March 29, 2014

2013: Jose Lerma @ MCA Chicago

Above: MCA Chicago visitors interact with Jose Lerma's installation "Midissage" on November 12, 2013.
Jose Lerma
BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works
Organized by Kristin Korolowicz, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow
July 2 – December 3, 2013
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave. (MVDR Drive)
Chicago, IL 60611

Visitors' interactions with, and the multicolored lights within, Lerma's installation "Midissage" (only one component of his Chicago Works exhibition) are documented here.

See more:

Jose Lerma on Flickr,

Kyle MacMillan in Art in America on November 20, 2013,

Shreya Sethi in Newcity Art on July 2, 2013,

Above: "Monument to a Light Spent" (mirror at right) by Jose Lerma, in "Midissage" on November 12, 2013.
Images (1-6) November 12, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 27, 2014

2013: Kristina Paabus @ The Mission

Above: Kristina Paabus in THE SUB-MISSION for her opening reception on November 15, 2013.
Kristina Paabus
"a box for each of us"
November 15 – December 21, 2013
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL

"Paabus' work investigates the use of information systems to enforce perceptions of structure and order. Through a multidisciplinary approach, she creates images, environments, and situations that straddle reality and illusion. These hybrid spatial conversations elaborate on the relationship between physical structure and an individual's perception of his or her surroundings.

In this site-specific installation, Paabus explores ideas of surveillance and control. Influenced by theater and panopticons, she examines the melding of public and private spaces. Paabus is interested in the idea of 'being watched' and the resulting perceptual effects. In a box for each of us, the panopticon is a representation of contemporary information gathering techniques, confining individuals and groups to both constant display and categorization."

Quotation above from:

Above: Kristina Paabus' installation "a box for each of us" in THE SUB-MISSION on November 15, 2013.
Images (1-2) November 15, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 25, 2014

2013: Ebony G. Patterson @ Monique Meloche

Above: Ebony G. Patterson with her artwork in moniquemeloche for the opening of "...until you see them," on November 14, 2013.
Ebony G. Patterson
"...until you see them"
November 14, 2013 - January 4, 2014
moniquemeloche gallery
2154 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL

"For her second solo exhibition at moniquemeloche, Ebony G. Patterson presents '…until you see them,' a series of new, large-scale, mixed-media works on paper. Patterson’s signature, monumental mug-shot portraits have grown into complex groupings of full figures as she expands her exploration into the varied interpretation and appropriation of feminine archetypes by young men of the African diaspora. In this expansion, Patterson introduces the female figure to address modes of visibility and invisibility within a certain cultural code. Notions of the feminine, fashion, pattern, decoration and pastiche grow in '…until you seem them,' as Patterson explores a new forest of figuration."

Quotation above from:

Images (1-3) November 14, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

2014: Mike Rea @ Devening Projects

Above: Mike Rea, right, at Devening Projects for the opening of "Exile on Main Street" on March 9, 2014, with Esau McGhee, left.
Mike Rea
"Exile on Main Street"
March 9 - April 12, 2014
Devening Projects and Editions
3039 W. Carroll Street
Chicago, IL

"For over a decade, Chicago artist Mike Rea has used his bombastic wooden sculptures to conflate notions of working hard and playing hard. Regenerated moments of cinematic horror, science fiction, comedy and drama intermingle with memory to form bizarre personal narratives. Whether the work operates as conventional sculpture or as props within interactive installations and performances, these typically large-scale works sensitively reflect a culture of humor, violence and vulgarity.

Although he continues to mine pop culture and its stereotypes, in 'Exile on Main Street,' Mike Rea is discovering some edgy new themes. Pulling from the margins of literature and films, he’s taking set pieces that one might barely notice moves them front and center. Chain link fences, bathroom stalls and graffiti are meticulously reproduced in wood to become poetic moments of the desired and the strange. Replicated boom mics place the audience on the set, casting them as complicit participants in his production. These objects and sets are familiar; they’re almost clichéd in certain filmic and literary genres. Ultimately, it’s the way Rea uses material from the constructed reality of fiction and places it directly in our own. The result is both funny and unnerving."

