When I last visited the Chicago Artists’ Coalition, in April, Erik Peterson was planning to hang work linking the gallery’s West Loop neighborhood to its fast-vanishing economic base: meatpacking is giving way to haute art spaces and even hauter restaurants. Now Peterson is back again, with the same concerns. But this time he’s got allies. “Locality,” in which he shares billing with artists Barbara Blacharczyk, Angela Davis Fegan, Alexandra Lee, and curator Tempestt Hazel, makes Fulton Market its exclusive muse. A map pinpoints specific locations—like Economy Packing and Variety Meat Company—that inspired the art. Lee’s video installation Lux Aeterna juxtaposes laborers of the old Fulton Market with rapid-fire shots of Hillary Clinton in her role as America’s chief diplomat—commentary, perhaps, on globalization.
Peterson offers two slick, glowing signs saying FRESH and FROZEN. But his cleverest work, Fork Lick, has disappeared. The last thing to be frozen at Fulton Market Cold Storage, which has been sold for office and condo space, Fork Lick was a ten-foot Popsicle left to melt on the sidewalk on opening night.
“Locality” fits gorgeously with the other show up now at CAC. Jenny Kendler‘s “The Hall of Disappearing” is a different sort of meditation on changes that come with the passing of time. Kendler describes herself as a “wild-forager,” but at least some of the foraging she did here was in antique stores. Displayed under bell jars, painted porcelain birds and woodland-themed decorations are overgrown with moss and lichen, as if they’ve been so long abandoned that nature has stepped in to reclaim them. Nature reasserts itself more showstoppingly in Therianthropy, an installation featuring a common camping tent with a pair of gold-flecked boots sitting by the entrance. The gold is meant to suggest “an approach through holy ground.” Still, it’s hard not to read the tent, with its thick fur inner lining, as less hallowed than elemental. Womblike, in fact. And indeed, visitors are invited to climb in, take off their clothes, and really get back to nature.