What is the Message
The Brilliant Influence of Deborah Boardman: a Collective Survey
Curated by Jessica Cochran
January 29 - March 13, 2016
Works by: Deborah Boardman, Howard Fonda, Jackie Kazarian, Sabina Ott, Diane Christiansen, Ryan Richey, Jin Lee, Jeroen Nelemens, Ellen Rothenberg, Dianna Frid, Laurie Palmer, Paola Cabal, Jackie Kazarian, Wendy Mason, Edra Soto, Barbara Koenan and Dan Sullivan
Year-by-year, Boardman (1958 - 2015) recorded her experiences in drawings and journals, exploring the dimensions of the artist’s daily life and dream life through depictions of her studio, family, friends and introspective free writing. Painted blue text on the last page in her notebook dated August 2015 sums it up powerfully: “What is the message – How can I share it with others?”
A collective survey of the work of Deborah Boardman as chosen by other artists, this exhibition will consider her career through a selection of works specifically assembled for the Heaven Gallery spaces. Featuring her work alongside that of her friends and peers, It is an important first consideration of Boardman’s work to date, and through it, we can only begin to understand the genesis of her creativity over three decades.
The crux of the exhibition is that it locates her work within her broader milieu as she defined it prior to her passing. How does an artists’ work emerge from the social fabric that is an art community? Perhaps this constellation of works will reveal some ways that her artistic goals, values and ideas were punctuated and shaped by those in her orbit; and in turn we will begin to map the ways that she was a catalyst in the creative production of others. Through artwork, we will visualize a community.
In a career spanning nearly 30 years, artist Deborah Boardman developed bodies of work across painting and drawing, installation, writing, environmental sustainability projects and sound/video. An educator, she influenced hundreds of artists, some of whom became her collaborators. Through it all, she has become especially known for her singular approach to color and pattern as a vehicle for emotional content and narrative potential, as well a uniquely gestural approach to mark making and hand lettering. As critic Lori Waxman wrote, her recent work has grappled with the unseen and ineffable, articulating “what life looks like in that gracious limbo between life and death.”
Work By: Assaf Evron, Robert Burnier, Sarah Mosk, Josue Pellot, Todd Mattei, Ron Ewert, Vae Lee, Christopher Ottinger, Sarah and Joseph Belknap, Kevin Buzzell and Jason Knight
Many towns in American have what is known as a “Dead Man’s Curve” —a fatal stretch of bent road. These perilous trajectories can also be wildly thrilling. “You won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve,” warns the chorus of a 1960’s drag racing song by Jan and Dean. The saying “live fast and die young and leave a good looking corpse” became a part of pop culture through the film Knock at Any Door (1949). Similar expression can be found in the works of Nietzsche who believed in deliberately living dangerously and dying young.
No one embodied this archetype better than James Dean. A month after his infamous car crash his film Rebel Without a Cause opened to packed theaters. After only three films Dean became a symbol for rebellion and narcissism. Andy Warhol said it best: “He’s not our hero because he was perfect, but because he perfectly represented the damaged, but beautiful soul of his time.” In music this theme appears both in rock & roll and in hip hop. Rappers are immortalized for dying early and being gangster. Rockers, like Morison, Joplin, and Cobain, became part of the “27 Club” for the age they died at; mostly from drugs.
Risk taking and narcissism have become synonymous with the new YOLO (You Only Live Once) mentality. Climate change has produced apocalyptic pop and has fully revived the nihilistic “live fast, die young” mantra. The message is that we should party cause the world is going to end anyway. YOLO can be seen as a more hedonistic version of “carpe diem”, which is Latin for “pluck the day as it is ripe”. This philosophy goes back to ancient Greece where people never had the notion of a “human being”, but rather of “mortals and immortals”. If you dig deep enough you can find this mindset as early as 6th century B.C. in the teachings of Lao Tzu. “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”
60 years after James Dean’s death his crash site remains an altar littered with cigarettes, beers, and bras. Dead Man’s Curve is a metaphor for living in reckless abandon. This glamorized death show investigates what it means to live dangerously, to tempt fate, and to die beautiful.
Everyone knows and everyone knows that everyone knows and everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows and so on.
