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Erik Wenzel

20110124135951-cafe_mustache Mustache Wax   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 1/24/11

If you are mad about coffee like I am and love to sit in coffee shops with your laptop to get “work” done like I do, you need a healthy rotation of places to visit. And since July I’ve had another stop on my rotation, and one wonderfully close to home, Café Mustache. Now mustache aficionados will tell you that serious mustache people spell it with an “o” but Merriam-Webster seems to think differently. At any rate, according to the café’s website, they mainly picked it because they thought it was f... [more]

20110124131408-wine-detail-300x203 Winter Experiment   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Dan Gunn & Michelle Grabner, Ebony G. Patterson & Tumelo Mosaka, Ben Fain & Shannon Stratton, Anna Shteynshleyger & Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg at moniquemeloche gallery January 15th, 2011 - February 5th, 2011
Posted 1/24/11

On a freezing Saturday afternoon a crowd, including myself, crammed into moniquemeloche gallery to see artist, writer, gallerist and professor Michelle Grabner talk to Dan Gunn about and amidst his work. This was the second of four installments in the “Winter Experiment 2011”, an ambitious month-long program that invites a young artist to present their work in the gallery and, on the weekends, converse with an “art world participant” in a public setting. These events are recorded, later to be br... [more]

20101219054856-002--12 For Better or Wirsum   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Zack Wirsum at Jean Albano Gallery January 7th, 2011 - February 27th, 2011
Posted 1/17/11

Aptly titled “Weakened Warriors: Outlines With Outlines” Zack Wirsum’s exhibition at Jean Albano gallery sports paintings with varying degrees of obsessive line work. In many instances lines quite literally have outlines, which in turn have outlines of their own. The works on view, all from the last few years, display a trajectory of development from figuration to abstraction to a synthesis of the two. The most successful are those that find a certain balance. Folk Cure All Lessons From The Great... [more]

20101227185631-liam_gillick_three_perspectives_002 Erik Wenzel Picks the Best of 2010   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 12/27/10

Ten Mostly Musical Moments from 2010 (Roughly in Chronological Order) 1. Google Image Search as a Rare Music Finder I am an obsessive completist and so when I upload a particularly important album to iTunes I hunt around for the album cover on Google image search. The ideal image is not only true to the actual booklet, but is also 300-500 pixels, square. This specificity has led me to find all sorts of album covers randomly related to my intended search. These serendi... [more]

20100826055445-003__26aug Modernism Out in Nature   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Lewis Baltz at The Art Institute of Chicago September 25th, 2010 - January 9th, 2011
Posted 11/29/10

Recently, I found myself wandering around the Art Institute on a Friday night. Killing time before meeting some people, I decided to catch up on the various temporary exhibitions I had yet to see, Jitish Kallat’s “Public Notice 3” and Richards Hawkins’ “Third Mind”. I ended up going into the photography gallery in the Modern Wing, intrigued by the large black square I saw through the glass doors (I guess they do serve a purpose beyond making the galleries off the “main street” hallway f... [more]

20100914084507-wool_sound Smooth Jazz   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Christopher Wool at Corbett vs. Dempsey October 21st, 2010 - November 27th, 2010
Posted 11/15/10

Christopher Wool grew up in Chicago, but he made his career in New York. And like any good New York abstract painter he is a fan of jazz. “Sound on Sound”, at Corbett vs. Dempsey gets its name from a recording made on an old Sound on Sound reel-to-reel portable tape recorder by underground jazz legend, Joe McPhee. Both Wool and Corbett vs. Dempsey are huge fans of McPhee, and the occasion of the exhibition marks an opportunity to issue the previously unreleased 1968 recording and stage... [more]

20101025123352-kaviguptagallery001218 Pattern & Representation   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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James Krone at Kavi Gupta Gallery October 23rd, 2010 - December 4th, 2010
Posted 10/25/10

          Remember that oft-quoted line from Matisse about wanting his paintings to be like comfortable armchairs? That quotation is a perfect example of a meme, an idea whose viability is measured not by its content but by its capacity to self-perpetuate and mutate or evolve. Like so many historical statements, this one has become unmoored from its original context, and even its original wording as I have purposely done above.  When most people cite it, they are really only citing the genera... [more]

