February 26, 2014

2014: Ryan Peter Miller @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Above: Ryan Peter Miller with his artwork on January 10, 2014, during the opening of "Release Show" at Chicago Artists Coalition.
Ryan Peter Miller
"Release Show"
January 10-30, 2014
Chicago Artists Coalition
217 N. Carpenter Street
Chicago, IL



"'Release Show' presents new and recent works by six artists for their final HATCH Projects exhibition. Jesse Butcher's installation serves as memorial and altar to objects and text works that act as magic cards. James T. Green continues to wield cultural critique as a mode of investigation into his screen-based images. Kasia Houlihan weaves together the aesthetics and meanings of relationships as friendship bracelets that push size and scale. Christopher Meerdo's suite of prints are bright interventions that obfuscate and create new manifestations in the Icelandic landscape. Ryan Peter Miller's painthings go further as they expand into space and take on an architectonic quality. Rebecca Parker's videos are glimpses at the way family holiday rituals are performed from an uncanny perspective."

Quotation above from: http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/programs/hatch-projects/release-show

Image (1) January 10, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

2013: It Varies @ The Storefront

Above: Justin Witte, Philip von Zweck, Dana Bassett, Jessica Harvey, Brandon Alvendia, Erik Wenzel, et al, November 23, 2013.
"It Varies"
November 23-30, 2013
The Storefront
2606 N. California Avenue
Chicago, IL

Organized by Justin Witte and Judy Rushin

Featuring artists Brandon Alvendia, Michelle Bolinger, Magalie Guerin, Anna Kunz, Judy Rushin, Olivia Schreiner, Rusty Shackleford, Selina Trepp and Philip von Zweck

"Rushin, based in Florida, sends collections of her work to different individuals around the country and asks that the work be set in small interior spaces to serve as the impetus for small events and gatherings. [...] Remnants from the exhibition will be sent back to the artist to be included in an exhibition at Flashpoint Gallery in Washington D.C. in 2014. [...] The installation subtly and not-so-subtly plays with various modes of creating and viewing paintings by tracing the contexts through which they travel. Does a painting installation stand-alone as a piece-in-itself? Does it stand-in, like a souvenir, for a multi-authored networked social process? Is the installation made specifically for the production of documentation or is does it thwart it? Or do the multiple private and public conversations supplant the unique time and place where the paintings are exhibited? The exhibition complicates the formal, spatial and historical conditions of a painting-as-group-project to highlight the varied points of entry implicit in the shared life of images."

Quotation above from: http://www.thevisualist.org/2013/11/it-varies/

Above: Detail of the installation "It Varies" at The Storefront on November 23, 2013.
Above: The Storefront exterior as seen from California Avenue on November 23, 2013; "It Varies" interior.
Images (1-3) November 23, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

February 25, 2014

2014: You Slayer Me @ Rainbo Club

"Conversation Hearts: You Slayer Me"
February 14 - March 14, 2014
Rainbo Club
1150 N. Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL

John Ausikaitis, Theo Katsaounis, Jillian Lamberson, Tim Kinsella , Brittany LaFlamme, Raychael Stine, Paul Koob, Brit Parks, Jourdon Gullett, Sergio Roca, Carrie Ruckel, Marvin Tate, Chandler McWilliams, Selina Trepp, Kelly Whitesell, Gina Ciaccio, Jaime Meyer, Rich Salamander, Jason Waclawik, Chelsea Culp, Ben Foch, Garrett Jensen, Erin Leland, Sarah Shikama, Jonathan Van Herik, Kate O'Neill, Michael Ruta, Todd Mattei, Stephanie Tisza, Sofia Leiby, Laura Callier, Carmen Price, Angela Mullenhour, Meagan Donegan, Claire Arctander, Christian Brandt, Dana Carter, Raquel Ladensack , Bobby Burg, Joe Pankowski, Seth Crawford, Erin Foley, Joe Jeffers, and Kristen VanDeventer.

Above: Jillian Lamberson's "What a Wookie" in the display case on the east wall of the Rainbo, February 14, 2014.
Above: Rob "Rabbit Ears" Funderburk, left; the lovely Julie Ghatan, center; and (LA?) gallerist Andrew Rafacz, right.
Above: Chaos in the Rainbo during the opening of "Conversation Hearts: You Slayer Me" on February 14, 2014.
Above: Exhibiting artist Sergio Roca in Rainbo's photo booth, foreground; random guy, background; on February 14, 2014.
Above: Melina Ausikaitis and Sergio Roca's "Fabio and Mac" at lower-left, illustrating the difficult lighting conditions.
Above: Aay Preston-Myint, left; Karsten Lund, background; Michael Robinson, center; Dana Carter, right.
Above: Dana Carter's work in the display case on the east wall of the Rainbo, February 14, 2014.
Image (1) "Conversation Hearts: You Slayer Me" web advertisement, no copyright claimed;
Images (2-8) February 14, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

February 24, 2014

2003: Rainbo Club @ Ukrainian Village & Wicker Park

Above: Rainbo Club interior, candid, on February 28, 2003.
Rainbo Club
1150 N. Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL

On November 30, 1988, while a student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the author turned 21. Employed as a carpenter's laborer by John van Amerongen, who then ran SAIC's foundry, the author was treated to a tour of Damen Avenue taverns at the end of his hard, working day. Beginning at the Rainbo Club, 1150 N. Damen Avenue, and ending at Danny's, 2100 N. Damen Avenue, the author was introduced to the Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods which would define his social territory for the next decade.

Things changed. Ken, who had in the 80s been at the door of the Rainbo in a black Zildjian shirt and MA-1 flyer's jacket, moved behind the bar. And the Haggerty boys, who had been behind the bar, were gone altogether. Ernie, Eddie, Miriam, Dru: they all disappeared. Almost everything which the author had known vanished at some point in the 90s.

Time passed. Down on his luck, sleeping in his taxi, the author returned, with a camera, to the Rainbo in 2003. The building was the same; the people inside the building were different.

"I wish you guys would come back," said Ken.

"I'm not in the neighborhood much, anymore," the author replied.

"The neighborhood isn't in the neighborhood, anymore," said Ken.

Above: Alliance Bakery, 1736 W. Division Street, display window for Saint Valentine's Day, 2003.
Above: Smoke it while you shake it with a Bakelite ashtray on the urinal in the Rainbo on February 28, 2003.
Above: Under the Blue Line to O'Hare, along Milwaukee Avenue, the Winter of 2003.
Above: Random guy on crutches threatens to "kick my ass because I'm trying to make him look bad," outside Rainbo, 2003.
Above: Alliance Bakery, background, and Maria's, foreground, on Division Street in 2003.
Above: Random shot of Ken's butt in the Rainbo, 2003.
Above: The soul-crushing walk home alone, in the alley, under the Blue Line, in a heavy snow, bathed in sodium light, 2003.
Above: Rainbo bar top in 2003; they drank a lot of Stella.
Above: Sinibar, 1540 N. Milwaukee Avenue, in 2003.
Above: Rainbo Club interior, candid, February 28, 2003.
Above: The author in the Rainbo on February 28, 2003, when he still had long, dark hair and smiled.
Images (1-12) January, February, and March 2003;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

February 22, 2014

2008: Ryan Duggan @ People Projects

Above: Ryan Duggan, left, with "Attainable," right, in People Projects on February 8, 2008.
Ryan Duggan
February 8, 2008
People Projects
2129 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL



February 8, 2008: Artist Ryan Duggan photographed alone in People Projects alongside his papier mache Porsche 911 entitled "Attainable" (wood, paper, wire, cardboard; 175 x 71 x 52 inches), which sculptural object constituted the core of an installation whose theme was status as measurable via the possession of certain objects.

February 20, 2014

2014: Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche

Above: Carrie Schneider with her single-channel video projection “Reading Women,” on January 11, 2014.
Carrie Schneider
"Reading Women"
January 11 – February 1, 2014
moniquemeloche gallery
2154 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL



"To create “Reading Women,” I asked 70 female friends – mostly artists, writers and musicians – to each sit while reading a book of her choice, written by a female author, in her own home or studio for the duration of two hours using side-by-side photographic and video cameras. There is something rare about the depth of concentration experienced while reading, and it’s this moment I’m after: when the sitter loses awareness of the camera – and any semblance of a pose – forgetting her cultural performance.

Whether she chose to read the hardcover first edition autographed copy of Angela Davis’ 'An Autobiography,' (1974) borrowed from her late grandmother, or chose to read (for the eighth time) the dog-eared, used paperback version of Virginia Woolf’s 'To the Lighthouse,' (1927) – the sitter, her choice of book and its author, become linked. To underscore the importance of this connection, each photograph is titled after the sitter, the author, and the title and publication year of the book itself. Cumulatively, the archive reveals a constellation of influences and knowledge among my creative peers."
- Carrie Schneider

Quotation above from: http://moniquemeloche.com/carrie-schneider-reading-women/

Above: "Dana reading Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse, 1927) from the series Reading Women (2012-2013)" (C) Carrie Schneider.
Image (1) January 11, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.
Image (2) Press image, moniquemeloche gallery, illustrating still photography in exhibition;
Copyright Carrie Schneider.