Anaïs Daly executes an adept kind of continuity drift, one in which what we know and what we are given to know at the beginning is unclear at the end. In a series of mixed media paintings she provides the substrate for formal language, with meaning grounded in symbols drawn from the history of painting. Anaïs builds upon this base with an inquisitive structure that puts those foundational symbols together in a manner that causes their meaning to begin to unravel, making it difficult for each to contain its full sense and context. Anaïs picks apart syntax by pulling together a web of fragmented representations; the body, the land, the hand, the beast, the column. What is formally familiar in these works acts to obfuscate meaning, which has been manipulated by Anaïs in the process of developing a method for using language to do more than describe the world. Under her direction description is agile and compositions comprised of many parts confront the limitations of ever becoming a whole.
Andrew Barco begins with a misunderstanding, and moves forward from the site of the error without attempting to resolve what has been misunderstood. Drawing from common knowledge and operating as an authority through the use of academic voice, Barco takes advantage of the conceptual disorder instigated by a polysemantic relationship. From this point he constructs objects in response to a world defined by an unstable history and fortified by his misinterpretation. In this instance two mechanical objects that exemplify the word drone become one—a Predator Drone and a Hurdy-gurdy. The resultant machine is a drone that drones. Barco uses the structure of a Predator drone, the design and purpose of which is remote operation that allows distance between the user and the execution of actual violence. Inside this structure is the mechanism of a Hurdy-gurdy, an instrument that requires the expertise of a present operator to make an ancient sound. This object created from his misinterpretation gives an opportunity to consider the history and application of both objects on a new scale.
Anaïs Daly is an artist, mother and teacher living and working in Chicago. She is a recent recipient of a teaching fellowship at the University of Chicago, A 7 week residency at the Banff Centre and a residency at Acre, Chicago. Her work has or will appeared at Heaven, Chicago, IL, The Hills Esthetic Center, Chicago, IL, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada, The Chicago Exposition 2014, The Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, IL, Dova Temporary, Chicago, IL, Johalla Projects, Chicago, IL among other Chicago locations. Her work has also shown nationally in multiple venues in New York, Miami, Boston, and Atlanta.
Andrew Barco is an object, installation and performance maker based in Chicago, Illinois. His work is concerned with the often strange and improbable ways ideas and habits can be transmitted across cultural landscapes and through time. With an MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Andrew’s work uses craft and industrial histories, quirky and edgy relational gestures, and philosophical inquiry to create affective and thoughtful encounters. His work has been featured in group exhibitions in Durham NC, Baltimore MD, Hartford, CT, and Chicago, IL, New Orleans, LA. Solo exhibitions include: “Imminence: A Life” at Threewalls, in Chicago, IL (2014), “Oblique Negotiations” at the Fivesevendell Project Space in Boston, MA (2010) and “Passion for the Real” at West Village and “Sonnets to Orpheous” at Transom Gallery in Durham, NC (2007).
Kate Bowen is an artist, curator, and teacher living and working in Chicago. She is the Video Programming Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography and Exhibitions Director for ACRE. She is a lecturer at the Illinois Institute of Art and a Teaching Artist with Picture Me and After School Matters. She received her MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2011.
ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) is a volunteer-run non-profit based in Chicago devoted to employing various systems of support for emerging artists and to creating a generative community of cultural producers. ACRE investigates and institutes models designed to help artists develop, present, and discuss their practices by providing forums for idea exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experimental projects.
September 11 - October 18, 2015
Opening Reception: 7-11pm, Friday September 11th.
"The sky above the port was the color of television tuned to a dead station."
-William Gibson, first line of Neuromancer
We never see the natural world exactly as it is; we see it as we hope it will be or fear it might be. Chrome Green features contemporary artists who engage with nature and explores how different minds experience and relate to their natural environment in an era of technological wonders and ecological anxiety.
Chrome Green is curated by James Kao and Laura Mackin and features the following artists:
ANDREW CHUANI-HO’s color pencil drawings depict everyday scenes populated with anthropomorphized animals. A blue dog dressed in a No. 33 Knicks jersey, a disguised depiction of the artist, plays protagonist. Chuani-Ho uses this dog as self-portrait to portray human identity through a symbolic and animalistic lens.
SHAWN DECKER's electro-acoustic audio installation recreates naturalistic sounds with electronic equipment. Speakers and metal rods vibrate with sounds that make visual a familiar, natural environment and immerse his audience in an illusion of peaceful nature—one that is both observed and felt.
PAMELA FELDMAN produces natural dyes from plants and fixes the otherwise ephemeral, natural colorants to woolen yarn. Feldman weaves her colors together on a loom in her studio that overlooks her garden of dye plants. “For me,” Feldman says, “the art of making color and the process of weaving with those colors represent a record of my existence.”
