Apr 5th 2014

Ben Murray: Centerville, & Pedro Vélez: #DrunkDictators

@ Monique Meloche Gallery

2154 W. Division St., Chicago IL

Opening Saturday, April 5th, from 4PM - 7PM

On view through Saturday, May 31st

Ben Murray’s atmospheric images depict banal objects as transformed by the effects of memory, mood and painterly improvisation. For his first solo exhibition at moniquemeloche, Murray presents recent, large-scale oil paintings posing as vernacular symbols of experience from the artist’s suburban Indiana hometown, the land formerly known as Centerville.

This centrally located town has a complicated history. Claimed as Wiggins Point in 1835 when Jeremiah Wiggins came upon a clearing of land along the Sauk Trail by the Potawatomie Indians, it was renamed Centerville after only three years – when Jeremiah died and because of its central location in the east-west trade route. Forty-seven years later, in 1885, when the first Post Office was established in the area and because another Centerville, Indiana previously existed, the land’s name had to change once again. It was briefly Merrillsville and finally Merrillville after the brothers Dudley and William Merrill, who were some of the earliest settlers. Merrillville officially became a town in 1971 and a major destination point for the white flight from Gary, Indiana for the following two decades – the time of Murray’s youth.

The paintings display the layering of attempts to claim images in stages of constant flux. With his time living in Indiana informing the work, Murray proposes to insert himself as an active member in the dialogue of the town’s erratic timeline informed by his own personal history. Placing the memory-derived work in the context of this historical setting, the artist intends to acknowledge the complicated relationships that image-making within painting has and can have for how we see and edit the past.

Ben Murray (American b. 1977, lives Chicago) received his MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2013 and his BFA from the Herron School of Art, Indianapolis in 2011. He was a 2014 Artist In Residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska and a 2012 MFA Resident at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, Michigan. He has recently exhibited at Northwestern University, Kaplan A.I.R Exhibitions, curated by John Neff; UIC Gallery 400, and “Revisiting Undomesticated” at Design Cloud, Chicago.

Pedro Vélez #DrunkDictators, 2014 on the wall @moniquemeloche

If you have not yet seen Pedro Vélez’s press grabbing installation at The Whitney Biennial 2014, then come see his “on the wall” project #DrunkDictators which was made as an extension of his work at the Whitney. An art critic as well as an artist, Vélez creates a visual essay in which art journalism, social media, beauty, race and political corruption collide. #DrunkDictators is a cryptic riddle, mimicking the way the majority of art critics distribute information, ideas and judgment. Combining text sourced from various art reviews with images of models (fellow artists/critics/editors/former lovers), he creates a simultaneously optimistic and fatalistic dynamic amid stream-of-consciousness. “As a working critic and artist it is often difficult for me to separate these two practices” explains Vélez. Inventing a fictitious setting as a way to push his own agenda, Vélez transforms the “on the wall” space into an artful form of critique – one of morality and ethics.

Pedro Vélez (b. Puerto Rico 1971, lives New York) obtained his M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999) and his B.A. in Communications at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico (1995). Vélez is included in The Whitney Biennial 2014 and was #1 artist picked by The Huffington Post. His work was most recently included in A Study in Midwestern Appropriation at the Hyde Park Art Center Chicago curated by Michelle Grabner (2013/14) and he has exhibited at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, PR, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in NY, Locust Projects in Miami, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and El Museo del Barrio in NY. His work as an artist and writer has been discussed in the New York Times, Frieze, Artlies and The Miami Herald among many other publications. For 10 years Pedro Vélez maintained a regular column about the art scenes in San Juan and Chicago for Artnet Magazine and his writing has been published in Newcity, New Art Examiner and Arte al Día. He was also the controversial editor of the blog El Box Score in San Juan. Pedro Vélez’s work adopts a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating painting, large-scale wall collages, posters, web based narratives, and fake exhibition announcements.

Official Website

More events on this date

Tags: , , ,