Quotation above from:

Above: A detail of carved wood elements in Rea's piece "Moby Dick," 2014.
Above: A detail of carved wood elements in Rea's piece "Moby Dick," 2014.
Above: An overview of built and carved wood elements in Rea's installation "Moby Dick," 2014.
Above: A gallery overview of Rea's manifold installation "Exile on Main Street," in Devening Projects from March 9 - April 12, 2014.
Above: A detail of a carved wood element in Rea's installation "Dalton, Wade Garret, Brad Wesley," 2014.
Above: A detail of a carved wood element in Rea's installation "Dalton, Wade Garret, Brad Wesley," 2014.
Above: Rea's installation "Ahab, Queequeg, Stubb, Elijah, Ishmael," 2014, in background;  "Moby Dick," 2014, foreground.
Above: An overview of one built and carved wood element in Rea's installation "Dalton, Wade Garret, Brad Wesley," 2014.
Above: The built and carved wood element in Rea's installation entitled "Brutus, Fideleo, Rocky," 2014. 
Above: An overview of the built and carved wood "Brutus, Fideleo, Rocky," 2014, as seen through "Moby Dick," 2014.
Above: The built and carved wood element in Rea's installation entitled "Slight Nipple (Michelle My Bell)," 2014.
Image (1) March 9, 2014;
Images (2-12) March 22, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 18, 2014

2014: Liz McCarthy @ Comfort Station

Above: Liz McCarthy's untitled photographic installation in "Partitions" at Comfort Station on February 1, 2014.
Liz McCarthy and Nora Nieves
February 1 - 14, 2014
Comfort Station
2579 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL

Presented by High Concept Laboratories.

"Liz McCarthy works through a process of submerging herself in naturally occurring landscapes in attempt to alter and document her own durational experience. Whether it be a migration to central Wisconsin or a walk in an abandoned overgrown lot in the middle of the city, she explores places where the environment looses ridged boundaries of space and the limitation of formal time. She uses photography to document these environments, and then in the studio, reinterprets the images through the building of corresponding material structures. McCarthy considers most of these structures to be alternative calendars and new representational frames for experience."


"The perception of time and space is fluid, one moment bleeds into the next. In the physical world we create more clear boundaries with objects, barriers, and frames to more clearly define and navigate our experience. In 'Partitions' Nora Nieves and Liz McCarthy both document environments by making structures that tentatively define the way in which they experience particular spaces."


Above:  Liz McCarthy's untitled photographic installation in "Partitions" at Comfort Station on February 1, 2014.
Above: Liz McCarthy, left, and Nora Nieves, right, in press image for "Partitions" at Comfort Station, February 1-14, 2014.
Images (1-2) February 1, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.
Image (3) Press image advertising "Partitions" at Comfort Station;
Copyright Liz McCarthy, left; Nora Nieves, right.

March 17, 2014

2014: Jeff Austin @ The Mission

Above: Jeff Austin's installation "You Have No Idea" in THE SUB-MISSION at THE MISSION Chicago on March 7, 2014.
Jeffrey Michael Austin
"You Have No Idea"
March 7 – April 19, 2014
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642

"The installation presents a textual reference to a commonly used contemporary English expression – 'You Have No Idea' – spelled hazily around the room’s perimeter. Countless strands of white thread stretch from the text to a cluster of forms situated at the center of the project space. Supported by neodymium rare earth magnets, the forms pull each thread taut and suspended in midair. Exhibiting a perplexing natural phenomenon in conjunction with an offhand expression, 'You Have No Idea' comprises a quiet and organic spectacle, instigating for the viewer a confrontation with humility and the unknown."

