Few artists are as charismatic, friendly and cutting edge as Preston Thomas. He’s certainly a man of many talents. So many in fact, that his October is completely booked. This weekend features his photographic series Through My Lens, A Black Girl’s Magic at the Beverly Art Walk, next week he will be giving a lecture at the DuSable Museum entitled Dance Encounters Architecture for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the week after that, The Frame Shop in Bridgeport is proud to host Wanderlust and Dreamland, Tripping Through La Habana, a series of photographs shot by Preston during his past travels to Cuba. Even though he’s running on only a few hours of sleep, we were able to catch up with him for a few minutes to talk about photography, his career and his thoughts on what he calls a “complicated” relationship with Cuba.
Where did you grow up? When did you first pick up a camera and start shooting?
Preston: Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood. My older sister briefly dated a guy who was a photographer of sorts, and for some reason he gave her one of his cameras – a Minolta XG. She had no interest in photography and ultimately, no interest in him. She kept the camera and finally gave it to me. I think I was in my early 20s.
I remember going to the library and taking out a couple of books, one on general photography and the other about Ansel Adams. I began playing around with long exposures almost immediately. One day I was out making photographs of the “L” train. A woman ran past me and knocked the camera tripod to the ground. The damage was pretty extensive and getting repaired just wasn’t worth it. I think I was traumatized… I didn’t buy another camera for about 3 or 4 years.
Why photography and not another form of art? What draws you to this medium?
Preston: I’m also a musician and something of a burgeoning writer. I’m driven to create. I simply have to do it, sometimes there’s nothing else. Today we’re talking about what I do with my cameras, but I could easily discuss my music and my instruments of choice.
How much of your personal life and self is represented in your work?
Preston: Well, I believe that your personal life colors your perspective, it doesn’t matter how objective you think you are. And perspective is everything. I’m all up in my work… I make the decision about what to capture and when and how. All of my lenses are manual, most from the 70s and 80s, so I’m controlling everything about the shot, as I believe any camera only plays second fiddle to the lens.
At present, I shoot Pentax with K Series glass (film and digital), and a Leica M9 with Zeiss glass. I share this because the camera I grab when I leave the house has everything to do with the mood I’m in. My Pentax is like sketching with charcoal, and the Leica is paintbrushes… that’s the best way I can describe it.
Why Cuba? How did you end up there?
Preston: I lost my Mother in 2014, it was painful… still is. A friend of mine who’d lost his wife the previous year suggested we get out of town. Way out of town, like to Cuba. It had been a favorite escape of his since he lived in Poland. I agreed and a month later I was standing in the Atlantic under a night sky crammed with stars just off the shore in Varadero, Cuba. It was already unreal. After a few days there, we hired a driver and rode into Havana in the back of a ’56 Belair convertible. The unreal became surreal.
What are your thoughts on the current situation and resurfacing of old tension between the US and Cuba? How does your personal contact with the region change or inform your perspective?
Preston: Ok, so this is a real essay question. I sum it up on my website with “it’s complicated”. The role the US played back in the 50s by introducing Institutional Racism and Classism is still fresh in the minds of older Cubanos. They remember when Castro was a hero of the revolution and then watched their beloved country morph into a military dictatorship. Unlike China, Cuba is a poor Communist society. China benefited from the export of cheap Human labor, Cuba never had that. The Trade Embargo – being unable to do business with the US – would deal a decisive blow to any country’s economy. For Cuba, it was devastating.
Between the two trips, I’ve spent about a month there. I’ve made friends and had meaty conversations with many others. Almost every person I met thought I was Cubano, when they discovered I was Americano, they wanted to talk about everything under the sun. I’ve was welcomed into their homes to break bread, share a bottle of Rum or experience killer Mojitos.
I spent a few hours with a gentleman whose body shop restores many of the classic vehicles in Havana. He pointed out that if he were in the states, he could order parts and get them in about a week. In Cuba, however, it could take over a month and he would easily pay for the part three or four times. So he’s figured out how to make those parts himself. He’s hired artists, sculptors specifically, to use their skills to hammer out some of the parts from sheet metal. Something from nothing.
