Driving Cline Avenue Reprise

[Vimeo 8700217]

Emmett Kerrigan’s paintings are of the past.  Whether farm landscapes, painted wooden tops and cityscapes, Kerrigan’s work instantly draws you in by his sophisticated techniques, luscious colors and ability to look at the discarded in a new light.  This week new works by Emmett Kerrigan opened up at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Whiting-2 by Emmett Kerrigan

He is drawn to the objects off the interstate we passes by.  Whether the farms featured in his earlier work or his drives along Cline Ave, a thoroughfare that serves the steel mills and the communities that grew up around them, his images are familiar.  But his use of paint makes these structures fresh again.  His layers upon layers of color trick the eye and provide depth and light.

For those that drive through NW Indiana or take Chicago Skyway, the perspective is immediately recognizable. As the buildings on Cline Avenue represent a community once thriving are now dismissed as outdated and not relevant. So it’s fitting that Kerrigan uses a medium that to some in the contemporary art world is considered outdated and not relevant.

Truthful Enthusiasm interviewed Linda Warren, who represents Kerrigan, at his recent solo show at her gallery.  These works are now on display with other works by Kerrigan at the Elmhurst Art Museum Through March 21, 2010.


Breath In, Breath Out

[Vimeo 8764887]

Worker at the HP Factory in Leixlip, Ireland

Photographer Mark Curran has been documenting the profound change in Ireland since the beginning of the “Celtic Tiger” economic boom of the early 1990s.  Over that time, he has captured the construction boom, which has doubled the housing stock in the past decade.

Prior to the boom, most of the youth of Ireland would consider a move out of Ireland to find work.  Curran was no exception, migrating to Canada with his father and sister at age 19.  As I immigrant he held on to romantic notions of his homeland; memories that were contradicted by the reality of the boom.  High-tech industries moved in to take advantage of the cheap workforce so many chose to stay.

In his recent work, “The Breathing Factory”, Curran captures the workers and environment at a Hewlett-Packard plant in Leixlip, Ireland and its business practice to expand and shrink the workforce to react to demand.  The photographs are a mix of portraits and factory landscapes he took over the course of 20 months with each image having made it past corporate management.   Curran dismissed my questions of control by saying they were concerned about the theft of intellectual property.   He wanted to focus the conversation on the impact these multinational corporations on the communities they reside.

Along side those images, interviews with workers and management are on display, shedding like in the new reality of instability.  A point made more clear when you realize the productions lines captured are constantly being modified, in affect making the works history by the time the project was completed.  Make you want to take a moment and catch my breath, doesn’t it?

iArt What iArt

January 8, 2010 7 comments

[Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/8620448%5D

The phenomenon of Apple’s iPhone has made its way into the world of visual arts with an exhibition at the Chicago Art Department.   This personal communication device quickly became the most popular smart phone worldwide.  Part of the success of the phone is due to the applications in which you can do anything from personal organization, gaming and a multitude of art-based programs.  Those were the inspiration for Chicago Art Department’s Mike Nourse to create a course to use these phones as an artistic instrument.

In the exhibition now open at CAD’s gallery space in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, we see the abilities and fine art created by this tool.  The works range from photographs captured, processed, filtered and even sent to a printer from the device to capturing stop action (as in this example of our interview) and even a group of international artists who create their works solely on the iPhone.  That group, known as Finger-Painters create elaborate images that is comparable to traditional illustrations, but works created while riding the bus or in between phone calls.

Who knows how long the iPhone trend will last, this week Googles new Droid phone went on sale.  And tech experts believe that it will give the iPhone a healthy competition.  But after visiting this exhibition, I know for sure that the ability to capture, process and print unique, artistic works is solidly part of the art world.

(iPhone Therefore iArt Opening night party Friday January 8th, 6 – 10pm, 1837 S Halsted, Chicago IL)

Public Portraits

The long awaited reopening of Chicago’s Belmont El Station officially happens with the New Year.  Besides the new elevator and extended platforms, the entrance and lobby will don the mosaics of local artist David Lee Csicsko.

Csicsko has long been connected to the Belmont El Station he points out ,it’s the el station he is most familiar with because he lives in the neighborhood; The nightclub Berlin across the street has a sign over its entry that Csicsko designed 25 years ago and in 2000 Ann Sather’s restaurant commissioned twelve portraits to overlook east and westbound Belmont Ave from the train trestle.

