Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Hands

I am too exhausted to recount any of Basel. That will have to wait for later posts.

For now you will have to settle on the show that I am going to see on Friday at Las Manos Gallery at 5220 N Clark Street in Chicago's Andersonville. The tragic site of Las Manos does not due the artists justice, nor does Mark DeBernardi's personal site. Tisk Tisk on poor web management.

Mark's work is an astonishing mix of hand altered photography and collage works. His touch is delicate and deliberate while feeling loose and natural. He (typically) takes negatives from 35mm or from his Holga and prints them traditionally on B&W silver gelatin paper. Then he alters the images by sanding them, stepping on them, drawing on them, flicking inks on them and generally doing everything you are told not to do to a photograph. Then, in the case of his collage work, he carefully composes images meticulously cut from books containing fine etchings and overlays them on the photo. Then, to seal the work, he finishes with an archival varnish, like a damar varnish. The end result is unparalleled; unmatched by any other artist. His works practically don't need his signature, MAD, written in caps in graphite in the lower corner. I am the proud owner of three of Mark's non-collage creations. I can't wait to see more.

{Mark DeBernardi, Love Poem 5}

Also in the show will be Ryan Zohglin, likely with his Heirloom photos. "Perfecting a near century old process utilizing glass printing and a 24k gold powder suspension backing, these one-of-a-kind prints display a rich luminosity and dimensional quality unlike any other photographic technique." This according to Ryan's website. Ryan was recently on 190 North with this work. Check out the YouTube clip. I really like this process, as no one else I know is doing it, and I respect the trials that Ryan had to go through to get this process to work reliably. They are captivating to look at.

I must admit though, I did love Ryan's NIMBY series. NIMBY is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard." Ryan google-earthed undesirable locations like incinerators, coal refineries, nuclear-power plants, and most notably to his series, airport runways. He then simply set out to those locations and shot those who live next door. He was able to catch planes in flight that looked as if they were sure to destroy the houses that they flew just feet above. They were printed very large and I doubt Las Manos will commit the space for them. I hope he at least adds them to his website soon.

Finally, the show will also include Tricia Rumbolz. I could not find a website for her. One of her drawings can be seen in the background of this Time Out article about Coal Fire Pizza, where I found her work. I am hoping that there are several of these pieces there so that I can see more, but I love what I have already seen. The piece on her business card, "187 Vertical Lines," is just that. Hand drawn lines several feet in length, that at first glance, look like an old photograph of fabric. They are sublime works and I am looking forward to seeing more.

If you see me there, say hi.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So much art, so little space

Today I had a client stop by and I had to find them work on the spot. I knew nothing of their needs or likes or desires or budget or previous buying habits or last names.

They had seen the incredible works of Terry Evens at Catherine Edelman's gallery, but the prices were too steep for them. I get it though. The work that Cathy has available from Evans' incredible catalog is enough to make me delirious with money lust. If I had it, I'd spend it. Apparently they didn't have it.

We ended up settling on the quiet and meditative works of Michael Parker and Amanda Friedman. It sounds like they have the space to fill, so I've got my hopes up that they commit to both artists.

Michael, a charming southern boy of 29, specializes in fine art architectural photography, though has an eye for composition of any sort. I have no idea how long Michael spends looking at the things he shoots, but they are a miraculous mixture of reality and abstract design. Utilizing black and white photography, he is able to lay down a sense of timelessness while pushing viewers to focus. It is no small feet to intuitively inform a viewer how to look at your artwork like they have been doing so with sophistication and thoughtfulness all their lives. Most people, on good days, might glance at most work, but Michael is able to slow people down with his photos; make them follow compositional lines; contemplate shadow and light; ask themselves about place and time.
{image: Michael Parker, SF MoMA 6}

Michael will show at the David Weinberg Gallery in July and August of 2008.

Amanda Freidman is someone I found from the amazing Paul Kopeikin Gallery in LA. I have yet to show Amanda's' work to someone who didn't like it. I love Amanda's Night Landscape series, which I will show at DWGallery from February 29 - April 12, 2008. These evocative shots at night are ripe with narrative. While totally absent of people, the human presence is felt through unnatural man-made lighting. People begin to tell themselves stories as foggy as Amanda's pictures when they look at them. There is an undeniable draw to her work, even when they nearly spook you away. You end up asking yourself a lot of questions about natural beauty when confronted with her work and I can think of worse things to contemplate.

{image:Amanda Friedman, Cypress Trees}

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Begin the Begining

One must start somewhere and this shall be my start.

I swore I would start this blog ranting about the Sympathy for the Devil show at the MCA. Paul Klein ripped on it, so it's not exactly like I was going to forge new ground complaining about the MCA staffer that yelled at me for touching artwork. Artwork, by the way, that we later found out was interactive and supposed to be touched. Fear No Art is their new motto and as such I shall move forward and continue to fondle anything I please in their facility.

Then I swore I would just start this blog about Sonja Thomsen's artwork.

{image: Sonja Thomsen, Surface 3; more here}

I found her work slumming around the depths of ArtNet and ran across Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee. The familiar name of Wafaa Bilal popped up and I figured I'd go poking around on their sight. Though I have yet to actually see Sonja's work in person, I am learning to trust my curatorial skills over the internet and these works are undeniably great. If you see them in person, let me know how they really are.

But then I had some drinks with Bob Emser last night and darn it all if that guy isn't one of the most charming artists that I know. I first met Bob when I was working at Chicago's Flatfile Galleries. (Bob will show there as their season opener in September 2008.) Bob is hands down one of my favorite sculptors for numerous reasons. As a preparator, I love that his work is light. As a curator, I love that his work is dynamic. As a viewer, I love that his works are engaging.

I left Piece feeling more inspired than I thought I would and here I am typing.

There will be much more to come. Critical thoughts on Basel after the show. Thoughts on Robert McGuire after diner at Maiz. Thoughts on Visions of Concern. All coming. I'm holding myself to it this time.