West Loop Opening Night Roundup

A West Loop Potpurri: 522 words that will make you feel like you were there

Brilliance and wit by Natalie Edwards

On one fall evening, year after year, Peoria street fills with Generation Google-Its in search of free booze and someone to flirt with. They ride the trolley to River North to feel alienated by the grown-up art in the spacious galleries. They are disappointed with the sparse selection of wine in plastic cups and mounds of sweaty cheese cubes atop wilted lettuce, and they quickly return to the West Loop. It is on this day of the year that they don their best duds: a sloppy boustier, perhaps, fashioned out of leather scraps. A skinned rodent pelt delicately placed atop a shaved head. A tuxedo. And it is on this day that they squeeze through

corridors to make sense of the bold and sometimes baffling choices that our Chicago galleries make.

The West Loop has traditionally been the place to be, but this year the crowds were thinned, probably due to the popularity and cultural relevance of outlying galleries like Roots and Culture and then, of course, there is the city’s rash of apartment galleries, all of which lie outside the traditional opening night Art Trolley route.

Those who missed the West Loop this year missed out on a disparate potpurri of art efforts. There was the played-out pile of rocks under a spotlight at Andrew Rafacz, then there was an ubiquitous vertical-striped Ikea-looking painting that one guy keeps making. But there were also Robyn O’Neil’s peaceful, clear and crisp backs of men’s heads rendered in flawless graphite at Tony Wight.

There were awkwardly placed giant metal seeds, bland canvasses on top of other bland canvasses, pastel wanna-be Mondrians, and a requisite Cy Twombly rip off. But then there were also Caleb Weintraub’s awesome, cakey, giant paintings of children inventing ritual in an alternate universe of their own design.

Western Exhibitions housed Paul Nudd’s puke paintings, a series he calls “Vomitroniton.” His reasonably sized renditions of bedazzled and pube-laced displays incorporate all kinds of materials you might disgorge after gorging on sexy parts, stuffed animals, and JoAnn Fabric scraps. Puking never looked so good.

But then there was David Lieske’s a means to an end – to make ends meet, the baffling boots boiling in an aluminum pot at Rowley Kennerk. A waft of hot, wet leather and felt combined with that of melting, steamed rubber filled the corridors of 119 S. Peoria. The humid stink of an unlikable piece in an blindingly lighted room, wafted next door into Spoke’s collection of buy-and-smash piñatas, down the stairs, and into the noses of the masses. Surely, someone with some sort of hand-held air-measuring device could detect a carcinogen or subtle poison.

Finally, there was the handsome faux-psychiatrist Aaron Delahanty, a contemporary landscape painter gone advice-giver. He was infatuated with the fears and denials of his “patients” and doling out impossible advice. This patient was called out for not being able to remember things clearly, not being able to see things through, and was prescribed a move to Wyoming and a PBR. He also discerned that the world was passing this patient by. And maybe it is. Especially where the boot stew is concerned.

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Tags: natalieedwards, westloop


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  • Yea! Welcome Natalie Edwards!!

  • Was a smashing night! And it was Robyn *O'Neil* at Wight. Fantastic drawings...

  • Yeah, Caleb Weintraub's paintings were my favorites of the night. The colors were electric.

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