Saturday, March 29, 2008

For Immediate Release

Event Date: Friday, April 4, 6-9PM
Contact: Aron Packer (312)226.8984
Exhibition Dates: April 4th - May 10th 2008

Main Gallery: Michael Genovese "We All We Got..."

Layers of neon pink and green paper painted with bold letters are plastered over the gallery wall like flyers that accumulate on urban buildings or discount signs at grocery stores. These attention-grabbing colors, created from unmixed sign paint, draw the viewer to concise yet open-ended, multilingual thoughts about society. Zora Neale Hurston’s observation, “All my skin folk ain’t all my kin folk,” and the artist’s own mantra, “We all we got,” are written in Korean, Urdu, German, French, Spanish, Polish, and Bosnian on these humble posters. In the engravings displayed nearby, the two quotes reappear alongside further social commentary and unknown names tangled within baroque patterning. Where the signs are bright, outgoing, spontaneous, and fragile, the intricate engravings on tar-colored sign substrate are dark, inward, laborious, and relatively permanent. While the signs evoke grassroots advertising, the engravings evoke dangerous and secret forms of expression, such as scratchings on trains and buses, in bathroom stalls, or on desks at the back of a classroom. Executed during his residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (January 15–February 24, 2008), these text-based works draw on familiar modes of communication encountered at stores or on the street in order to capture contemporary voices.

To better record language that is alive, Genovese created this set of signs and engravings in collaboration with visitors and staff at the MCA. Avoiding static dictionary definitions, he enlisted native speakers at the museum to translate the phrases he ultimately painted on neon posters. Likewise, the intricate engravings produced during this residency were built up from messages carved by museum goers. Because of his insistence on a human element in his work, Genovese’s interaction with everyday life as art has a sincerity that is lacking in the innovative contributions of Marcel Duchamp and Pop Art to this terrain. While Duchamp appropriated ordinary objects, Genovese, informed by his prior career as a specialty sign painter and sign contractor, creates his pieces with his own hands. While Pop artists tended to aestheticize the vernacular, Genovese’s work is grounded more in a collaborative process than in an aesthetic. Genovese effectively resurrects Josef Beuys’ conception of “social sculpture”—whereby social interaction is a work of art and every person is an artist—without the utopian promise Beuys championed. Though his works often involve painting, then, it is clear that Genovese’s medium is not strictly paint, nor is it simply industrial sign materials; he also works with the abstract media of language and human interaction.

Antonia Pocock 2008

In The Lab: Casey Riordan Millard "I’m Sorry I Can’t Save You " Watercolors and Sculpture

Currently Riordan Millard’s work consists of sculptures, drawings, and paintings of girls who have the heads of Great White Sharks. She calls them, simply, “Shark Girls.” The life-sized sculptures are constructed from steel armatures and then covered in wax, fabric, polymer clay, paint, and ceramic. The smaller sculptures are built primarily of porcelain and are painted with oils. She paints with watercolor and gouache on watercolor paper and often uses the paintings as studies for her sculptures.

With the Shark Girls, Riordan Millard examines the search for solace from the heartbreak of mortality. While we may find temporary distractions in nature, the routine of everyday living and the trappings of Western culture, these distractions are only external. A deeper relief from the human condition must come from within if we wish to ease our fears about our impermanence.

The predicament of the Shark Girl is that she never faces her inner turmoil and, instead, continues the outward quest for diversion. While she is sorrowful, wandering, and terrified, there is a comic element to this “fish out of water.” We can relate to Shark Girl in our own pursuits for satisfaction and tranquility.

Packer Schopf Gallery

942 W.Lake St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Gallery Hours: Tues - Sat: 11:00AM - 5:30 PM

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