art (cont.) =recommended For expanded reviewss, visit art.newcity.com. NEW AND NOTEWORTHY SHOWS MUSEUMS
Chicago Cultural Center⁄ 78 East Washington. DENISE MILAN, photography.
The term “nature people” takes on an entirely new and fanciful meaning in Brazilian photo-artist Denise Milan’s color photo-collages of the flora and human inhabitants of Brazil’s Atlantic coastal rainforest. In Milan’s combinations of images, which do not pretend to be seamless, people become flowers sprouting out among leaves, and flowers take on human form in an idyll over which even the staunchest romantic primitivists would blush. At the top of her extravagant game, Milan serves up an image of a parrot man with a human torso and hands, and a bird’s head, perched on pink petals wreathed in glossy green leaves, against an unnatural monochromatic green background. There is a whiff of colonialism here, along with new-age nativist spiritualism spiced with grotesquerie. (Michael Weinstein) Through January 6. PATRICIA SCHNEPF, photography. Specializing in strikingly lush and beautiful, often isolated, flowers, Patricia Schnepf shoots color digital photographs of her subjects and then runs them through a paint program in the computer to produce very mildly impressionist images that preserve the integrity of the originals, altering them only enough to give them a slightly brittle and textured surface. We get a double visual shot from Schnepf’s studies; at a distance, they appear to be ordinary seamless flower photographs; get closer and they begin to break up just a bit and seem to have been contrived by the human hand rather than having blossomed from nature. The calla lily, a perennial favorite of flower photographers, becomes under Schnepf’s ministrations a hot yellow-white lantern-like form glowing against a dark background dotted with flecks of green. (Michael Weinstein) Through July 8. GALLERIES
PILSEN Roxaboxen Exhibitions⁄ 2130 West 21st. GROW IN THE DARK, painting. Now showing at Roxaboxen are the efforts of three young painters to walk the well-trodden but tempting path of depicting paradise in an up-to-date visual matrix—and my response can’t help but be filtered through my feelings about what has come to be a contemporary postpost-post-Impressionist academic landscape style. Examples range from romantic, gestural semi-abstract canvases by Claire Sherman and Angelina Gualdoni, both represented in Chicago by Kavi Gupta Gallery, and
film older and flashier contemporaries like David Thorpe and Laura Owens. The problem in the end is not that our age is especially philistine, but that living in an image glut makes old-timey beauty seem more attainable. Lisa Nance is a solid designer in paint—her ability to carve out space by adroitly slapping slabs of light and shadow into a classical landscape or figure rendering are easy on the eyes, adequate to earn her a spot alongside the descendants of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud in the pages of New American Painting or Modern Painters magazine. Her attempts to create three-dimensional versions of natural splendor—one as a folding diorama, one as a shaped hanging panel with holes cut out—read as primarily decorative. There’s enough atmospheric color to titillate the cones, but in her hanging paintings there’s no physical relief to interfere with her confident portrayal of visual depth, or with her enjoyable surreal touches. Andrew Fansler’s small works on paper, mixed-media orchestrations of geometric doodles and washy organic landscape elements, have a hard time commanding attention, although his large wall painting and assemblage, which takes advantage of one of the gallery’s charismatic nooks, approaches a Mardi-Gras mania worthy of Lari Pittman. The strongest work in the show belongs to Jeremy Mitchell Pelt, owing partially to the artificial tree he set up to be continually misted with artificial tan spray in a corner vitrine. Pelt’s paintings unleash a welcome vomitous energy all over found pieces framed under glass; even his chromatic concentric diamond motifs, reminiscent of the dreaded God’s Eye, have some fraction of the bravura (if not the control) that I would attribute more readily to Turner or Sargent than to their legions of imitators. Deconstructed depictions of nature are still depictions of nature, it turns out, and art history can be more a burden than an excuse. (Bert Stabler) Through July 21.
RIVER NORTH Printworks Gallery⁄ 311 West Superior. ROBERT BARNES, drawings. In a world dominated by the commerce of self-gratification, skepticism is more appropriate than belief, so serious mythology has been absent from American art for more than sixty years. But even if religious and social idealism have been franchised by the crackpot fringes, one can still be idealistic about skepticism itself. In the history of Chicago, the Dil Pickle Club (1917-1935) may serve as the preeminent shrine of freethinking, or, at least that’s how Robert Barnes has envisioned it, in fourteen pastel drawings that sanctify the un-sanctimonious and its ne’er-do-well impresario, Jack Jones. Jones is a rather unlikely hero, a professional anarchist who blew off several fingers in the preparation of explosives, and who seems to have failed at everything other than attracting iconic writers like Upton Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson and Carl Sandburg, as well as whores, grifters and street performers to his low-rent, high-brow salon and theater. What characterizes Barnes’ visions are figurative gestures encompassed by a jumbled geometry of triangles and circles that just barely keeps the centrifugal energy from spinning out
5 SHOWS TO SEE NOW =recommended
1 Stac ey Ro z i c h (Chicago Urban Art Society) D ra w i n g o u t t h e g h o u l s a m o n g u s
2 Z ac h a ry C a h i l l ( C h i c a g o C u l t u ra l C e n t e r ) A c o m m u n i s t - c a p i t a l i s t c h i m e ra
3 G r ow i n t h e Da r k ( Rox a b oxe n E x h i b i t i o n s ) P o s t - p o s t - p o s t - I m p re s s i o n i s m
4 Ro b e rt B a r n e s ( Pr i n t w o r k s G a l l e r y ) Re m e m b e r i n g t h e D i l P i c k l e C l u b
5 S h aw n e M a j o r ( C h i c a g o C u l t u ra l C e n t e r ) L i k e s a m p l e s f ro m t h e G re a t Pa c i f i c G a r b a g e Pa t c h
= not reviewed For full reviews visit newcityfilm.com.
