Fresh Paint
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Art Shorts
Perhaps I should title them "Art Cutoffs," since they're kind of ragged and holey.

Just a reminder that the Jim Dine show will be coming down June 18 at the Block Gallery at Northwestern University. And as we always say, if you come at 4 pm, you can park mere steps from the front door, else I have no idea where you can park. Even tho I live just down the block, it's not a place I tend to go except after 4 pm or on Sundays.

That said, these large scale drawings are pretty good. I especially like the ones from the late 80s to mid 90s, mostly in charcoal, worked and reworked and erased and worked again, some of them highlighted with washes of blue watercolor, or touches of acrylic paint, or a few strokes of cad red pastel. Two that fascinated me were done 10 years apart, "Owl in Chelsea," from 2000, an owl morphing into a man's legs, on a silkscreen photo of a loft scene, chairs, stuff on wall, etc. Even nicer is the earlier "Twisted Torso of a Youth," from 1989, on the same background, in charcoal of a Greek torso sculpture, twisting away.

Speaking of which, the other drawing that blew me away, also from 1989, was "Sleeping Satyr," with the figure's nice plump scrotum full in the center of the drawing, one leg up, one down, the torso caught in the motion of turning to the right. Again, with touches of watercolor and pastel here and there, and the searching charcoal line we've all been taught to use in art class.

Also liked his animal drawings -- sort of animals, at least. A camel morphs into something. A dog's face looks familiar. A face with cat ears has a very human nose and smile. And a lovely drawing of a plant (1993 -- a particularly good year for him) "Common Mullein" extended the image over two pieced together sheets of paper, so that the plant was of monumental size, well over six or seven feet high.

The other drawings -- not so much. They seemed heavy, overwrought, overworked, murky. Wasn't wild about his portraits and clothed figures either. An interesting artist, nonetheless, and one who has influenced many many many other artists.

While there, had to drop in to part 2 of the Northwestern University MFA Show. Didn't hate the show as I have in other years -- no idiotic installations this year, thank god, only one video that didn't work (Shoshanna Utchenik's piece -- note to artists whose works must be turned on: LEAVE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO OPERATE! IF IT NEEDS BATTERIES TO GO, CHECK BACK THAT THEY HAVEN'T BURNED OUT!)

One seemed like a bit of a scam: Josue Pellot's "Boricuas" -- a toy machine he found down in Humboldt Park that dispenses figurines someone else made -- statement on wall says his intention is "to mass produce and insert figurines of my family and my friends" in the machine.

Well, I intend to paint a masterpiece and have it hang in the Louvre. Please deliver my MFA to the address listed on my grad school application form. Thank you.

I really really really liked Heather Hollenback's large paintings of flowers, mostly in acrylic, one with some glitter on it -- but they I believe it's the law these days that you must put glitter on your paintings -- and that was the weakest of hers. She has a great sense of layering and line and what flowers really look like, and what a truly modern still life is. These are things I've been fighting with myself, especially in a print I'm trying to breath life into of a cup of peonies -- sounds hokey, I know, but I'm sure when Heather tried to explain what she was doing people groaned too.

So I know that making a subject like this interesting is possible, since Heather has done it.

One I found hilarious was what looked like a graffiti spray painted bouquet, hot colors fuzzily outlining the blossoms on a background that seemed very formal and traditional in pale ochre and matte matte black.

I know acrylic painting in this manner is all the rage right now, but this woman's work is good.

Also interesting are Katherine Lampert's drawings (one painting that has all her motifs stuffed into it seemed less successful), in a series called "Uncertain Objects," shapes interesting to look at, centered on the page and seeming to pull into the center tightly. So you look at these drawings and say, hmmm, nice. Nice drawings.

Then you step back and trip over a mirrored sculpture you thought was someone else's that instructs you to "Please Spin". So you spin it and watch the shapes painted lovingly around the barrel of the device reflect in the angled mirror panes whirling past open, close, explode, center, explode again.

And you say, but of course. A kaleidoscope is just a hand-made video.

That's all for now. Sorry I don't have pix.

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