The art season follows the school year--perhaps because people are focused indoors more than out then--and the 'art season' opened a month ago. I've noticed for years that many galleries present their strongest exhibits in the October/November slot and it is safe to say that the exhibits I've just previewed are superior to what I had to choose from a month ago.
I never heard of Joseph Goto whose show opens tonight at Corbett vs Dempsey. He studied at the School of the Art Institute right after World War II and lived in Chicago for some time. He was a helluva sculptor whose work must have influenced numerous sculptors who came after him. I'm guessing that di Suvero was. Goto's art is often lyrical and occasionally brutish, often delicate and linear and at other times just grunt basic. It feels familiar yet remains fresh. I was impressed.
I've known Stephen De Staebler's art for over 3 decades. His exhibition of gorgeous sculptures opens tonight (Friday) at Zolla/Lieberman. I was once married to a woman who theorized that most artists started doing 'greatest hits' by the time they'd hit their mid-50's. De Staebler, who zipped past 70 a bit ago, is showing by far the best work of his significant career. There are easy references to Giacometti and Pompeii, but the texture, forms and nuances are what are most striking for an artist who has been honing his expressive skill for half a century. These larger-than-life clay sculptures sing.
Enrique Santana was born in Spain and lives in Chicago. He's been painting buildings in downtown Chicago, but he crops them interestingly to highlight his painterly abilities, on exhibit at Ann Nathan Gallery. He's very good at capturing the nuances of light and the shadows that are cast on the buildings. To some extent the paintings are about Chicago, but to a larger extent they are about the technical issues and the paintings could be anywhere.
Alfedena Gallery has been an important gallery in Chicago since it opened two years ago. And they'll be closing the middle of next month. Over the two-year span they presented over 20 exhibitions of mostly mid-career Chicago artists. And now they've lost their financial backing. The last exhibition features Steven Heyman, whose work has been about the abstract qualities of light for many years, renders his content quite differently than Santana. This most recent body of work is an extension of the large commissions he recently completed for the International Terminal at O'Hare. Downstairs at Alfedena, Paul Sacaridiz is presenting several large installations that expand on his interest in ornamentation and decorative architecture. This is good work that takes time to decipher.
Across the street at Monique Meloche is an exhibition opening by Carrie Schneider who's just returned from a year in Finland, courtesy of a Fulbright, after getting a graduate degree from the School of the Art Institute. Her work also has a bit of an eerie quality reminiscent to me of how I felt while watching Chinatown. Schneider challenges nature in her work, creating a persona that interacts uncomfortably with nature, or she postulates impossible notions, like learning how a derelict feels by emulating a derelict's motions and activities. This is a young artist with a solid exhibition and is worth remembering and paying attention to.
I receive digital images from artists and galleries frequently. Sometimes the work looks better on my monitor and sometimes it looks better in person. If I know the artist's work I usually accurately grasp how the art will look in person, but when I don't know the work, seeing it in real life can be different. And that's the case with Doug Smithenry, whose show opens tonight at Aron Packer. Like the previous few shows the work is concept driven--Smithenry's fascination with fleeting fame on the internet, like Lonelygirl15 and many others. A bit like Jason Salavon sampling internet content, Smithenry picks and chooses, like a painting with people named Tom, Dick and Harry--heck, it's possible even you show up in one of his paintings.
Lastly, there's an exhibit I didn't get to preview that opens tonight at the Chicago Cultural Center. Titled Made in Chicago: Photographs from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection, the show features lots of black & white images of scenes in Chicago by photographers like Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind and Robert Frank. There are 150 photographs in the show, taken over the last 75 years.
Lots to see. Lots to do.