20101005192729-26_qs4logo 12 Galleries' Registers at LVL3   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Duncan Anderson, Susan Giles, Anna Kunz, Oliver Laric, Nathaniel Robinson at LVL3 Gallery October 9th, 2010 - October 31st, 2010
Posted 10/11/10

For a show curated by three people, Andrew Blackley, Stephanie Burke and Steve Ruiz,  this exhibition surprisingly fits together quite well. “Registers” is hosted at LVL3 Gallery and is the fourth in a series of quarterly exhibitions organized by Twelve Galleries Project. Twelve Galleries is an essentially anonymous endeavor only ever referred to as the “Twelve Galleries Project.” The project began with a series of exhibitions, one each month, for a year, installed in a new imper... [more]

20100830145651-bdfcftrails_and_space A Hardcore Commitment to Abstraction   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Carrie Gundersdorf at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) August 7th, 2010 - August 29th, 2010
Posted 8/30/10

Carrie Gundersdorf’s two concurrent exhibitions, collages of reference material at Julius Cæsar and the main event, large format drawings at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), display what I would term a “hardcore” commitment to abstraction. A bit like classic rock, or a new band that carries on the tradition, Gundersdorf is a committed Modernist.  Both exhibitions closed on August 29th. The text accompanying the MCA exhibition names Ellsworth Kelly and Piet Mondrian as historic referenc... [more]

20100830205754-img_0712 Dead Center   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 8/30/10

            If you wanted to make a strong visual and cultural statement in Chicago’s Loop, leaving the growing stretches of empty storefronts as they are would be a far more unified and compelling expression than filling them up with arts and crafts.  What I do find interesting about Pop-Up Art Loop, an initiative of the Chicago Loop Alliance’s Foundation, is how it is a manifestation of urban renewal through the use of art. The “Creative Class” is a term commonly thrown around to speak of the grou... [more]

Nekocover Cat Noodles   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 6/28/10

I happened to be at the Borders Books that is adjacent to the Loyola University Museum of Art and came upon a comic I immediately bought. I haven't purchased a comic in at least five years, but the proud image of Taisho emblazoned on the cover of Neko Ramen caught my eye and was just the lighthearted laugh I needed at the end of a very taxing day. Neko Ramen is published by TOKYOPOP the foremost importer of Japanese manga. One of the unique features of TOKYOPOP titles is the manner of bi... [more]

003__04may An Usually Pictorial Representation . . .   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Group Show at Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) June 5th, 2010 - August 1st, 2010
Posted 6/28/10

“Pictures as transportation” is how artist Dan Gunn defines icons in his short text that appears in the elaborate handout for “New Icon.” [1] The reality of icons is that, like brand identities, they become autonomous from their authors. The iconographer is an anonymous artisan toiling away in a monastery or marketing firm, making an image they did not envision and an image whose quality is judged by its ability to stand seamlessly along side other representations of that image. Who came... [more]

Middlebrook-02 Used Parts   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Jason Middlebrook at moniquemeloche gallery May 22nd, 2010 - July 31st, 2010
Posted 5/31/10

        Approaching moniquemeloche gallery you first notice a clothes rack with random shirts and pants hanging on hangers out in front. As seen below left, the rickety wardrobe is festooned with a sign in sloppy handwriting that reads, “FREE CLOTHES”. The material contrast between this and the sleek, austere façade of building it’s parked in front of signals that it must be art, or at least be intentional in its placement. It has the look of something thrown together by a street vendor trying t... [more]

001__25may Little Ghost, Little Ghost, That I’m Scared of the Most   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Thomas Schütte at Donald Young Gallery May 21st, 2010 - July 3rd, 2010
Posted 5/31/10

Appropriately titled, Thomas Schütte’s “Kleine Geister,” “Small Spirits” or “Little Ghost,” at Donald Young Gallery(who recently moved from one of Chicago’s biggest spaces to one of its smallest) surveys small-scale work by one of Germany’s most prominent sculptors. Schütte’s small spirits are the little cousins of his “Grosse Geister” or Big Ghosts, like the group that has haunted the large platform at the entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, since 2004 (more specifica... [more]

