Saturday, April 16, 2022

Expo Chicago 2022


Poojah Pittie, Still Stranger, 2022

Yes, I'm a Poojah Pittie person .  I would have bought this if I hadn't  bought her showpiece from last year's virtual Expo.  All that watery passion - it drives me nuts.  Such a strong sense of tunneling into the infinite.

Gabrielle Garland,untitled , 2022

As noted when I reviewed her here,  I'm a fan of Garland's cityscapes -- and now I'm even more enthusiastic as they are becoming less goofball cartoonish and more  like an ordinary hangover on a bright sunny day.

Margot Bergman, Carrie, 2016

Somehow, I've missed the exhibitions of this local artist's work.  Which is a shame.  She's  lots of fun and full of life.

Clare Grill, (b. 1979). Chirp, 2022
Wanton, playful,
a free life full of opportunity

Clare Grill, Rasp
reminds me the Turkish modernist,  Bedri Rahmi Eyübo?lu, seen at the Block Museum a few years back.

Julio Larraz (b. 1944, Cuba)  Les Amours de Neptuno,  2018
This is a large, dreamy piece.  The artist often imagines beluga whales in the background - though they do seem most appropriate in an  inter-coital bedroom scene.  Mellow surrealism is really the only kind I like.

Gertrude Abercrombie, 1947

Here's some more whimsical, mellow surrealism from our local master.  If only she could have benefited from the current sale of her work back when she was old and broke. 

Here is a review of her recent show at the Elmhurst Museum.

Albert Irvin (1922-2015) , Upper Thames , 2010
ABX need not be angry or depressed! 
Over-the-top, ever expanding joy..... all from a man who was 88 years old.

Claudio Bravo, 1992

Yikes! what a great painting.
Those damn big melons are still  growing!
(and every time I look, there seems to be one more)

Claudio Bravo, 2002
The drama, wonder and amazement of the ordinary.

Daniel Massad, Providence , 2016, (pastel on paper)
 The energy in these forms is so driven inward, I'm  surprised the entire sheet of paper is not sucked into a  black hole.  One of the scariest pieces in the show.

Michael Reafsnyder, Deep End, 2021
Love this urban chaos. An earlier piece by him was seen in Expo 2017.

Matthew Eguavoen : The Collector III

There were many black bodies depicted in this Expo - but this is the only one that was more painterly than cartoonish.  This Nigerian's figures have a real flair .

Reminds me a lot of  Peter Uka whom I saw recently at a local gallery. Would Eguavoen also mention Kerry Marshall as an influence ?

Donald Teskey, Ballygass, 2013
 That fresh, clear, ice cold water is flowing right into the gallery. It seems so Irish to make things feel so vital yet so depressing.

 Could not find this artist's name - either at the show or on the Artsy online exhibit catalog.  I really liked its brutal spaciousness.   The paint is quite thick.

Claire Oswalt
 These large pieces run from floor to ceiling - and they're magnificent.  Georgia O'Keefe seems to be lurking in the background - but these paintings have their own  unique power - and Oswalt does several other kinds of work as well.

After failing to find a CV on her website, it suddenly occurred to me that Oswalt might be called an "outsider" artist.  Not because she's poor or crazy - quite the reverse.  Coming from a family of  physicians, she was on track to become one herself when she realized that she hated hospitals.  (and who really likes them?)  So she started making art - got picked up by some designers - and her career was launched.   No MFA -- not even a BFA - just a  born artist.
Hats off to her!

Kim Piatrowski, (b. 1965), Anxious Heaven, 2022

It's good that this local painter has  finally found a local gallery after  Linda Warren closed her doors. Her energy is over the top - or - out the window.

Guillermo Munoz Vera (b. 19560 2021
Born in Chile, Vera has that cool precision and mystery found in  Claudio Bravo who is twenty years older.  His figurative work is also wonderful -- too bad it did not come to this exhibit.

Brian Rutenberg, (b. 1965), Banner of the Coast, 2021-22

Rutenberg is also something of an outsider, despite his MFA, because his is painting for viewers who want to be entertained rather than shocked, puzzled, or instructed.  Which is to say that he is in that middle-brow artworld inhabited by landscapes, portraits, nudes, and all the other 19th century stuff.
Nothing wrong with that !  But it does restrict his museum exhibitions to his home state of South Carolina (except for Butler Institute in Ohio - which specializes in old school art)

Alida Cervantes (b. Mexico, 1972)   : Santa Babelica, 2017
Presumably, Santa Babelica is the patron saint of confusion.
 A powerful and delightful expressionist.  The brush strokes on the canvas seem to be only the tip of a very tall mountain of burning lava.

Jane Freilicher (1924-2014), 1980

she half incloses worlds in her eyes,
she moves as the wind is said to blow,
she watches motions of the skies
     As if she were everywhere to go. -- Frank O'Hara

She was a good painter - but it's not really obvious why Freilicher was felt to be so integral to the New York School of poets and abstract-expressionist painters. I wrote about her recent pair of Chicago shows here

I suppose that her stubborn, retro, authenticity was much appreciated in the avant-garde world of big money.

Sean Scully (b. 1945) , Doric Air, 2016
Wikipedia tells us that Scully adopted Minimalism, but then rejected it after 1980.

36 years later, that conflict still seems apparent.
By themselves, each of the monochrome boxes is Minimalism.
But taken together, they are not.

