I’ve been up to the signature lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building numerous times, but never to any of the other floors – so when I saw an opening invite card for Valerie Carberry Gallery, I was excited to have a reason to visit the 38th floor. We stepped into the elevator and tried pressing 38, but to no avail, we needed special permission to enter this prestigious floor! After signing in with security and being swiped in by the guard we were on our way up and up…then strolling past the plastic surgery specialists, a Christies auction office, Richard Grey Gallery who have a selection of Alex Katz paintings on show, and inside the small gallery with the big view.
I was keen to see the group show ‘Under Investigation’ which features Jim Lutes, Laura Letinsky and Julia Fish. This was mainly because I’d heard so much wonderful feedback about Jim Lutes as a teacher and mentor at SAIC and I was fond of Julia Fish’s drawings at the Art Institute last year. However, it was Laura Letinsky’s work which stood out for me – carefully composed photographs appearing like collages of the detritus of meals: clean white tablecloths, watermelon remains, spills, veils of mystery and sterility.
The gallery felt suffocatingly commercial, especially with its high-brow office neighbours. For the first time in my Chicago gallery-visiting experience, it felt wrong to visit the space simply to look and appreciate with absolutely no intention to buy. I can picture the residents of the John Hancock building quite happily taking the elevator up (or more likely down) to the 38th floor and being able to purchase without even needing to put their coat on. I won’t be back anytime soon, although David Hockney is opening at Richard Grey Gallery later this month – might be worth a look?