Steve Ruiz

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Tim Nickodemus: Megatheria   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Tim Nickodemus at Alderman Exhibitions March 24th, 2012 - April 23rd, 2012
Posted 4/17/12
Tim Nickodemus' exhibition at Alderman Exhibitions, titled , has put me in a bind. I enjoyed the show despite itself. This is perhaps the ultimate admission of arbitrary criticality, but run with me: I want to write about it (and here I am) not because any of the paintings held particular resonance as great art objects, but rather because of how they engaged my attention as a viewer. A standard move in art is to elevate a common observation to the level of high consideration, framing this... [more]
I Give You All   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Cathy Wilkes at Renaissance Society January 22nd, 2012 - March 4th, 2012
Posted 1/30/12
         Walking into the Renaissance Society, my eyes bulge and I don’t know what breaks my heart more:  the crushed figures wrapped in plastic at the foot of a mannequin draped in rags, leaning on impersonal machinery, its head trapped in a birdcage and painted with debris; bowls and dishes caked with dried out food, the empty vessels of domestic care, unclean, uncared for, color coded in tragic narratives; or the horse shoes, icons of domestic production, sharpened into symbols of... [more]
Assumption of Black Metal   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Terence Hannum at Chicago Cultural Center October 8th, 2011 - December 28th, 2011
Posted 1/2/12
For a global population recently re-introduced to several billion relatives we haven’t seen for tens of thousands of generations, the problems of structural divergence in communication, science, history, social, and economics appears to be a big deal or something. This is an entirely new problem, of course, but thankfully we’ve been here before.  Two exhibitions ran concurrently with Terrence Hannum’s “Amidst Our Throng” at the Chicago Cultural Center, all now closed. I’ll start with the two... [more]
Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas!   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
MATIAS at Alderman Exhibitions November 4th, 2011 - December 23rd, 2011
Posted 12/19/11
Editor's Note: As signaled by the first word in this essay, what follows is a creative exercise by the author, artist and critic Steve Ruiz. As the author says about the following work, "It's a story about the objects. I think the work [by Matias] suggested narrative."     1. Imagine a young Matias Cuevas at home, sitting cross-legged on the carpet, an iron to his left, a glass of Kool-Aid to his right. There is a painting in his head, and it’s beautiful, but there are rules about carpets... [more]
When the Wall Fell   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Janeil Engelstad, Grafixpol, Oto Hudec, Tehnica Schweiz, Magda Stanová, Miklós Surányi, Matej Vakula at Threewalls October 28th, 2011 - December 10th, 2011
Posted 11/28/11
Threewalls is no stranger to openness, social discourse, and politicial proposals. The exhibition space and organization behind it is founded on the first principle (there is no fourth wall), practices the second (as a non-profit organization with a democratic curatorial position), and ends up with the third, showing exhibitions such as "Voices from the Center," a narrative history of life under socialist government. However, as threewalls and other galleries and museums take the self-reflexive... [more]
Snakin' Together   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Ryan Travis Christian at Western Exhibitions October 21st, 2011 - December 3rd, 2011
Posted 11/7/11
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... [more]
MDW, Part II   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 10/26/11
Last weekend was the second iteration of the MDW Fair, an independent visual arts fair located at the Geolofts building in the industrial district west of Bridgeport. Despite this being the second round for MDW, and only a few months after the first iteration, the fair’s legacy is about only seven months old and still in flux, so a quick history may be useful: In early 2011, the city of Chicago was experiencing a particularly Chicago-style problem: its emerging, independent artists and... [more]
Actual Presence Suggested   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Dave A. Murray, Letha Wilson at LVL3 Gallery August 27th, 2011 - September 18th, 2011
Posted 8/29/11
The separation of image and content is a fundamental tenet of contemporary art, illustrated with work as various as illusionistic trompe l’oeil painting, architectural ornamentation, and the annual harvest of anodized bananas produced by art students across the country. Artists have had at least fifty years to take advantage of the no-touching rule in the gallery or museum space, using a good fake to drive conversations on representative ethics, material use, institutional barriers, and art... [more]
Infinite Tundra   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Holly Murkerson at Julius Cæsar July 31st, 2011 - August 28th, 2011
Posted 8/8/11
Holly Murkerson's "Landlocked Blue" imagines the mid-stroke practice of authorship as a landscape of possibilities, or as an ocean of thought, and describes these expansive ideas through a surprising spatial depth. Julius Caesar's gallery space is well-known for its exhibitions of emerging artists, many of whom occupy studio spaces in the same building, as well as for its relative distance off of the beaten tracks in East Garfield Park. While following the traditions of a white-cube gallery, it... [more]
