Chicago’s artistic landscape is a winding path with many stops along the way. From well-known galleries on Michigan Avenue and River North, to the cutting edge spaces in the West Loop, the city offers a variety of venues for art. Over the past decade some of the lesser known artistic communities have become a hotbed for alternative project spaces that lend a helping hand to struggling artists and gallerists alike. You may find art hanging on the walls of a favorite restaurant or coffee house, or stumble upon paintings for sale in a trendy boutique, but the most unique and innovative approach is that of the apartment gallery. Aptly termed, apartment galleries are usually run by artists or individuals who are already integrated into the art community. These entrepreneurs have the ambition and know-how, minus the bank-roll of an established dealer. The spaces are the literal definition of the name: a venue to exhibit art and it just so happens that someone sleeps there at night. In today’s economic landscape, the apartment gallery proves a decent business model. Beside the fact that the director is able to channel their passion for art into a side gig, there is little to no overhead, rent is affordable, and they are the boss. Although the art on the walls may differ from flat to flat, the dedication of the, often young, owners is consistent.
Backroom/Bathroom at Ebersb9
Ebersb9, the nearly new apartment gallery in West Town follows in this tradition. Directors Sara Ebers and Dominic Paul Moore provide an open forum for emerging artists and the community. The space is humble (a studio apartment), but the exhibitions pack a significant punch. “Control V, Control C” opened on July 17th and will run until August 15th, and is the third show for the young gallery. Curated by an artist, independent curator and contributor to fecalface.com, Ryan Travis Christian, the exhibition gives an in depth view into the literal and conceptual themes of collage. The exhibit consists of work from eight artists outside of the Chicago area, many of whom can be found on the San Francisco-based art and culture website and gallery, Fecal Face.
Hisham Akira Bharoocha, All That Baggage, collage on paper, 6 1/2 x 10 inches.Courtesy of Eberb9.
Working in various media, the artists delve into a critique of collage, and in many ways re-invent the concepts of assemblage. The ten works on display create a coherent argument that defends and challenges the traditional methods of the medium. Each work should be examined in the same painstaking manner that it took to create. Bearded Asterisk by Eric Yahnker (seen at right), carries the theme of collage in the digital age. Yahnker presents the optical illusion of overlapping portraits that appear to be a photo shopped creation, but in actuality were crafted by hand, rendered only with graphite on paper. Bjorn Copeland layers imagery and sound in Kokomo, a video installation that hypnotizes with fantastical visions and reverberations of pop culture (seen below). Hisham Akira Bharoocha and Hilary Pecis work in the more established practice of collage. Found images, photos, paint and paper reflect the inundated nature of society. The small, but impressive works illustrate an urge overkill of visual art and pop culture.
Bjorn Copeland, Kokomo, video still. Courtesy of Ebersb9.
Latex interior paint will never seem the same when viewing Loomy Tombs by Matt Irie (seen below). The artist’s grid-like creations are a vortex of precision and calculation, but his process is indiscernible. Luckily, Director Ebers revealed Irie’s inventive approach: dried drips of the paint, removed from the can and meticulously layered and overlapped into the final composition. The departure from traditional two-dimensional technique is a refreshing surprise and a must see of “Control C, Control V”.
Matt Irie, Loomy Tombs, interior latex paint on panel, 22 x 23 inches. Courtesy of Eberb9.
The gallery simply states that the exhibition is “is a modern cut and copy”. The survey of work by young artists is a celebration, declaration and exploration of a medium that has its roots innovation of art in the 20th Century. “Control C, Control V” is apropos for the space in which it inhabits. The theme of taking something small to create a big impact seems to be the goal of Ebersb9.
--Robyn Farrell Roulo
(Top right, Alexis Mackenzie, Dust, collage on paper, 11 x 13 inches. © Courtesy of Ebersb9. Above right: Eric Yahnker, Bearded Asterisk, graphite on paper, 25 1/2 x 38 inches.Courtesy of Ebersb9.)