10 August 2006

marwen/first fridays

Currently at the Marwen Arts Gallery, a student exhibition from a themed summer trip is on display. Most of these works are striking and all are fresh. Your intrepid bloggers were taken with long white, rectangular pieces full of paint dribbles that almost resembled abstract trees. Huge charcoal drawings and paintings that used the white space in the paper as silhouettes also took our attention. Along the same lines, charcoal/pencil drawings that were so detailed you could get lost staring into them, made an impression. But the show was stolen by JC, who used photographs, found objects and more to create a visual documentary of the project. His work was elaborate and profound, from writing phrases on various photographs (our favorite was "Git Gone!") to using found objects in an emptied paint palatte box to signify their inspiration for the students art.

Featured on the second floor of the gallery was the photography of alumna Rosy Torres. Some of her most stunning images were black and whites of people in water, surrounded by water or using water as a reflective surface. Yet, her color photographs explored the life behind the immigration rally protests and life in a small rural town in Mexico. The image that held our rapt attention was a woman and a baby lying down on a colorful blanket. This image held a modern day interpretation of the Madonna, from the angles of the woman to the seeming indifference she held for the child.

What Torres does best is capture people as they are and at the Marwen Gallery, you feel like you know the skinny man with veiny muscles pictured with a young boy, or the little girl holding out a rooster, or the little girl in the street beating a drum.

We headed east to First Fridays at the MCA, which is always a pleasure. We wandered through the people and galleries without much complaint. Every First Friday tends to have a theme, though we couldn't quite figure out why women in bold bright bikinis were ambling about, so it may be time to put up some banners to dispel confusion. Otherwise, the massive exhibit of Wolfgang Tillmans work from the span of his career was captivating. We wandered through the entirety of his photography with fingers pointed and mouths agape. The most surprising was turning a corner to find a punk rock man peeing on a chair in an office. But others were subtle, two people, naked, except for rain jackets, sat solemnly in a tree. A sculpture with six faces. A woman squeezing breast milk from her right breast as her baby suckles her left in the background. All of it jarring images of the familar, the world of the inane everyday life.

Sadly, the Chris Ware exhibit lacks the same sense of awe. Ware's comics have been published in many free newspapers from The Reader to New City, so it seems like the public at large would at least be familar enough with his work to avoid an exhibit devoted to introducing him. Ware's work is presented largely in a jumble, which even your intrepid reporter (who adores Chris Ware's work in all shapes and sizes and incarnations) could not decipher nor determine a theme to. Sad, really, considering the promise of the flyer produced to announce Ware at the MCA, a double sided, fold out poster that included squares of his best work.

There was some attempt at showing Ware's work as an artist, with unfinished, large scale pre-press pages framed and placed on the wall, but that was where the correlation between Ware as an artist ended. The rest of it seemed to be like a badly realized display in a comic book store. The worst offense was to destruct the collected Jimmy Corrigan and plaster it end to end along the wall so people could "read" it. I only hoped Chris Ware had nothing to do with curating this exhibit as Tillmans had with his, since it seemed to be against everything that Ware does so well in his work. The exhibit was void of meticulousness, a sense of balance, attention to detail and whimsy.

HIT Marwen Arts Center 833 n. Orleans/near Chicago brown line stop before 7pm.

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Musuem of Contemporary Art

Head to Quimby's on North Ave. if you really want to see the ingenuity that is Chris Ware as an artist.