28 Hours in Chicago, Part 2

The West Loop: Peoria, Between Randolph and Washington

G.R. N'Namdi Gallery on Peoria, site of Howardena Pindell's solo show, "In My Lifetime"

From River North I took a taxi to the West Loop galleries, most of which I know through their presence at the art fairs, except for G.R. N’Namdi, which I know from its 26th Street outpost in Chelsea.

G.R. N'Namdi
It's always good to see Jumaane N’Namdi, the young director of the three G.R. N’Namdi galleries in Chicago, Detroit and New York. Not many dealers have had an entire life in art, but Jumaane came up under the tutelage of his father, George ( the natty guy in the porkpie hat, should you happen to run into him at an art fair) and he’s got a lifetime’s worth of stories about artists. (There’s a book there, Jumaane.) All three N’Namdi galleries show primarily established midcareer artists, many of them artists of color.

Jumaane N'Namdi before an autobiographical painting by Howardena Pindell, whose image is in the painting

The show here was “In My Lifetime,” a solo by Howardena Pindell. Her work is widely exhibited, of course, and spans some forty-plus years. Pindell, a charter member of the A.I.R. Gallery in New York, often mines the twin themes of racism and sexism in her strongly autobiographical work. Here she showed a range of work, from representation to abstract in mediums as diverse as conventional oil on canvas to stitched canvases and large, irregularly shaped mixed media works. Like her contemporary Lynda Benglis, she’s a “material girl,” using a variety of materials in service to the work. (Overdue, by the way, a post on Benglis and Bourgeois, who had a museum-worthy show at Cheim in Reid in early summer. I’ll get to it….)

Installation views of Howardena Pindell's solo at G.R. N'Namdi Gallery

Three mixed-media works on canvas by Howardena Pindell, including from left: Autobiography: Earth / Eyes / Injuries, 83 x 74.5 inches; and Mountain Reflection, 77 x 82.5 inches

Rhona Hoffman Gallery
I’d been wanting to visit the Rhona Hoffman Gallery because I’d seen it only at the fairs. The gallery represents Mikalene Thomas, whose work I noted in my Miami coverage. This show was by Jacob Hashimoto, an artist whose constructed paper installation fills the front gallery like a cumulus forest and whose multilayered installation of small, kite- or parasol-like shapes hugs the walls in the large central galleries. It’s a technical tour de force of glueing and tying, and a really beautiful installation.

Looking into the front gallery at Rhona Hoffman, above; and looking out to the street from that gallery

Jacob Hashimoto's installation at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Photo courtesy of Paul Klein’s Art Letter

After I'd taken a few shots, I foolishly asked, “Do you mind if I take pictures?” I identified myself and my blog. The gallerina behind the desk said I couldn’t shoot. Well, that I should wait to get the permission of the gallery director who wasn’t there at the moment. The clock was ticking, so I spent some time looking and then left. Fortunately I can show you the main-gallery installation courtesy of Paul Klein's e-mail Art Letter and give you a link, also courtesy of the same document, which shows a video of Hashimoto making the work.

Paul Klein, in case you don't know, is the eminence grise of the Chicago gallery scene. Since I don't get to Chicago often, I value his newsletter--informative, well-written, and hugely supportive of Chicago arts--as a way to stay in touch with a vibrant art scene. You can ask to be put on the subscriber list.

Other shows I liked:

. At Thomas McCormick Gallery, “Ariadne’s Clew,” a solo show of body-centered sculpture by the Chicago-based Darrin Hallowell. Once I got past my Auschwitz associations, I particularly responded to the casts of the artist's own hands piled into a small pyramid on the floor.

Darrin Hallowell's solo show at Thomas McCormick, above and below

Galleries on Washington, including Thomas McCormick and Carrie Secrist

. Next door at Carrie Secrist Gallery, “Struck: Introducing New Painters” co-curated by Chicago artist Richard Hull.

Above, a peek into the Carrie Secrist Gallery; below, from the gallery website, Douglas Bloom's Museum Lover, 2007

. At Bodybuilder and Sportsman the digital grids—gallery description: “compound photographs”--of Charles LaBelle. By the way, despite the “bodybuilder" in the title, the space itself is a 90-pound-weakling in size. But this gallery gets to the art fairs, and that’s a muscular presence. (I think if I were a dealer, I might do the same thing: keep it small locally and pump it up out in the world.)

Charles LaBelle's solo show of "compound photographs" at Bodybuilder and Sportsman; below, a detail of the work on the back wall

. At Gallery 40000, “Where’s My Ship,” a sculpture installation by Nathan Redwood, a California-based painter. The installation took up the entire small space. It’s what what the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria might have looked like if assembled by a boatbuilder with a wide independent streak--and maybe not too much knowledge of how to make something float.

Nathan Redwood's sculpture docked at Gallery 40000

. At Three Walls, a solo show by the Chicago-based Cayetano Ferrer, was a sleeper featuring manipulated digital prints of the environment. What you see and what the artist wants you to see are folded together, a kind of time lapse of the spaces he has photographed. What I most liked were several small installations in the gallery that contained the same trompe-l’oeil manipulation of the space. (Three Walls is a not-for-profit space dedicated, as its promotional material will tell you, “to contemporary art practice and discourse. ")

Cayetano Ferrer's solo installation, with some unexpected bending of space, at Three Walls Gallery

I started the previous post with Julie Karebenick. Let me end this one with her. After hopping a taxi back from the West Loop to River North, I met Julie and her husband Stuart for a late lunch. Julie had been interviewing Chicago legend William Conger for Geoform, with Stuart (a researcher and educator by profession) serving as photographer. We walked over to Karyns, a vegan restaurant on N. Wells, just across the street from Roy Boyd. Vegan was perfect for the three of us. Over Buddha Bowls (stirfried vegetables and brown rice) and a basket of deepfried cauliflower, zucchini and tofu, we sat and talked before I hopped a taxi for O’Hare.

Tell you one thing: I’m going to tighten up my return schedule. Six years is too long between visits.

1 comment:

CMC said...

What a timely post for me, Joanne. I'm making my very first trip to Chicago November 9-12 for a show I was invited to show in. I'm going to jot down as much of this information as I can. Not much time to be out on my own, but I'm going to have fun.