Critics’ Picks

Danielle Gustafson-Sundell, empty (a minute, a month, a year, a day), 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Danielle Gustafson-Sundell, empty (a minute, a month, a year, a day), 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Chicago

“Can Bigfoot Get You a Beer?”

Alogon
1049 N Paulina #3R
October 4–October 26, 2008

Exhibition curators Anthony Elms and Philip von Zweck plaintively write, “Some of the artists in ‘Can Bigfoot Get You a Beer?’ may be familiar. Or possibly the objects encountered only seem recognizable, a blur in the eyes and a thing in the mind. After all, when fools rush in, blobsquatches are known to run. And we are rooting for the fools.” This don’t-trust-what-you-see rhetoric is of a piece with the work of the mostly Chicago-based artists collected in a vast (by local standards) third-floor apartment gallery. The highlights are the three contributions by women in the show. Laura Mackin’s multifaceted Rabbit, squirrels, cartoons, etc., 2006, which features over an hour of amateurish video footage documenting a few rabbits in a field, plays on a monitor while an equally uneventful composite photo drawn from the video hangs on an adjacent wall. Rounding out this piece is a staple-bound collection of colored ink-jet prints, resting on top of the monitor, comprising yet more composites from the inelegant video of grazing rabbits. Specific digital date and time indicators grace the corner of each image frame, suggesting that this visual fodder is derived from an objective study. But the subject of this evidence remains inscrutable. The result is humorous and weird, not unlike the bird photographs by French artist Jean-Luc Mylayne. Danielle Gustafson-Sundell suspends a pair of cowboy boots from the ceiling. Each is pierced with a small hole and given a perching bar, transforming them into homes for nesting birds. Mindy Rose Schwartz’s Column, 2008, also hanging from the gallery’s exposed ceiling joist, is a macramé extravagance. This vertical composition, made by knotting lengths of white rope, holds incongruent treasures similar to that of a bowerbird’s nest or an old spiderweb: Chunky beads, sticks, and ceramic heads are entangled within this towering Hobby Lobby nightmare. Gary Cannone, a Los Angeles–based artist, contributes The Clint Eastwood, 2007, a penciled list written directly onto the wall that maunders on in formal declaration: THE CLINT EASTWOOD OF POLITICS, THE CLINT EASTWOOD OF THIS GENERATION, THE CLINT EASTWOOD OF THE BIRD WORLD, THE CLINT EASTWOOD OF ISRAEL, and so on. Other concealed truths and intriguing deceits abound in the paintings and sculptures by Noah Rorem, John Arndt, David Schutter, and Tyler Britt.