Quotation above from:

Image (1) March 7, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 13, 2014

2014: Mandy Cano @ Cobalt Studio

Above: The artist Mandy Cano in Cobalt Studio during the opening reception for "Pure Blood" on March 8, 2014.
Mandy Cano
"Pure Blood"
March 8 - 26, 2014
Cobalt Studio
1950 W. 21st Street
Chicago, IL

2013 ACRE Summer Residency Exhibition

"Following the mass expulsion of Jews and Muslims during the late 1400s, Spain instituted laws of Limpieza de sangre. These laws distinguished the Jews and Muslims who had converted to Christianity from those who could trace their religious affiliation through family lineage. Having more to do with politics and ancestry than faith, Limpieza de sangre provided the grounds for extreme prejudice against those of 'unclean blood'. During the colonization of the Americas, the ideas behind Limpieza de sangre were transferred to a caste system that further built upon discrimination.

With these reconfigured shirts I examine the present-day manifestations of such views. Each shirt, given to me by a Latin American immigrant, was once worn for daily work. I have then unstitched and torn apart each shirt, re-forming it into a fragmented quilt. Referencing the uncleanliness Judaic and Muslim traditions have associated with pigs (and in turn, the pig’s redemptive connotations within a Christian tradition), I then soaked the piece-meal shrouds in pig’s blood. Questions arise. What is clean and un-clean? Who designates these definitions, and who lives by them? How have our cultural, ethnic and historical identities formed our current prejudices? And, in light of the influx of immigrants to the United States, who is asking these questions, and to whom?"
- Mandy Cano

Quotation above from:

Quotation above from:

Above:An installation view showing work shirts from Latin American immigrants, thread, pig's blood, and black-painted wood frames.
Above: John Salhus, left; Duk Ju L. Kim, center; Antonio Martinez, right;  opening reception for "Pure Blood" on March 8, 2014.
Above: A "Pure Blood" installation overview, in Cobalt Studio, on March 8, 2014.
Above: A detail of Mandy Cano's fiber work, in Cobalt Studio, on March 8, 2014.
Images (1-5) March 8, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 12, 2014

2014: Marissa Lee Benedict @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Above: Marissa Lee Benedict, left, with artist and partner David Allan Rueter, right, opening night, March 7, 2014.
Marissa Lee Benedict
March 7 - 27, 2014
BOLT Residency
Chicago Artists Coalition
217 N. Carpenter Street
Chicago, IL

Friday, March 7, 2014: Within the context of a site-specific installation which occupies the whole of the Chicago Artists Coalition's BOLT Residency gallery, Marissa Lee Benedict exhibits (4-channel) video documentation of an earlier performance in the Mojave Desert.  Benedict, the performer, presents herself as a hydrologist occupied with the task of collecting soil samples from Harper Dry Lake, in Hinkley, California.

Above: The video component of Marissa Lee Benedict's installation "Augur," in the Chicago Artists Coalition's BOLT Residency gallery.
Presumably, it takes a bit of research outside of the gallery in order for most members of the audience to learn that the site of Benedict's investigation, Harper Dry Lake, was made arid as a result of human intervention in the local ecosystem.  Having made the effort, it's easy to connect Benedict to Sarah and Joseph Belknap, whose own installation, "It's Getting Hot in Here," filled the same BOLT Residency space two years earlier, from April 13 to May 3, 2012.

Above: Sarah and Joseph Belknap's "Glacier Spring Rider" in "It's Getting Hot in Here" on April 13, 2012.
As playful glaciologists warning of the imminent, global destruction sure to result from rising sea levels, the Belknap's concerned themselves (at least in part) with flooding, i.e., the side of the climate change coin opposing Benedict's depiction of drought.

At least one other point of coincidence exists between Benedict's "Augur" and the Belknaps' "It's Getting Hot in Here," just barely visible in the photograph of the "Glacier Spring Rider" above: In the northwest corner of the BOLT Residency gallery, the Belknaps, with great difficulty, obtained permission to drill a portal in the floor.

