Review of Reception Gallery by Rachel Hewitt
As Reception Gallery was nearing the end of its year-long endeavor (2009-2010) to bring awareness of contemporary art practice to the advertising industry, I asked several of the editors and assistant editors at Cutters to create a video about art (that was my only instruction). Below are the two videos created for Reception Gallery.
Steve Stein, These Words, Video, TRT 1:54, September 2010
Traci Weingardt, Call Me An Artist, Video, TRT 0:47, September 2010
Reception Gallery was a venue for emerging contemporary artists to connect the 21st century language of art to art's history with advertising and pop-culture. Exhibiting artists challenged and redefined the line between art and industry, under the theme "reception." The Gallery promoted the expansive exploration of ideas under the formal parameters of chalk on a chalkboard wall. This wall was located in the office of a business developer in Chicago's River North area at Cutters, a post-production house specializing in TV and film. The Gallery started in November of 2009 and rotated artists once a month through October of 2010. The following images document the monthly installations by Reception Gallery's artists.
Amber Hawk Swanson, Dig, Chalk and chalkboard wall paint, October 2010
Amber Hawk Swanson
Joe Miller, Unity Jumpman Series: Zia, Chalk and chalkboard wall paint, September 2010
UNITY Jumpman Series: ZIA
Joe Miller and J. Thomas Pallas have been collaborating with the students of Unity Elementary School in East St. Louis for the past year in an on-going project. By frequently dropping into the school to orchestrate alternative projects, the artists are able to enhance the normal course of the students' education and create opportunities for dialogue that might not otherwise be possible.
Since the artists' visit in February (Black History Month), the reoccurring theme of childhood idols has played a role in forming several interactive projects with the students. For this project, the students have attempted to contort their bodies into the famous figure of the Michael Jordan "jumpman" logo. By replacing a figure that has achieved greatness with an individual that holds the potential to achieve greatness, the importance of Unity becomes apparent. Without the ability to attendsuch an institution, students such as Zia may never experience the support and success that will give her the capacity to rise above her surrounding ghettos.
To learn more about Unity and how you can help, visit: www.unityesl.org
Heather Nels Olsen, Remains Of A Meal: January 1st, 2008, Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich and Fries, Chalk and chalkboard wall paint, August 2010
I have a strong interest in our relationship to food. The act of eating is one of our most basic forms of consumption. We consume in response to our hunger. Consumption is often satisfied without consideration of what was eaten, and even less towards what was not.
Throughout the year of 2008, I took snapshots of what was left on my plate after eating dinner. I set these documented images aside, much like leftovers, to experience them at a later date. By creating this distance in time, my memory of each meal has become faded, altered or exaggerated. This distance creates a new relationship between past and present. What has been consumed is a ghost of what was and what remains serves as a reminder, an artifact. This drawing is what remains of my dinner on January 1st, 2008.
Heather Nels Olsen
Kasia Houlihan, Chalk, chalkboard wall paint, audio, July 2010
July 4th fireworks exhale over the Hudson sadly. It is beautiful that they have to disappear.- "Downtown," Frederick Seidel
In an effort to slow down and distill fleeting moments that fill me with wonder, I spend hours rendering things that pass us by. My fascination with fireworks has as much to do with the physical experience of a fireworks show, as the sight of shimmering shapes piercing the black, night sky, materializing and disintegrating in the same, short breath. While I have been drawing fireworks on paper for some time now, the particularities of The Reception Gallery Project Space afforded me the opportunity to experiment with rendering in chalk, a medium so perfectly suited to such an ephemeral subject matter, as well as expand my ideas beyond the visual into the acoustic realm. To make the sound component for the piece, I turned to the audio track of video footage I had shot during last year's Fourth of July fireworks display on the Hudson River in New York. I then extracted the pops and booms of the explosions themselves, removing the object of the crowd's fascination, so that only the reaction to what was once there remains. The viewer at Reception is invited to listen to this spliced track by way of a headphone set, making the audio available to only one individual at a time as it evokes the presence of thousands of bodies through sound alone. Perhaps these recordings are tinged with mourning, memento mori for that which makes our hearts leap but only lasts a heartbeat. And yet, they ring out in celebration, for it is beautiful that they have to disappear.
Click on the link to Kasia's website for audio: http://cargocollective.com/kasiahoulihan#496494/AUDIO
Patrick Holbrook, Chalk, chalkboard wall paint, June 2010
This drawing investigates the unseen human connections within globalism and labor. This is also a drawing about where I worked, placed where other people work - a different kind of transaction, but a transaction nonetheless. I recently worked in a warehouse, repackaging products that were mostly made in China. Who touched this piece of plastic before it crossed the ocean, where I was the next person to touch it? Among a batch of thousands of same pieces, I found one that was deformed and different. I kept it, and see it is a small resistance against globalism, and the system it locks all us into. I wanted to make the deformed piece more important than the same-formed by inverting the scale, and I wanted to make both objects seem they came from thin air, mocking the opacity of the histories of things we buy. I was pleasantly surprised that the objects as drawings on the chalkboard seemed like they were somewhere in the cold, eerie vacuum of outer space.