HOWARD FONDA's paintings explore the experience of nature with emotional intensity. In Fonda’s abstract paintings, clump-like arrangements of color suggest forest landscapes that hover at the edge of formlessness.
In JO HORMUTH’s multi-panel color installations, each monochrome photograph represents a small section of a plant, distilling the natural color. Light refracting through face-mounted acrylic produces a gem-like glow.
ISABELLA KENDRICK appropriates images of cows from cattle catalogs, where the vernacular photography captures each animal with precise uniformity. Kendrick composes groupings of these images in systematic sequences that suggest a framework of meaning and sense-making that liberates the cows from their context as commodity.
LILLY MCELROY’s photographs and videos investigate our instinct to control. With a sense of playfulness, McElroy enacts fantasies of control over natural phenomenon. In Pushing Down a Sapling, a dual video, McElroy violently hurls herself at a tree until she and her inert opponent are both visibly damaged.
DAVID ROBBINS produces videos that, unlike most television, put visuals ahead of story. In The County Line (2011/2015), Robbins animates musing conversations from a camping trip, in a video that blends recorded footage with images and text. Another series of videos appropriates the format of public service announcements to alert us to aspects of our constructed reality. These short and punchy videos question cultural precepts about the imagination, the garden, the avant garde, and the suburbs.
Questions about the nature of knowledge and observation form a continuous undercurrent in NATHANIEL ROBINSON’s work. Repose (2015), a cast resin sculpture resembling an architectural model, depicts a simple building beside two piles of a granular substance, similar to dirt. The title alludes to the angle of repose theory, a method for calculating the shape a pile of granular material will assume depending on its density, surface area, and friction. The pile’s form is dictated by its nature.
CLAIRE SHERMAN makes large-scale landscape paintings of unoccupied nature that express its sublime and fearsome beauty. Sherman’s Dirt paintings suggest claustrophobic views of a tumultuous natural world. The paintings’ weighty materiality and poverty of color evoke a sense of brooding dread.
Document and Heaven Gallery are pleased to present Works on Floor, a group exhibition by artists Laura Letinsky, Nazafarin Lotfi and Suara Welitoff. The artworks in Works on Floor focus on themes of time, death, and the body, and its influence on sculptural and video based works. The term “Lay to rest” evokes a stoppage of that unknown time, a burying of an object, a thing eventually brought to a close.
The works in the exhibition consist of handmade white porcelain urns (Letinksy), neutral paper-mache forms (Lofti) and looping black and white appropriated clips of vintage films (Welitoff). The absence of color in the exhibition heightens the sparse installation and lends itself to a fading or fleeting image that occurs over a duration. The title of the exhibition plays on the term “Works on Paper” usually referring to drawings, watercolors, prints, posters, or photographs which are generally seen as less significant works in relation to painting and sculpture.
In metaphorically removing the wall and placing works on the gallery floor, can ceramic, paper, and film hold a relationship that normally is seen as very separate?
The exhibition consists of six parallel 4’x8’ white wood panels laid directly on the floor of the gallery acting as blank frames for the works to lay and create minimal dioramas.
The floor panels are split into two groups of three, half in the east gallery and half in the west gallery and run perpendicular to the diagonal wall that separates the two spaces. Taking works that are normally hung on a wall or propped up on a waist high pedestal and laying them to rest on the floor allows the wall works and pedestal works to lay, lean, and interact in a way that normally would be separated by the gallery space itself.
Laura Letinsky (Canadian, b. 1962) received her BFA from the University of Manitoba, 1986, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art, 1991. Previous shows include the Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; Ill Form and Void Full, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Photographers Gallery, London; Laura Letinsky: Still Life, Denver Art Museum, CO; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The Renaissance Society, Chicago. Collections include the Art Institute of Chicago; Hermes Collection, Paris, France; The Microsoft Art Collection, Seattle, WA; The AMon Carter Museum; The John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Musee de Beaux-Arts, Montreal, QUE; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Letinsky is a Professor at the University of Chicago, Department of Visual Arts.
