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The Corporate Wasteland

ROLL at N.A.M.E. Installed in an alcove at N.A.M.E., Jin Lee’s simulated office space instantly flashes you back to every crappy white-collar job you’ve ever endured. As part of a four-person show called “Roll,” Lee’s pointedly austere re-creation critiques the dehumanizing effects of corporate culture. Aptly named Working Words, the scene features a series of […]

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Personal Quest

MARIA MARTINEZ-CANAS at the Catherine Edelman Gallery The last time I saw Maria Martinez-Canas’s work was in 1984. I had just begun my second semester at the School of the Art Institute, and Canas was about to wrap up her MFA in photography. A visiting instructor threw a party at his apartment, and Canas presented […]

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Is Dots All There Is?

MICHAEL BANICKI at the State of Illinois Art Gallery By painting charts that illustrate his own private rating systems, Michael Banicki emphasizes the subjective nature of all so-called objective forms of evaluation. At first glance, the visual repetition of Banicki’s charts makes this show seem bland and emotionless. We recall the boredom of looking through […]

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Sex, Death, Tomatoes

JEANNE DUNNING at Feigen, Inc. The look of Jeanne Dunning’s current show of Cibachrome photos is tres chic: visually simple, often dramatically lit images of body parts and peeled tomatoes presented in sleek, no-fuss frames. But unlike so much recent postmodern art, with its sterile mind games, Dunning’s current photos stir up a variety of […]

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Dominance and Subversion

OBJECT IDEA EVIDENCE at the Peter Miller Gallery A group show at a commercial gallery often functions as a sort of calendar filler: it hides the fact that the season’s high-voltage solo-exhibition schedule has been played out or contains a few gaps. Such group shows usually offer little to sink one’s teeth into. “Object Idea […]

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Warrington Colescott

WARRINGTON COLESCOTT at Perimeter Gallery Warrington Colescott is a California-based printmaker with a long and distinguished career. His current show of large watercolors and etchings at Perimeter Gallery displays a confident dexterity that only time and diligence can give an artist. But it’s Colescott’s subject matter that draws us in by greasing our mental gears. […]

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The Work of Art

TOM FRIEDMAN at the Rezac Gallery It must have taken Tom Friedman thousands of chews to meld individual pieces of Bazooka gum into the marble-smooth softball-sized sphere on display in a corner of the Rezac Gallery. This untitled piece paradoxically combines refinement and irreverence, surprising us with its use of a pop-culture substance to create […]

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Mystery of the Tower-Fish

VASILY KAFANOV at the Maya Polsky Gallery Vasily Kafanov’s oil-and-acrylic paintings on canvas at the Maya Polsky Gallery are instantly enchanting. With roots in both Russian Jewish culture and the carnival tradition, these works initially overwhelm the viewer with their whimsical figures and unique technical approach. But Kafanov employs only a few symbolic motifs throughout […]

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The Blasted Word

ADAM BROOKS at the Abel Joseph Gallery Big red letters spelling the word “LOVE” beckon from one wall of the gallery. They lead the gaze to a pair of binoculars clamped to the wall’s freestanding edge. The binoculars are aimed at a nearby window that looks out onto the Damen/North/Milwaukee intersection, now dark and desolate […]

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Made in Anger

EDGAR FRANCESCHI at Ratner Gallery During the intense turmoil of the 60s, cultural conventions burst as everyone suddenly began to “express” themselves. In the visual arts, rules of good taste were challenged and broken as the lively colors, patterns, and imagery of pop culture captivated the highbrow scene. Fast-forward to the eve of 1991. The […]

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Jane Hammond

JANE HAMMOND at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery New York painter Jane Hammond steals imagery from a variety of sources, from old medical journals to manuals on knot tying. But these days artworks based on appropriated imagery are ubiquitous, and what’s impressive about these vivid, bumpy-surfaced oils on linen is the way many of them flash with […]

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Peter Aspell

PETER ASPELL at Goldman-Kraft Gallery Canadian Peter Aspell’s paintings, inspired by the traditional iconography of ancient races, are magical and moving. Aspell, who was born in 1918, combines the virtuosity of a mature painter with the exuberant energy characteristic of youth. Striving to achieve variety as well as consistency, Aspell usually–but not always–develops his subject […]

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Life Forms

CHRIS SASSER at Feigen Incorporated I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet Chris Sasser’s oil paintings are the weirdest canvases now in Chicago. Sasser combines realist, expressionist, and abstract styles to produce biomorphic shapes that often resemble fleshy deep-sea creatures. His technical approach is interesting, but the real success of these […]

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Sacred and Sensual

THE BODY Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Church of the Epiphany, the Second Presbyterian Church, the Lake View Presbyterian Church, and Saint Vincent de Paul Church “The Body”–a series of installations at five Chicago churches–is flawed yet fascinating. Master-minded by Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio, this ambitious project is […]

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The Way We Work

ARISTOTLE GEORGIADES: POST-LEISURE at the Abel Joseph Gallery Fine craftsmanship and clearly focused content make “Aristotle Georgiades: Post-Leisure” one of the best gallery shows in town. Concerned with the shrinking role of the blue-collarworker, Georgiade’s mixed-media installations examine the past, present,and possible future of this troubled sector of the work force. These engaging pieces challenge […]