Alta Buden, Spray-chalk, chalkboard wall paint, May 2010
This piece arose out of my recent transition from an apartment into an Airstream trailer. In response to this small mobile space, I have been purging my possessions and contemplating what is actually important to me and why. I began this process idealistically thinking I would rid myself of everything non-essential and take up a totally sustainable and simple lifestyle. It turns out that was the environmental Dr. Jekyll in me speaking, the side that cares intensely about the earth and is worrying constantly about the plastic islands forming in the ocean. My Mr. Hyde loves consumerism, fashion, and junk food in wild packaging. I know I am not alone. This piece is about the how both the natural world and our created one are almost equally enticing and equally important to our society. It is about how we can we walk in the woods full of rapture for the trees and then feel the same way when we find the perfect pair of shoes or the latest app. The truth is that knowledge, the engine of technology moves faster than our consciousness: we know what is good for the environment, but we cannot bring ourselves to not, for example, use plastic—something that has been helping shape society since the 1900's. We are, in the words of David Byrne, American Troglodytes , we find it impossible to conceive of a world without current technology, even though it already exists in the ecosystems surrounding us.
Alberto Aguilar, Creature Under Pressure, Chalk, chalkboard wall paint, April 2010
My initial idea was to make a chalkboard drawing free from imagery that was documentation, a record of the moves that I made while I was in this space. In the end I was prompted to transform my marks into a large creature with many eyes in front of a patterned space. In making this drawing I had an extremely sore throat and a weak body but persevered for a full six hours of physical drawing. Through much of the drawing I was filled with doubt and uncertainty, as evidence in the video footage I left on the Photo Booth application on the laptop in the gallery space. Although the image dominates the chalkboard wall one can still see the marks and movements that I made at earlier stages in the drawing. Most of the marks are contained within the form of the creature and are now framed by the regularity of the patterned background. The space that I had to work in and view my drawing was small and restrained. Similarly the creature exists in a shallow pictoral space created through overlapping, the movements of my marks and the twist and turns of the eyes on his body. He is monumental, but cute and gentle. He stands still, but contains tumultuous tornado like movements within his body. It is uncertain whether the water drops on the body of the creature are tears or sweat. But one thing is for sure, that he was brought forth from hard physical labor and a physiological battle against doubt and uncertainty that took place in this room. Besides the supplemental video I left on the laptop I also leave photos of different stages of the chalkboard drawing that I took while working.
Rachel Herman, Chalk, chalkboard wall paint, self-adhesive letters, March 2010
I was thinking about blackboards a lot when I was trying to decide how to use this space. Blackboards are temporary repositories for important ideas that we need to write down so we do not to forget them. Teachers use blackboards to make sure that the entire class is on the same 'page,' so to speak. They exhort students to come up to the front of the class and write and re-write (the repetition is important) crucial things they've forgotten or have been resisting learning as a sanctioned form of embarrassment - or conversely, for star pupils to demonstrate what they've mastered. In a way, I saw myself as valedictorian and dunce simultaneously and you as my fellow classmates. I thought about my days working in a similar company and how I felt about working there. It was comfortable and challenging and collegial, but I felt like I was destined for other (not necessarily better, but other) things. I just hadn't mustered the courage to go off the clear path. I did not think I could do it, really, veer off with my own scythe in hand and plot my own course. I was also thinking about how you must feel as fellow Chicagoans at the end of a long, dreary winter. In March, spring is always almost here. So, with that in mind, ever-aware and mortified that I really can't draw, I decided to remind myself and you that we contain multitudes and that spring is almost here, hold on.
Danielle Paz, Art and Devices for Illusory Space, Chalk, chalkboard wall paint, slide projector, slide carousel from Columbia College: Devices for Illusory Space, gallerist and marketing representative, February 2010
In the post-graduate profession conundrum one evaluates the value of received information and experience. In considering this and potential occupations in education, one often uses the institution they attended to endorse their knowledge as credible; I went here and studied with whom. We constantly need other people to gain knowledge, go somewhere with it, and accredit what we've retained. So then, how is information standardized regarding art and art making? Before the professional business of the practicing artist has begun, the artist enters into the business of learning.
Using a set of predetermined slides from the Columbia College Art & Design Resource Center as a departure point for "standardized art information" William Kneip, Director of Business Development at Cutters, a post-production house for television and film will lecture on Devices for Illusory Space. Lectures available by appointment.
With guest lectures by gallerist, artist, and receptionist Casey Smallwood available on weekends only.
Marilyn Volkman, inkjet print, chalk, tape, corporate marketing office, sales representatives, January 2010
These text-based works recount situations where American Products and Practices were presented to young Iraqis with the hope that they would garner positive sentiments toward Americans. Positioned in the Marketing Representative's office for Sales and Inquiries at Cutter's, Inc. (a commercial editing house in downtown Chicago), the work exerts its presence in a space where marketing representatives from various corporations meet, and decisions are made about marketing strategies for current and future clients.
Kimmy Noonen, Chalk and chalkboard wall paint, December 2009
December is currently the largest version of my ongoing social-mapping project. Formally speaking, these maps draw from varied sources: the football play diagram remiss of a defense, the physical movement mapping of civil engineers, the objectification and simplification of social groups so common in the world of advertising, and highly individuated methods of describing one's perceived environment. In utilizing these strategies and building upon their associations, a new document is created in which individual acts of reception in the public sphere are accumulated, connected, and construed. In December, the value of viewing our social world objectively is directly coupled to the subjectivity of an individual perception; showing the complex relationship between the two perspectives and our inevitable implementation of both when attempting to understand reality.
J. Thomas Pallas, Arm'd & Hammer'd, Chalk and chalkboard wall paint, November 2009
J. Thomas Pallas