these," I exclaimed to no one in particular. "I do too," responded the gallery guy, who turned out to be Byron Roche himself.
Above, view of Byron Roche Gallery from N. Franklin; below, Rebecca Shore's geometries in the office and in the middle gallery
Here the materials were, well, materials: inkjet prints on tulle and canvas, more specifically tulle layered several inches above the canvas so that the double images created dimension and atmosphere. The photographer Gabriela Morawetz called her solo show "Egospheres," and approporately each work places the figure in its own little slightly dimensional world.
Gabriela Morawetz's photographs at Maya Polsky on Superior Street
I've known Melanee for several years and participated in two group shows with her. This was the first time I’d visited the gallery in its new location. It’s on Franklin, nestled under the El. My encaustic-involved readers will find a plethora of wax-based painting here: the geometries of Tracey Adams, Tremain Smith and Kathleen Waterloo, and the mixed-media landscapes of Miranda Lake.
Above, the Melanee Cooper Gallery on N. Franklin; below, a gallery view
The New York outpost of this gallery had a short life, but the Chicago original is an anchor of the River North neighborhood. Perimeter Gallery is an elegant space with elegant work—elegant as in clean, precise, formal, reductive. The solo show, "Constructions," contained reductive work with a strong material sensibility by Gordon Powell: wafer-thin layers of wood collaged (and framed) as if they were paper, or thicker pieces assemblaged into relief sculptures.
Installation view of Gordon Powell's solo show at Perimeter Gallery
This gallery has the first floor and basement of its own three-story building. The main gallery was showing the work of Daniel Bodner, woozily atmospheric streetscapes of New York. But the draw for me was in the lower-level gallery where favorites like William Conger, Marcus Linenbrink and Jerome Powers were in a gallery-artist show. New to me: John Fraser's minimalist constructions, which on closer inspection turnedout to be deconstructed bookcovers.
Lower-level gallery at Roy Boyd, with work by Jerome Powers, Marcus Linenbrink and John Fraser; below; two works by Fraser Above, William Conger's V-Day, 2005-6, oil/canvas, 59"x59" (from the artist's website); below, the Roy Boyd Gallery on N. Wells
Ellen Lanyon, legendary Chicago artist was in this gallery when I was there. I don’t know her and we didn’t talk, so I’m just name dropping. I can tell you that I LOVED the solo show there: Jackie Tileston’s "Adventures of the Semionauts."
Vaguely landscape referential, with a visual collage of Hindu dieties, mandalas, biomorphic shapes and some hard-edge geometry, it’s a fantastical, almost psychedelic mashup that’s the exact opposite of the coolly reductive work I usually respond to. Turns out "semionaut" means "likely pathways through disparate elements." Yes, that about sums it up. (Disclaimer: Tileston and I are both represented by Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont, just outside New York City. In fact, Tileston is part of a group show up now, "Crazy Beautiful," which includes the work of Julie Gross, Tricia Wright and others. )
Above and below: Paintings by Philadelphia-based Jackie Tileston at Zg Gallery
Next post: A visit to the galleries of the West Loop