Michelle Grabner

  • Ellen Berkenblit, Lumivores, 2022, oil on linen, 76 × 114".

    Ellen Berkenblit

    Pictured in unvarying profile, the same lithely painted goth girl with a kohl-rimmed eye, sour little mouth, and pointy nose made an appearance in ten of the thirteen paintings comprising Ellen Berkenblit’s show “Umberville.” Yet this was not an exhibition of portraits. In addition to the disaffected cartoon protagonist, the works on view repeated a limited lexicon of stock characters including various feline species and an angelic, golden-haired youth. Assorted props of obscure significance—a French horn, a gramophone horn, a streetlamp, lightbulbs, pink peonies, and bottles of phosphorescent

  • Allan McCollum, If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Canon, 1972, canvas, lacquer stain, varnish, silicone adhesive, caulking, 9' 1 1⁄4" × 27' 6 1⁄2". From the series “Constructed Paintings,” 1969–ca. 1974.

    Allan McCollum

    Begun in 1969 and completed around 1974, Allan McCollum’s “Constructed Paintings” issued from intelligible systems of repetition. The series predates McCollum’s critically influential and institutionally embraced cast “Plaster Surrogates,” 1982, by a decade. The unstretched paintings are assembled from many small square or rectangular pieces of canvas, joined with rubberized caulking into orderly and rhythmic abstract patterns—evoking references that range from architectural tile work to Helen Frankenthaler’s abstract compositions.

    The largest piece in “Works 1970–73,” an exhibition drawn from

  • Jennie C. Jones, Split Bar, End Note, 2021, diptych, acoustic panel and acrylic on canvas, each 48 × 36 × 3 1⁄2".

    Jennie C. Jones

    “Jennie C. Jones: Dynamics,” an exhibition of new work by the contemporary American artist, was a Minimalist offering conceived to buttress “Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle,” a concurrent show on view until September 5, 2022, featuring works culled from the Guggenheim Foundation’s own holdings. (Another presentation by Etel Adnan, which closed this past January, and an upcoming one by Cecilia Vicuña are part of the museum’s program of satellite shows organized around the Kandinsky exhibition).

    In contrast to the exuberant visual vocabularies that permeate the Russian artist’s pictures, Jones’s

  • Dutes Miller, Fuck Me, 2021, acrylic paint, collage, and copper leaf on panel, 12 × 12".

    Dutes Miller

    Dutes Miller’s presentation at Western Exhibitions indulged in copious amounts of found and altered gay pornography. The first line of the show’s press release stated that the artist “celebrate[s] queer-sex positivity as a form of resistance to the dominant culture.” This is a laudable position, but it’s funny to consider in relation to queer theorist Leo Bersani’s famous claim: “There is a big secret about sex: most people don’t like it.” Irrespective of this assertion, Miller loves sex and guilelessly proffers it as an unequivocal good. This attitude is unabashedly illustrated in the twelve

  • Deborah Kass, Daddy I Would Love to Dance, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 78 × 78".

    Deborah Kass

    The vertical text-based painting Just a Shot Away, 2015, commands the entrance hall to Deborah Kass’s inaugural solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta, a mainstay of Chicago’s West Loop for nearly twenty years. Rendered across a variegated black ground, the stacked cerulean text is culled from the rock anthem “Gimme Shelter,” the opening track on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 album Let It Bleed. The graphically composed painting and its appropriated stanza set the stage for a scintillating collection of works that graft borrowed language—funny, banal, upbeat, and grim—onto Minimalist-inspired compositions

  • Clotilde Jiménez, The Family Tradition, 2020, charcoal, fabric, and wallpaper on paper, 20 × 20 1/2".

    Clotilde Jiménez

    “The Contest,” Clotilde Jiménez’s first solo exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, featured eleven prodigiously sized collages and a quartet of bronze busts. Jiménez’s robust figurative oeuvre has consistently highlighted the intersectionality of queerness, blackness, class, religion, and Hispanic heritage. This show continued such investigations, but they were sifted through a more personal narrative: The artist described his presentation as an “open letter” to his formerly estranged father.