What or who inspires you most?
Preston: Photographically? Gordon Parks, Avedon, Basquiat (his approach to his art), old school hardcore photojournalists and the film Through a Lens, Darkly which forced me to shoot less and with greater intent. Anyone or anyplace can become my muse. Something speaks to me and I suddenly see whatever is before me in a grid. I see the photograph.
Where else would you like to shoot? Or who else would you like to shoot?Preston: Everywhere. Everyone.For more on Preston Thomas and to see his work, please visit: https://prestonthomas.net/
Wanderlust and Dreamland, Tripping Through La Habana will be shown at The Frame Shop Gallery .
20.October.2017 | 7pm | 3520 S Morgan, Unit LD, Chicago, IL 60609
The Frame Shop is honored and ecstatic to welcome Jessie Whitehead to the team! Jessie joined our sales staff in December and now she’s ready to show her off work at our next 3rd Friday event on February 17th. We caught up with Jessie long enough to rattle off a few questions about the show, her relief prints and who inspires her most.
Are you originally from Chicago?
No, I am not from Chicago. I relocated here in September 2013 from Connecticut.
And where did you pick up relief printmaking?
I have worked with relief printmaking for over 25 years. I was introduced to printmaking during my undergraduate study. I continued to work with the various printmaking techniques while obtaining my MFA in printmaking.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
The two artists that immediately come to mind are Charles Wilbert White and Howardena Pindell. Charles White was a very early inspiration. I was (and still am) moved by his subject matter, style and media. Howardena Pindell’s process, and the political and social content of her art inspires my work. I am also inspired by local artist David Anthony Geary, and my cousin, Joseph Pearson.
Where did you develop skills as a framer? How does knowledge of framing enter into your vision of presentation?
I initially learned framing decades ago from a friend in Mississippi who owned her own framing business. My knowledge and experience has enhanced since moving to Chicago. Framing has taught me to be mindful of the possibilities when preparing my work for display.
How does your family enter into or support your work as an artist?
My family never questioned my decision to pursue art degrees. Their encouragement has been and continues to be significant to me as an artist. I proudly share with them any new work created. In addition to their emotional support, they support me with their presence when my work is exhibited in their region.
What tools do you absolutely need in order to work?
The main thing I like to have is music. If I do not have music, I want quietness. I do not require stimulants such as coffee or soda.
If you could have lunch with anybody living or dead, who would it be and where would you go?
The choice of person requires some pondering. There are a few people I would like to have lunch with…I, however, narrowed it down to the former first lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama. We would dine at either my family’s home, a restaurant on the Mississipi Gulf Coast or a restaurant in New Orleans.
Join us for our 3rd Friday Reception at The Frame Shop, 3520 S Morgan Street on February, 17th from 7pm-9pm.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso
Meeting Alex Puryear is like a brilliant breath of fresh air. Tall, stylish and humble, he paints as if he travelled through time and witnessed the birth of the universe. His work is a collision of everything; light and dark, good and evil, life and death. With themes ranging from redemption to universal connection, each piece is unquestionably personal to Puryear. So personal in fact, he incorporates elements of his own experiences and personality into all of his work. Be it a subtle symbol such as the allegory-laden lotus flower, to a more conspicuous self-portrait of a fedora adorned individual, Puryear’s literal influence hungers for outside interpretation.
Which is perfect for an artist that loves interaction as much as Alex. We took a few minutes to talk with Alex Puryear about his life, his work and his upcomming show at The Frame Shop Chicago on August 19th.
Q: Are you originally from Chicago?
Q: And what made you want to start painting?
Alex: It has always been a gift within me, I remember in grade school being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and my answer was an artist, and it has always been, the arts seem to flow in my family. But actual painting (brush to canvas) started around 1999.
