Sunday, November 23, 2014

Terra/Form Blog


Terra/Form: Cultivating a Community is a project by students in Rhoda Rosen's Contemporary Cartography class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Please visit the Terra/Form blog to follow the development of this project. Updates are also available on Clutch Gallery's Facebook page.


Terra/Form: Cultivating A Community

November 20, 2014 – December 20, 2014.


Maps are often thought of as tangible guides to territories—concrete or abstract, philosophical or scientific, political or imaginary—but they also bring new landscapes into being. They are the physical embodiments of a set of decisions and protocols, blueprints for the act of walking, traversing the land, and a way of being. Contemporary artists, whose artistic practice incorporates walking, understand this.  Their works explore a range of questions from the arbitrary nature of national boundaries to the privatization of public space, while they present new maps for bringing new social communities into being.

Terra/Form: Cultivating A Community offers one such possibility.  Terra/Form is a group show in which artists have come together to create a metaphorical garden, a microcosm of a community they wish to see made visible in the world. On view at Clutch Gallery, Terra/Form provides an intensely personal viewing experience while also activating public conversation. As the gallery itself moves with its caretaker, each step taken during the scheduled exhibition materializes the thinking and the performance of a journey. Walking becomes an aesthetic experience and a community-building dialogue.

Just as walking symbolically reclaims land or space, so does planting and tending a garden. The artists at Clutch Gallery present a viewing experience that enacts a kind of cultural planting of seeds and setting down of roots, a simple gesture that encourages reconnecting with the earth, and with the community of other viewers and gardeners, a mobile act that conjures the preciousness of running one's fingers through the earth itself.
"When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities." 
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Terra/Form is an exhibition organized and curated by students enrolled in Rhoda Rosen's Contemporary Cartography course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In this course, students read, write, present and walk the city exploring both object-based and more ephemeral artistic mapmaking practices while calling into question the scientific and art historical languages by which mapmaking is framed.

Featured artists: Melody Bilbo, Christen Calloway, Katherine C. Doyle, Tall Tim Llop, LaAndrea Deloyce Mitchel, Paulina Ramirez Parra, Judy Radovsky, and Landon Williams.



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 http://scottwolniak.com/

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 www.erinwashington.com.