February 19, 2014

2014: Hope Esser & Daviel Shy @ The Hills

Above: Daviel Shy, left, and Hope Esser, right, following their performance at The Hills on February 14, 2014.
Hope Esser & Daviel Shy
"Take Aim"
February 14 - March 21, 2014
The Hills Esthetic Center
128 N. Campbell Avenue
Chicago, IL

Esser & Shy's first performance and opening reception, available on February 14, 2014, is documented here.

***A second performance, "Beware, Beloved: Ides of March Release Party," featuring a reading of poetry from "Letters Unsent" by Daviel Shy, and a mixtape entitled "That Were never Ours" by Hope Esser, is scheduled for 7:00 PM, March 15, 2014.***




"'Take Aim' is an exhibition by Chicago artists Hope Esser and Daviel Shy at The Hills Esthetic Center. Esser and Shy, who were lovers from 2005-2011, have had parallel practices, running often extremely close but never intersecting. In 'Take Aim,' they negotiate the back and forth of collaboration, competition and cross-examination in a field of play. Drawing from the imagery of St. Valentine, the exhibition contains letter correspondence, interpretations of Man Ray’s Object to be Destroyed, and an altered game of badminton. The artists combine their tools of writing, film, sculpture, and performance into a Valentine’s Day jubilee of brokenheartedness. Ouch."

Quotation above from: http://www.thevisualist.org/2014/02/hope-esser-daviel-shy-take-aim/

Above: Artifacts in the gallery following the performance of "Take Aim" on February 14, 2014.
Above: The Hills' Michael Kloss, foreground, and Bad at Sports' Dana Bassett, background.
Above: Chelsea Culp, left, Leo Kaplan, center, and Ben Foch, right.
Above: Mia, left, with Chloe, right.
Above: Hope Esser on the badminton court during the performance of  "Volley" in "Take Aim" on February 14, 2014.
Above: Gonzalo, left, Sarah, center, and Alex Chitty at right, behind The Hills' tiki bar. 
Above: The Hills Esthetic Center live/work space, foreground, tiki bar, background.
Above: The Hills' Leo Kaplan.
Above: The Hills' Michael Kloss, left, and Bad at Sports' Dana Bassett, right.
Above: The Hills Esthetic Center gallery following the performance of "Volley" in "Take Aim" on February 14, 2014.
Images (1-16) February 14, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

February 14, 2014

2014: Laura Letinsky @ Paris London Hong Kong

Laura Letinsky
"Tableware and Some Pictures"
January 31 - March 8, 2014
Paris London Hong Kong
845 W. Washington Avenue
Chicago, IL




8:00 PM, Friday, January 31, 2014: On the floor, in the center of the room, is a rather low, long, folding, wood-toned dinner table.[1]  Stacked heavily upon that table are many glossy white ceramic dishes which, because their irregularity, seem to be hand-wrought.[2]  At first glance, the cumulative effect of the presentation recalls William J. O'Brien's artfully-glazed yet primitively formed clay works at Marianne Boesky Gallery and The Renaissance Society.  On the wall, around the perimeter of the room, are hung small, framed prints.  Looking closely, these two-dimensional works are revealed to be scanned reproductions of collage.[3]

Nothing in the scene just described has the effect of suggesting the work for which Laura Letinsky is best known: photographic depictions of meals on linen after the manner of some still life painter from the Dutch Golden Age, e.g., Pieter Claesz, Jan Jansz van de Velde, Willem Claeszoon Heda, et al.[4]

And while the press release for the show wants to remind us that Letinsky's involvement with ceramics began five years ago, it's still a bit of a shock to find a display for the sale of pottery (the pieces in the gallery are meant to advertise her wares for order from a factory in Mexico) at the heart of her show.  In form and in function too it is very much like a presentation from Crate and Barrel.

Nevertheless, it's intriguing.  And one wonders why, exactly two years after the Smart Museum offered us free food in "Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art," we're now presented with empty dishes for sale.  Photographer Nick Albertson's concurrent exhibition at Aspect/Ratio, less than one block away, begs the same question; Letinsky isn't alone here.

Maybe it's good to remember that Theaster Gates, Letinsky's fellow faculty member at The University of Chicago, was trained as a potter.[5]  Maybe it's good to remember that Michael Rakowitz appropriated Saddam Hussein's dinnerware.[6]  Nevertheless, one wonders why divergent factions and theories are made to support convergent practices in Chicago, at this moment, and too whether the impetus for such movement originates with the artists.


[1] The table in question was said to have been supplied by photographer Jessica Labatte's partner: Chef Eric May.

[2] Why not accept that well-formed pottery, like perfectly round wheels on a car, functions best?  Why not contest prevailing standards of beauty in the glaze?

