Monday Morning Quarterback Part 2

by Stephanie Burke and Jeriah Hildwine

Steph had originally planned for us to hit some other openings, but then we were invited to come check out West-Town Art About, presented by Art Adventure Events.  Since our collaborative piece for the Green Cross Project was up at Studio 1020, we sorta had to go.  The fact that there were tons of places serving snacks and wine didn't hurt, either!

Sculpture Courtyard -

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S: The first stop, where we picked up our maps for the evenings adventure. The majority of sculptured in the courtyard, a herd of "cows" represented by dried hides draped over cow-torso shaped armatures, reminded me of Kiki Smith's hide sculpture. I've worked with hides a great deal in my own work, and feel drawn to work that incorporates them. We hightailed it out of the courtyard pretty quick, but not before I gave them a pet or two, and Jeriah posed "wearing" one as a mantle.

J:  These things were fun.  The medium was deceptive; from a distance I
thought they were concrete.  It surprised me how thin they were, they
looked really solid from a distance.  Part of this might have been the
outdoor setting.  These were cool.

A Vision -

S: This is a perfect example of why I usually avoid art walks. Places like wine stores throw up some art to get extra people through the door. Not to mention I usually feel incredibly uncomfortable at wine tastings, like someone is going to spot me and  yell, "You aren't sophisticated enough to be in here, and you smell. Get the fuck out!" Well, thankfully, this wine store was nothing like that, at least not on the making me feel awkward. Truthfully, I got so into tasting wine I barely noticed the work. I discovered an awesome new type of wine, Torrontes, as well as a place to buy good wine at a good price from nice people. Not one bottle I could see was priced over $20.  So, if you're in the neighborhood and looking for wine, I'd recommend this place. The ploy worked.

J:  The art in here was all pastel-colored abstract painting that didn't
do anything for me, but I appreciated the wine tasting.  The Torrontes
(a new variety for me as well) by Alta Vista, priced at $13 a bottle,
was a clear winner for me.  This is the first time in my life when I've
tasted a red wine and a white wine, and preferred the white.  The
description claimed it had notes of grapefruit and I could really taste
them in this wine.  I think it would pair really well with salad.  We
didn't make it back before closing to buy a bottle but we're going to
hit 'em up at some point; I was pleasantly surprised to find a white
wine I liked so much and I'd like to have it again.  Hopefully for
future events they'll take more risks with the art they choose to pair
with the wine.

Tree House -

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S: I wasn't planning on stopping at this place, until I was roped in by a shaved headed and pink dress sporting woman directing me up the alley and up the stairs. I'm glad I went, as I was met by cold beer, tasty snacks, and some amazing screen prints and furniture by artist Haley Hendrickson. I really wanted her finches fabric, as I've been interested with finch morphology since my undergrad days of Darwin study. Alas, they were one of a kind swatches. Perhaps if I can ever some up with the money, I'll commission a bolt from her.  

J:  I liked the furniture, too:  a table topped with wooden discs
embedded in resin was my favorite.

Rotofugi -

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S: To tell the truth, this was my first trip to Rotofugi. I had always avoided it because I thought the gallery was actually in the toy store. This is not the case, however. The gallery occupies a storefront next door and is quite a respectable white wall space. The show, a mixture of paintings and sculptures by Kurt Halsey, appeared to be selling incredibly well, and may be the basis for a new column Jeriah and I have been discussing starting, The Red Dot Report.  Unfortunately, I think I photographed every piece in the show EXCEPT my favorite, a whale crying over an empty row boat.

J:  Oh, yeah, that whale was funny-sad.  I liked some of the drawings,
as well.

Broken Art Restoration -

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S: nother business-cum-exhibition, this place was friggin' AWESOME! Run by a husband and wife art restoration team, Broken Art Restoration provides restoration services from small to huge. The thing I really liked about the place was the attitude of the co-owner, Bill Marhoefer. Super nice guy who makes crazy weird art and is covered in tatoos, while working in what I would expect to be a rather stuffy profession. When talking about having art in the same space as his art restoration clientell, he said some of them love it, and others just don't even want to look. The work itself, sculptures by Bill and paintings by his wife Michelle, cover the walls. A few of Bill's pieces really struck me, with their morbid hilarity reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft and Jan Svankmajer's Alice.

J:  The girl in the red plaid dress, pictured above, was one of my
favorites; she reminds me a little bit of the film adaptation of Clive
Barker's "Nightbreed."  Creepy-cute little girls.  There were some other
pieces I really liked in here too, the little dogs topped with skulls
for example.  This is good stuff.  Their art restoration work was really
impressive as well, and pricing sounded reasonable.  If you ever break
the Johnson off your mom's favorite statue, this is the place to bring
it to have it glued back on, professional-style.

The Architrouve -

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S: We popped into and out of the Architrouve relatively quickly, beginning to feel pressed for time. Donna Hapac's wire-framed sculptures, and more specifically the shadows cast by them, we the objects of my attention at the exhibit. The one Jeriah and I dubbed "The Penis" threw a particularly beautiful shadow pattern.

J:  The one pictured above makes me think of a fish trap.  They all kind
of reminded me of cactus skeletons, too, the ones from the Saguaro with
all the ribs.  This work was all on the fairly conservative, decorative
end of the sculpture spectrum, but it was tasteful and well-executed. 
It isn't something I would collect myself but it's easy on the eyes.

