Filed under: Art World, Chicago, Features | Tags: Brice Marden, Frank Piatek, John Neff, Jude Ledgerwood, Renaissance Society, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, William Conger
Judy Ledgerwood, from Chromatic Patterns for Chicago & Blob Paintings. Courtesy Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.
Yesterday, I overheard somebody saying that Chicago is one of the “greenest” cities in the United States. I’m not sure that’s true, although Lincoln Park in August is a pretty lush situation. Daley had tulips planted on State Street, too, but at this time of year they’re just bruised-looking stubs of bud trying to work through winter’s accumulated cigarette butts.
To my eye, Chicago isn’t green: it’s a dun beast brindled with black soot and neon. And historically, that’s the way the city’s painters have used color – sharp, sudden accents running through dim fields. Even Ed Paschke’s electric images of urban wildlife look (appropriately) dark, despite their high-keyed palette. In abstraction, the works of Frank Piatek, and the early paintings of Paschke’s former Northwestern University colleague William Conger, feel similar: harsh hues softened by veils of smoke. —John Neff, Chicago contributor
Filed under: Art World, Chicago, Features | Tags: Chicago, Gaylen Gerber, Holt Quentel, Jim Nutt, John Neff, Julia Fish, Michelle Grabner, Mitchell Kane, Ray Yoshida, Robert Nickle, Shane Campbell Gallery, Tony Tasset
Jim Nutt, Miss T. Garmint (she pants a lot), 1967, Acrylic on Plexiglas; enamel on wood frame, 72 x 48 inches. Private Collection, Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
For a long time, Chicago art has been strongly identified with an eccentric and often grotesquely or humorously distorted variety of figure painting. And it’s accurate that the city’s most widely celebrated — or loudly praised — historical art is a form of funky figuration typified by the work of the Imagist generation and rooted in Post-WWII readings of Art Brut and Surrealism by artists of the Monster Roster. Much of this work is estimable — witness recent local exhibitions of Jim Nutt and Ray Yoshida, both shows eyeball-poppers in their own ways — but it’s not the whole story of painting in Chicago. —John Neff, Chicago contributor