Candida Alvarez, Are you listening to this, 2022

Our local Puerto Rican master still hasn't run out of steam. 
I wrote about her 2017 retrospective here

Allie McGhee (b. 1941)
 This black Detroit painter would be an excellent candidate for a retrospective in a Chicago art museum - except that his work is not about blackness -- it's about the universe.  Not surprisingly, he appears online wearing a John Coltrane t-shirt.


John Little (1907-1984)  , Nasasholm, 1970-74

Joyfully balanced on the edge of  awkward - without  falling over.

 Nancy White
 Cool, mysterious, non-threatening --as  peacefully domestic as upholstered furniture in evening light.

Matthew Hansel:  to love fully is to find yourself in uncharted waters

Perhaps not as profound as other Surrealism 
-- but I enjoy the tan line over those buttocks.

Bob Thompson, The Entombment, 1963
 I wrote about his 2022 show at the Smart Museum here
 This is a fine, small piece.

Liliane Tomasco (b. 1967), All that We Want, 2021
Perhaps presenting the conflict between the orderliness of where she lives, Switzerland, with the turbulence of her ethnic identity (Hungarian)

Kyle Dunn, The Match
 The homoeroticism upfront in Dunn’s other work is more subtle here - suggested by the partially obscured wall hanging in the background - but mostly felt in the warm glowing color applied to such an intimate moment.

Without such color, you get something like the piece shown below:


John Moore (b. 1941), Sea View

Less like a cityscape or seascape, and more like a passing glance out a window.


Jonni Cheatwood, He was a the third

The artist is now putting ABX masks over all of his faces - where every mask, even if unique, expresses the same thing.  It’s more like a gimmick than anything else… but I still like this painting.

Marc Dennis
An excellent joke piece. The little Black Hat in the center can't take his eyes off the barmaid's bosom, while his companions are looking at each other (as they should)
And, of course, there's also  Manet’s Black Hat in the corner of the painting itself.

Elijah Burgher: Apollo and Marsyas, after Antionio de Bellis

 Antionio de Bellis

Richard Willenbrink painted a luxuriant version of this story about thirty years ago, back when he lived in Chicago. Regrettably, it cannot be located online.

Burgher's version is pretty repulsive - but that is more fitting for the subject matter.  Evidently he felt that  Apollo's head needed to be much larger than De Bellis did.  I’m guessing that his Apollo is a portrait someone he knows. This is a very large work with colored pencil and watercolor. 

Nick Dawes
A fine young British exponent of Color Field Painting. 

Oswaldo Vigas  (1923-1914), Centaura, 1990

There's plenty of  life in these little monsters.
It's not surprising that an online photo shows Vigas embracing Picasso.

My camera's view out a window on Navy Pier on the day of Expo,
a possible tribute to John Moore's painting shown above.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Abbott Pattison - sculptor


Abbott Pattison, Winged Figure

This small bronze just caught my eye in the catalog of an upcoming  auction.  It has that same cheerful uplift that’s often seen in my father’s work.  Midwestern men of the same generation, both were medaled for combat in WW2 and then came home to begin careers in sculpture.  Both were skilled  in a variety of media, though it does appear that Pattison never carved wood and my father never worked metal.   The  big difference is that Pattison studied art at Yale while my father studied at Olivet - a tiny progressive liberal arts college in Michigan which at that time offered an Oxford style tutorial with a curriculum of great books.  The Jewish mythopoetic sculptor, Milton Horn,  was one of his tutors.

Richard Miller, 1975 
(rather Hellenistic, no ? - with a cast so sharp it looks like the original clay)

Yale encouraged Pattison to become an eclectic modernist sculptor.  Horn introduced my father to earlier practices.  Both would end up making pieces that were buoyant and sometimes goofy.


And both appeared in the first (and regrettably last) survey of contemporary American sculpture presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1951.

 The jury included Robert Beverly Hale, then the Associate Curator of American Art at the Met and still famous for his lectures in anatomy on videotape. The sculptors on the jury included:  Donal Hord, Cecil Howard, Robert Laurent, Hugo Robus, David Smith, and William Zorach.

Pattison, Striding Man, 1948

Richard Miller, Bull

Pattison's Surrealistic, eviscerated, discombobulated man brings to mind the Chicago Monster Roster.  These post-war artists, some of them veterans,ike Leon Golub, reacted strongly against the upbeat figurative idealism of Fascist, Communist, and American public sculpture.

My father's piece is  more like art-deco.  But it isn't  merely decorative.  It feels cultic enough to belong in the ancient Middle Eastern temple or palace.

Milton Horn, Job, 1947

Horn's memorial to the victims of the Holocaust was also included in this exhibit.

Regretfully, this was the high point of my father's career. He was hired but soon fired from the Cincinnati Art Academy. He was too independent  to hold a teaching position at a reputable institution and he would get few commissions.

Pattison, however,soon  became Sculptor in Residence at the University of Georgia - where he produced the  2-ton, twelve foot monument shown below:

Abbott Pattison, Iron Horse, 1954

It caused quite a sensation on that  conservative campus.  Students vandalized it so often, it was eventually moved out to a farm where it stands today

Pattison: Fountain of the Great Lakes, Oak Brook

Lorado Taft, Fountain of the Great Lakes, 1913

Taft's version  offered the innocent play of unclothed sorority girls at a stately masque. Pattison has updated it by making them a bit more raucous -- and possibly drunk. Are they at some kind of feminist retreat deep in the woods?

Richard Miller, Noli me Tangere

Meanwhile, my father added a bit of whacky irreverence to outdoor festivities in this piece from the 1990's. 
It  may not have been possible for an American artist to get all that serious in the late 20th Century.