Q: Do current events work their way into your images?
Alex: Not as much, I like to stay neutral in that matter, Once in a while I will test the waters, circa 2011-2012. I did a loose series around the concept of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I tried to show a surreal/expressionistic version of both sides.
Q: Your works seem to layer color with their meaning, who inspires you to work in this way?
Alex: Well, I believe that in time and practice an artist will find his/her own style, but in developing that unique style artists will sometimes borrow, or emulate others. I’m a student of that line of thought, artist like Matisse, Basquait, and Dali were and are some of my inspirational muses.
Q: Do you ever work large scale? Which do you prefer?
Alex: I have, and often times, do work in larger scale, but I still appreciate smaller scale pieces as well. I feel with larger scale pieces I’m able to expand and explore the direction of the piece, strokes are broader, but with smaller scale pieces the details really come into play.
Q: Any relation to Martin Puryear?
Alex: Yes, he’s a distant cousin, I admire his work.
Q: Besides painting do you practice any other artistic media?
Alex: I enjoy sketching, and drawing, they seem to always lead to a painting, outside of that I like to write.
Q: If you could show your work anywhere, where would that be?
Alex: That’s the million dollar question. I would definitely would like to break ground in Chicago first , The Art Institute, Museum Of Contemporary Art, work way my way across the states New York , California, Florida, and eventually Europe and Asia.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve been given to succeed in the art world?
Alex: KEEP AT IT. Not to give up on it, not every show is a success, that shouldn’t discourage you; it should make you (makes me) push forward and push harder. Also to know that every artist has his or her own audience, so keep displaying.
Q: How has social media changed your ability to promote yourself?
Alex: It’s definitely opened up my spectrum. Just by adding certain key words, a simple post can reach almost anyone. It can have a great deal of power and influence over those that sees it. I’m extremely active on social media. Follow me on Instagram – Puryear81, and Facebook –Alex Surrealist Art Puryear.
Q: Who is your artistic role model?
Alex: I’m fortunate to be supported and surrounded by creative people. I learn from friends and family and that’s what makes me a better person; that’s what will expand my journey as an artist.
Join us for Alex’s opening reception at The Frame Shop Chicago, 3520 S Morgan St on August 19th. Drinks and appetizers will be served from 7-9pm. The Esoteric Child runs through September.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the sweetness of life. These reminders take the form of holding a door for a neighbor, complimenting an outfit seen, or shared appreciation for good weather. For a neighborhood like Englewood, where negativity makes headlines more than every day positive actions, the work of Kenneth J. Johnson Jr. becomes necessary. Kenneth uses his lens to describe his neighborhood. His images push aside negativity and refocus our view onto the real people who live there. The excitement and virtue of his neighbors seeps into our reality forcing us to see again. Is that not an important job of Photography? Changing the world would be nice but isn’t looking again the beginning of triumph? Kenneth reminds us that while there are plenty of negative news, or people, or things going on in the city many still choose harmony. Many still choose sweetness. At The Frame Shop, we are excited to present Kenneth’s recent series of photograph titled “I Am Englewood.”
Are you originally from Chicago?
I am originally from Chicago. Born and Raised.
How long have you been a photographer?
I have been a photographer for over 5 years now.
Do you shoot film or digital?
I shoot Digital currently. I haven’t shot in film since the 90’s. My aunt showed me how at that time.
Where in Chicago is your favorite place to photograph?
My favorite place to shoot in Chicago would be the lake; I find the water very peaceful.
Who are some local artists who inspire you?
Local Artists, I would say from photography it would be my mentor Michael Kirkland. He has opened my eyes and taught me so many things. He made me comfortable and encouraged me to think outside the box with what photography and art is. Other than that, I would say musicians have influenced me. Locally, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, Common, Smashing Pumpkins, Chevelle, Malik Yusef.
You use color to direct the eye in an interesting way. How did you arrive at this technique?
I walk down the street and I stop, look, and listen to everything. I break it down into specific categories.
