Sunday, June 15, 2014

Nuts by Scott Wolniak

June 12 - July 22

 Nuts is the ongoing project of Scott Wolniak, which he considers to be an unlimited edition.   With labor-intensive care, the artist crafts painted plaster replicas of common shelled nuts.   Based on a joke about value in art, coupled with the surrealist notion that all things can transform in the mind's eye, Wolniak takes great care to produce accurate renderings of these rather dumb models.  The pieces can function in a variety of contexts, including art galleries, domestic spaces, or here, in this box!  For Clutch, the plaster nuts have been mounted like bobble-heads, onto small springs.  The nuts are looked down upon, and seem to be quivering or in orbit with one-another.  Clutch has also been equipped with a bamboo floor as an additional piece of this installation.

Scott Wolniak is a multidisciplinary studio artist based in Chicago. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, Chicago Reader, New City, and the Houston Chronicle, among others and is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Joan Flasch Book Art Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and many private collections.  He is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.

See more at

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Clutch Gallery visits the The Arts of Life

Part II of Captain Morely Miniscule's adventures as Clutch's docent.

Located on 2010 West Carroll Ave. in Chicago, The Arts ofLife is a charismatic band of artists who perform music, write poetry and create art. The Arts of Life is committed to providing quality, innovative services for artists with developmental disabilities.

Clutch and Captain Morley Miniscule visited The Arts of Life on May 22nd for a viewing of Erin Washington's Untitled (Aerophyte). Captain Miniscule spoke to resident artist "Chris" who said the current installation reminded him of sea creatures. "Like sea foam under the water," he elaborated. Another artist, "Pablo," wanted to know more about the reason the gallery was so small. He told Captain Miniscule that he liked going to the Art Institute, but hadn't been in a while. He thought it was great that Clutch could come to his studio for a visit.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Clutch Gets Studious with Erin Washington’s Untitlted (Aerophyte)

A report by Captain Morely Miniscule for the Society of Smallness

Clutch Gallery was on hand at The Art Institute’s Annual Curriculum Fair on Thursday, May 15th. Clutched by Society of Smallness’s representative and docent Captain Morely Miniscule, the exhibit Untitled (Aerophyte) by Erin Washington cross-pollinated with teachers to produce an intoxicating infusion of creativity and instruction. The Curriculum Fair showcased juried lesson plans featuring visual art to teach across the curriculum. Erin's work was received with great enthusiasm and elicited a host of reactions: "As a child, I always loved either small things or exaggeratedly large things," said one visitor. Captain Miniscule kept his lips "pursed" when pressed for details about the nature (pun very intended!) of the exhibit.  Clutch curator—as well as strategist for the fair—Georgina Valverde, later shared with Captain Miniscule that the installation was partly inspired by Walter De Maria s New York EarthRoom.

This was Captain Minuscule’s first outing as Clutch’s docent.  Though he was self aware that the 25-inch wooden purse was smart and made him look good, he understood the mission: managing one of the smallest traveling host environments for curated artwork. Captain Miniscule encountered a few challenges with sight angles and distance lengths as he adjusted to meet individual patrons’ viewing needs. The appropriate context for viewing art is an age-old question: Behind ropes and protected by guards to keep viewers at arm’s length? Or close enough to allow them to touch and potentially make off with the work? In its youthful, bounding exuberance, Clutch makes an active case (again, pun very well intended) for the latter.

The intimacy of the experience invited open dialogue about Erin's perspectives on art and nature. Many teachers mused on the relationship between the gold Mylar environment and the air plants they suspected could not survive without dirt to support them. Other patrons were familiar with these dirt-less creatures and expanded on their understanding of the nature of this plant. (Coincidentally, Clutch made its debut at the fair a year ago with an exhibition by Rachel Harper that also featured live plants!).