Nazafarin Lotfi (Iranian, b. 1984) received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011 and her BA from the University of Tehran in 2007. Lotfi’s work has been included in exhibitions nationally and internationally, including Italy, South Korea, Hungary, Germany, and Iran. Recent exhibitions include Poiesis at Fenrwey Gallery, Chicago, IL; White Light at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL; Pattern Recognition at Ana Cristea Gallery, New York City, NY; and Not Safe for Work at DUVE Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Suara Welitoff (b. 1951, Jersey City, NY) lives and works in Cambridge, MA. Welitoff has shown work nationally at Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago, the De Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. She has shown in group shows around the world in Milan, Frankfurt, Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York. She is a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Rappaport Prize, the Maud Morgan Prize and is in the Collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Worcester Art Museum and Deutsche Bank New York.
View with a Room
Opening Reception Fri. March 20th 7-11pm
March 20th ~May 3rd
Heaven Gallery proudly presents, new paintings by Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr in View with a Room.
Horibuchi and Rizzo-Orr are painters who understand painting’s ability to deliver a picture; they know too that the window of space a painting depicts is but an ephemeral illusion. Rather than despair at painting’s difficult ontology, these two artists revel in the space between painterly picture and contemporary art object.
Rizzo-Orr simultaneously seduces with both articulated figures and gestural marks while Horibuchi glides between geometric abstraction and trompe l’oeil painting. Each work in View with a Room showcases this painterly range. The singularity of their practices dissolves into a shared interest in the abstract illusions. Working together in a single studio, their seemingly disparate images reveal the unexpected possibilities that may shift across a painting’s surface. This is their View with a Room.
Both Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr are Chicago-based artists and hold BFA degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Horibuchi was born in 1991 in San Francisco, CA and Rizzo-Orr was born in 1989 in Phoenix, AZ
“The body is our general medium for having a world.” - Maurice Merleau-Ponty
How do we move forward in the world where there is no definite answer or direction ahead? Often we have to reason and grasp at reality through the debris of our own darkness in which we cannot see our path. The exhibition The Height Below presents Chicago-based artists Liz McCarthy and Soo Shin’s recent works that explore the fear of uncertainty, and the struggle in having faith in something we cannot prove. This collection works reference body and ritual as mediums in search for small epiphanies in the unknown path ahead of them.
Liz McCarthy is an artist and arts organizer based out of Chicago. Her work combines photography, sculpture, and performance to explore our psychological framing of experience. She regularly shows work throughout the Midwest, most recently at the Comfort Station in Chicago. She has participated in residencies such as Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE, and High Concept Laboratories, and has been honored with fellowship support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, and Chicago’s Department of Tourism.
Soo Shin was born in Seoul, Korea and currently lives and works in Chicago. She holds an MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. She is interested in the uncertainty in having faith in the unknown and turns the psychological struggle into physical experience through the latency of body in her sculpture, painting, and drawing. Her work has been shown in various locations in the states as well as abroad.
Artist featured include:
Benjamin Zellmer Bellas
Jinn Bronwen Lee
Mindy Rose Schwartz
Curated by: Paul Hopkin
Chicago redesigned itself after the Great Fire. That was just the first rebirth of its cultural scene. More recently, there was the grand fire that devastated the River North gallery district in 1989 that gave rise to dirtier, scrappier, more independent artist venues. Other fires, other afters. After always tries to be better.
Sometimes we get impatient. We want better sooner. We want to redo the f****d up parts so the sewage doesn’t back up into our bathrooms. To fix that deeply, we have to clear away.
The fires of our history were terrible accidents that devastated who and what was there. It's an entirely different beast that sets the blaze in defiance. Does the end justify the means? We hardly think so. No guarantee that our end will approximate our better intention, just as likely paving the undesired path.
New work by:
In the land of thieves and ghosts
Historically, the proto-science of alchemy signified an effort to sublimate base metals into gold, distill life-extending elixirs, and divine universal solvents out of common, household items. Alchemy is a “sciencey” practice that deals in paradox, wonder, and the transmutation of the mundane into the miraculous. Similarly, artists are in the business of creating works that transcend their material origins, pose nebulous questions, and embrace the improbable.
The alchemists of the old world shrouded their work in mystery and mysticism. Alchemical texts, like some artworks, are notoriously inscrutable, often written in a language of symbols only decipherable to their authors. Alchemical artists are not explicitly invested in the practice of being obscure or secretive, but they do encourage speculation concerning the overall meaning of a particular work. Alchemical artists conjure more than they create, summoning unfamiliar apparitions from familiar materials.
