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Paul Klein

Paul Klein

Posted: February 25, 2011 10:53 AM

Diverse Art in Chicago


Art shown in Chicago, like art made here, is diverse. If Chicago imprints its artists with a single characteristic it is a work ethic. The art I previewed for this ArtLetter, be it from here or not, reflects that diversity.

Duncan Robert Anderson, whose show opened last night at Firecat Projects, makes wonderful, funny, poignant, quirky vignettes that comment on the doom, gloom, optimism and odd sensibilities of our society. He mines troves of curio and junk stores to gather the elements for his art, which he then modifies, combines and juxtaposes to arrive at these serious, yet goofy, things that make me smile.

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I'm impressed with Josh Kolbo's art at Tony Wight. Trained as a photographer, Kolbo has pushed his medium into the realm of 3-dimensional sculpture. He's added physicality to his work as a means of delving into the texture and materiality of his work. I think it's brave territory he's entering and appreciate the beauty and presence of what is not simple work.

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I love seeing broad, diverse, solid exhibitions of works on paper -- especially drawing, and that is exactly what opened at Rhona Hoffman yesterday evening. There's an immediacy to works on paper. It shows the artist's hand more than other mediums, rendering the artist's soul more visible and their intent more clear. Why is it that sculptors are invariably the best drawers?

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Western Exhibitions has a colorful and fun show by three artists from New Orleans -- a wonderful city, highly supportive of the arts, full of rich culture that still beckons and needs our support. I'm pleased to see the work from there, some of which I don't associate with a New Orleans aesthetic, and I appreciate the education. Shows like this are good for Chicago artists, giving us the ability to see something that isn't cookie-cutter-ish and that suggests the likelihood of reciprocity that exhibits like this foster.

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The internal clash between art and gimmick intrigues me. There are somethings that just don't seem to transcend their materials and become art -- like chrome or neon. And there are others, like push pins, in the hands of Eric Daigh, which opened last night at Carl Hammer, that dance in limbo. I'm sucked in by the pixilation and image-forming right in front of (or is that between) my eyes. The hand of the artist is so removed that I'm left wondering if this is art, yet many of these portraits are of known people who agreed to have their photo taken and transformed. Where does gimmick stop (or overlap) and where does art begin?

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Thanks very much,
Paul Klein