Lori Waxman

  • Jason Lazarus

    “As this display of new and recent work should clarify, Jason Lazarus is not a photographer in any conventional sense.”

    In 2006, the MCA Chicago gave Jason Lazarus his first institutional solo exhibition. He was known then as a photographer, and he’s sort of still known as one now, but as this display of new and recent work should clarify, Lazarus is not a photographer in any conventional sense. Re-created protest signs from Occupy Wall Street demonstrations will be available for museumgoers to shoulder during their visit; a music student will learn a Chopin nocturne live on a piano installed in the gallery; photos found in a New Orleans antiques shop after Hurricane Katrina will be

  • Lilly McElroy

    “2009 Was A Rough Year”—that’s both the title of Lilly McElroy’s recent exhibition at Thomas Robertello Gallery and a statement of fact. It was indeed a rough year. The stock market crashed. The housing bubble burst. Countless retirement incomes, jobs, and homes were lost in the fallout. In response, McElroy created a participatory memorial, asking friends and strangers to contribute their worst memories from those wretched twelve months. Photos and captions were to be submitted via a dedicated website (www.aroughyear.com) established by the artist in advance of the show. With this material,

  • Ben Russell

    Ben Russell picked a fine word when he chose trip as the lexicographical genesis of “Trypps,” the experimental film series he’s been producing since 2005. Though idiosyncratic, the name serves as a catchall for every kind of trip in the dictionary, explored in this startlingly broad but ultimately cohesive series.

    Not all at once, of course. Black and White Trypps Number One (2005) begins like an old-school avant-garde film, with all the formal qualities of cinematic head trips: The now-classic imaging of scratches and dust on celluloid (here augmented by spray paint applied directly to the

  • Clare E. Rojas

    Welcome to the world of Clare E. Rojas, where bunnies with bloodshot eyes sniff flowers, swans sport red stripes, blood runs from ladies’ mouths to the sky, and men brandish flowers like clubs. Spin whatever tales you wish to explain these misshapen flora and fauna—just don’t look to the artist to tell you the whole story.

    What you can expect from Rojas, however, is a consistently idiosyncratic mode of drawing that borrows equally from fairy tales, children’s books, Russian matryoshka dolls, quilting, and Amerindian textiles; a few hippies round out the historical tour of American popular

  • Justin Cooper

    A wheelbarrow balancing on a seashell, giant plastic leis whirling in loops of color, folding chairs and garden hoses flying through the air—it’s a party all right, but frozen in place.

    Such is the paradoxically festive yet static atmosphere of Justin Cooper’s second solo exhibition at moniquemeloche. Cooper—known for edgy, slapstick, and invariably manic performances that put objects acquired at Home Depot, the Party Store, and Offi ceMax to inspired misuse—here distills the animating, tension-building force of his live art into the still form of stand-alone sculpture.

    No small task, that, coaxing

  • picks June 16, 2008

    “Portraying Food (and the Absence of It)”

    The common denominator in this multigenerational exhibition of five Chinese artists, curated by Wu Hung, might be food, but there is nothing to eat, much less whet the appetite. On the contrary, the artists make the edible at once banal and fragile, spectacular and disquieting, magic and gross. The bodily, social, and aesthetic satisfaction of a good meal has no place here, among Chen Wenbo’s garish, monumental paintings depicting egg yolks, their advertisement-ready glossiness violently interrupted by their diagonally split canvases and the worrisome series title, “Epidemiology,” 2006. Lui

  • picks April 28, 2008

    Shannon Stratton

    Empty brown paper bags, ragged Chinese parasols, popped champagne corks, dirty rubber duckies, vintage school ties, full diaries, and worthless Starbucks gift cards do not a pretty picture make. Shannon Stratton, however, has something of a Midas touch running through her fingers, and in this exhibition, these and other odd objects add up to the most picturesque of interior landscapes, one dotted with grottoes, rolling hills, a garden wall, and a meandering pathway. As founding director and chief curator of programs at the nonprofit ThreeWalls gallery, Stratton organizes some of Chicago’s most

  • picks April 02, 2008

    Kendell Carter

    In “Common Ground,” Kendell Carter pushes the conflation of high art, the decorative, and youth culture to its ludicrous if logical conclusion. The resulting display of hip-hop home furnishings and coordinating wall art is both one-liner and a whole lot more, effecting an almost unbearable dialectic between the coolly appealing and the overtly self-critical. Amid graffiti-tag coat racks, a chandelier strung with fat shoelaces, and a casual scattering of metalized milk-crate coffee tables and ottomans, the Tradizzle Chairs, 2006, are a twisted standout. A pair of fussy wingbacks reupholstered in

  • William Cordova

    The title of William Cordova’s exhibition at ThreeWalls, “the house that frank lloyd wright built for atahualpa, fred hampton y mark clark,” was the first clue that I might lack the knowledge necessary to recognize the artist’s varied references. Wright I got, but Atahualpa? Fred Hampton and Mark Clark sounded familiar—but maybe too familiar: They could be any Americans, and my grasp of US history is weak. Further poking around Cordova’s careful arrangement of small found-object sculptures and minimal collages unearthed further doubts: Tupac Shakur is a dead rapper, check, but Tupac Amaru? Who

  • picks February 17, 2008

    Caroline Picard

    Artist Caroline Picard is something of a local enigma: By day, she runs the Green Lantern Gallery & Press; by night, she writes endless, loopy novels, doodles awkward comix, and fashions fabulously hued assemblages from cut paper and gouache. Then, when no one’s looking, she dons a flowing cape, little gold shorts, white face paint, and a red mask, and off she goes as Fortuna. WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER HERO. COME SEE HER FOR 25¢ trumpets a retro playbill hanging in “Bygone(s),” Picard’s solo exhibition, which brings these personalities and projects together into a weirdly charming whole that gives

