“Good afternoon, there is art in both galleries and the men’s section is on the right,” said Alma Wieser, the “mother” of Heaven, with a smile as I came in. Run by Alma Wieser and Joe Jeffers, Heaven Gallery has been a staple of Milwaukee Avenue for over a decade now. Founded in 1997 in the Flat Iron Building, it found its way to its current location in 2000. Heaven is known for having an open and free submission policy and so has become home to many emerging artists from Chicago. They have recently also begun to provide a space for piano lessons for “deserving school children” on a donated grand piano that sits in the front gallery. They also regularly host film and video series as well as aural delights; they recently hosted the Tiny Mahler Orchestra. Heaven, as you may have guessed from the opening line, also acts as a hip small thrift store on Saturdays, following its community-building model.
"Love Calls You By Your Name (Sometimes)" is their latest art exhibit, a three-name, three-man exhibition, curated by Max Reinhardt. Patrick Francis McGuan’s Ambiguity in a Tear, 2011, consists of a Jacquard weave on faux burlap, with the phrase, “He had a tear in his voice.” His other piece, Winding Sheets, 2011, is a rocking chair duo facing opposite directions connected by a ten-foot crib attached to the sides of the chairs. Inside the crib is slung a patchwork hammock made of material found in post-Katrina New Orleans homes. The pale structure is made out of ash wood, giving it the look of Amish-Bauhaus. The fine craftsmanship of the woodwork combined with the vague magical-realism of the structure itself, confuse and conflict the definitions of crib along with the concepts of comfort and home. The crib itself is built more like an old corncrib than a baby’s crib, with long slats forming a trapezoidal trough, the patchwork hammock sits imprisoned in the cradle, hung from two sharp wrought iron hooks. The scraps have been reworked, made beautiful again, but somehow unattainable, unreachable. Two candles are stationed on the rocking chairs, keeping vigil.
The delicate emotional transparency of McGuan’s work complements Joseph Patrick Mault’s rough-hewn emotionalism that hangs like a frayed nerve from a shattered tooth. When Tongue Tie, 2011, is a steel structure, a table of sorts but not really. It does have four legs but no top. Around the top of the legs, cantilevered and cast in steel, runs a tongue-tying phrase, coated in yellow latex.
Mault’s Untitled, 2011 is a lead drop-cast, polished to a high gloss, of the phrase “my teeth are with me but they are not mine.” These two works both point to the influence of others and the unseen in supporting the self, in giving the self “teeth” or the ability to accomplish or produce the desired effect through the support of another.
Charles Thomas Fogarty’s work, on the other hand, deals with revealing. Relying on repurposing of bits of photographs, Oriental rugs or even the fusion of two dissimilar flowers via Photoshop, Fogarty’s work is heavily representative of the postmodern. Two atypical structures, Structure #1 and Structure #2 are comprised of wooden cubes, stacked or scattered and draped with paper. For example, Structure #1, 2011 casts a shadow over a painting on the floor, covered by a rug and pinned to the ground by a brick made of wild flowers and concrete, producing an interesting remix of the everyday. Fogarty’s work is challenging in that aesthetically it's a jumble, but as Maurice Blanchot wrote of the everyday, it is the “most difficult to discover.”
These works from Fogarty are a spatial pastiche that interact with other artwork in the gallery, creating breaks, wing dams, curtains, casting shadows like lead and thoroughly disrupting the expected.
-Joel Kuennen, ArtSlant Staff Writer