Archive for January, 2009

Christa Donner, Re:Production. On view at Three Walls, through Feb. 14, 2009

January 16, 2009

Christa Donner with her work

Christa Donner draws and draws, on walls and in zines – even her animations are cut and pasted drawings.  Her intricate, obsessive, and simple graphic style animates the flat walls at Three Walls (116 N. Peoria St.). In case some of the works look familiar, versions of some of the drawings at Three Walls have appeared elsewhere, in New York City, Chicago, and Cleveland.

Yes, she draws vaginas and pregnant women, but this isn’t first-wave feminism. Donner researched the various ways he animal kingdom gives birth. An example of her research seen in this exhibition: a certain type of mite gives birth through their stomach, their offspring bursting through the stomach lining and out into the world. Gross, right?

From here, Donner anthropomorphizes the various ways animals give birth by drawing humans going through the same process, i.e. babies bursting out of fleshy stomachs.  Donner’s process of finding obscure information about reproduction and then substituting, say mites for humans, serves to demystify the pregnancy process.

Stereotypes still abound about pregnancy, from the idea that  it should be an entirely joyful process during month one through nine, to the idea that every woman will at some point want to be pregnant.  Showing how pregnancy really works in the rest of the world is one step to forging a dialogue about the still misunderstood topic of pregnancy.

When you go to Three Walls, remember to pick up a free mini-comic/zine by this creative documentarian.  In the comic, Donner illustrates her interviews with women about their reproductive organs. Just don’t expect anything typical.


Tank Traps and Hijackings, Old Gold, Jan. 9-Feb. 8, 2009

January 12, 2009

The best part about Old Gold is the bar permanently installed in this basement apartment. Seriously, the home brew beer at this exhibition, the “Viking brew” according to one of the Scandanavian-esque bartenders, was some of the best beer that I’ve had in a while.  Art openings are parties, therefore, I have every right and in fact, I have an obligation to discuss the type of beer they serve.

As an exhibition, the content of Shackleford’s sculptures and prints was dependent on place, dependent on the architecture of Old Gold and the people in it. By 9pm, Old Gold was crowded and the three sculptures became obstructions to people moving around, whether to look at the works, find the bathroom, or pet an adorable pug named Ruby who belongs to Kathryn, one of the co-0wners of Old Gold.  Throughout the night, people did end up walking into these wobbly, wooden sculptures. The experience invoked by these sculptures on this crowded night at Old Gold was vague. It was like listening to an inexperienced meteorologist who just tells you to “Watch out!” for bad weather, but not telling you what type of weather to expect.   I don’t want didactic art, but these gorgeous geometric sculptures merely told me to “Watch out!” for them while I wandered around to socialize,  an essential part of going to art openings.

“of or relating to the sky or visible heavens,” Western Exhibitions, Jan. 9-Feb. 14 <3 <3 <3

January 11, 2009
Carrie Gundersdorf

Carrie Gundersdorf

West Loop openings in January are bound to be unpopular. Last night, the weather wasn’t too bad–it was just snowy and the streets were covered with wet slush. Western Exhibitions usually holds two distinct openings, one taking place in the larger room, filled with windows, while the second exhibition space is smaller, about the size of a large closet or a small bedroom. It’s about the size of my own “cozy” bedroom.

The theme of this show is to be taken literally from the exhibition title, that it is about the “sky” and the more poetic version of the same word, “visible heavens.” Unfortunately, those works that depict the blue heavens with just this same literalness were the most banal.  I appreciate a simplicity that resonates with both aesthetics and the everyday, but the metaphoric gestures that artists including Carrie Gundersdorf, Shane Huffman, and Michelle Grabner used make the exhibition’s theme of the sky both an art phenomenon and an everyday spectacle.

Carrie Gundersdorf’s muted neon watercolor and colored pencil designs of the sky in her trio of works including Trails and space – yellow and blue, break down a possible landscape into symbols. Think of Color Field painters like Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis, or Helen Frankenthaler but with hard-edged, neon design.

Shane Huffman’s inkjet print Forevering, 2008, at first looks like an ethereal landscape taken by a NASA satellite. The materials used to construct the scene are anything but celestial, consisting of semen and menstrual blood.

Michelle Grabner’s corner work, Untitled Flock Drawing, 2009, hovers between drawing, painting, and sculpture. Made from rayon flock and spray adhesive, the fluffy white specks coating the corner of the gallery floated, creating a second, textural layer to the gallery walls. Although specks of the material were coming off the wall on the opening night, this work in process still suggested the process of its making (splattering, spraying) while mainting the quality of how it was made, splattered onto the wall.

Blogging is more difficult than it looks

January 11, 2009

If blogging was easier, I would update this blog more frequently. I’ve decided to experiment with format, so over the next few weeks, the style of entries will vary. Let me know which type of entries you find most useful.


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