If you feel like you need a burst of energy in the middle of the day, take time to observe some art. On my long double shifts at the restaurant I will often use my break to check out a museum or a new book in a bookstore. I have read about a study recently that says looking at cute animals improves productivity. Studies even support Facebook use. I prefer art galleries and museums for that boost of energy and refocusing effect.
On a recent ‘double day’ I walked down along Superior Street to Franklin Street near the Chicago Brown Line stop and encountered a whole pile of galleries. I had seen these before in passing, but had always assumed they were full of trinkets and jewelry and furnishings. But I had read a review that told me there were paintings somewhere around 230 West Superior in a gallery that was maybe named Pyramid, I couldn’t remember…so I walked around peeking in windows and found a few really great gems.
Perimeter Gallery – 210 W. Superior St.
I walked in ready to be entranced and excited by art. Perimeter Gallery and the new work by Jeffrey Forsythe delivered. The first sight, to calm your soul, is Ode to the Common Man, a wall of framed blank records in all colors and textures. I was especially attracted to the faux fur backings and velvet records. “Individually, these records evoke carpeted basement studios, crisp pop hits, the absurdity of laserdiscs, and, despite his best intentions I’m sure, the White Album,” stated an available handout from Russ White, a local artist.
Now that you are comfortable and happy, the rest of the exhibit sends you through a “bizarro world of status symbols” like the large and shining gold-feathered headdress displayed in the front near the window for full sunlight effect. I especially enjoyed the central piece, Trophy Case, which has written in the ribbon across the top, “American Superiority in the Twenty First Century.” Yet it is the 20th century that still holds the central place in this otherwise empty trophy case. A sprig of cotton peeks out beneath the center, reminding you what the 20th century culture grew out of. A vulture replaces the usual eagle, but he does not look vicious. It is as if he is lying in wait for the 20th Century to be swallowed under the waves so it will be only the vulture left. Sweet victory is American exceptionalism!
Andrew Bae Gallery: Contemporary Asian Art | ZG Gallery | Catherine Edelman Gallery – 300 W. Superior
The tall paintings of humans in profile drew me into the Andrew Bae Gallery, but I most enjoyed the paper art. I had seen something similar made from wood at Perimeter, but the thickness and perfection of these by Jae Ko certainly impacted my brain’s pleasure centers and influenced my productivity that day.
The staff was incredibly friendly and engaging at the ZG Gallery where tall buildings are made from little houses and one artist, Martina Nehrling, has a single brushstroke in her artist’s vocabulary. Nehrling’s work consists of hundreds of brush strokes almost 2 inches long arranged any number of ways and colored in neons, blues, and grays. I advise a trip to this space for the genial atmosphere and bright, funky, modern works.
With time for one more gallery I strolled into Catherine Edelman’s and was stopped in my tracks by a shocking image.
Smoking Kids! What is this world coming to!? I think that is exactly the sentiment Frieke is looking for in what I see as a loss of innocence piece. There were almost fifteen of these disturbing portraits with all the children having a decidedly adult air. Strange to think we were all children once and how much we still act like them.
The twists and turns through the rest of the gallery gave lots of portraits, reminding me how small I am in this big world and how happy I am to be part of it.