Prestidigitation at Slow

I hadn’t been to Slow before, let alone any of the Pilsen galleries, but had heard its vivacious owner Paul Hopkin on recent panel discussion at SAIC “A Curator in your Studio”. Last night I attended the opening of Steve Reber and Kevin Jennings’ two-man show: Prestidigitation. The gallery is tiny but welcoming and it was a little awkward maneuvering between floor pieces, a cloaked magician figure and many guests.  A peek into the back space revealed a cosy open plan studio apartment where Paul lives – it added a intimate feel to the space which lies somewhere in the undefined area between commercial and apartment gallery.

Steve’s exquisitely constructed floor and wall sculptures shine, and completely stole the show for me. They are highly structural yet generous to the viewer; with their stucco-like surfaces, quirky found objects and papier-mache decoupage sections. They appeal on a number of levels: from intrigue in their materials to the relationship between the crystalline chemical structures and the found objects and images inhabiting their forms.

Kevin Jennings’ work appeared contrived in comparison. Cast arms painted black reached out from charcoal circles drawn directly on the gallery walls and presented viewers with various items in their palms. One hand contained a puddle of flesh-like blamange with just a few little black hairs left on its surface as if the magician in the corner had cast a spell of transformation– this one appealed much more than the expected dice and vials.

Prestidigitation runs through October 19 at Slow
2153W 21st Street, Chicago, IL 60608

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