Overall, the Curriculum Fair was a success for the teachers—as well as Clutch Gallery—milling about in search of strategies to inspire their students as well as each other!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Untitled (aerophyte) by Erin Washington

May 3 - May 31, 2014

Clutch Gallery is pleased to present Untitled (aerophyte) by Erin Washington. Erin transforms the interior of   Clutch into a glowing environment filled with tillandsias, also known as aerophytes or air plants.  The gallery walls are covered with metallic gold Mylar, a material long associated with the space age and DIY survival tactics. Four different aerophytes are nestled in this luminous environment. The figurative symbiosis between “space blankets” and air plants manifests Erin’s ongoing preoccupation with temporality, flux, and ephemera.

Erin has adopted Mylar into her lexicon of materials as a phenomenological symbol for the sublime. In an earlier project, Don't Breathe Too Much, she lined an entire room with Mylar, forcing its residents to “live on gold” for a month. In this installation the tillandsias, which literally live on air, are extended the same golden nourishment, foregrounding their meaning as stand ins for vibrant, evolving artworks struggling to flourish—even survive—within the institutional discourse.

With a nod to Walter de Maria’s New York Earth Room—a room filled with 280,00 pounds of soil that must be watered and raked daily since 1977—Untitled (aerophyte) raises questions about the viability of ephemeral works of art. How can they be sustained and nurtured in their transplanted state, so alienated from their genesis? In the not too distant future, will astronauts farm in the void?       

Erin Washington embraces materiality and labor to examine themes of vulnerability and permanence. Questioning how time structures transitions in ephemera, she creates mixed media paintings, drawings, and sculptures, which unravel time through the performance of their making, and their subsequent degradation. Erin employs fugitive and symbolic materials such as chalk, blackberries, lemon juice, fire, ashes, moss, sugar, bone and saliva. Colors fade or pigments are burned: and the resulting objects emulate the cycles they describe. Her actions and products are in a constant state of flux, highlighting the disharmony between meaning, beauty, and a fundamentally messy universe. However, the temporality of the work’s making counters ambivalence; the immediate process and presentness  the work demands eclipses uncertainty…for the moment. 

Erin Washington is currently an instructor in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her MFA in 2011. Selected exhibitions include Johalla Projects, MDW fair, Julius Caesar, Murdertown, Columbia College NY, and Zolla Lieberman. More information at   

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Detritus by Krissy Wilson

February 1 -  March 1, 2014

Clutch Gallery is pleased to present Detritus, an interactive installation by Krissy Wilson that invites viewers to compose poetry using bits of found language on fragments of porcelain, pottery, and glass collected from tidal shorelines. An ongoing project, Detritus has manifested as cento—poems written from excerpts of existing texts—and live performances with a document camera.

For her show at Clutch Gallery, Wilson will ask gallery visitors to compose and document their own poems using shards collected from Dead Horse Bay, Brooklyn, New York.

You can read an interview about Detritus on  Varsity magazine.  Wilson also maintains a process blog at Wilson has received grants to execute Detritus at Dead Horse Bay and Fort Bragg, California. She hopes to perform an iteration of this project on the foreshore of the River Thames in London this summer.

Krissy Wilson is a writer and artist based in Chicago, IL. She is pursuing an MFA in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and she holds a BA in English from the University of Florida. She works at SAIC as a teaching assistant, writing fellow, and Special Collections Assistant in the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection. Her interdisciplinary practice is characterized by constraint-based writing and a desire to value discarded texts. Contact her by e-mail ( or follow her on Twitter at @abrvd.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Samples from the 41.8757° 87.6244° card file

Sample 1:
Take 5 minutes to walk one block; take 10 minutes to walk another block; take 15 minutes to walk the next block; and take 20 minutes to walk the 4th block.  Take a 10 second video for each block.

Sample 2:
Walk backwards toward the nearest parking sign; skip to the nearest bus stop; wait for the next bus; when it arrives, help the oldest person on the bus (don’t stay on!); get off the bus; follow the person nearest ot your left hand for two blocks. Mimic the way that he or she walks; walk across the street on your tippy toes at the intersection; walk back towards the group and find a person in front of you and within arm’s length of them, loudly clear your throat; before you meet up with the group, pop into the nearest retail store and examine the merchandise closest to the front door; leave and wait for the group.

Sample 3:
Walk in step with the person you are with.