Sep 10th 2010

Ben Stone and Joey Fauerso

@ Western Exhibitions

119 N Peoria St, 2A, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, September 10th, from 5PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, October 9th

Ben Stone’ six new sculptures and one small painting transform two-dimensional images culled from popular sources into compelling and uncanny three-dimensional forms.

The shocking beating of Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa at a Chicago White Sox game in 2002 forms the centerpiece of this show. In the incident, White Sox fans William Ligue and his son, highly intoxicated, ran onto the field unprovoked and attacked Gamboa, knocking him to the ground, landing several punches, then took a beating from outraged Kansas City players. The Ligues were ultimately arrested. Years later, this random act of violence still haunts Stone. His large sculpture, three life-size monochromatic figures rendered in resin-coated polystyrene, captures this abhorrent scene as Gamboa is first knocked to the ground, his cap flying, with the Ligues throwing errant haymakers. Stone sees the pure rage and beautiful futility of this act as a disruption in the system, a ghost in the machine, as if the Ligues were possessed by a strange energy from an angrier time steeped in Chicago’s darker cultural histories of the thinly veiled policy of segregation of the first Daley administration, the stockyards and Steve Dahl’s infamous disco demolition.

Other pieces in the show depict criminals or symbols of criminal behavior. Stone wrestles the superflat characters Team Rocket, the villainous threesome from the animated television series Pokémon into a low relief sculpture. His fascination with the Pokémon evildoers comes from the anime show with his daughter and admiring the team’s persistence to “denounce the evils of truth and love” despite the constant failure of their nefarious plans. Stone finds their absolute certainty and dedication to doomed outcomes analogous to his own artistic production. Despite his perceived failures, Stone finds himself heading to the studio every day with fresh abandon.

Other works in the show include two sculptures which render a representation of the criminal neighborhood watch signs, an anachronistic image of a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and overcoat with the lapels turned up, into minimalist totems; a five-foot tall elephant, sitting on its haunches, made out of thick coils of twisted rope, based on a small, almost guilty-seeming tchotcke elephant; a mini bust of a crying Abraham Lincoln wearing a hand-made Chicago Bears pom-pom topped knit cap; and a small painting on rope of William Ligue (one of the Gamboa attackers) and his chest-covering tattoo.

Western Exhibitions kicks off the fall season with Act Natural, a solo exhibition by Joey Fauerso in Gallery 2. Fauerso will show two videos and figurative watercolors on paper that combine landscapes and figures, exploring a grey area between fantasy and reality.

Over the past few years Fauerso has been working on a series of hand-painted animations that represent different kinds of physical and metaphorical transcendence. She draws from the histories of painting, dance and performance art while utilizing digital animation tools to explore the nature of human consciousness. The two videos in this show introduce live action to her work.

Me Time is an eight-minute video showing Fauerso making out with a series of puppets, including a fire fighter, a policeman and a construction worker. She attempts to make as “real” a connection as possible with the ridiculous-looking puppets.

Clearing, a three-minute video, superimposes live figures over antique wallpaper depicting a forested grove. Fauerso plays a flute in this forest and her music seduces a young naked man who twirls around until he collapses, while flocks of animated birds fly overhead. Fauerso is interested in challenging the history of images that equate the female body with nature: women as vulnerable, sexual creatures. Fauerso flips this script; in her paintings and videos, the male doesn’t control or dominate the landscape but is depicted as both vulnerable and erotic.

Her watercolor paintings of lone figures being erased or subsumed by a void marry the process of painting with the painted figure, continuing her theme of joining the real and the illusory.

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