[3] Pictures of food, and not food itself, appears in the collage, I think.

[4] An example from the Spanish Baroque, e.g. Juan Sanchez Cotan, would too have been accurate--but lacked the Dutch connection to commerce.

[5] Gates has earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Ceramics.

[6] Rakowitz appeeared in "Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art," alongside Gates and Letinsky.

Read more:

"Eye Exam: Galleries Out, Curators In, and Other Artist News," by Jason Foumberg, Newcity, November 8, 2013:

"Laura Letinsky’s Urban Garden," by Heiji Choy Black and Lena Singer, Chicago Magazine, May 16, 2013:

Images (1-4) January 31, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

February 11, 2014

2014: Nick Albertson @ Aspect/Ratio

Above: "Black Straws," 2013, a large format photographic print in "Single Use" by Nick Albertson at Aspect/Ratio.
Nick Albertson
"Single Use"
January 31 - March 7, 2014
119 N. Peoria Street
Chicago IL



Whether in casual conversation or in published text, critics exploring photography often settle upon genre and technique--though such well-worn inroads rarely offer any new perspective on the works in question.  And for want of an ability or desire to move beyond the immediate subject, or the mechanics of that subject's rendition, the meaning which might be suggested by some more subtle attribute or modality is usually ignored.  For example, Nick Albertson's formal concerns, insofar as they are evident within his prints which are currently on display in Aspect/Ratio, suggest that he enjoys some intellectual kinship with abstract painters.  That is to say, what appears most distinctive within "Single Use" is Albertson's effort to cultivate pattern by repetitively staging modular, geometric units before the whole of his camera's frame. [1]

Above: "Cones (diptych)," 2013, at left; "Black Straws," 2013, at right; Aspect/Ratio installation view.
Like Frank Stella who used architectural paints and brushes on canvas to create the "Black Paintings" and "Aluminum Paintings" of the late 50s and early 60s, Albertson employs mass-produced, commonplace materials which are spread evenly across a two-dimensional support.  And, whether the stuff which he's chosen to photograph is presented in an obviously regular arrangement or an apparently stochastic distribution, Albertson's balanced compositions strike the viewer as having been premeditated.  Like Stella in the period mentioned aforehand, Albertson is not spontaneous in his execution.

Having written all of that, no such remarks about post-painterly abstraction ought to be taken as an effort to divorce Albertson from the field of photography, generally, nor the tradition of its practice, locally.  Maybe most like Barabara Kasten (who herself seems easy to connect to Constructivism) Albertson has pursued a sort of studio work in which inanimate objects are structured and lit for capture with a large format film camera.  And, like Laura Letinsky, Albertson has demonstrated an interest in the use of props which are related to the production and consumption of food, e.g., plates.  Too, Albertson's compositions sometimes incorporate office supplies--which might remind one of Jessica Labatte's use of such things as tape rolls and Post-it notes.

Above: "Black Straws," 2013, at left; "Black/White Plates," 2013, at right; Aspect/Ratio installation view.
Absolutely opposed to the historical example of Letinsky, Albertson's culinary accoutrements are never used for their intended purpose; detritus, like color, is conspicuous in its absence here.  In fact, while most of what Albertson shoots is related to some biological process, there is no evidence of life to be found anywhere in the work.  Paint, when considered in light of such observations, might have been a bit too messy for Albertson to handle--which is not a pejorative remark but rather a guess about the appeal of the psychological distance which is enforced by the instrumentality of photography.  Some sort of middle ground between Albertson's current position and direct painting might be available in the photogram, though whether he should wish to avail himself of it is another matter altogether.

Above: "Cones (diptych)," 2013, through video gallery doorway; Aspect/Ratio installation view.
In the end, it might be useful to reconsider the proposition that Albertson has subverted some domestic object's purpose.  The "single use" goods found within Albertson's show were all likely manufactured by parties very much more interested in gross sales than in teleological refinements.  It's Albertson's consumption--or, more precisely, the profit derived from the sale which he represents--which is the end towards which the firms themselves are singularly directed.  Reproducing (if only graphically) such things as black plastic straws and Styrofoam plates, and then offering those reproductions in the marketplace, Albertson's practice can too be read as an extension of the process upon which he comments.


[1] Compare Nick Albertson's "Black Straws," 2013, to Scott Reeder's "Untitled (Pasta Painting)," 2013:

(a) http://www.sfaqonline.com/2013/10/sfaq-pick-scott-reeders-solo-exhibition-people-call-me-scott-at-lisa-cooley-gallery-new-york/

(b) http://lacontemporary.org/scottreeder/

Images (1-4) February 1, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos, where not a slavish reproduction of the original artist's work.