Countercurrents at Art Chicago

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Digital Photo © Erik Peterson 2010
Countercurrents at Art Chicago
Curated by: Mimi Peterson

Merchandise Mart
Chicago, IL
April 29th, 2010 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Michigan Ave/Downtown
mixed-media, digital, installation, video-art, conceptual, landscape, surrealism, figurative, modern, traditional, sculpture


Art and design educator, art advocate, interior designer, textile designer, color consultant, painter, sculptor and curator, Mimi Peterson, presents Countercurrents. A showcase of 33 local sculptors running in tandem with the Mid-West's annual, international art extravaganza, Art Chicago 2010.

Mimi says, "While Art Chicago serves as our platform to raise public awareness of sculpture, it is the Chicago Sculpture International exhibition, Countercurrents, which hopes to engage other creatives in Chicago's debate concerned with a hybrid artistic culture. We present all aspects of CSI member artists, not just their physical work, but philosophy, material and conceptual innovations which oppose trends and ignore the 'isms' of history, 'to fly in the face of the wind'.

In spite of economic uncertainties, the exhibit is designed in the belief that it should be socially sensitive in its appeal to a wide audience in order to expand the notion of sculpture as an integral component of design and architecture and it's relevance to the esthetics of environment.

The presence of the outdoor work expresses a monumentality linked to it's Orleans Street urban environment. The outdoor site essentially presents itself as an island surrounded by concrete, an element that does not merely serve an ornamental purpose, but also serves to provide a sustainable form toward establishing the character of the exhibits theme.

The simplicity of our indoor Merchandise Mart exhibition means to embody elements of individual works on an intimate, human scale. They suggest moments of brightly colored 1980's ephemeral optimism, side-by-side with rusted, lost materials which narrate the demise of industry at the close of the 20th century. Other pieces are in search of new allegories, seemingly energized by 21st Century technology.

As curator, I hoped to create a sense of equity for the artist. More importantly, the event is a change of paradigm from the iconic gallery. As artist, the exhibition validates the transformation from my intangible concept to physical exhibition which means to expose the viewer to a tableau vivant entitled Countercurrents."

Mimi will be showing a wall-piece called "Bull's Eye" composed of found objects from both industry and nature which investigates the cause of youth violence in contemporary culture. Another stunning wall-piece is Nikki Renee Anderson's "Bulging Cherry #7" in which she continues to explore cultural stereotypes about beauty, feminity and desire in the medium of ceramics.

Other sophisticated, "feminist" statements include Victoria Fuller. "Shoe of Shoes" is a mammoth sculpture of a pump composed of several hundereds if not thousands of human-sized pumps in cast aluminum. Then there is the collaborative, multi-media installation "Little Black Dress" by Suzanne Cohan-Lange (sculpture), Sherry Antonini (sound) and Niki Nolan (video/new media) investigating middle class, female malais.These works juxtapose against the sleek, macho explorations of abstract form in metals and buffed exotic woods in works by Derrick Malkemus, Ron Gard, Bruce Niemi, Fred Klingelhofer, Terrence Karpowicz, Peter Gray and other local big boys.

"In the Dreams of Architenthidae" is newcomer Jason Hawk's dark, psychologically engaging work where sensibilities of Jules Verne meet Alexander McQueen in the realm of sculpture.

Like many of Mimi's curatorial endeavors, Countercurrents is an ecclectic collection promising to satisfy many tastes in art from traditional to conceptual. See you at the fair!

Erik Peterson, April 22, 2010


Since the above article was published yesterday, both Mimi Peterson and I have recieved many requests to clarify certain issues. Mimi is not the author of this post. I chose to mention and review a small selection of artists exhibiting in Countercurrents because their work stands apart  - in my personal opinion - as a reviewer.

Countercurrents has presented itself to the not-for-profit organization, Chicago Sculpture International ("CSI"), as a vehicle for it's members to exhibit as part of Art Chicago 2010 independently rather than via a gallery. This is the first time CSI is working with Art Chicago in it's present incarnation. Countercurrents is an exhibition of mixed-media, multi-media installation and sculpture divided into two sections: one interior and one exterior. The outdoor sculpture of elevan artists has already been installed and can be viewed on the east and west sides of Orleans Street north of the Chicago River adjacent to the Merchandise Mart only. All other sculpture placed on the exterior of the Merchandise Mart has been done so by other participants of Art Chicago 2010.   

Indoor sculpture is being exhibited by Countercurrents in the interior of the Merchandise Mart in Booth # 12-264 where twenty-two artists are scheduled to exhibit. There will be a powerpoint presentation featuring the work of fifty-seven national and international CSI members available for continuous viewing also in Booth # 12-264 throughout the duration of the fair.

Erik Peterson, April 23, 2010

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