Critics’ Picks

View of “ektor garcia: ya me vine, ya me voy,” 2020.

View of “ektor garcia: ya me vine, ya me voy,” 2020.


ektor garcia

2055 West Cermak Road
October 23–December 13, 2020

ektor garcia’s site-responsive exhibition is a humble, poetic offering for Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the heart of the city’s Mexican community. His installation features handmade ceramics that cluster on the floor and wedge their way into the corners, ledges, and windowsills of this artist-run storefront space, conjuring the intertwined histories of Mesoamerican lore and craft through his earnest, restless experimentation.

Dozens of the sculptures, shaped like teardrops, line the main gallery, imbuing it with a rhythmic, ritualistic aura. They vary in color, texture, and size—from tiny red blips and raw unglazed mounds to imposing shards bearing crackly glazes or jet-black, orifice-like hollows. The low horizontal sprawl of objects is interrupted by a handful of hanging pieces, including a chain of fired porcelain links humorously titled white tears (all works 2020) and the imposing portal new orleans/chicago, a tapestry of crocheted leather that hangs by the front window, revealing its intricately repeating patterns to passersby on Cermak Road just outside. Other little offerings seem to crop up unexpectedly, like a cluster of the peculiar drops set back above the entrance—all but invisible from most vantage points—and a menacingly sensual burst pod form, flujo (flow), in the corner of another window.

garcia beckons us into his esoteric display—which feels like a spiritual space of respite on his journey through the world—with openness and reticence in equal parts. The title of the exhibition, “ya me vine, ya me voy” (which, roughly translated from Spanish, means “I’m here, I’m leaving”), invokes garcia’s personal connection to the city, where he made graffiti and performed guerilla art actions as a young student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. One of his street paintings—a rendering of the word llorona, a reference to La Llorona, the “weeping woman” of Latinx folklore—still remains by the Chicago River.