In a small back-alley garage, under the shadow of the Kennedy Expressway, a gallery exists, sometimes. Sometimes it’s the painting studio of Anna Kunz, Chicago artist and instructor at Colombia College. "Indestructible Youth," the fourth show put on by Ms. Kunz, was a compact, passionate and talent-filled display. Housing young artists from New York and Chicago with a decidedly graphic bent to much of their work, this show succeeded in engendering the viewer with a feeling of restlessness (the good kind) and angst (also of the good variety).
Kunz,Vis,Gonzalez, [sic] is a tri-location gallery exists in Chicago, Brooklyn and Amsterdam. Following this showing in Ms. Kunz’s gallery, the work will be packed up and shipped to Amsterdam to be exhibited in Vis' gallery – an interesting and ingenious reaction to the mobility required of today’s artists and their work.
Walking in through the side door of a back alley garage, the familiar whiteness hits the eyes. As your eyes adjust, you realize you’re now in a gallery. Elena Ballara’s Untitled polymer clay mushrooms sprout from the walls on the left and right (all works 2010). I’m drawn around the room in a clockwise circuit, scanning over the bright colors that brazenly yell “youth!” In the middle of the room, a 3-dimensional still life of sorts, straight out of the Tom Tom Club's Genius of Love video. One could say it follows in the tradition of the non-traditional canvas and artist Austin Eddy seems ready to play.
My eye moves to the left wall, noticing a piece-meal sculptural painting by Peter Clodfelter. Spray paint and acrylics mark broken wooden slats nailed to the white wall. A scene is portrayed, a man, sitting at a desk, alone. It’s an angst-ridden piece, ripe with the aggressive disinterest in that which already is characteristic of the youthful. I’m beginning to see where the title came from now.
Further down the wall appears Scott Frigo’s work, a kind of diptych in a corner, graffiti flames arising up one wall while black and whites of spray paint combusting rise up the other in a play of line and symmetry.
Following Frigo comes a few more sculptural paintings and a bit more graphic work. My eye keeps swinging around until it falls on a set of raven-black wings hanging over a shelf with neatly organized classical records and old stereo. Brad Hoffman’s installation draws me closer and the wings begin to become familiar: melted vinyl records. Their sheen so similar to the waterproofed wings of a bird I can’t help but associate oil with fowl. You can take it the rest of the way. The piece is also a visual representation of the aural, a smoky angel rising from the dusty crackle of an experience heavy with nostalgia. It’s a piece that’s loftier than the rest and it adds a sort of quiet sanctuary to the energy and verbosity of the rest of the pieces.
Installation view of "Indestructible Youth" at Kunz,Vis,Gonzalez. Foreground: Austin Eddy. Background, left to right: Scott Frigo, Racer LeVan.
Indestructible Youth presents the work of some very talented and interesting artists who will be coming up shortly. Their work isn’t afraid to play with what already is in hopes of making something that could never be. Like the paradox the title of the show refers to, this generation will soon pass the torch on to the next. This group does, however, show a promise that only the energy of perceived imperviousness can provide. Let’s hope they remain indestructible.
(all images are courtesy of Anna Kunz)