The Amazing Spider-man⁄ Directed by Marc Webb. See film feature.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild⁄ “Beasts of the Southern Wild” takes place in a nowhere much like the outskirts of post-Katrina New Orleans, in an overlooked south Louisiana bayou, in a time much like pre-apocalypse Earth, where animal die-offs accelerate, floods are the norm, glaciers are melting and the seas are ever rising. It’s a world of despair and sustenance, a city on the sea, a place of floating fallen wonders, “Waterworld” writ small, beyond “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.” And who is the savior to lead us from the sea to land, to tame the beasts loosed from arctic ice? A six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who “lives with her daddy at the edge of the world.” (Her oft-drunk father, Wink, is played with unavailing dignity by nonprofessional Dwight Henry, a New Orleans baker.) She is tiny and she is mighty: “Beasts” can be read as an ecologically minded parable; a shout-out for self-sustaining community or it could be the fevered dreams and lyrical logorrhea of a poetically minded child. Director-co-writercomposer Benh Zeitlin, whose 2008 short “Glory at Sea” took the same approach to landscape and village. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is specific in detail, nonspecific in place and moment. All this junk and blood comes off the screen as a fierce onslaught on images and music, structured less as drama than theme and repetition. There’s music and fireworks, and then there’s FIREWORKS and MUSIC: it’s a sound-andimage-drunk procession of beauty. Some angered reviewers are reading the film as a neoconservative text, even a Tea Party tract. Arguments will be made. 92m. (Ray Pride) Landmark Century
The Day He Arrives Directed by Hong Sang-soo. Relationships, liquor and filmmaking are the customary subjects of a Hong Sangsoo movie, and this one is no exception. See Newcityfilm.com for our review.
of control, making these carnival-like scenes feel like episodes of mystic revelation, even if Jack Jones is more clown than prophet. There’s even an episode that puts him out among the tempestuous waves of Lake Michigan—but rather than performing a miracle, the story goes that his homemade boat capsized and his just-married wife drowned. Even if his life is a catalog of failures, the human spirit seems to be triumphant, just as in the tragic stories told in great literature, and it’s a lifetime interest in literature that brought Barnes to the Dil Pickle in the first place. Indeed, the scenes feel like the mind’s eye view of a modern novel where more is happening than what you can ever comprehend. But unlike most of Chicago Imagism, the mystery feels more intriguing than ominous, and the viewer is invited to be a pilgrim rather than a psychotherapist. Barnes often works large enough to bring his aggressive chaos into your personal space, as exemplified by his 2010 show. The current smaller pastels are closer to the scale of book illuminations, and they share the vigor, charm and luminosity of some of the fifteenthcentury masters—although it’s questionable whether the antics of Jack Jones are as worthy of illumination as the lives of kings, saints, and prophets. Does all this sound and fury really signify anything more than a romantic nostalgia for a free-wheeling creativity that can always be found if you know where to look for it? (Chris Miller) Through July 7.
Directed and written by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass. From the makers of “Baghead” and “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.” On a visit home, two grown brothers repeat the preposterous competitions of their childhood. 76m. See Newcityfilm.com for our review.
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story Directed by Jonathan Gruber, Ari Daniel Pinchot. A documentary on the short life of the younger brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. See Newcityfilm.com for our review.
Hipsters⁄ Not your street corner Midwestern bearded ironists, Valeriy Todorovskiy’s “Hipsters” have dash, panache and more. A boisterous, candied eyeful of fantasticated Soviet-era 1955 youth culture that bears a keen likeness to “Grease,” it’s a charming widescreen musical in a culture that resists musicals. Winner for best film, production design, costumes and sound in Russia’s equivalent of the Oscar, Todorovskiy describes his energetic gem as a time-bending artifact: “I combined the hipster movement of the fifties with the Russian rocker rebels of the late eighties.” And its placement dead in the center of Khrushchev’s USSR would have its own punk power even without the bursts of toe-totoe political argument. The mix of both sets and locations is sweet, especially in the fantastically straightforward final number that dances its way through the streets of contemporary Moscow with crowds of fashionable modern youth. 125m. 35mm. Widescreen. (Ray Pride) Siskel
The Invisible War⁄ According to government statistics, twenty percent of all women in the U. S. military will be raped. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s shocking, compelling “The Invisible War” is a documentary that makes witness and insists on change. The horrors of the statistics shown on
Published on Jul 8, 2012
Published on Jul 8, 2012
(Chicago Cultural Center) A communist-capitalist chimera Shawne Major The Day He Arrives Beasts Of The Southern Wild⁄ Robert Barnes 5 SHOWS...