    For the collages, Jiménez assembled a range of materials—including fabric, plastic, charcoal, and acrylic

  • Harold Mendez, The years now (detail), 2020, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Harold Mendez

    A mass of snarled tree roots girdles the middle stretch of a long, galvanized-steel fence post in Harold Mendez’s but I sound better since you cut my throat, 2017. Juxtapositions of organic materials with “artifacts” culled from different contexts characterized the artist’s sparse and contemplative installation spanning two modestly sized adjoining galleries at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. The subtly bent and twisted pole, wedged at a forty-five-degree angle between the floor and the ceiling, crosscut the white cube’s volume and evoked the iconic architectural interventions of

  • View of “In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney,” 2019–20. From left: Waterfall, 1974; Waters Above the Firmament, 1976; In Fields of Light, 1975.

    Lenore Tawney

    IN 1957, at the age of fifty, Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) left Chicago and moved to 27 Coenties Slip in New York to begin creating the second half of her pioneering oeuvre. Prior to her move, she had studied with Alexander Archipenko, László Moholy-Nagy, Emerson Woelffer, and Marli Ehrman at the Institute of Design in Chicago, and with Finnish textile artist Martta Taipale in North Carolina. These experiences shaped her early career as a weaver skilled enough to develop a diaphanous, nonhorizontal, drawing-like technique dubbed “open-warp.” In the catalogue for her current show at the John Michael

  • Allan McCollum, The Shapes Project: Shapes Monoprints (detail), 2005–, framed laser-jet prints, dimensions variable.

    Allan McCollum

    Curated by Alex Gartenfeld and Stephanie Seidel

    Arrangements of Allan McCollum’s iconic Plaster Surrogates, 1982–, occupy museum walls around the world, serving as exemplars of authorial and institutional critique. Yet as this survey of five decades of work will make clear, the artist’s practice now demands a more expansive interpretation. Alongside pieces such as Perfect Vehicles, 1985–, and Over Ten Thousand Individual Works, 1987–, deadpan ideational proxies and imitations of mass-produced abstraction, the show will feature McCollum’s recent collaborations with regional communities and historical



    As was fitting for a show dedicated to a Dada scholar, “FMSBWTÖZÄU PGGIV-..?MÜ (FOR STEPHEN FOSTER)” examined the disruptive capacities of invented languages and the material qualities of letters, symbols, and words. The eponymous curator, historian, and writer, who died in 2018, was a professor emeritus in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa and a mentor to the gallerist Shane Campbell, who is an alumnus of Foster’s department. Foster’s curatorial work included the influential exhibitions “The Avant-Garde and the Text,” cocurated with Estera Milman at the Visual Studies

  • Theaster Gates, Mama’s Milk, 2018, metal, neon, 114 × 116 × 12 3⁄4".

    Theaster Gates

    Three neon signs punctuate Theaster Gates’s powerful installation of new paintings and sculptures. Progress Mill, 2018, the only work occupying the spacious entrance gallery, takes the form of a single generic infographic. White and red neon tubes delineate the circular symmetry of a reductive pie chart outlined in black, seemingly bereft of any textual information but in fact adapted from W. E. B. Du Bois’s visualizations of Black demographics in the United States in 1900—specifically Du Bois’s black-and-red line drawing titled “Proportions of Whites and Negroes in the different classes of

  • Nathaniel Robinson, Untitled, 2016, oil on canvas, 15 × 22".

    Nathaniel Robinson

    In “The Sensible Range,” his 2013 exhibition at Chicago’s Devening Projects, Nathaniel Robinson offered up an installation of simplified vernacular sculptures. Last year, in his exhibition at New York’s Magenta Plains, “No One’s Things,” he deployed scale shifts and graphic color to highlight the uncanny in the shapes of disposable cups, a milk jug, and a pup tent. Robinson’s most recent exhibition at Devening Projects was straightforwardly titled “Paintings” and marked a departure from deftly crafted trompe l’oeil objects to representational paintings. Even in this shift, Robinson proved adept