The renovation comes because of a major CTA project to add capacity to the brown and redline platforms.  The new works are made of colorful tiles to reflect the vibrancy of the Lakeview community who pass by. All the images created are inspired by friends Csicsko shares; all except the one he calls the “Goddess of Belmont” who looks over all the commuters as they pass by on there way to and from.

Csicsko’s art is of the neighborhood and a permanent reminder of the time.   So as you pass by day or night, slow down look the goddess of Belmont in the eye and acknowledge your place in Chicago.

Categories: Public Art

Home Wreckage

You don’t pick your family, so when the holidays arrive around and families come together in joyous celebration, anxiety most likely lurks just below the surface.  To alleviate some of the stress we subscribe to certain easy to follow rules.

Avoid conversations on politics. Check!

Don’t mention certain events from the past year.  Check!

Stay positive.   Check!  J Partake in the joy being poured; regain confidence, and dissolve that delicate layer of caution.

The exhibition “Home Wreckage” examines that tension just in time to take your extended family on an outing while they are in town.   And maybe use it as a way to find some common ground with your mutual anxiety.

This multi-artists show has works by Chicago and International artists.  And although many of these are dark in context, they provide a bit of humor as well.  Two collages by Austrian artist Franz West make commercial advertisements selling joy, a bit sinister.

Several artists look at the barrie"Room Divider" by Patrick Gavinrs between families.  Patrick Gavin’s Room Divider is a simple green beam standing 6 inches tall but runs the length of the floor.  Although it isn’t a true physical barrier, the psychological division has you walking around instead of over.

The exhibition has a collection of 25 short films by Roman Signer.  In his filmed experiments, Signer creates what he calls “action sculptures”.  This films and the sculptures created are documents of destruction.  The father figure, who ones immediate finds comfort and security in, once you seen on the screen, spends his time destroying.  My favorite is of Signer in a kayak being pulled down a gravel road, presumably near his home, the cattle along the side of the road begin to run along side of him as he passes…for a moment creating a stampede.

See these and other works in the exhibition Home Wreckage, Saturdays through January 24, 2010 at Devening Projects + Editions, 3039 W Carroll St, Chicago IL 60612.   Be sure to bring a cell phone or call ahead (312) 420- 4720 to gain entry into the warehouse.

Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario

[Vimeo 8247055]

Liam Gillick’s work explores the idea of how our environment affects our perspectives.  In his current exhibition at MCA Chicago, Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario, Gillick explores the past 20 years of his work, but in an atypical way.  He created new works to tell the story of his artistic evolution.

As you first walk in, you notice two prominent installations.  Slatted framed walls create the walkways and rooms, directing you along a path, showing Gillick’s fascination with “relational aesthetic”, the idea of how our world is constructed affects our experience in it.  The second piece you notice is the brightly colored panels on the ceiling of the exhibition space.  These are a nod to his current works of color.  He has replaced the drop ceiling with colored transparent panels adding a reflective glow to the walls and room.

In two of the sectioned off areas he has works he has done over the years.  A Glass case is filled with posters and books he has designed.  In another section photos of his works have elaborate diagrams and explanations; too much information to digest, but giving one a sense that these simple structures have lot of thought behind them.

Across the hall from the exhibition, two more of his pieces are a part of the Artists in Depth series at the MCA.  These two works are a part of the MCA’s permanent collection and are placed around works by three important conceptual artists, Jenny Holzer, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt.   If you had any questions remaining about his work from the larger exhibition, these two pieces bring together why he is a significant artist of his time.

The exhibition Liam Gillick: Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario and Artists in Depth both continue through January 10, 2010.

Precocious Piano Performance

[Vimeo 8250054]

Pianist Phyllis Chen brings new life and seriousness to what some see as child’s play in an experimental piano performance Friday Night, December 11th in Chicago.  Its part of an ongoing Experimental Piano Series sponsored by the Chicago Composers Forum.  Ms. Chen and the Steve Cohn Trio will be performing at the intimate Piano Forte space on the 8th Floor of the Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue.  It begins at 7PM, followed by a reception.