Swim Café -

S: A funny little café, another of the business + art model we saw a great deal of that night. Apparently they host exhibitions quite often. This round consisted of female body image work, framed through cutout dolls and naked Statue of Liberty drawings. Like abnoxious stoners destroyed slightly hippyish art from me, militant women's studies people at Humboldt State ruined this type of work for me.  Swim Café did provide not only beer and wine, but also a bottle each of vodka and Cutty Sark for the taking. Thank you, people of Swim Café, you understand me.

J:  Yeah, I had a hard time getting into this work, for the same
post-Humboldt reasons you had.  The Lady Liberty drawings were kind of
funny.  Honestly I liked the stingray they had stenciled in the bathroom
as part of their decorations.  Is that terrible?  It was really cute.

Oh, and you know what I did like?  Also by Christine Holuj, the ink and carved-birch Hedwig.  The singer, not the owl.  I assume this was a woodcut used as a printing block, but Holuj is exhibiting the plate instead of the print.  A lot of people are doing that these days, and I like it.  I like wood.  This is a pretty cool image, but like a lot of things I like, part of that is just that I like the subject matter.

Betty Dare -

S: I was getting pretty bleary eyed at this point. Betty Dare is a pretty huge space, and if not huge, that seems so by having so many rooms with different exhibitions. The front room held paintings by Rory Coyne, undeniably kin in my mind to Odd Nerdrum, though a bit more playful and tightly rendered. The human-animal hybrids were well executed, if slightly predictable in their iconography.  Angsty teen meets Wiccan, I can roll with that.

J:  His figure skills are tight, no doubt.  The work overall has the
feeling of an atelier-trained craftsman, which I often prefer to the art
school conceptualism that's all over the place these days.  My
reservations about his work are pretty much the same as my struggles
with my own work, actually.  I do think he could go a little farther
with his subject matter, like you said, the human-animal hybrids are
cool but pretty traditional.  His skills are tight and I'd like to see
him do something really crazy with them.  Even if it was still
human-animal hybrids, I just think it could go farther.  Like a sperm
whale lady fighting a giant squid man, or something.  Just go nuts with
it.

S:  The other set of work that I particularly remember loving were the encrusted sculptures of Martin Bernstein. It may have been a little of the ole' Cutty Sark talkin', but I was dead set on the awesomeness of these pieces. For me, they were artifacts recovered from the Titanic, or some other extravagant and sunken hulk. Over grown, congested, and sparkling, I could see them glimpsed through the cloudy glass of some undersea exploratory vehicle, revealed to the surface for the first time in god-knows how many years from under the sea. I giggled like a schoolgirl.

J:  I also liked the bikes, by Tristan Hummel.  MRI's of damaged bikes, all crazy bright colors, I don't know, I like 'em.  Kind of like the opposite of Ghost Bikes.  I thought it was cool.  I like treating bikes with medical technology.  They're sort of like a modern-day horse, more than a car is, and like a horse, people get really emotionally attached to their bikes.  This is, by the way, why bike thieves are some of the worst human beings on the planet.  They steal something that is far more valuable to its owner than to the thief.  Anyway, yeah, I like this work.

Stolen Buick Studio -

S: I think this place was named after some strange hanky-panky involving a Buick that used to be out back. I over heard snippets of the story and failed to ask for a repeat to get the whole yarn. The space now shows only the work of the owners, Alexandra and Michael Buxbaum, though in the past it did function as a full on gallery. The reasoning behind this transition was the primary topic of conversation between Jeriah, Alexandra, and I. And I'll say to you what I said to Alexandra, she has a good, and by good I mean dry and a bit snarky, sense of humor in all of her images. After checking out her back yard, drinking a glass of wine, and engaging in chitchat, we were off to Studio 1020.  

J:  Yeah, that was fun.  I had pretty much the same reaction to these
photographs as I usually do when I see photos taken all over the globe: 
it made me want to travel more.

Studio 1020 -

S: Sadly, to be honest, I didn't see any of the work at Studio 1020 but my own, which I only gave a cursory glance and tug as I walked toward the back room to settle in for a smoke, a drink, some tasty treats, and some well needed conversation. A successful end to a successful night of art gallivanting.

J:  There was also that square piece with the pelvises in gold leaf.  I
liked it.  I was pretty dead on my feet by that point, and didn't notice
much else.  Oh, and I had a nice talk with Nick Jirasek of Guerilla
Smiles, about food art and stuff.  He's awesome, I always like talking
with him.

Stephanie Burke was born in Nevada City, CA in 1984. She received her
BA in Studio Art and Anthropology from Humboldt State University in
2007, and her MFA in Photography from The School of the Art Institute of
Chicago in 2009. Currently she makes work (which can be seen here), teaches photography at
Wilbur Wright College and Hyde Park Art Center, runs Art Talk Chicago, writes for Bad at Sports, and operates as the Managing Editor and Director of Operations at Chicago Art Magazine, as well as maintaining The Gallery Crawl and So Much More, a comprehensive listing of weekend gallery openings. When not making, teaching, looking at, or writing about art,
she enjoys running around in the woods, drinking beer by bonfires, and
target shooting.

Jeriah is an artist, educator, writer, and snack enthusiast.  You can see his work at www.jeriahhildwine.com, and read his columns at Art Talk Chicago and Chicago Art Magazine.  Jeriah lives and works in Chicago, with his wife Stephanie Burke.

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