Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Day at the Galleries

It being an unseasonably warm, sunny day -- I put the bicycle on the train and went gallery biking through the city today.

The first stop turned out to be Robert Adams , since I saw something like the above in the window -- the artist turning out to be George Josimovich (1894-1986) -- a Chicago boy who went to Paris in the twenties and mostly got forgotten.

He was good -- and he could draw the figure too -- not great -- but nice.

Here's one of the "Chicago River" that an anonymous visitor recommended (on behalf of Steve). It looks like a battle scene, doesn't it ?

But the special surprise here was a ceramic figure by Paul Bogatay (1905-1972) -- my introduction to the Cleveland school of ceramic artists

..who was obviously caught up in the wonderful world of Tang sculpture.

The horse is just a little too goofy - and the figure a little too stiff for me -- but just a little. If he had made a few thousand more of these -- I think eventually he'd get there

But I think he spent most of his time making ceramic pots -- and once again -- his adoption of the Asian forms is nice -- but he's playing in a very tough league.

My next stop was the Maya Polsky gallery -- where I found the above wacky "Portrait of an artist" by their resident Russian, Vasily Shulzhenko.

The jpg doesn't do justice to this big, ominous nightmare of a painting. (and the big black lump in the right foreground is a shaggy dog) (note to self: thank destiny you weren't born in Russia)

Moving on to my own gallery -- the Palette and Chisel -- where our annual "Gold Medal Show" was taking place -- the above being my pick who will (and should) win: Marci Oleszkiewicz's "Emerging"

..which seems to be about the same theme that I present in my sculpture of "Desire"

I love suffering women !

Moving on again -- next to Richard Love Galleries to see the Scott (Tallman) Powers show (our artclub member who beginning to have quite a career)

Why does it seem that it's always about to rain in his plein-aire paintings?
His atmosphere feels so thick and melancholy --- I can see him tucking each of his paintings under his arm -- and running for the nearest shelter.

Then it was off to the Chicago Cultural Center -- for "Material Difference: Soft Sculpture and Wall Works"

I'm not the world's biggest fan of the soft-fuzzy-wandering edge of fabric art -- but - I really like Medieval tapestries -- so maybe I am a fan -- who knows ?

My favorite piece being a string-painting by an Egyptian woman, Ghada Amer.

From a distance -- like the view shown above -- it's just a maze of colored string -- suitable for the dentist's waiting room.

But close up -- those tangles of thread conceal some really sharp line drawings of young women masturbating -- which I admit to finding an attractive theme.

(I'd feel somewhat guilty about it -- but as the artist said in an interview:"They are having too much pleasure themselves,within themselves, as to be exploitative."

Finally arriving at the Art Institute (and finding the Ryerson library closed) I decided to do a tribute to Martin A. Ryerson -- a founder of that institution who served as treasurer for it's first 30 years -- and who is still the largest donor to its collection.

What kind of taste did he have ? This issue is more important than you might think -- since attribution is basically a gallery con game. Lots of "old master" paintings were available -- but only a few are worth major museum wall space -- and somebody has to do the picking.

As I went through the collection finding the ones from his collection -- usually I thought he did good -- as with that "Master of Moulins" fragment shown above

(which was recently augmented by another fragment shown above - apparently by the same hand -- who is now called "Jean Hey" -- at least in some art museums)

Ryerson was the largest contributor to the collection of old masters -- but he also gave the museum quite a few of the Moderns -- like the Monet shown above

.. like this Renoir -- and many more paintings by these two painters -- and several American moderns as well.

He was also an early benefactor of my art club and the art library that bears his name. Thankyou Mr. Ryerson ! (that almost makes up for destruction of the Michigan forests by your lumber-baron father)


Anonymous Joy In Life said...

Thank you for the "Storm Approaching" -- I respond to the atmosphere in the piece just as I respond to the mists and moods of some of the pieces Gawain has been posting. Is it possible to give the scale of pieces you post, when available?

January 07, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

"Storm Approaching" is 14" X 11" -- and most of his work is about that size -- since they are painted on-site in one afternoon. But there are some much larger ones that must have been finished in the studio.

BTW - Gawain responded positively to this same painter earlier this year when I posted pictures from his plein-air group. (and the price of that lakeside scene has tripled since then)

January 07, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

I liked the Powers images, especially "Hidden Path." They all seem "on the verge," don't they? The verge of fall, the verge of entrance into birches or a mysterious world, the verge of a water journey.

And I would've liked more Bogatay: the Tang link seems just right. You must have that lovely Art Institute Tang horse and rider in your head--the way they are so easy together, the rider leaning forward as the horse's head dips down almost shyly. I don't mind the stiffness so much, but when I think of the Tang piece, I'm struck by how lovely the space around the figures is--whereas this one has that very sharp and severe 45-degree triangle separating upper horse and rider.

"Emerging": is that really sexual desire? I'm not so sure, though a tiny image on the web might lead me astray. The gaze, the open hand, the clothing more like a loose shed skin than a sensual garment. Did Oleszkiewicz mean something else, or did something else creep in?

January 07, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

To me --- Marci O's figure says "I need" -- but I have no idea what she wants -- except that she feels it deeply.

BTW -- Here's the rest of the exhibit -- and I'm sure the club members would be tickled if readers of this blog left comments there on the show.

January 07, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...


Another derailed message, I suppose... Blogger does not like me again today.

That sounds fine to me--I just thought you meant something earthy, and the picture seems a bit more than that.

Put up the Chinese poems. You may be the only person who reads Chinese-in-translation books and also reads my blog! I hope there are lots, all the same.

January 08, 2007  

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