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Power in Numbers -- Impressive Group Exhibitions

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I'm not the only one out there empowering artists. For over a decade, the Artadia folks have been generously supporting visual artists in numerous American cities. Not only have they given financial support, advice and contacts, they are now enabling exchange exhibits to introduce artists from one city to another. A few months ago eight Chicago Artadia Award recipients showed in Houston.

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Sunday at the Hyde Park Art Center, Messin' with Texas opens. Of the seven Houston artists, I exhibited two before I closed my gallery in 2004. And another went to school with my wife. The point being that the art villages themselves are rather small, and lots of people in one know members from others.

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Artadia solicits artists through an open call and then uses national judges to make their selections. We are seeing national quality on a local stage, which is another way of saying these artists are on a rising trajectory to significant recognition and some have already attained it -- perhaps because of their Artadia support.

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Artadia even takes their support further by recently publishing a handsome book of two years of their awards. It adds perspective to the talent we see at the Hyde Park Center. I don't think we can say anything stereotypical about the batch of Houston artists. There isn't a cowboy hat or a pair of boots anywhere, anymore than the Chicago artists had pizza or snow.

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The point is that the most talent isn't necessarily in New York. It's just noisier there. There is equal or superior talent across the U.S and the world. Who gets recognition and who doesn't is often a byproduct of preparation and whimsy. Artadia's mission of discovery and support levels the playing field, enables artists nationally, and recognizes diverse talent. We are fortunate for their presence and that Chicago gets to view this rising talent.

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I appreciate artists who take the initiative to improve their careers and especially those who do so creatively. Such is the case with a two-person show of beautiful nude photography in a space that never shows fine art. Finnegan Gallery is a warehouse of antique outdoor extravagance into which Jennifer Wolfe and Peter LeGrand have placed, juxtaposed and harmonized their art. The whole thing works disarmingly well. Tonight only.

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Summer is clearly the time for group shows and none I saw came with the weighty hand a curator sometimes imposes. Thomas Masters has a four-person group show of artists from Europe and the U.S. Matt Schommer makes strong, large drawings of a portion of known people's faces. The scale and harsh cropping sharpens our focus and our memory.

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Valerie Carberry's summer group show is of drawings. I'm not sure I've ever seen an Eva Hesse drawing before. And the proximity of a Jim Lutes drawing to one by Hans Hoffmann creates a dynamic relationship of similar mark-making.

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I had a meeting at the Cultural Center and took a moment to see and be seduced by Aristotle Georgiades' beautiful sculptures. The work elegantly transcends its materials while being true to their antecedents. Not a preview, the show has been up for a while, but it is definitely worth a closer look.

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Thank you,
Paul Klein