Fresh Paint
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Cleaning Out the Purse, Part One
One of the small pleasures of life is to come home from a jaunt to the galleries and empty your purse of all the cards and price lists you picked up, straighten them out, and put them in a pile. For those of you without purses, I am sorry if you cannot connect to this feeling.

On Friday I dragged self and visitor down to Chicago and pretty much hit most of River North and West Loop Gate, then relaxed at Orchestra Hall with a soothing bout of Shostakovich (more later).

The most deliciously interesting of the bunch we saw was a selection of gouache landscapes by Martyl at Printworks, up through December 31. Though well into her 80s, she creates work with more energy and structural interest than most painters a half-century younger. Many of her paintings have an old-timey John Marinish quality, with a touch of Milton Avery and Cezanne. Then you realize that she was a mature painter at the same time they were (not Cezanne, obviously).

Three I particularly liked -- "Zen Garden," with globs of snow and shadow, and "Peony Garden," where light rakes quickly across greenery and garden, pulling shadows through time. And "Fall Diptych," was interesting in that it was hung low in a corner, one panel on either side, providing an unexpected intimacy to the piece.

The Printworks space is very small, but it remains one of my very very favorite places. Much of the show has already sold, so get 'em while they're hot. Needless to say, Martyl deserves a museum retrospective. I have run into her occasionally at benefits and the like. It's good to know she's still doing good work.

From painting we move up in the elevator to strange sculpture, Richard Wetzel at Sonia Zaks (no link available). I can't find much about this artist online. In this show, what initially look like black branches hung against the wall or lying on a table up close have small hooves, claws, or fingernails at each end. Their arrangement, and the shadows they cast, are truly frightening. A series of "whips" hanging against the wall, the postcard piece, is called "Gimme Back My Bullets." Oh.... ok... no problemo...

Crossing the street, along the same lines, we find Margaret Evangeline shooting bullets into sheets of alumnium at Byron Roche . Though the show will be down by now, Byron plans to keep one of the large wall-size pieces up for awhile. It is very shiny and reflective, reflecting your own image with bullet holes. Not pleasant. He has been into metallic surfaces for awhile now, a subject I've been unable to cozy up to, unfortunately, though it's always a pleasure to visit the gallery and talk with him.

That's it for this blogging. I must continue to sort my thoughts about a few other galleries in River North before taking us on a cab ride across the expressway to West Loop Gate.

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