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Young Artists Who Know, And Aren't Replicating, History

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There's a lot of new talent emerging on the Chicago art scene, right now; talent that is art-historically knowledgeable and relevant. Artists are taking risks and galleries are following suite.

Antonia Gurkovska is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute and makes a worthy entrance, participating in two exhibits opening tonight. In a one-person show at Kavi Gupta, the gallery matches the artist's brave, creative, new look at minimal and historical issues, by letting her totally remake one of the galleries exhibition spaces. I'm impressed.

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Gurkovska's art sits comfortably in a definition-pushing exhibit at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, titled The Question of Their Content, curated by Carly Silverman. The show looks at the fresh perspicacity of artists under 30. Issues for today's younger artists perpetually morph, treading new ground. Those who do so most convincingly are those whose art historical knowledge enables them to comment and create instead of existing in a void. This show does a good and enjoyable job of broadening our expectations and serving up glimpses of inconsistent delights.

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This is also evident in Molly Zuckerman-Hartung's paintings and installations at Corbett vs. Dempsey. Brave, aggressive, fragmented, disparate, yet beautiful, Zuckerman-Hartung's playful, confidence reiterates and reinforces what is revealed at multiple venues; young artists who -- or a first time, again -- have a sense of the history that informs their media, expression and art; and have the talent and energy to comment on it intelligently and engagingly. Given just a bit more time, several of these artists are going to explode to significance in a larger-than-Chicago realm.

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The same is true of Brooklyn-based artist Sharee Hovespian, opening Saturday at Monique Meloche, where she expands on the history of photography and the sub-context of photo-grams as she elegantly explores minimalist forms. Her exhibit is accompanied by a large window installation by Kerry James Marshall.

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At Chapel Projects at The Charnel House, Robin Dluzen presents skeletal, minimized, ghosts of urban history; the remains of the scaffolding that supported Chicago's ubiquitous water towers. And she does so in Chapel Projects -- a theater and former funeral home, at the Charnel House (Charnel means "building where bones are stored.") The romantic, nostalgic installation is a distillation of our recent past and a commentary by an engaged and socially aware artist. Another development that I'm seeing more of in recent months -- art that forays outside the traditional restraints of gallery spaces, to be more contemporaneously engaged in community.

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Some of this can also be seen at Secrist Gallery, in a group show about "Holes," that deals with the subject literally, by including images of holes, and metaphorically, in the portraits of men who could fill the hole of the an artist's fatherless childhood. The show has promise, but I was there too early to get a sense of whether the entire gestalt congeals.

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One of my favorite painters is Ted Stanuga whose show is opening at Park Schreck. He, too, is nostalgic and romantic in his consideration and dialog with abstract expressionism; yet he is more direct and purposeful in the creation of his lyrical paintings.

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Russell Bowman presents a show of drawings by diverse American Artists from Elizabeth Murray, to Philip Guston to David Smith. It is always a pleasure to be surprised by Bowman's presentations and the joy of seeing relatively recent examples of art-historically relevant work. Obviously some examples are better than others, but there's always a treasure or two that make the jaunt worthwhile.

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Lastly, let's welcome Bert Green to Chicago. Green's Gallery has been a significant contribution to the L.A. art scene for years, and he's upped and left L.A. for a small but worthy space across Michigan Avenue for Millennium Park. Always a dealer who has been interested in the dialog with artists and their art, it's clear than his inventory and exhibits are going to grow beyond his collectors' present enthusiasm for LA artists to embrace the local scene. Bert Green is a good dealer. He's going to be rewarding to watch.

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That's it for now. With no need to shovel, we have so much more time for art. Go find some somewhere you haven't been before.

Warm regards,
Paul Klein