From Chicago to Minneapolis-lots of art to see and think over. In Chicago at the Green Lantern Gallery is a sweet, impeccable, subtly disturbing show by Kari Percival and Greg Cook (ends Oct. 4). Of course, as an artist obsessed with Early American pattern, Greg Cook's work was lovely to see and is a good example of how to make something-- dare I say 'primitive'--and transforms it into contemporary art through color and installation. His use of simple line drawings depicting unfortunate events in American history can be seen on his website, in particular I would direct you to his, "Wonders of the Known World Flags". Cook lives and works in Gloucester, Mass and publishes a nice blog of his own, The New England Journal of Aesthetics which currently features some wild-flowery-sewn-silkscreened-wallprints by Karen Gelardi, also worth seeing.
Onto to Minneapolis. . .oh,oh, my beloved city. . . The Soap Factory--in a bold move--titled their most recent group show of local artists, Pay Attention: GREATER Minneapolis (ends Oct.26). . .inducing through this brave title a comparison to the P.S.1's Greater New York Show in 2005. As all of us who love Minneapolis know, we have all the things New Yorkers have--fantastic chef-owned restaurants, innovative museums, lovely parks designed by the same folks who brought you Central Park, and moreover, we have small-batch roasted coffee and the State Fair. However. . .the Greater New York show at P.S.1 in 2005 was an astounding slice of the artworld featuring emerging artists, tough to beat, but not impossible. While P.S. 1 as a rehabbed elementary school is an interesting and unusual space that many artists transformed in 2005, the Soap Factory as a structure is even more fascinating and exerts itself even more forcefully on the artworks that dare to go inside it. With many of the works in Pay Attention: Greater Minneapolis the space seemed to intrude on the artwork that was desperately trying to fend off the wonky wood floors and the rusted pulleys that dangle from the ceiling. In past shows, the art and the space just sing together in some kind of incredible duet that you feel privileged to see because you know these two elements will never come together this way ever again, such was the case with the show Gigantic that the Soap Factory also put on in 2005.
While this was not the case with most of the work in Pay Attention: Greater Minneapolis . . there were a few exceptions: two pieces by Chris Hill and the drawings, but particularly the cast object sculptures, by Megan Vossler. The works by Chris Hill are--a completely disassembled bicycle and arranged on the floor piece-by-piece from smallest to largest and a smashed china plate with the fragments all laid out in a pattern on the floor. These two works jumped out at me (literally they were shocking) because of their fragility and the efficacy of the execution of Hill's idea. I must admit I enjoy works where the artist's idea confronts you first and then your are rewarded with a beautiful object--the work presents itself as a solution to a problem you didn't know existed until you saw it solved just now. While this work references Abstract Expressionist Barnett Newman on one extreme and Conceptual Artist Marcel Broodthaers on the other it is surprising to see these two divergent ideas brought together. The cast plater duffle bags scattered into the base of an old elevator by Megan Vossler and her drawings of Artic landscape were strangely unnerving in their use of white, that sharply contrasted the gritty, worn Soap Factory. Finally, this post on Minneapolis would not be complete without mentioning the work of Anthony Pearson (ends Oct. 25) at Midway Contemporary Art. This work is again very beautiful, and yet it puzzles me. I don't know how I feel about it but I think with this work that seems appropriate--aesthetically quite lovely and subdued.
Well, back to Chicago tomorrow for the opening of Francis Alys at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 4pm.