Author Archives: thejennsmith

Percieved Realities at Glass Curtain Gallery

Perceived Realities, the MFA Thesis show at Columbia College, brings together the wide-ranging work of Columbia’s MFA photography students: Phaedra Call, Ilana Cheyfitz, Allison Clarke, Juan Giraldo, Yeinier Gonzalez, Elaine Catherine Miller, and Orlenajean Vieira. With only seven artists occupying this roomy gallery, the work has room to breathe and is installed seamlessly in the space, except for a sonic dissonance problem where a few of the pieces with sound conflict with each other (an issue for many gallery spaces, usually unavoidable).

Amongst the expected photographic fare (large-format photographs, videos, collages and artists books), Elaine Catherine Miller’s installation Waiting (for the Sun to Set), 2015 stands apart. Miller’s piece is an room within a room; a corner space built out to mimic the sterile floors, walls, and furniture of a government office or a doctor’s waiting area. A faceless female mannequin in a conservative woman’s suit sits, legs crossed, in a chair, holding an apple, while a generic sunset video plays in a loop on a monitor. The palette of light pink, dark pink, black and gray, along with the fake sunset and an artificial potted palm gives the work, at its surface, a tumblr-esque aesthetic, but at a deeper level the installation calls to mind the worst moments of waiting in our lives, perhaps for results of a medical test, or for a loved one to come out of surgery. The video plays on and on, even when no one is around to watch, projecting a false calm with an undercurrent of desperation.

Reception Tonight! Maddie Reyna at Roman Susan

Maddie Reyna: Song of the Summer
May 8, 2015 – May 30, 2015

When Maddie Reyna was a girl she fantasized about living in the mall. She would occupy a small gift shop and not alter the interior other than the addition of a bed. The shopping public would no longer be allowed in the store, but could see Maddie living her domestic life among the objects once sold there. For Roman Susan, this fantasy was built upon. The paintings depict flowers that can’t grow indoors, beds made out of sand, ghosts (or more accurately, a boner under a sheet) and present a tone that is naive about domesticity and functionality.

Richard Hull at Western Exhibitions

Richard Hull #4 2014 crayon on paper 24 x 18 inches

Richard Hull
crayon on paper
24 x 18 inches

Western Exhibitions presents their third solo show with RICHARD HULL. The Chicago-based artist will exhibit a series of crayon-on-paper abstract portraits in Gallery 1 and in Gallery 2, a new oil-on-wax-on-canvas painting, two never-seen-before paintings started over ten years ago, and a huge unframed drawing. The show opens with a free public reception on Friday, May 8 from 5 to 8pm and will run through June 13. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

Liz Larner sculptures at the Art Institute of Chicago

Liz Larner sculptures at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Liz Larner exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago brings two of the artist’s stainless steel sculptures to the outdoor space of the Bluhm Family Terrace. The more recent of the two is X (2013): a rounded, insect-like x-shape of polished chrome, along with 6 (2010-11): a lighter, more open version of its brother, painted lavender, white, and yellow-brown. These are united by a large, wooden platform which the wall text describes as “ash from urban lumber”.

The objects are exposed to the elements, but are protected by the half-roof and substantial steel bars surrounding the terrace. Seen against the wide open sky (a rare sight for most of us ground dwellers in the city), it should be a serene and cheerful sight. So why does it give the impression of animals in a cage? In this setting, with the large tall bars that surround the terrace, the sculptures feel trapped and claustrophobic.  And, like all proper zoo animals, they come with a sign directing visitors not to touch them. This sign is somewhat contradicted by the wall text, which indicates that in the case of  X (but not 6) “viewers may enter the physical space of the form itself”. To do so, most adults would have to crouch down or crawl underneath the claw-like structure, an awkward undertaking with questionable payoff.

Lengthy, contemplative viewing, however, may generate empathy for these sculptures. They seem to want to have fun, but the bars and signs and lack of space keep them caged, cowering, and untouchable.

Jackie Saccoccio Echo at Corbett vs. Dempsey

Square Portrait (Flourish), 2015

Square Portrait (Flourish), 2015

If you visit mid-day, when visitors are few, the creaky floors of Corbett vs. Dempsey announce your arrival and provide a soundtrack for your movements amongst the artworks on view. Stop, let the floorboards quiet down, and listen closely to Jackie Saccoccio’s large, colorful abstract paintings in Echo, in the main gallery through April 25.

Blockhead, 2015

Portrait (Blockhead), 2015

Square Portrait (flourish), 2015, presents slick geometric substructures partially obscured by splashes and wet-looking puddles of color: an elegant yellow and black tsunami obliterating the orderly abstract pastel-town beneath it. Brushmarks are few and far between: markmaking consists primarily of puddles, scrapes, drips, and stains. The most interesting of these marks are the drips. The artist has manipulated the paint to call forth a chorus of drips all moving left, right, up and down in synchrony. Saccoccio seems to have been accomplished this by moving the canvas while the paint was still wet, using gravity to direct the drips’ flow into right angles and zigzags reminiscent of palm tree fronds (Portrait (Blockhead), 2015).

Square Portrait 2, 2015

Square Portrait 2, 2015

Before you leave, pause in front of Square Portrait 2 (2015). Listen closely: perhaps you will hear a sound, as I did. Maybe I imagined it (or more likely the sound floated up from the city outside), but for a moment I believed it was coming from the painting: a cool, high note. Imagine my surprise the next day as I paged through the catalog interview and read Saccoccio’s description of how a painting is begun: “The onset of a painting is reliably sweet. It’s like listening to one note — it could become a symphony or it could be a jingle. Maybe that’s thoughtful cognitive pre-painting.” I didn’t hear any symphonies or jingles, but the one note, along with these splashy visual wonderlands, were music enough for me.

Jessica Labatte: Underwater Highway at Western Exhibitions

Spotting #1 (Emma) 2014 Unique color photograph 44x 34 in/ 111.8x 86.4 cm Ed. 1 +1AP

Spotting #1 (Emma)
Unique color photograph
44x 34 in/ 111.8x 86.4 cm
Ed. 1 +1AP










From Western Exhibitions website:

Western Exhibitions is pleased to present Underwater Highway, an exhibition of photographic works by Jessica Labatte that continues her investigations in photographic illusion, while respecting the material processes of photography. Labatte’s most recent body of work addresses and employs light and color as a model for space and time; the barely visible, such as dust particles; minerals as pigments; and digital or antique photographic processes. The show opens with a free public reception on Friday, March 13 from 5 to 8pm and will run through April 25. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm.