Present Standard
— Chicago Cultural Center

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Perhaps its because I haven’t seen art in a while, or perhaps it’s my ever present love of minimalism but I thought this show at the Chicago Cultural Center was pretty good.  There were definitely a few pieces in there that I enjoyed, made me think or were just plain intriguing.

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For example there was a thought-provoking piece with just a microphone repeatedly hitting the wall, that recalled the best of 60’s and 70’s minimalists, that I really liked.

Although one of my favorite pieces I saw wasn’t even part of the show, it’s part of the recently closed Chicago Architecture Biennial, called Chicago: How Do You See?  Norman Kelley covered each of the windows of the CCC mimicking a different style of window treatment.  It’s very simple but I really appreciated the site-specific nature of the piece. (If you think I am a sucker for minimalism, you should see my love of site-specific work, and I go wild for work that combines both!)

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The Cultural Center is a hidden gem.  Whenever I am in the area I always make it a point to check out whatever shows happen to be there and I always pleasantly surprised, their curatorial decisions are above average for sure.

Present Standard features work by Alberto Aguilar, Candida Alvarez, Luis Miguel Bendaña, Paola Cabal, Juan Angel Chavez, Mariano Chavez, Alejandro Figueredo Díaz-Perera, Dianna Frid, Diana Gabriel, Maria Gaspar, Melissa Leandro, José Lerma, Ivan LOZANO, Jorge Lucero, Victoria Martinez, Harold Mendez, Sofia Moreno, Nora Nieves, Josué Pellot, Maddie Reyna, Luis Romero, Luis Sahagun, Chris Silva, Edra Soto and Rafael E. Vera.

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

John Franzen (not the Author)

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John Franzen has really created something unique here. In this collection from the EACH LINE ONE BREATH each piece creates a beautiful reflection of the complexities of nature through pursuit of pure minimalism. Really great idea and really great execution.

The above images are just the reflection in one medium, blackened copper, but he also has versions of this series in other mediums, the rest of his work, the other series, are equally arresting. See his full portfolio at John Franzen

David DiMichele

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Wow what an awesome installation! that is just cool!

Except that isn’t an installation, that’s not even the art. This is: david_dimichele_lightrods_pseudodocumentation

huh? what? Yeah the LightJet Print is the art. The photo and the print are the real art. There is no installation and there never was, well not life-size anyway.

It’s all part of a series of work by artist David DiMichele called Pseudodocumentation. At first I felt a little cheated, but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate and enjoy this pseudo art. In this day and age I experience most installation art exactly as above, as an image not an experience. These pseudo installation pieces serve to underscore exactly that point, and the more I meditate on them the more I like them.

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I mean if they were real they would be awesome, but even as mockups they are engaging and as an added bonus they remind me of set-design models I used to make and play with so its a nostalgia/conceptual art win win.

Please make sure to check out all the “installation pieces” at his website.

Paweł Althamer

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I just love the instantly performative space a sculpture of the human body presents. It’s like an instant empathy machine. If not a mind connection, at the very least a body connection is formed. You can’t help but try to mimic the pose and state of the form you are presented with.

Althamer here subverts that instinct a little and I love it. You’re presented with a void where a body should be, a skeletal / zombie / mummy like experience mixed with the invisible man. Just enough to give a hint of the human form that should add corporality but is strangely absent yet wholly defined. That, paired with the extremely lifelike casts of the most expressive part of the human body just creates something perfectly disturbing and uncanny.

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And yet this series is just one of a diverse, varied and long art practice that is Paweł Althamer.

Vanderlei Lopes

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A lot of more conceptual art suffers in the materials department, the focus is more on the concept, and while pains are usually taken in the execution the materials are usually simple crude everyday and sometimes lack the texture and weightiness of a more studied form-focused piece. Not so with Vanderlei Lopes – I just love what he is doing here. The pieces are arresting, concept aware, but the focus is on the materials – maybe not even the focus but the texture and weightiness of more traditional sculpture is very much there. Beautiful and arresting to look at.

The pieces I chose are both cast in bronze with patina but his works in polished bronze are also beautiful – please take a moment to explore all of his work.

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Fallen Astronaut

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I had no idea there was any art on the moon, I was thrilled to find out about Fallen Astronaut. I guess you could almost call it a site-specific installation, but it certainly is an open air gallery with a fine piece of commemorative minimal sculpture – remembering all those who have died in service of this cause. It seems a poignant and touching tribute, and a very exciting discovery for me. There is some controversy surrounding the art – but it’s exciting to think of a piece of art in the far reaches of the cosmos.

Mayumi Terada

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Beautiful, minimal, haunting photographs by Mayumi Terada that are actually not what the appear – they are mintature dollhouse sized diorama sculptures photographed. See all of her work at James Hyman Gallery.

Erwin Redl

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I love things in the vein of “The Digital Made Real.” Erwin Redl, is an Austrian born Ohio based artist who pushes the lowly LED to amazing and beautiful extremes. Explore the full portfolio at his website.