Not unlike the specters in one of Etienne Gaspard Robertson’s 19th century phantasmagoria, F.W. Murnau conjured demons and magic for the screen in his 1922 film, Nosferatu. (The phrase, “In the land of thieves and ghosts,” is taken from a title card in the film and refers to the homeland of Nosferatu’s vampiric antagonist, Count Orlok). The flickering of light and shadow in Murnau’s film transports viewers from the black cube of the cinema to a land that is both wondrous and alien. IN THE LAND OF THIEVES AND GHOSTS has similar goals in mind.
Like Murnau, artists Buki Bodunrin, Bea Fremderman, Christopher Ottinger, and Matthew Schlagbaum create works that are at once familiar and strange and that elicit something ethereal from the materials they use in their artistic concoctions. Fremderman and Schlagbaum, for example, frequently make use of construction materials and kitsch artifacts, creating ghostly forms out of readymade objects and images. Bodunrin and Ottinger, conversely, deal more with the interplay of light and shadow, optics and illusion. The spirits they summon function as non-corporeal foils to Fremderman and Schlagbaum’s concretized ghosts.
A contemporary notion of alchemy—mandala-wielding metaphysicians and mystics aside—signifies an impulse towards experimentation and discovery unencumbered by the restrictions of institutionalized thinking. Likewise, the images and objects here are not designed to satisfy a particular hypothesis or prove a theory. Rather, these works represent the unexpected results that can emerge from free-form experimentation and play. Though varied in form, the mark of the alchemist is present throughout the exhibition, lurking in the shadows like the iconic and haunting silhouette of Count Orlok himself.
work by Robert Burnier, Aron Gent, Heather Mekkelson, Robert Chase Heishman and Jessica Taylor Caponigro
An excursion longer than the journey. A mudslide over a mountain pass. A road sign blown over by the wind. Something taken, put back, and taken again. A badly worn fragment of carpet. An archipelago.
Aron Gent is an artist, photography printer and art organizer residing in Chicago, IL. He received a degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago. Gent is a co-founder of MDW Fair, Director/Founder of printing/exhibition space DOCUMENT and Board member for the ACRE Residency. His photographic work is built around project-oriented investigations including images of family, familial settings, self, and intimates that are both poignantly quotidian and quietly surreal. Gent’s work is in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and has been exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, Houston Center for Photography, Chicago Cultural Center and the Kohler Arts Center. His curatorial experience includes Transparent Reflect (2009), an exhibition of nine artists exploring portraiture and self-portraiture, and Hic et Nunc (2008), a survey of new guard photography. He currently teaches photography at the School of the Art Institute and Columbia College Chicago.
Heather Mekkelson lives and works in Chicago. Solo and two-person exhibitions include Now
Slices at 65GRAND, Invisible Apocalypse at Roots & Culture; Heather Mekkelson at +medicine
cabinet; Limited Entry at Old Gold; Debris Field at threewalls; and Out Land at STANDARD (all
Chicago, IL.) Her work has also been in group shows at The Museum of Contemporary
Photography (Chicago, IL), The Figge Art Museum (Davenport, IA), The Poor Farm (Manawa,
WI), Raid Projects (Los Angeles, CA), and Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA). Mekkelson's work has
been written about in Art Journal, Broadsheet, Time Out Chicago, New City, Chicago Tribune,
Artforum.com and others. In 2012 she became an Artadia Award Chicago awardee.
Robert Burnier is an artist and writer who lives and works in Chicago. He is an MFA candidate in Painting and Drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He is currently represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, and has shown his work in numerous exhibitions in Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. He writes for Bad at Sports and Chicago Artist Writers, and has lectured at several Chicago area universities.
Born in 1984, Robert Chase Heishman completed his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2008 and his MFA from Northwestern University in 2012. Utilizing photography, sculpture, and video, his artwork explores self-referentiality, conditions of framing, flatness, and the peripheral. He has collaborated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a Décor Artist on the work, Split-Sides, provided artwork for Icelandic band Sigur Rós’ album BA BA TI KI DI DO, in addition to exhibiting both nationally and internationally. Heishman's work is held in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center. He currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
Before receiving her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jessica Taylor Caponigro attended Bryn Mawr College where she earned her BA in the History of Art. She has taught classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Olive Harvey College and currently teaches at Harold Washington College. Caponigro is also the director of Andrew Rafacz Gallery. In addition to solo and group shows in Chicago, her work has been exhibited in Long Beach, Philadelphia, and Rome. Her work is in the permanent collections at California State Long Beach and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection. More of her work can be seen at www.jtaylorcaponigro.com.