What was that noise I heard? What was that smell? What is that color? Why does that color stand out? As I am asking and getting answers to these questions I try to pull out the uniqueness of that specific item. I love colors. Having items/pictures presented in black and white and then highlighting a specific color draws attention that most people do not normally see. It forces them to analyze a shot a little harder. Draws their eye a little closer, and makes them feel ways that they weren’t imagining. It forces them to question the photo, their interpretations of the photo/scene, and it forces them to step outside the box. It is something I very rarely see and have never seen on this level.
How do you get your sitters to be comfortable in front of the camera?
I shoot a lot of street photography. When shooting street photography, it is necessary to talk to people and get to know them. This allows for a more open person. It allows for their comfortability to show on the photo. So being comfortable starts with a greeting and a quick or lengthy chat.
How has Englewood changed since you started your project?
Englewood as a community is changing for the better. While shooting over the past year, I have noticed steady streams of improvement throughout the neighborhood. More business development is the key. It is beautifying certain areas that were once barren. In addition, I am noticing more people taking action in the community. Showing up to more community meetings, rallies, and events has brought an increase of positivity that may have been lacking.
Do you feel your images give back to the community?
I do feel my images give back to the community. My images showcase nothing but positive actions. They are designed not to promote the negative energy we read and watch about Englewood. My images are to show the positive, good natured folk of a community that is proud. They are proud of their area and proud of their people. They just need more opportunities to show to the outside world that they are still there. Still in Englewood and still matter to Chicago.
As artists, what can we do with our work to make Chicago better?
As artists, we can give back more to the communities in Chicago. It does not have to be big, but we can find ways to give back something. We have been given a tremendous gift. We have the ability to change the world. With that power comes responsibility. In order to get the blessings, we have to be willing to give it back. So I strive to do something everyday that is of a giving nature. This gift can be a compliment, some encouraging words to uplift someone, or showing a child how to use an $800 camera properly. I want to show people that they are more, can be more. They just need to dream. That’s what artists do. We force people to dream. So to highlight the amazing gifts we have, I challenge every artist to reach out to someone/ anyone, and help them. Help them dream again and pass that knowledge on. Do that and continue the blessings that were once given to you.
An important aspect of photography is to capture a moment in time. Images of ourselves allow us to recall memories of where we were when the photograph was taken. It lets us hold on to how we once looked and what we projected out the world. Photographers are the technicians that enable us remember and see ourselves for who we are. Portraiture itself is no easy task. It takes a real gift to get a sitter to be comfortable in front of the camera and one Photographer who does so is Marc Hauser. The Frame Shop was lucky enough to interview this local Photographic legend:
Being from Northern Illinois, was Chicago your first choice for the location of your studio?
Yes, the people are very friendly. In a place like New York, there are dozens of photographers with similar styles, but here in Chicago, I’m one of a kind.
How did you get into portrait photography?
When I was in high school, i really enjoyed meeting people, and getting to know them and their stories. Taking their portrait was exciting to me, one of my greatest strengths, because of the individual’s story.
What photographer inspires you ?
Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Yoseph Karsh.
What is the most interesting location you have been to take a portrait?
New Zealand on the south island.
If you could practice any other art media, what would it be?
probably drawing. etchings interest me as well. the art of making hot dogs.
What is your favorite format to photograph with?
With the changes going on in the Photographic media, what is one thing that is becoming obsolete that you will truly miss?
Shooting with film instead of digital.
Chicago offers many incredible locations for a portrait outside of the studio. Where is your favorite place you photograph here in this city?
You have photographed many celebrities in your career. Whose personality was the most surprising?
If you could photograph anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
To learn more about March Hauser or see additional work, please visit his website : Hauserportraits.com
There are few as honest as Darr Gapshis. When you ask her a question be ready for the answer because it will be unabashedly truthful. This doesn’t mean her works are grotesque nor do her words offend. Instead, your surprise will come from her ability to spread her heart wide open to you- through her paintings, in her movements, and in the way she describes her life. It was an honor to sit down and discuss with this artist as we discussed the importance of beauty in her life and instilling it in ours.