The Post Family's Personal Collection   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) July 8th, 2011 - August 6th, 2011
Posted 7/18/11
When you do as much as the Post Family does, the ephemera is bound to pile up. In the latest exhibition at Pilsen’s Chicago Urban Art Society, directors Peter Kepha and Lauren M. Pacheco invited the seven-man design collective to pillage drawers, closets, flat files, glove compartments, closets, desks, and shoeboxes for an exhibition of personal collections. Though not surprising for a show built by professional designers, “Collections” is a remarkably well-put together show. The presentation... [more]
Production Values   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Samantha Bittman, Michael Milano, Hans Peter Sundquist at Threewalls July 1st, 2011 - July 30th, 2011
Posted 7/4/11
Minimal and post-minimal painting has had something of a resurgence in the last few years. Many of Chicago’s artists are participating in it from various angles, enough that an exhibition was inevitable. I had been anticipating threewalls’ “Either/Or/Both” as a look at the those artists working between hand-made and automatic production. The exhibition provided a solid variety of these works demonstrating the spaces between geometry and intuition, pattern and expression, and planning and... [more]
In an unexpected turn, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has won the broad approval of Chicago’s artists by the recent announcement that it will be revamping the oft-derided UBS 12x12 series into something  worth paying attention to. As part of the Museum’s larger plan to focus and shuffle its programming, the monthly exhibition of local and emerging contemporary artists will be replaced by a quarterly exhibition of the same, trading inclusivity for exclusivity, and variety for... [more]
Curation as Art as Medium, Again   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Joan of Arc, Blue Ribbon Glee Club, Aleks and the Drummer., Ken Fandell, Paint FX, Mahjongg, Rachel Mason, Industry of the Ordinary, Thank You Rosekind, Jan Tichy, Wendy White at Co-Prosperity Sphere June 17th, 2011 - July 2nd, 2011
Posted 6/27/11
For being an exhibition themed around motivation and perseverance, I left feeling down from “Hang In There,” a show currently on view at Bridgeport’s Co-Prosperity Sphere and curated by photographer and conceptual artist Jason Lazarus. While I trust that Lazarus’ own motivations were in the right place, the show itself hung as an explosion of labor and positivity toward no discernible end. Here were forty-five artists exhibiting works of all sorts, each expressing or reflecting their own... [more]
- Rachel Niffenegger made a name for herself in the late twenty aughts painting beaten up, violently rendered heads in grey and pink inks and oranges on paper. Since then, she’s entered Northwestern’s Masters of Fine Arts Program and has brought her figuration off the page and into space, while smoothly strengthening her work’s connection to Chicago’s history of painting people with body problems. For Niffenegger, those problems can be pretty severe, even severed - dead and crispy, but... [more]
The Heavyweight   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
José Lerma at Western Exhibitions April 8th, 2011 - May 14th, 2011
Posted 5/9/11
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... [more]
Though this year’s Art Chicago and NEXT fairs at the Merchandise Mart presented a wide range of styles and kinds of artwork, it was hard not to draw connections and point out trends within the fairs’ variety. After spending the weekend browsing booths and collecting cards, three themes in particular stood out for 2011. Street Art The most salient trend at the 2011 Art Chicago and NEXT fairs had to do with artists sourcing the style and designs of street art in their work. The organizers of... [more]
After only a few months of preparation, last weekend saw the idea of the MDW Fair come to pass: an excellent art fair, full of flaws and promise. MDW is the brainchild of Edward Marszewski, Director and Executive Curator of the Public Media Institute (PMI), and Aron Gent, artist and PMI Exhibition Associate, two individuals best known for their longtime collaboration within the alternative culture network headquartered at Bridgeport’s Co-Prosperity Sphere. The list of the various productions... [more]
The Inadvertent Chicago Biennial of 2011   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Mike Andrews, Ali Bailey, Nick Black, Daniel Bruttig, Andrew Burkholder, Lilli Carré, Joseph Cassan, Mariano Chavez, Ryan Travis Christian, Vincent Como, Bruce Conkle, Jean-Louis Costes, Anne Van der Linden, Vincent Dermody, Mike Diana, Edie Fake, Scott Fife, R.E.H. Gordon, Edith Sloat & Sophie Greenstalk, John Hankiewicz, Keith Herzik, Carol Jackson, Bob Jones (Chicago), Chris Kerr, Jason Robert Bell & Marni Kotak, David Leggett, Mike Lopez, Teena McClelland, Dutes Miller, Joe Miller, Andy Moore, Max Morris, Rachel Niffenegger, Onsmith, William J. O’Brien, David Paleo, JOHN PAROT, Michael Rea, Tyson Reeder, Dan Rhodehamel, Bruno Richard, John Riepenhoff, Kristen Romaniszak, Steve Ruiz, David Sandlin, Mike Schuh, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Miller & Shellabarger, David Shrigley, Edra Soto, Ryan Standfest, William Staples, Ben Stone, Bill Thelen, Jeremy Tinder, Sean Townley, Jim Trainor, Jason Villegas, Sarah Beth Woods, Aaron Wrinkle at Western Exhibitions January 14th, 2011 - February 19th, 2011
Posted 2/7/11
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... [more]
12 Galleries' Registers at LVL3   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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... [more]
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