Above: The portal in the northwest corner of the BOLT Residency gallery which was made by the Belknaps in April of 2012.
If memory serves, the Belknaps intended the portal, depicted above, to suggest the scientific practice of core sampling--to which Benedict has returned, both actively in her video and also passively through the inclusion of a similar portal in the floor of her installation, seen below.

Above: A detail of Benedict's portal in the southeast corner of the BOLT Residency gallery reveals the core sample set within it.
Above: Benedict's portal found in a floor of reclaimed lumber, built above the gallery's natural grade, on March 7, 2014.
Above: A shadow is cast by a visitor walking near the portal set in Benedict's floor of reclaimed lumber, March 7, 2014.
Outside the Chicago Artists Coalition, within the Museum of Contemporary Art's recently closed exhibition "The Way of the Shovel," Tony Tasset's self-portrait as Robert Smithson communicates a similar aesthetic vision, if not also a similar ideological agenda, realized twenty years earlier.  And one wonders about Benedict's exposure to said work, as well as her exposure to said exhibition's curator, Dieter Roelstraete, whose own curatorial conceits have wanted to examine the appearance of scientific processes in art of late.

Above: Tony Tasset's "Robert Smithson (Las Vegas)," 1995, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Above: Marissa Lee Benedict, still from "Attempting to collect a good sample, Attempts 1-4, Harper Dry Lake, Hinkley, CA," 2014.
Tasset's piece, portrait orientation seen above, is the still photographic study of a particular man, here found clothed in a light color; Benedict's piece, landscape orientation seen above, is a time-sensitive video study of the environment as subject to some dark-clothed figure's intervention.  There are differences between the two; nevertheless, the comparison seems worth introducing at this point.

The art world is its own sort of environment, remarkably resistant to investigation and objective measures, in which delicate things are variously inclined to flourish or fail because of abundance as well as scarcity.  Attention and money, like water in the BOLT Residency shows from both Benedict and also the Belknaps, tends not to be evenly distributed; rather, we have flooding and droughts according to the caprice of our kind, and the cruel indifference of Nature.  It's an interesting year to be in Chicago.

Images (1,2,5-7) March 7, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.
Images (3,4) April 13, 2012;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.
Image (8) MCA Chicago, gift of artist & Rhona Hoffman; restricted gift of Jack and Sandra P. Guthman, 1995.
Copyright Tony Tasset.
Image (9) Video still from "Attempting to collect a good sample, Attempts 1-4, Harper Dry Lake, Hinkley, CA," 2014.
Copyright Marissa Lee Benedict.

Read more:

"Presented by Chicago Artists Coalition’s BOLT Residency, 'Augur' is a new immersive installation produced by artist Marissa Lee Benedict. An extension of Benedict’s ongoing investigation into processes of research, collection, extraction, and cultivation, this solo exhibition will feature a 4-channel video installation depicting Benedict’s repeated attempts to collect a core sample from the arid, clay-hardened surface of Harper Dry Lake located in Hinkley, CA.

Working to cut into the parched ground and glimpse what might lie beneath, Benedict tries to gain traction in the harsh landscape via a series of gardening tools (a sledge hammer, a bucket, a shovel, a drill, and a series of pipes) and amateur soil sampling techniques. The show’s title, 'Augur,' plays between the words augur – to portend a good or bad outcome of an event or circumstance, to foresee or predict– and auger – a hand tool often used by soil scientists, geologists and glaciologists to bore holes into the earth.

Just as the aperture of a camera opens to allow light to pass though, Benedict’s repeated attempts to extract and expose the strata below speaks to the artist’s process of searching and re-searching, striving to make tangible connections with the elusive or imperceptible."

