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AROUND THE COYOTE
"Around The Coyote 2000"
The "Around The Coyote" Arts Festival, Chicago, Illinois, will run September 7 - 10, 2000, from 11 AM to 11 PM and it offers an opportunity for the public to visit the studios of artists in Chicago's Bucktown district as well as view the art of juried artists from Chicago and beyond.
The works selected for "Curators' Choice" are installed at Chicago's Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art -- thirty-five items: paintings, sculptures, assemblage and mixed media: from clever Dada to figurative works rivaling Caravaggio. These stand in addition to the well over sixty studios, eleven galleries and guest artists' showings. Among the main venues for the exhibitors are The Flat Iron Arts Building, Dry Cleaners Exhibition Hall, and The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art; however, a visit to "Curators' Choice" at the latter venue is a must.
"Curators' Choice" was winnowed solely on the merits of the work: The identities of the artists were concealed from the jury panel. The jurors were: Hamza Walker, Curator of Education at the Renaissance Society; Dominic Mollon at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Julie Charmelo, Director of Northern Illinois University Art Gallery; and Martha Lazer, Artist Representative and Free-Lance Curator. Proceeds from a silent auction, organized by artist-publisher Richard Donagrandi, will benefit Around The Coyote, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, and the "Curators' Choice" artists.
The art presented here represents a full spectrum. Maire Kennedy's constructions, as example, reveal a Dadaist sense of free-association joined to visual wit -- her final results often possess a striking formal beauty of their own. In Kennedy's art, items are both found through serendipity or sought through dictates of a seminal impulse; the final piece seems a synthesis of prior intent, that conceptual seed, coupled with a use and connotation implied by the components. A spritely whiff of Marcel Duchamp hovers about her work. (Earlier Kennedy works lie in review in www.artscope.net's archives: vide: "Resurrection," March 1999.)
Joe McIlhany's sculptural assemblages are also developed from found objects, but where Kennedy turns to the philosophies of art, McIlhany draws upon very down-to-earth concerns. This artist's work recently appeared in the bi-annual magazine, Direct Art (Vol.3, Spring/Summer 2000), where the artist notes of his materials: "Instead of taking up space in a landfill, these fossils from civilization are given a new direction as a visual reminder to our culture not to waste our natural resources." (Joe McIlhany has been reviewed by www.artscope.net as an artist in "Earth Voice," April 1999.)
A first response -- Byzantine illumination: warm and colorful in palette, and in composition keyed to an iconographic decorum. This image created by Jesus Eduardo Rocha harmonizes a sensual, almost Oriental visual sensibility with an austere and poised spiritual content; but it could just as well reflect an Iberian-inspired love of rich elaboration on the enduring legacy of Rome. As it is, this work both engages the viewer in formal arrangement, and solicits a satisfying pleasure in its final harmony.
The "Curators' Choice" selection from Jeanette Hoffower's work is among many paintings well worth attention in this showing. There is a direct simplicity of image and implied, cryptic anecdote. The artist's style resonates both to Sub-Saharan stone painting, and, in its inclusion of a 'thought/speech' balloon, contemporary graphic and cartoon convention. Artists such as Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky all noted how difficult it is for an experienced artist to see fresh and anew: that is what drew their aesthetic inquiries toward neolithic caves, oriental traditions, tribal and aboriginal art. There is a touch of Munich's Der Blaue Reiter sensibility in Hoffower's offering, yet it captures a child-like innocence with sophisticated grace and charm.
In a fleeting preview of a show, a viewer has less than blind jurying on which to judge -- there is only the image. And that is for the best. As an amateur lepidopterist, I recognize a Monarch butterfly. We are prone to think that because we can give a name, we have understood a thing. We dismiss because of names... mere words. Juan Carlos Frias, as an artist, focuses attention to the visual fact and its intrinsic worth: color, pattern and design, a complexity of life. A butterfly of Juan Carlos Frias reiterates a Buddhist wisdom: the simplest is a miracle to those who see and merely see; nor does a naming capture the miraculous reality. To the wise, this image is a direct unveiling. To the truly blind, what can art be, but a concept and a word: to those born deaf, music is a falsity. I like this piece. The reasons we may give for its delight ... are only afterthoughts.
Thirty-five artists; a preview can only sample. "Around The Coyote -- Fall Fest" began in fall of 1990, an initiative by Wicker Park artists, who organized, promoted... even 'streaked' their festival. By mid-1990s, there were fears "Around The Coyote" would become just another neighborhood Food Fair. (That history, and those fears, were covered by even The New Art Examiner, February 1995, in "Walking The Walk" by Maria Jose Barandiaran.) Recent years have proved otherwise: the artists have taken charge, organized well, gathered solid exhibitions and recruited highly competent jurors for "Curators' Choice," and allies everywhere. For anyone interested in Chicago art, alive and flourishing, the AD 2000 "Around The Coyote -- Fall Fest," and its "Curators' Choice" promises to be very interesting.
"Curators' Choice" presents: Patti Abraham, Barbara Bell, Janet Bloch, Cat Chow, Rosemary A. DiNardo, Sheri Flynn, Juan Carlos Frias, Byron Gin, Cynthia Greig, Pat Hertel, Jeanette Hoffower, Maire Kennedy, Mat Barber Kennedy, Mira Modly, James Monroe, Jesus Eduardo Rocha, Marci Rubin, Nicholas Sistler, Susan Spies, Julie Sulzen, Shari Swartz, Mariko Tamaki/Tokiko Kajimoto, Lorell Butler, Mike Cramer, Peter Demma, Laura Lee Junge, Kathleen King, Conrad Lawrence, Joe McIlhany, Bridget Montgomery, James Morton, Steve Skinner, Gina Sebro, Rachel Weaver, and David Wiggins. An open Artists' Reception is scheduled Friday, September 1, 2000, from 6 to 9 PM at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 West Chicago Avenue.
Also among the "Curators' Choice" artists is James Morton, who is reviewed elsewhere in www.artscope.net. The "Around The Coyote" Arts Festival Chicago, Illinois, will run September 7 - 10, 2000, from 11 AM to 11 PM. "Curators' Choice" is hosted by the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago Avenue (Telephone: 773/ 227-5522). The reader can consult http://www.aroundthecoyote.org/ for full information on "Around The Coyote -- Fall Fest." A catalogue is being prepared and will be available on site.
--G. Jurek Polanski
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