As in the summers of previous years, we run contrary to the expectations of those who generally regard this period as a slower season in the art world, and proudly open two very special exhibits which offer the warm weather lovers, and the voyagers for escapism, a contemplative respite and space to connect with some powerful and enriching art.
In Gallery Y, sculptor Juan Angel Chavez presents “Gone,” a fresh body of work that emanates from his investigation and thoughts surrounding process, furthering his interest in the how he gets to a form and shape rather than the what to create. For this exhibition, the artist reuses much of the raw materials from his latest exhibition at the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art in Indiana, in which he presented an installation fabricated from the remains of a 19th century barn set ablaze by the artist with the help of local firefighters and volunteers. The naturally formed patterns and textures of the charred wood, and the dramatic puncture wounds sheered through the barn’s salvaged metal roofing at a staged DIY shooting-range illustrate Chavez’s preoccupation with the visual aftermath of forces that cannot otherwise be replicated. It is from these events and within these scarred and pock-marked pieces that Chavez establishes a metaphor for the explosive act of creation and the energy that embodies much of the tension within his dynamic artistic psyche – the push and pull of freedom and restraint, precision and randomness, creation and destruction, the universal and the personal, and the natural and the manmade.
While Chavez’s work can be linked with the concepts of abstract expressionism, minimalism, collage, found object, performance, social sculpture and art historical precursors in the likes of Joseph Beuys and Robert Rauschenberg, it is a small black and white photograph hanging on the wall of Chavez’s Chicago studio that predominantly concerns him. It is an image of his great-great-great grandfather, a man who followed on horseback a crazy and adventurous path from Austria to China, to San Francisco and down to Mexico where he settled and married Chavez’s great-great-great grandmother. Inspired and fascinated by the pioneering spirit of his forefather, Chavez contemplates his chosen path and his role as an artist. Relying on the basic tools of wilderness survival - wood, fire, a chainsaw, and a gun, Juan Angel Chavez creates his artwork, releasing these ideas into new forms, treading on new terrain that expresses the ordinary yet transcends the every day.