Lori Waxman

  • Debris Field, 2008, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    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

  • Nicolas Lampert, Machine Insect: Handle Bug, 2007, digital print, 17 x 13".
    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

  • St. John the Evangelical, 2007, acrylic gouache on panel, 50 x 30".
    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

  • Industrial Buttons, 2007, watercolor and pencil on paper, 22 x 15".
    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

  • Jason S. Yi, #2 (from “Yellow Mountain Series No. 1”), 2007, LightJet print, 24 x 36".
    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

  • Patrick W. Welch, Micromen, 2007, acrylic on panel, 3 x 5".
    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

  • The First Sports Meeting of the National Army, 1952, 2006.
    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

  • Installation view, 2006.
    picks June 07, 2006

    Munro Galloway

    Every day for the past year Munro Galloway has painted a picture, recording something of the world in front of him. He might have been in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on an interstate in Montana, or making his way through the Cascade Mountains, but regardless, out came a hazy, lush, colorful image in oil on gessoed paper: starry night skies, empty lots, lazy green fields, lounging friends, a lone girl. The resulting series, titled “Green River” after the terminus of Lewis and Clark’s search for the Northwest Passage, fuses calendar, travelogue, and storyboard. More than the sum of its parts—save

  • SITE Santa Fe Biennial

    While other biennials present grandiose curatorial themes and ballooning artists’ lists, Ottmann, a New York–based independent curator and scholar, pares down SITE Santa Fe for its sixth installment, enigmatically titled “Still Points of the Turning World,” to approximately forty works (none of which has ever been seen in the United States) by just thirteen international artists.

    While other biennials present grandiose curatorial themes and ballooning artists’ lists, Ottmann, a New York–based independent curator and scholar, pares down SITE Santa Fe for its sixth installment, enigmatically titled “Still Points of the Turning World,” to approximately forty works (none of which has ever been seen in the United States) by just thirteen international artists, including Jennifer Bartlett, Stephen Dean, Peter Doig, Jonathan Meese, Wangechi Mutu, and Carsten Nicolai. Primarily arranged in separate rooms by artist, the biennial is more than the sum of

  • Bad Moon Rising, 2005–2006.
    picks March 14, 2006

    Stefan Kürten

    Matrices of organic and man-made patterns compose the worlds of Stefan Kürten’s shimmery, large-scale architectural landscapes. Chain-link fencing divides a twilit sky; trellises splinter overhanging boughs; wooden slats line a house; bricks and stones configure shelter; leafy flora undulates, symmetrically, everywhere; and then across it all fall endless forms of shadow and light. Rare is the unbroken, untwined surface. The modernist houses depicted, despite their inherent restraint, prove no more resilient than their Gothic and Victorian counterparts at resisting the incursion of allover