Quotation above from:

Quotation above from:


Marissa Lee Benedict joined Sarah and Joseph Belknap in a special project (which also included Karsten Lund, the curatorial assistant to Dieter Roelstraete in "The Way of the Shovel" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) at the alternative print publication Newcity on September 5, 2013:

"Invited by Newcity to 'hijack the newspaper,' Chicago-based artists Sarah Belknap, Joseph Belknap and Marissa Lee Benedict have inserted into this special issue a selection of photographic re-enactments, highlighting the contemporary fascination with space and space travel, and the growing number of Chicago-based artists and curators who are participating in this resurgent dialogue."

Quotation above from:

March 6, 2014

2013: Dana DeGiulio @ The Suburban

Above: Dana DeGiulio exits the Buick LeSabre sedan which she drove, backwards, into Michelle Grabner's gallery: The Suburban.
Dana DeGiulio
New work: "Untitled," with book release.
November 17, 2013
The Suburban
125 N. Harvey Avenue
Oak Park, IL

1996 Buick LeSabre: 3.8 L V6-cylinder, 205 hp @ 5200 rpm, 17/27 mpg, front wheel drive, 4-speed automatic transmission, sedan, white in color.

The Suburban (gallery 1): 8 feet wide, 8 feet deep, ~9 feet high, concrete block walls, concrete floor, one steel door and one window; operated by Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam.

Dana DeGiulio: b. 1978, Chicago Heights, IL; BFA, 2001 and MFA, 2007, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Instructor of Painting and Drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2008).

Above: Dana DeGiulio exits her Buick LeSabre sedan, closing her opening reception on Sunday, November 17, 2013.
Above: The white, 1996, Buick LeSabre sedan which Dana DeGiulio crushed against The Suburban gallery.
Above: Evidence of the damage done, by Dana DeGiulio and her Buick, to the concrete block walls of The Suburban.
Above: Dana DeGiulio, right, with her Buick LeSabre sedan, after her opening reception on Sunday, November 17, 2013.
Above: Dana DeGiulio, right, with Buick, indicating the scale of The Suburban, gallery 1; note gallery 2, in background.
Read more:

Nick Bastis, Chicago Artist Writers, December 11, 2013:

Lise Haller Baggesen, Bad at Sports, December 20, 2013:

Matt Morris, Artforum, January 3, 2014: (must register to view Artforum archive on-line)

Matt Morris:

Images (1-6) November 17, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

March 5, 2014

2014: Miami Dutch @ Queer Thoughts

Above: "by land or by sea" from Miami-Dutch at Queer Thoughts on January 24, 2014.
"When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time"
January 24 - February 23, 2014
Queer Thoughts
1640 W. 18th Street
Chicago, IL

"They sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. I try to evade, but struggle; I bind myself tight to listen in passing. I grip the rudder forcefully, but with my strength it breaks. We part ways, but it is probably for the best. Signed, sealed, delivered; my translation is clear. Or am I dreaming? So what?   

So, the space of possibility was given me one day like a loud fart I will let. Neither the space, nor the possibility, I didn’t know exactly what they were, and I didn’t feel the need to think about it. I am an Earth-bound emancipated teenager (don't fucking tell me what to do - you, above all). Water, air, land - Mind, body, nation.  We breathe an esperanto, a Mischsprache.

It is from this body that they draw something to remake reality; something to remake themselves in reality, and to make for themselves a reality. An Order that would break the adverbial body and her discreet geometries, the unsoundable abyss of the face, the inaccessible plan of the surface. We silently arranged ourselves into a circle of bare feet, and sang the song of dust: an ode to the body abyss. Now I’m the father-mother, the twin-tailed, triple-goddess hour of death, [stop] sixty minutes of birth, sixty minutes of body. I am all of the above! But at least there is one thing, which is something, only one thing, and I feel it."

Quotation above from:

Above: Untitled, 2014, from Miami-Dutch at Queer Thoughts on January 24, 2014.
Above: "neither the space, nor the possibility" from Miami-Dutch at Queer Thoughts on January 24, 2014.
Above: "in good hands" from Miami-Dutch at Queer Thoughts on January 24, 2014.
Images (1-4) January 24, 2014;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.