How much attention do you pay to the art hung in your doctor's office?
If your doctor's office is anything like mine, the works are probably purchased in bulk from a single artist, someone unlikely to be exhibited in River North or even in some of the most commercial galleries on Michigan Avenue. It's a safe bet that she or he is repped by some major conglomerate as opposed to a local dealer, and, visually, it's probably pretty vague — uncomplicated, easy on your peripheral vision as you're thumbing through last fall's Family Circle, waiting for your name to be called.
If not your doctor's office, you've probably seen similarly lifeless art at the dentist's office, the optometrist's or even the broker's office where you settled the deal for your condo. While real estate office art tends to be a little riskier than others, still, it's usually passable at best.
West Town's LivingRoom Realty, fortunately, doesn't rely on banal art to fill up the blank walls between its small sitting area and its brokers' desks. Opened two years ago in a light-filled storefront space in co-owner Annie Coleman's brick building, the small office doubles as an event space and, under the guise of LivingRoom Gallery, displays works primarily by local and regional artists, rotating its exhibits every six weeks or so.
Co-owner Abraham McClurg does most of the curatorial work, but the current show of works by 2009 School of the Art Institute grad Edelweiss Cardenas was curated by Thea Liberty Nichols, assistant director at nearby apartment gallery 65GRAND. Collectively titled "Wanderers Wonder Where," the paintings here are light and airy, but not so easy that they don't beg second looks.
Mexican-born Cardenas imagines her work as "an intricate and intimate observation in which I carry myself through line and try to expose an idea through the beauty of the bareness of contour," she's stated on her Web site. Those lines are literal: Her forms are long and careful, carrying the eye from her submarinelike structures to their squid- like tentacles and back again. They are characters, for sure, some of them resembling abstract creatures from an imaginary Jules Verne sci-fi fantasy, or aliens happy on holiday. "Searching for a Space" and "Wandering in Quest," in particular, capture this animated spirit with neatly outlined beings floating in color-blocked space.
Things get a little sloppier when Cardenas doesn't color within the lines. While still pretty and pleasant, works like "One Day, Weightlessness Will Reign," painted in acrylics on a throwaway piece of wood, seem unfinished somehow. The play of shapes is intriguing (the thing has the mouth of a blue whale and the body of all of the Great Lakes combined), but after a taste of Cardenas' tidy side, it's easy to be critical when she's not.