When is paint more than paint?
(an unpublished review for New City)
McCormick Gallery “Dirty Dozen” through Oct. 24
We can all admire fine craftsmanship – but that’s the first thing that comes to mind when standing before most of the paintings and sculptures in this survey of 12 contemporary artists at the McCormick Gallery. And shouldn’t painting demand attention to something more important? As Ben Tinsley does in “Furniture Store on Whyte”, a vignette of urban life that is “fixed in an artifice of eternity” (to quote Edward Snow regarding Vermeer). It’s half boarded up and definitely out of business, but unlike those melancholy Hopper scenes of New York, this abandoned little Chicago storefront sings with joy. Every detail is perfectly drawn and measured, especially the calligraphic graffiti that seems to have been applied by a wandering poet rather than gangbanger.
(note: Here's the painting of his I found at Art Chicago last May)
Also exceptional in this exhibit are the two suburban cityscapes by John Santoro. No meticulously painted brickwork here – instead, these are meticulous paintings of paint. But they also present places the artist likes to live (his yard, front and back), rather unkempt, but no less timeless than the “10,000 years” mentioned in the titles he gave them. All the other abstract paintings in this exhibit just seem to be about paint.