  • picks January 31, 2008

    Anne Wilson

    The fineness of thread belies its functionality. In Anne Wilson’s practice, though, the strength of thread is paramount, but not for its ability to bind other objects. Here, thread, and sometimes wire filament, is knit, crocheted, and wound to create independent structures that sometimes struggle to hold themselves up and other times fall down with grace. In Portable City (all works 2008), the resulting forms are displayed in a series of Plexiglas cases mounted on spindly metal legs and clustered, mazelike, around the main gallery. The work’s title, mode of display, and domed forms bring to mind

  • picks January 30, 2008

    Heather Mekkelson

    A field can be fallow or fertile, marked out for sporting games, witness to a battle, or a branch of study. Heather Mekkelson’s installation Debris Field, 2008, puts each of these meanings into play, with results both devastating and contemplative, dead quiet and deafening. Meticulously arranged across the gallery space is a walk-in composition of discrete ruins, among them a dirty blanket roll sheathed in tattered plastic, wrecked horizontal blinds twisted up in the shoulder strap of a lady’s handbag, a no-longer-upright electric fan caked in sand, and three linoleum-clad stairs with a lone

  • picks January 16, 2008

    Nicolas Lampert/Shawnee Barton

    What do you get when you cross a locust with an army tank? The answer to this riddle is provided by “Machine Animal Collages: New Work,” Nicolas Lampert’s first solo show in Chicago. At once silly and dead serious, Lampert’s digital prints collapse living organisms and mechanical contraptions into tidy hybrid creatures that economically and disarmingly—though never moralistically—address the nightmare of genetic engineering gone wrong. They also dismantle the all-too-common association between invention and progress: Witness Machine Insect: Handle Bug, 2007, which seamlessly and ludicrously

  • picks November 13, 2007

    Ann Toebbe

    In a series of painted interiors, Anne Toebbe explores the way memory and visual media filter and organize recollections of place. A half-dozen meticulous gouache paintings on panel depict various church sanctuaries in a style that owes as much to Photoshop and circuit boards as to Cubism and Byzantine icons. Spaces are skewed and flattened, run through a grayscale filter and schematized into tidy, stacked geometric configurations that echo the logical fragmentation of stained-glass windows, which feature here as luminous pictures within the picture. Toebbe painted these and other spaces from

  • picks November 12, 2007

    Joe Sola

    The title of Joe Sola’s solo exhibition just about says it all, which is to say that it says just about nothing. “The Buck Stops Here” gathers recent watercolors by the self-proclaimed white male artist, who unabashedly and somewhat pathetically revisits many clichés and fashions some new ones along the way. These are bad paintings—in a very good way—and they celebrate their own lameness with a fatalistic, self-deprecating hand. Industrial Buttons, 2007, depicts a metal box with three knobs, labeled START, STOP, and GIVE UP. Likewise, Three Large Ribbons, 2007, depicts the prizes given for FIRST

  • picks November 04, 2007

    Jason S. Yi

    A famous mountain range in eastern China, Huangshan (which translates as “Yellow Mountain”) has for hundreds of years been a place of poetic inspiration—serving as the frequent subject of traditional landscape paintings—and is now the country’s most popular tourist destination. Milwaukee-based artist Jason S. Yi visited the site this year and surreptitiously took pictures of tourists as they posed for their companions’ cameras. The overall effect is less cynical than one might expect. While the photographs in “Yellow Mountain Series No. 2” record people posing compliantly for their Kodak moment

  • Chris Verene

    Chris Verene has been documenting family and friends in his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, since 1984, when he was sixteen years old. A recent exhibition presented forty-four images shot between 1987 and 2006. The idea of an artist creating an extended photographic series about the people and places that surround him is nothing new. We’ve been looking at shots of Nan Goldin’s adopted demimonde and Tina Barney’s well-to-do family for years. But novelty is not what makes Verene’s project worth viewing, nor should it be. On the contrary, his photographs hum with familiarity and constancy, as

  • picks March 13, 2007

    “The Micromentalists”

    If you’re going to be a Marxist these days, it’s best to do so with tongue firmly in cheek. And while you’re at it, why not go ahead and write an artist manifesto, another blast from the idealistic past? Patrick W. Welch and friends have done just that, inaugurating “The Micromentalist Manifesto” with this surprisingly enjoyable group show in two proximate venues—surprising because neither Marxism nor manifestos typically augur much of a good time. The premise of Micromentalism boils down to two basic points (though the manifesto is twenty items long): Great art can be small, and art should be

  • James Lee Byars

    If James Lee Byars, one of Detroit’s finest artists, is seldom considered as a product of his hometown, much less of the United States, a comprehensive American exhibition of the peripatetic artist’s oeuvre has nevertheless long been overdue. Byars, who died in Cairo in 1997, produced his formative work in Japan and spent much of the rest of his life shuttling between Venice, Los Angeles, Bern, and many other places, living an idiosyncratic life-work that was part midwestern, part European, and part “Oriental,” as his sui generis Japanese-inspired aesthetic has often been called. A recent

  • picks July 05, 2006

    Zhang Dali

    A photograph once testified to the truth of an occurrence: This thing happened here and left this impression, captured through reflected light. If, in the era of Photoshop and digital cameras, the absoluteness of that truth has become unfocused, in fact the manipulation of images has been going on for far longer. In “A Second History,” Beijing-based artist Zhang Dali presents ninety examples of photo doctoring from Mao-era China. Retouched images published in state-sponsored print media are paired with unaltered versions and original negatives that Zhang Dali dug up in local archives. The