Interview with Darr:
How long have you lived in Chicago?
All my life.
You moved to Bridgeport recently. What do you think of the art scene here?
I think it’s absolutely wonderful. It started a long time ago and I feel it’s been a little bit slow. I can’t wait for it to grow more. The venue is perfect.
You’ve been painting for a long time, has anything happened in your life that has changed the way you see your process?
I’ve felt that my best work is when I’m lying on the floor crying, feeling as if my heart is being torn out and my soul is dying. My whole life is filled with ups and downs and with love. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I paint because when I see all the negativity people store up and expel, it’s so shocking to me. It forces me to battle by making beautiful things. It forces me to live beautifully and be surrounded by beauty. My husband has said he’s never met anyone who lives for beauty more than I.
How do you feel about mysticism playing a role in your art making?
I’m on the other side however I come and go. I’m mostly there when I’m painting. For me to be on the other side full time is unrealistic.
Where does your love for lusciousness come from?
I was born with a love for lushness. My mother’s dresses were so beautiful and so were her draperies. I carry out her tradition! The lushness of a peony and a garden rose are unbelievable to me. I take their colors everywhere I go. The neutrals too. There’s nothing like a boucle Chanel beige suit or man in a beautiful black Armani tuxedo. It’s about the design but more importantly the fabrics.
Do you think you were fated to become an artist?
Why does florals play such an important role in your work?
My mom was in the garden all summer. My father owned a printing business which caused him to be very political. They were always out at city functions but during the day she was in the garden. She made big cakes too. Once when I was very young she made a cake with a giant rose on the top. There were tiny sprinkles that looked like little dew drops. I still think of it today.
Purple is said to combine the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. What is your relationship to that color?
I feel it’s a royal color. Its passion and I’m very passionate so that has a lot to do with it. I have a tremendous amount of energy.
If you could show your work anywhere, where would you want to show it?
At the Louvre in Paris.
What is your favorite place in the world?
My livingroom. After our trips, after being in some of the most beautiful rooms in the world, we get home and think this isn’t bad. Then you wake up the next morning and think yes this is where I want to be. I don’t live as high anymore. I’m closer to the trees and can outside my bedroom and my kitchen. I’m closer to them and that’s where I want to be.
What is your favorite flower and why?
He garden rose- it’s fragrance, it’s lushness, it’s bar none one of the most beautiful smelling flower.
I also love the Easter lily, gardenia, freesia, I love the scent of stephanotis, and tuberose.
In April, Art & Company in Orland Park will unveil their second installation of the photography show “A Moment in Time.” The opening is this Saturday from 7-10pm. We are so excited for this show that we are highlighting photographers who will be a part of it! Today we feature the work of Ryan Shain. Self taught and an avid traveler, his images transport us to new places!
What kind of camera do you use?
I am currently using a canon 70d digital SLR camera with three canon lenses. I have the canon 10-22 wide angle lens, the canon 24-105L lens, and the canon 70-300 IS lens.
When did you start photographing?
My journey in photography began a little over eleven years ago on a beautiful 70 degree Autumn day. I was suppose to be attending a college class on this day, but something greater than myself was calling out to me. My destination was Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. I am not sure what motivated me to stop for a single-use camera, but I did and I have been in love with photography since that beautiful Autumn day many years ago.
Are you self taught?
I have never official taken any kind of Photography classes, but I have bought many books, learned from many other photographers, and have had a great need to learn everything I could about the art of photography. I feel everyday is an opportunity to learn and grow in every aspect of life, but especially with photography. As everyday has potential to be an amazing day and an amazing capture.
What do you like photographing the most?
I have always had a fascination with nature. When I was young child, I would wonder off on some kind of adventure in nature at any chance I had. It is no coincidence that I am very passionate about nature photography. I very much enjoy just getting out in any kind of wild place to immerse myself in the natural world.
