You may have already noticed that I replaced my old Contact widget with a page entitled “Free Stuff.” As I explain on the page:
My role as an artist is not limited to making art. I also absorb art-related input, just as lungs must breathe in before they can breathe out.
This intimate connection with art is a gift with which I was born. In my opinion, the best thing to do with a gift is to share it. It might serve as inspiration for you too, or at least give you a larger experience of kindred information.
I you let your cursor linger over the Free Stuff widget, a drop-down will appear with specific category options. The same options are available on the Free Stuff page itself. There are currently four categories of Free Stuff to choose from (three of which are active): Art Reviews, Book Reviews, Comics Reviews and Food for Thought.
Since I set these pages up a few days ago, they have contained only links to past blog entries. Today marks my first entry onto the Art Reviews page of new material! Read on….
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center always has great art exhibits. For example, there is a meditative exhibit by Matthew Girson which evokes the experience of stepping into a dark library at night, one’s eyes slowly adjusting to the surroundings. The windows in the exhibit rooms are covered with black curtains. The paintings at first appear to be solid black. As you move from room to room, more details are visible to the naked eye. The artist has actually painted shelves lined with books and thick drapery.
It was an intriguing exhibit, but the main one I want to write about is Hebru Brantley: Parade Day Rain. I’ve put a lot of thought lately into working in series. Hebru Brantley is someone who has mastered the process. This exhibit contains everything from hand-drawn comic book pages to fiberglass sculptures. The pieces are united by a fictitious child-superhero and the contrast between hope and disappointment. In particular, Brantley explores the way in which we elevate our celebrity-figures to superhuman status only to be disappointed by their humanity.
I appreciated Brantley’s appropriation of styles and techniques normally reserved for comic books, cartoons and children’s book illustration. This made the work accessible, but from an intellectual standpoint, it also highlighted the blurry line between the stylization associated with entertainment and the formalisms of certain fine arts practices. Specifically, these images verge on Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism.
Brantley might be more comfortable thinking of himself as part of the Pop Art tradition, especially when he borrows existing pop culture references (see the X-men logo, below). But Brantley’s brand of Pop Art, unlike Warhol’s, is warm. If there’s a layer of irony, it is in service to overall compassion. These pieces make me empathize with fallen heroes rather than dance on their graves.