53110monu2 Play With Your Cards Close to Your Chest   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 5/31/10

Saturday, May 29 was the closing reception for Tim Louis Graham and Diego Leclery’s “We” a minimal exhibition that presented two sparse but effective gestures and a grid of photographs that was not either. Graham created a dreamy environment in the space simply by inserting short extension cords into the sockets of the recessed lighting in the ceiling then connecting the light bulbs to them. The result was a moody warm glow akin to strings of lights by Félix González-Torres... [more]

Allaprima_1 After the Gold Rush   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 4/26/10

                        Golden Age is a “concept shop” established in 2007 by Marco Kane Braunschweiler and Martine Syms, originally in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Recently Golden Age relocated to the hallowed halls of the 119 N Peoria Building in the city’s West Loop Gallery District. The size is markedly smaller, but still on offer are dozens of publications, books, music, artist editions and basically anything related to art that leans toward alternative modes of production. Like t... [more]

Lewitt-530wdsm_2 The Process is Mechanical and Should Not Be Tampered With   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Sol LeWitt at Rhona Hoffman Gallery April 9th, 2010 - May 15th, 2010
Posted 4/26/10

          This exhibition is classic LeWitt. Consisting of massive wall pieces, a sculpture and two gouaches, the show functions as a concise look at LeWitt’s output. Entering the gallery from the street, the first piece encountered is Wall Drawing #469, 1986, a grid of four rectangles filled with arcs of primary colors. Beyond it, the main gallery is filled with eight more wall drawings, all variations on a “tilted form” and stretching from floor to ceiling. In a small nook is an iceberg-like... [more]

Pfaff_chicago2 Little Paper Flowers   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Judy Pfaff at David Weinberg Gallery April 16th, 2010 - May 29th, 2010
Posted 4/26/10

            When I arrived to view the Judy Pfaff exhibition at David Weinberg Gallery, the gallery was filled with frenetic hustle and bustle as staff prepared for the upcoming Art Chicago fair. This meant works were being re-arranged and crated up to head over to the Merchandise Mart. And while there was plenty of activity, I didn’t feel distracted or that the work of Pfaff’s that was on view was detracted. This is Pfaff’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and in Chicago. A surpri... [more]

Erik Wenzel:Visiting Artist Lecture & Workshop at Harold Washington College  
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4/9/10

Thursday, April 08, 2010 Lecture: 11am – 12 Noon, Room 1115, 11th floor Workshop: 12:30 – 3 pm, Room 829, 8th floor. Erik Wenzel received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2009 and his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. He is a Teaching Fellow in the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Arts. Wenzel’s recent exhibitions include: “[RE]-VIEW” curated by Maggie Taft and “Warm For Your Formalism”, both at DOVA temporary in Hyde Park; and “Belief... [more]

Doomsdyexterior Doomsday House   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 3/22/10

              The old mansion on Kimbark Avenue, just south of the Midway in Hyde Park  and seen above, has been used for a number of things over the years. It was once a community center where people from the neighborhood played ping-pong. But by far, it’s most interesting purpose was home of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Members of the Manhattan Project founded the Bulletin in 1945 after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was just a few blocks north, under a derelict footbal... [more]

Saunders2 Contact Print   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Matt Saunders at Renaissance Society February 28th, 2010 - April 11th, 2010
Posted 3/22/10

        It is tempting to discuss Matt Saunders’ work strictly in terms of the methodology that produces it. This is because the steps he takes to make a picture are so involved and complicated. And as they cross media, each step adds a layer and embeds content. Another condition that locates the discourse in this zone is the insistence of artist and his apologists alike that the sources of the images that he works with are, while important to Saunders, not essential to appreciating the w... [more]

Matisselg Color Me Rad   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Henri Matisse at The Art Institute of Chicago March 20th, 2010 - June 20th, 2010
Posted 3/22/10

“Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913 – 1917” at the Art Institute of Chicago centers around Bathers By A River (1909 – 17), a masterpiece painting in the museum’s collection. The show focuses on a period of five years in the artist’s life filled with experimentation and exploration of what he called the “methods of modern construction,” a phrase repeated ad infinitum throughout the exhibition’s wall texts. The dates of 1913 – 17 seem odd because the timeline of the exhibition begins with 1907... [more]

