Walking down California Avenue, I see a red carpet stretched out like a lapping tongue from Mvsevm’s front door. A mylar flag, ,Vidi,, [sic] by Brookhart Jonquil, is suspended from the second story window of the gallery and flaps in the wind with the hard crinkle of metalized nylon. Up the cattywampus stairs to the second floor and through the door, the first thing I notice in the gallery is a monitor flickering on the far side of the main room. Already, “Exhibition 7.06052010” has a pleasantly contemporary feel to it. This show is an articulation between the varied expressions of contemporary art, while finding responding to its site in one of the late 19th/early 20th century apartments that fill the neighborhoods of Humboldt Park. This kind of anachronistic presentation is characteristic of most apartment galleries in Chicago and just might be my favorite aspect of the scene. Artists and curators use the spaces they are given to push possible relationships between historical spaces and contemporary artwork.
I’ve been going to Mvsevm shows regularly for the last year. Their monthly exhibitions are always a treat amongst the apartment gallery scene that is so vital to young Chicago artists. Artist-run Mvsevm is representative of the kind of gritty setting that allows for the exhibition of new and emerging artists to display their work amongst a group of interested and supportive peers. Run by Bret Schneider, Jamie Keesling, both graduates from the School of the Art Institute Chicago’s Visual and Critical Studies undergraduate program, and Daniel G. Baird, a current MFA graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the curation of Mvsevm is always refreshingly eclectic. As their website states, “We implement a free-associative, automatic style of curating in hopes [of making] unexpected connections between seemingly diverse artists.”
“Exhibition 7.06052010” lives up to the trend at Mvsevm and is one of my favorite shows so far. Two sculptures by Omair Hussain, both entitled Untitled (2010), are squiggle-form sculptures made of sweatbox-bent wood that snake across the gallery floor and join the wall or floor like errant power cords. Ice Melt (2010) by Mark Beasley is the previously mentioned monitor that sits in the corner of the room. In competing entropies, a pixilated ice cube slowly melts on screen as the car battery that powers the monitor looses its juice. The blue chalk lines of Luke Willard’s Finding Center (2010) grids the walls into geometric vertices, making literal lines of connection between the installed works.
Fantastic heads by Rachel Niffenegger (all three Untitled, 2010, seen at right with Willard's Finding Center seen on pedestal) sit crestfallen on the floor, or proud and tall on a pedestal. Niffenegger has exhibited widely in Chicago and her tortured heads, reminiscent of a “Body Worlds”-like construction, don’t disappoint. Strips of hardened plastic and paper form the structure of the faces like trashy tendons.
C-prints by, respectively, Jes Takla and Scott Jarrett, are hung according to Willard’s geometric blue hegemony. I’ve seen Jarrett’s work around before and his concept is an interesting one. Each image is of a DIY impromptu sculpture constructed in alleyways of the city out of found detritus. Carson Fisk-Vittori’s print Deleted Scenes, 2009 lies half on the floor, a corner clinging to the wall, and is illuminated from behind. Prints of aerial cityscapes are plastered to the drywall with certain areas cut out of the picture and drywall, exposing the aged brick, cobwebs and dust behind the drywall itself, in 1954-1976, by Robert Andrade, seen below.
Available space gets used to its fullest at this gallery, always a refreshing turn when even after years of experimental curation, the white cube still dominates the scene. The space is manipulated by the art and becomes part of the art, not merely a nothingness for the art to exist within. Past meets present and future, complicating the possible meanings of art and the space it inhabits. Art, after all, does not exist within a vacuum.
At their current location, there is only one more show on the docket, scheduled for next month, so go check this one out, and the next one too, opening July 10th.
Mvsevm’s gallery hours are by appointment only. Contact the curators at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a viewing.
(all images used by permission)