Is there a favorite photographing memory you’d like to share?
There have been so many wonderful photography memories through the years, but the most recent trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming with my wife created an awakening in my spirit. There wasn’t one moment in time that I remember in particular, but rather the entire experience of eleven days in Wyoming that was priceless. The elements of amazing light, unique atmosphere, wild places, ancient mountains, and the love of my life by my side ignited a new passion for these beautiful wild places, for photography, and for life itself.
Where/what is something you’ve always wanted to photograph?
A place I have always wanted to experience and photograph is the Himalayan Mountain Range in Nepal. Every time I see images of this ancient mountain range, my spirit is alive and the mountains are beckoning me to come to explore their grandeur and beauty.
In April, Art & Company in Orland Park will unveil their second installation of the photography show “A Moment in Time.” The opening is this Saturday from 7-10pm. We are so excited for this show that we are highlighting photographers who will be a part of it! Today we feature the work of Michael Kirkland- a former paratrooper who studied photography here in Chicago! His landscapes are transcendental as they take us to places we only hope to experience in person.
What kind of camera do you use
I am a Nikon person, I shoot with the full frame D810 and crop sensor D300s
When did you start photographing?
I began photographing in 1973, when I was in the military. As a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, I enjoyed capturing images from the sky once my parachute opened, and documenting my military experience.
Are you self taught?
No, when I left the military and returned to Buffalo NY, I bought Minolta film camera and some studio lighting equipment. I Attended as many seminars that was available. Not satisfied with my growth and development, I moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College. I graduated from Columbia majoring in photography. I continue to learn whatever I can from wherever I can.
What do you like photographing the most?
The first time I went to a National park, I fell in love with capturing the landscape. I decided then that I wanted to visit and photograph each US National park. To date, I have visited 21 of them, some more than once. I am primarily a nature photographer. I love to capture images of landscapes.
Photography is my passion, I am always thirsty to learn and try new things. With is so much information about photographing a variety of subjects, I usually shoot about 500 to 1000 frames a week. I try my hand at tabletop, macro, astrophotography, portraits, nature, buildings, street and creative.
Is there a favorite photographing memory you’d like to share?
It has to be the first time I saw and captured Aurora Borealis in Alaska. Actually it was then that I got down on one knee and proposed to my fiancee. I’ve seen the Aurora Borealis and it is amazing, but to capture them in your camera is awesome. I captured images of the Aurora Borealis in Alaska and in Iceland so far. I have another trip planned to photograph them in Norway next year.
It is never the same each evening or each hour that you see them. I have gotten better each time so far. The thing is, even when you plan to be in the right place at the right time, with the right equipment, there are still several weather related variables out of your control. So you do the best you can with what you are presented with.
Where/what is something you’ve always wanted to photograph?
I really like astrophotography, I captured the Aurora Borealis and am still working on capturing that great image of the milky way. I also have always wanted to capture images of dancers. I like watching theater groups perform. I just recently saw the Alvin Ailey American theater dance company and most of the time I was sitting there watching it, I was taking picture in my mind during the various scenes. I would love to capture the essence and grace of their art.
To learn more about Micahel and see additional work, visit his website at mjkirkland.com and meet the artist at the photography show opening at Art & Company April 2 2016!
Everyday Items As Art
If you like to collect things, art is one of the most rewarding things that you can collect. Viewing it gives you pleasure, while the value of most objets d’art rises over time.
Recently, one buying trend in North America has consumers paying to buy items that seem everyday, but may end up being considered art. Here are some good examples of items that fall into this category.
Just like Antique carpets and handmade rugs have become a very hot trend in North America, Pendleton blankets from vendors like indiantraders.com are popular with collectors because the artists that create them are putting a lot of their own culture into the work. The phenomena may be similar to comparing Europe, which used to use paintings to express history and art, to Native Americans that have normally had a strong relationship to the type of blanket that they use or keep for decoration. Because blanket design can tell a story or be geographically distinct, it is one textile that is becoming more popular to purchase as art.
