C. L. Morrison

  • “Strong Works”

    “Strong Works,” an exhibition by 20 women, includes a majority of art that transmits the sense of unseen forces and the powerful impact of those forces on one’s personal world.

    These forces may be rhythms in emotional and physical growth, as in Vera Klement’s painting, Sonnet, where hot “angry” colors are juxtaposed with warm “inviting” colors, and flesh tones are stroked over undulating tree greens. Or unseen forces may be represented by the intuition of some “personality” in nature, as in Carole Harmel’s photographic views of the creeping textures of strange, grass-covered, portraitlike rock.

  • Kate Horsfield and Lyn Blumenthal

    There are now about 50 videotapes in the Kate Horsfield/Lyn Blumenthal Interview Series. Several are particularly interesting, because the personality of the subject and the ideas expressed in the dialogue are reinforced by the edited videoimage. During the actual interview, Horsfield questions the subject and Blumenthal operates two cameras, taking images from the subject and from a monitor in the room, so that the final tapes are presented with a tacit, “What you see here is the individual’s true personality.”

    The Jan Hashey tape is a good example. Hashey discusses static photographs in comparison

  • “Words At Liberty”

    “Words at Liberty,” an exhibition of 73 works on paper, demonstrates that for more than half a century visual artists have tried to reorient language for purposes of self-expression. Much of this work is impelled by the artist’s sense that language has often been devalued to the point of meaninglessness. It is therefore ironic that this exhibition is organized into “overlapping non-chronological categories” which are unintelligible, inadequate, misapplied, domineering, and/or confused.

    For example, “words . . . that dominate the picture plane . . . and . . . become presences that revoke linguistic

  • Roland Ginzel

    From a punchout stencil, Roland Ginzel selects crescents, rectangles, triangles, and squares, places them upon a canvas, and paints them in. Each shape is set down on a relatively monochromatic field and the resulting paintings have interest beyond their individual success because each composition shows the same shapes in new relationships. To my knowledge, Ginzel has never exhibited the stencils themselves—enormous, handmade creations raised or lowered by a ceiling pulley—but they are valuable indications of the vocabulary from which he picks his combinations. The finished painted shapes

  • Elizabeth Boettger

    Elizabeth Boettger makes photographs of light. She opens a camera lens anywhere from eight seconds to ten minutes and; within its range, “draws” in the air with penlights, highway flares, or a chemical mixture of her own concoction. The most impressive body of these photographs was taken in an alley in a Chicago slum. Garbage cans, telephone poles, newspaper piles, and brick façades are a dark, brutal, actual-life setting for her uncontained, scarlet-red light. It dances alongside graffiti-covered walls and blazes up and down the alley’s long black path. Boettger herself appears in several places

  • Nancy Davidson

    Nancy Davidson tapes off a randomly selected area of wooden floor, covers it with a paper strip, and makes a transfer rubbing of the wood-grain to the strip. Depending upon the number of strips she needs for a piece, she may rub the same floor area as many as 40 or 50 times. The clarity or smudginess of the transferred wood-grain reveals accidents of the rubbing process: pressure of the hand, position of the body, or level of fatigue. She then tapes the finished strips on the wall in various arrangements.

    Though scaled to exhibition-site dimensions, the strips are premade at the studio. They line

  • Gertrude Abercrombie

    All the work in Gertrude Abercrombie’s retrospective—96 paintings done from 1932 to 1971—is intended to be autobiographical. The consistent use of similar symbols centering on a woman figure who appears in almost every painting successfully demonstrates a course of life.

    Early self-portrait heads (1932–35) are in sunny, translucent, pastel colors. In White House (1935) the woman extends her arms from an open window toward the lawn where a white horse grazes, symbol of a good enchantment. In The Hill, 1938, the woman approaches the house but its doors and windows are shut; she wears a hat, symbol

  • Trio Exvoco Of Stuttgart

    The Trio Exvoco performance, part of a Contemporary Concerts series, has both Futurist and Dada inspiration. Displayed typographical arrangements act as scores for three singers, three slide projectors, and an electronics man with elaborate technical equipment for recording and altering sound. Dada poster and sound poems and Futurist simultaneous poems are intermingled with contemporary work that carries out similar ideas.

    For example, Mauricio Kagel’s Hallelujah (1969) concentrates on pure sound, with no sustained development, no linear sequence. Voices wobble, simper, and toot, approximating

  • Miguel Conde

    For an artist who traffics in the grotesque, Miguel Conde is remarkably restrained. He is no Jim Nutt whose glibness reeks of the horrors he pictures, nor does his work seem bitter or resigned. Indeed, its strong quality is that the button-eyed, stump-fingered, split-headed characters can look so matter-of-fact. For one thing, Conde is totally in control technically. Every one of the works on exhibition—pen-and-ink or ink and gouache drawings done from 1973 to 1977—is scrupulously made. In a half-square-inch area of a typical head I counted four different colors and ten separate types of pen

  • Tom Rose

    Tom Rose’s porcelain sculptures are mostly white, giving innocence and enchantment to their small scale. Their smallness concentrates the images, so that their imaginary spaces are intensified. But this “skin” of white masks other, less pristine, things below its surface—odd items such as shells, thread, chickenwire, glass, jacks, cuttlebone.

    Rose’s work is largely about its own material. An initial wet substance is pinched, split, creased, bent, rolled, and penetrated to compose platforms, objects on the platforms, and complex substructures. To make little tracks, pieces of glass, wire, or bone

  • Sandra Straus

    It’s “Parents Night” at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, and Sandra Straus walks into her youngster’s sixth-grade social studies class. On the bulletin board are rows of notebook-paper sheets; the assignment was to “make a million marks.”

    Noting that the “children’s demonstration expresses how I feel as much as any other projects I’ve done,” Straus transferred 115 of the assignment papers out of that social studies context and into an art gallery. Behind the gallery’s permanent, classical sculpture case, the notebook-paper sheets are unexpected, immediate, and refreshingly direct.


  • Andrea Blum And Barry Holden

    In Robert Morris’ recent terminology, Andrea Blum uses space as “diagrammatic” and “surface-bound.” Blum says about some of her early installations-for-a-day, “I freely drew with bricks and cement.” But now she carefully plots and subdivides layouts, generating repetitive, internal rhythms. Her glass sheets, light bulbs, slate squares, and dirt layers all have a place, a rationale for being there; darkness, opacity, solidity, luminescence, transparency, and smudginess all interact within an overall system.

    In contrast, using Morris’ terminology again, Barry Holden deals with three-dimensional,