Art Review Archives:
CADA Vision 10:
Various locations in Chicago's River North
CADA's (Chicago Art Dealers Association) annual Vision event fills, as it has for many years, that long school's-out period between July 4th and Labor Day with plenty of good art, accompanied by programming scheduled across summer's warm, lazy weeks to tempt viewers back into the galleries time and again throughout July and August.
It is therefore a mystifying choice for CADA's Vision 10: A Feast for All the Senses to condense its schedule into a tight two-week period of programming in July alone. What was in 2004 an expansive schedule of ten events over six weeks has this year been revised into a concentrated offering of eight events in sixteen days. Some are scheduled at conflicting times on the same night, forcing one to choose between them; nearly all events are featured on consecutive weekday evenings, a scheduling choice which will doubtless lose viewers who aren't going to make the effort to drop by on multiple nights in the same week. The impression, almost, is one of wanting to 'get it over with': have the panel discussions, demonstrations and tours, and let's be done with it.
And that's a pity, because there are some worthwhile exhibitions over which to linger, to escape from summer's sultry heat with an excursion into cool galleries and the pleasures of their art. Among them is the dual exhibition at Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 W. Superior, making best use of its recent expansion to host a pair of strong photography shows: Off the Wall: A Rotation of Gallery Artists, featuring artists represented by the gallery, and Selections from The Chicago Project. Both offer a satisfying compendium of works, wide-ranging in their handling of the photographic medium. Selections from The Chicago Project in particular is an enticing presentation, showcasing work from an online gallery project created by the Edelman Gallery to promote local talent. Works such as Gabriela Cifuentes's Bouquet, Sugar Grove, IL (2002) show the results are well worth the effort. Both exhibitions run through 9/2 and are worth a special trip.
Bloom at Gwenda Jay/Addington Gallery, 704 N. Wells, features oil paintings by Jean Larson and Frances McCormack, through 9/3. These complementary bodies of work find their rooting in organic shapes, Larson in luminous and spiritual flowers, McCormack in abstractions whose thick, squiggly central elements suggest tangled roots or vines. Just up the street, Roy Boyd Gallery, 739 N. Wells, is one of the few Vision 10 galleries to devote itself to a solo show, presenting the paintings of Richard Gibbons, thirty-eight works in oil, on exhibition through 8/27. The human form, drawn into knots, extended in leaps, sensually lit against a dark, chiaroscuro ground: works featured are from 2003-2005 and exhibit Gibbons's continued explorations of the male and female nude as one whose topology is a dramatic, often unexpected, thing of beauty.
Melanee Cooper Gallery, 740 N. Franklin, presents Mythical Tales through 8/19, a group show featuring the art of Jorge Leyva, Liza Price, Suzanne Sbarge, and Scott Stulen. This is a mixed offering, with Sbarge's surreal oil-and-collage works bringing the strongest satisfaction. Around the corner, Judy A. Saslow Gallery, 300 W. Superior (strictly speaking, not a CADA member, but making a grand showing during the Vision 10 openings), presents beadwork 'banners' and other objects by Nancy Josephson, some inspired by figures of Haitian 'Voudou'; works on paper by Christine Sefolosha; and textile works by Cat Chow, all through 9/3. Outsider Artist Sefolosha makes a particularly intriguing study, with figures that seem primitive, neolithic even, works that might be wrought equally on a cave wall, or in ghostly commentary on a surface of urban brick.
'Short picks' of individual artists within larger group shows include Elizabeth Ockwell at Printworks, 311 W. Superior, whose large-scale drawings of the Palais Garnier Opera House celebrate its Baroque magnificence of detail. Ockwell is part of a three-person group show entitled A Feast for the Senses, on exhibition through 8/20. A selection of small portraits of Gregory Jacobsen's grotesques are part of a group show at Zg Gallery, 300 W. Superior, through 9/3. The group show at Peter Miller Gallery, 118 N. Peoria, includes the allegorical fantasy oil paintings of Julie Heffernan, and the sentient, often sinister animals of Laurie Hogin; the exhibition runs through 8/27. David Lozano's cool manipulations of depth and visual texture, including Reservoir (acrylic, resin, sequins, and glue on canvas: 72 x 72 in.: 2005), are part of the group show at Zolla Lieberman, 325 W. Huron, on exhibition through 8/24. Byron Roche Gallery hosts Jiwon Son, reviewed by ArtScope.net in June 2005 (http://www.artscope.net/VAREVIEWS/jiwonson0605.shtml). And finally, two very different offerings in photography: Kimiko Yoshida's photographic series Birth of a Geisha at Flatfile, in its new location at 217 N. Carpenter, presents self-portraits of the artist, garbed as various brides, some of various ethnic custom, others of complete fantasy, through 8/19; and Jungjin Lee's large-scale rice-paper photographic prints, each focusing on a single, individual object isolated on a light gray ground, on exhibition at Andrew Bae Gallery, 300 W. Superior, through 8/13.
The twenty CADA member galleries of the previous year have risen to twenty-four, with two dropouts being more than balanced by six new participants. But despite the increase in CADA Members (along with other non-CADA galleries who schedule coinciding openings) there was an indefinable air of diminished intensity on opening night, as if the recent drought, which has drawn trees and bushes into a limp and withered state, had communicated its lassitude to the art scene as well. West Loop attendance on Vision 10's opening night retained a breath of the traditional celebratory atmosphere, with a younger if party-oriented crowd; but in River North, the number of strolling viewers on opening night seemed sparse compared to Vision 9, or even to other River North gallery openings throughout the year.
The trend is perhaps reflective of the loss of Absolut Vodka as Vision sponsor (it was formerly Absolut Vision), where the irresistible lure of free vodka martinis provided a draw to get people into the arts districts, albeit in a party-like atmosphere. In 2004, Absolut retired from its place as premiere sponsor to a mere contributor; this year it fell completely off the Vision 10 sponsorship list. Hopefully Vision 10's newly-introduced kickoff event, Feast of the Senses: An Edible Walking Tour of 17 Galleries in River North on July 14th, made up for any attendance shortfall, its $45 ticket -- one would hope -- wooing patrons with money in their pockets to spend on art. Still, the lack of attraction of the general public on July 15th, the regular opening night, is a regret.
Most of all, though, CADA's choice of a short run for Vision 10's programming seems unfortunate. Two weeks is too tight a schedule, barely a blip on the public's radar screen; and what of that entire lost month of August? The 'closing party' on July 30 at G.R. N'Namdi Gallery in West Loop will effectively signal to viewers that their interests can safely wander elsewhere for the rest of the summer. Elsewhere... away from the art.
Let us hope that is not the case. Official events for CADA Vision 10: A Feast for All the Senses run through July 30, 2005 and include tours and panel discussions at participating galleries (see CADA's web site, http://www.chicagoartdealers.org, for details; all programming and events are free). But July 30th is far from the end of it: individual gallery exhibitions hosted in conjunction with Vision 10 continue to offer their "feast of the senses" through mid-August and early September. Most of the exhibitions mentioned above are within walking distance of one another; a trip to the River North or West Loop area will yield quite a few things to see. Viewers are encouraged to check with the galleries or their web sites (also linked, above) for exact exhibition dates and times.
--Katherine Rook Lieber
Editorial Note: Richard Gibbons was reviewed by ArtScope.net in Heads + Bodies, a June 2003 exhibition at Roy Boyd Gallery (http://www.artscope.net/VAREVIEWS/hl_gibbons0603.shtml). Other artists included in CADA Vision 10 have also been reviewed by ArtScope.net; ArtScope.net's search function (above, top of page) will pull up names of interest from our archives.
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