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Western Exhibitions

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Now That's Fresh

by Abraham Ritchie
With two significant shows concurrently on view in Chicago at Hyde Park Art Center in addition to Western Exhibitions, it has been rewarding to watch the increasing interest in David Leggett's work over the last couple years. Undoubtedly the artist merits the attention and more; his unique style fuses his own idiosyncratic way of making art with distinct historical influences from Jean-Michel Basquiat to the Leipzig School to the Chicago Imagists, and pop culture figures like Rick Ross and the porn star Spring Thomas. Leggett's show at Western Exhibitions finds him openly taking on the challenge... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 2/20/12
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Snakin' Together

by Steve Ruiz
Dear Ryan,   I told my editor I would write a review of your show but I think we're too good of friends for that so here is a letter instead. Back when we were in school together you were the first to introduce the word "industry" when talking about art; and I remember you brought it out like some parking lot Matthew McConaughey-ism, something like, "Industry, man... industry,”  which was a lot better than what I’d been hearing, whatever that was. This was undergrad and I think most of us were too stuck on getting to aura through some cruel delusion of unique identity or formal experimentatio... [more]
Posted by Steve Ruiz on 11/7/11
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Read the Fine Print

by Abraham Ritchie
If you’ve been in a museum and seen someone sigh and move off quickly from a text-heavy or narrative-based artwork, then you probably understand the self-deprecating humor behind Western Exhibitions’ current group show, “People don’t like to read art.” Showing sixteen artists that incorporate text into their work, many of the artists seem to purposely resist the quick look common to museum visits or gallery hopping, forcing the viewer to spend some time with the work.  Some of the works require interaction, like turning pages, bringing one further into a sense of intimacy with the art.   ... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 7/11/11
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The Heavyweight

by Steve Ruiz
The language surrounding José Lerma’s practice rolls out like the first chapter of a starter book on fine art: Lerma’s work is about memory and painting, exhibition and childhood, media and the power of a visual experience, and truing the personal and the historical. The artist himself describes his work even more openly, as about “other art and his parents,” referencing context and history but not specifying why or where. While overly-broad, the conceptual structure the artist uses is far more traditional than ironic, and its lack of specificity makes a good explanation for why “The Lightweight” f... [more]
Posted by Steve Ruiz on 5/9/11
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The Inadvertent Chicago Biennial of 2011

by Abraham Ritchie
Western Exhibitions’ packed show “Heads on Poles” achieves almost inadvertently what most biennials regularly fail to do: gather together artists and artworks that can be seen as representing common artistic impulses under an interesting theme. Taking the title as the theme for the exhibition, the curators Paul Nudd and Scott Wolniak, Chicago-based artists themselves, gathered together over 60 artists who only received basic submission guidelines and then were free to create and interpret the theme however they wished.  Wolniak and Nudd anticipated and desired that the results would be uncontroll... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 2/7/11
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Negative Litanies

by Amelia Ishmael
Visitors must wade through a quirky sea of heads on poles before entering Western Exhibition’s side gallery where Terence Hannum’s “Negative Litanies” is on view.  Hannum’s exhibition is solemn in contrast. Yet, this trek through disembodied heads seems a fitting prelude for this Chicago-based artist and musician who has established a reputation for creating metal-inspired imagery of head-bangers, towering amplifiers, and ritualistic proceedings. His most recent endeavor here features five black and white paintings of such metal imagery, a year’s worth of artist books—one for each month of 2010, an... [more]
Posted by Amelia Ishmael on 2/8/11
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(Do) I Want to Believe (?)

by Abraham Ritchie
Lately I’ve been wondering if the artistic taste of most people is the result of a vast conspiracy.  The mastermind would of course be modernist formalism’s architect, Clement Greenberg, aided by his inner circle that includes Michael Fried, and abetted by the art academies spread all over the world.  The conspiracy aims to homogenize taste and effectively separate the various fields of artmaking in order to push each to their death. I’ve heard that painting is already dead, though the body has yet to be found. I’m being a bit facetious of course, but I sketched out that Glenn Beck-... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 11/22/10
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Beyond the Funny

by Abraham Ritchie
At the risk of ruining a perfectly good joke, I’m going to examine Joey Fauerso’s show at Western Exhibitions further.  It’s the last week to see this excellent show, as well as Ben Stone’s concurrent exhibition, both of which have stuck in my mind since seeing it on the opening weekend three weeks ago. Fauerso’s exhibition consists of three watercolors and two video pieces. The watercolors are delicate renderings of two nude men and one semi-nude man.  The heads of the nude men are obliterated by squares of color, which only leaves their body and genitalia exposed.  This kind of cropping th... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 10/4/10
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Humorous Blobs

by Marla Seidell
          Richard Hull's amoeba-like blobs beg the viewer to contemplate comedy and tragedy at the same time. Our postmodern, hi-tech culture means we live in the fast lane, which has its consequences, but that doesn't mean we can't laugh our way through the ride. The focus of the show is spatial reasoning with Hull contemplating the world around us. Is everything defined topographically, by a series of concentric circles without end? The tracked pathways of reverberating concentric pathways in Night and Day are whimsical yet serious (seen at top). The bright yellows and ric... [more]
Posted by Marla Seidell on 4/19/10
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Two Lions and a Bear

by Abraham Ritchie
        Some galleries use the winter holidays to take a month off of exhibiting, starting back up in mid- or late January, but not Western Exhibitions and Director Scott Speh.  “The Power of Selection, Pt. 1”opened January 2nd at Western Exhibitions and continues to February 6th. Curated by Ryan Travis Christian, “The Power of Selection, Pt. 1” is the first of three exhibitions aimed “to increase the circulation of contemporary artwork seen in Chicago by showing works by out of town and/or up-and-coming artists,” and indeed, aside from Michael T. Rea, all the artists on view are based in Los Angeles. ... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 1/4/10
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These Books Were Made for Walking

by Thea Liberty Nichols
This past Friday, the fall gallery season launched with a full rooster of openings. After spending four years in an industrial complex with a pocket of other galleries on Hubbard Street, and participating in openings as part of the West Town gallery network, Western Exhibitions has relocated to the West Loop Gallery District hotbed and its well-established hive of galleries. They inaugurated their new digs with Chicago resident Stan Shellabarger’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Having previously shown with his husband, Dutes Miller, at the gallery, Shellabarger and Miller most recently... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 9/8/08