Fresh Paint
Saturday, September 11, 2004
West Loop Gate, West Side of Street
You can't do it all.

Usually I start at River North, then try to get over to the shows on Peoria before realizing there's no parking, 200 people are smoking cigarettes in the street, and so just drive on by. Worked it from the other direction this time with the same result. And I hear Around the Coyote opened last night too, but I wouldn't know.

West Loop Gate basically means the galleries in the 118 and 119 addresses, plus a few scattered here and there I didn't make it to. Yes, Monique Meloche has taken over the old Julia Friedman spot, reconfigured it a bit. Spoke with her a bit about her nomadic summer at art shows overseas, and the intense 2 weeks she and her artists spent getting the space ready.

Opening show is collaborative paintings by 2 guys, Robert Davis and Michael Langlois, fairly large, slick-surfaced paintings they work on together, their styles having merged, they say. Skill level high, but I didn't find them wildly interesting, though a large painting of a baby on a lawn where the grass looked like friendly snakes was kind of cool.

Ran into 2 of my favorite teachers from SAIC -- Michael Ryan and Matthew Girson. Matthew is at De Paul now and Michael says he's team-teaching 65 students at the moment and had to learn computers. Matthew says he's painting now, and using color. His last works I saw were very pale, nearly white gouache or watercolor trees with a square void in the center, inviting the viewer to fill it in with own mental painting, perhaps.

Back to stuff I actually saw. I wanted to like Ann Worthing's "Backyard" series at Aron Packer a lot, since she paints landscapes. Well done, but somewhat bland, surface heavily built up, mostly with impressionist-like non-descriptive brushy daubs. One I liked had a curve of a telephone line, a pole, and the top of a building at the bottom, the rest just sky. Another was of washed out, pale blue shadows on a pale green lawn with pale brown birds, all about the same. And I liked a small painting of a dog turning away, alert, also pale brown on whitish ground.

Matthew Cox had a few strange, embroidered x-rays in his "Recovery" series, face or top of head vivid in colored threads over transparencies.

Talked to a woman at Walsh Gallery modeling a rather interesting skirt/top with a backpack made of translucent plastic with spikey X-mas lights in it. Odd, because they weren't meant to light up, though I thought perhaps they should. I'm fond of art fashion, as you know, though couldn't imagine wearing any of it. She was promoting a fashion show/benefit for Fluxcore, a group that sponsors arts stuff, I think.

Other work at Walsh also interesting. Copper wire mesh masks over translucent collaged black-and-white images were spooky. (didn't catch artist's name, sorry) Large graphic works by Jitish Kallat had images of war, Abu Ghraib, resistance, all layered, worth a better look when chardonnay-drinking hordes not around.

The work at Rhona Hoffman didn't interest me in the slightest. Peter Miller had photographers Brian Ulrich and Jonathan Gitelson, recent grads whose work is all over the place right now. Most interesting was a video loop in the little project room, images of a smiling young man waving at you, sometimes retreating into a doorway, coming back out and waving, images stacked in a grid. One of the spaces is empty, and you have a strong compulsion to wave back at this guy, and maybe join him in the video.

The power of friendliness.

Think I'm missing something, but will be back with the east side of the street in a bit.

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