Bpcp Beard Papa   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 2/22/10

            I’ve recently discovered that the long delayed Block 37 mall is not only open, but has an amazing high-end pedway linking the Washington Blue Line and Red Line subway stops. Located as you exit the Blue Line station is the best confectionary secret in the city: Beard Papa. It is slickly designed with sliding corrugated glass doors, and done in a color scheme of deep yellow and dark blue. The happy grin of a grandfatherly Norse Santa-type character smiles out at you. Beard Pap... [more]

03-big Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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at DePaul Art Museum January 14th, 2010 - March 19th, 2010
Posted 2/22/10

    At the DePaul University Museum an interesting experiment in transparency is taking place. In the midst of a collection overhaul the museum has chosen to deal with the practice of deaccessioning head-on and in a frank, sometimes humorous, way. “Accessioning” is the process of acquiring a work of art for a museum’s collection; “deaccessioning” is getting rid of it. On view here are a slew of works in the museums collection that, after a two-year process, are finally headed out the door. The... [more]

Wk Studio Visits   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Group Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) February 6th, 2010 - May 30th, 2010
Posted 2/22/10

      “Production Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out” at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) along with the other exhibitions and events in the yearlong civic event is predicated on a cliché: the artist’s studio. This is as much acknowledged in the colorful photocopies pinned to the wall outside the exhibition. The timeline begins with the famous Rembrandt, The Painter in His Studio and ends with Maude from the Coen Brother’s The Big Lebowski. Why an exhibition, much less a citywide cele... [more]

Av1 Aggregatar   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 1/18/10

    Avatar is a pretty good movie. It has cutting-edge special effects, spectacular action and so on. However, all of its achievements should be listed with an asterisk that reads, “for now.” It’s the most technologically advanced, for now, it’s the fastest to earn a billion dollars, for now. It’s not really the first in anything. The special effects are presumably terrific, but to us commoners in our x-ray specs, it’s just an expensive computer animation for 13 and up as opposed to something... [more]

Grigely Do Not Upstage Professor Battcock   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Joseph Grigely at Rowley Kennerk Gallery December 11th, 2009 - January 30th, 2010
Posted 1/18/10

          “The Gregory Battcock Archive” seems simple enough, a presentation of documents from the late historian’s papers and effects. At first, it almost seems that artist Joseph Grigely has ceded his own exhibition to the scholarly presentation of the work of a historian and critic. This is the case, but what is experienced is more than the fruits of research. This kind of art can be off-putting or disinteresting to many. But I would hazard to say this is the type of experimentation and in... [more]

Minos1 Minotauromachy   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Daria Martin at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) October 3rd, 2009 - February 7th, 2010
Posted 1/18/10

        Daria Martin’s Minotaur (2008) is as much a fetishization of the stuff of film as it is a fetishization of the age-old tale of a monster that devours young maidens. The choice to work in 16mm film cannot go unnoticed. Even in the realm of film, as opposed to video, it sticks out-- with its roughly squarish shape and fuzzy, rounded edges when projected. Maybe this film stock is what gives it the distinct feel of a movie made by an auteur when they were still in film school. Maybe it is... [more]

1207091608a State of the Street   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 12/7/09

        Below the Sullivan Galleries of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is the corner of State & Madison, the 0,0 point on the city’s grid system. It might be hard to believe now, but from 1979 to 1996 State Street was closed to all traffic, save buses. Michigan Avenue opened in 1920 and the Magnificent Mile officially eclipsed State Street as the main thoroughfare for commerce and shopping by 1975 when the massive Water Tower Place opened. The city under Mayor Jane Byrne devised a... [more]

Ef15amarshall_cub_scout Primetime Gillick   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Liam Gillick at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) November 27th, 2009 - January 10th, 2010
Posted 12/7/09

        “The one hundred and sixty-third floor” is the final gambit in a series of skirmishes between  Gillick and the institutions at which he’s presented “Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario,” a mid-career survey of sorts.  Both exhibitions are on view in the halls on the main floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Gillick’s strategy at each venue has been to “gift” back a portion of the gallery space allocated to his exhibition to each institution, with mixed results.The MCA ha... [more]

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