Did You See Heaven?
In a conversation with the artist Mary Heilmann at the Art Institute’s Modern Wing a while back, she asked “Did you see Heaven?” in reference to her brushy green painting (titled Heaven) then on exhibit. I remember so well the way she mischievously smiled that question. With big eyes. It still makes me smile.
It is that knowing yet playful attitude that inspires Did You See Heaven: SPECTRA and WYSIWYG, two presentations of paintings at PEREGRINEPROGRAM. Mary Heilmann folds into her work the legacies of Albers and de Kooning, and the two shows of Did You See Heaven? are built from those ideas, taking as their starting points the potential of intimacy with color and gesture in abstract work.
Beyond their essential material, paintings are also conditions for self-awareness. Did You See Heaven? is less about an agreement of recognition than it is about our differences in the presence of these works. Implicit in the statement are two other questions. If heaven is that state of bliss and ecstasy, could we see, or find it in abstract paintings? More importantly, if one agrees that the heady and sublime is indeed within reach from these works, where will we locate it and how will we understand it? Yes, there might be a bit of hyperbole here, maybe, just a little bit, but let’s not forget Heilmann’s big eyes.
Did You See Heaven: SPECTRA
Just as our “heavens” differ, we will each find our own way of experiencing this display of work. Individuated by form and scale, color in these paintings punctuate and notate, become figures, become experience, echo and contrast each other. In addition, the range of approaches, materials and postures further complicate our perceptions and conceptions. Through a spectra of physical and affective textures these works call our attention to subtle, even unnoticed things, saturating both eyes and mind.
What arrests each of us and how we apprehend the single work and exhibition is unpredictable. We come to these paintings with unique inclinations, memories and cadences. One might draw moth-like to a bright thing, a dark thing, remember the time when, stop a minute for, think an irrational thought, or slow, to imagine the work being made. Abstract works are unending because they are so flexible and indeed, the nimbleness of these paintings invites ours as the forms push, and pull, and the colors wheel.
The artists: Levi Budd and Jack Holström Schneider live and work in Chicago, IL, where they are completing their degrees at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Michelle Grabner is a Professor and Chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at SAIC. She co-directs the artist project space The Suburban in Oak Park, IL, and The Poor Farm, a non-profit art space and residency in Little Wolf, WI. Ethan Greenbaum lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has forthcoming exhibitions at Thierry Goldberg Projects, NY, and the Aldrich Museum, CT. Sam Jaffe lives and works in Chicago, IL. She will open a show at Grand Bizzare Gallery this August. Larry Lee works and teaches at SAIC, and recently had a solo exhibition at Kirk’s Apartment last November. Li Trincere has shown throughout the US and Europe, and has received an NEA grant along with Pollock/ Krasner grants. Trincere recently had a solo exhibition with MINUS SPACE, in NYC. Don Voisine is a member of The National Academy of Art, and president of American Abstract Artists. His work is also exhibited widely throughout the US and Europe. Jon Waites was born in Santa Fe, NM, and now lives and works in Chicago, IL.
PEREGRINEPROGRAM presents Levi Budd, Michelle Grabner, Ethan Greenbaum, Sam Jaffe, Larry Lee, Jack Holström Schneider, Li Trincere, Don Voisine, and Jon Waites in Did You See Heaven: SPECTRA from May 6 – Jun 10, 2012.
An opening reception will be held Sunday, May 6, from 4-7 p.m.
Did You See Heaven: WYSIWYG
PEREGRINEPROGRAM will present McKeever Donovan, Susanne Doremus, Ron Ewert, Richard Galling, Antonia Gurkovska, Sofia Leiby, Josh Reames, Ezara Spangl, and Patricia Treib in Did You See Heaven: WYSIWYG this September.
more info to follow…