If you go to the history museum in Jerusalem, you will see all sorts of 2500 year old jewelry that looks like the jewelry that is worn today. For collectors, this means that well-made, custom jewelry will stand the test of time and end up being viewed as an objet d’art. Of course within the category of jewelry, it is important to have a sense for both what you like, and what you expertly presume the market will like.
In other countries like Japan, there are very famous kilns that put out distinctive ceramics that are sought everywhere. Getting a dinner set at one of these places will generally create an instant heirloom for the family that keeps that set together. In North America, ceramics have been traditionally popular to collect. The bulk of the art objects that were made from ceramic currently come from the 19th century and earlier. If you are buying ahead, focusing on plates, cups, and statues is pretty popular.
With the success of the giant shopping mall known as Etsy, another generation has taken up buying pieces of everything from hair bands to metal chopsticks, sometimes with the hope that they will become collectibles that are considered art in the future. Often times, this type of item that can be purchased is known as Americana. You can find it in a vintage store, an antique shop, or in an online mall and you will likely find out that it will increase in price over time.
Every movie that comes out has a budget for licensed toys, games, posters, and other items associated with the film. If the film is popular like Star Wars, figures that are associated with it, and have provenance can become considered collectible art. Movie posters are also a very popular item to collect as art.
Buying everyday items that are beautiful or associated with a historic event can eventually cause those items to be considered art by collectible dealers and clients. The key for people that decide to buy from well-known sites or stores is to find something that you like, regardless of its future potential value, and then hold onto it and enjoy it.
Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in arts and crafts, DIY, and other handmade products. She currently writes for Indian Traders, a leading vendor of pendleton blankets and jewelry.
Slow Stretch is the unearthing of seemingly mistaken photographs and discarded science projects. Beautifully displayed on parallel stands or tacked to the walls, the work of Eileen Rae Walsh and Sarah and Joseph Belknap move you through the gallery causing you to think about the approaching spring, how asphalt feels under your feet, and perceived organized mess.
It’s difficult (and unnecessary) to talk about the artists who made the photographs, sculptures, and installation separately. Their placement and comingling convey their desire to be considered as one. Just let the work move you. Walk along the outside of the two floor panels holding the bulk of the work near the floor. Consider their height, the ease they offer to lean over and investigate the works presented. The white of the gallery, the floor, and the panels are the sterile, clean slates for debris and curved edges of the works to stand out against. Think about walking between the floor panels and then hesitate. Your body might not be meant for that entry point. Crumbling deteriorations are playful gestures rather than install mistakes. An image of wet hair dripping on a bare back lives comfortably next to cool metal arms holding black, rock-like sculptures. Viewing them seems cold, keeping you at a distance, reminding you that this is their space not yours.
Placement, color, and study excite at a pace the title suggests as the works range from gritty to saccharine. Large woven rubber strands on the wall resemble the lanyards we made as kids. The hot pinks and greens we wove displace themselves into the images and images blur like the night we had our first drink. The mess of life events and chemistry on display is deflated and saturated. These open vitrines allow study and imposition of the personal. Life, and the materials in it, is frantic, collaborative, and futile but the language in which the works display these feelings elegantly remind us we’d have it no other way.
As if the space itself wasn’t enticing enough, a publication is available to remind you of what you’ve seen and encourage your return. For some, three issues were received by mail leading up to the exhibition. For others, the three can be purchased at once in the gallery. The artists offer mementos wrapped neatly with interviews and passages of process. Relics of their collaboration take the form of a photogram, poster, and tack for your assemblage pleasure. If the show itself does not permanently engrain into your mind, these objects offered will. A new memory to recall in this wintery Chicago haze.
Slow Stretch will be open at Mana Contemporary until April 3 rd . Please see Third Object’s website for more information: http://www.thirdobject.net/slowstretch/