Jul 27th 2014

Please join us July 27th, 2pm at Comfort Station for an artist talk with Greta Waller and Gwendolyn Zabicki. This will be the final day of their exhibition, Cool and Dark.

Summer won’t last forever. It never does. Cool & Dark celebrates the midpoint of yet another Chicago summer hanging in the balance with the paintings of Eleanor Ray, Greta Waller, and Gwendolyn Zabicki. These paintings capture scenes that are neither here nor there, moments that—like summer—are always already passing.

Eleanor Ray’s kitten-sized paintings are filled with large, pleasing brush strokes. Lean in, however, and notice the unsettlingly unpeopled landscapes. Are these scenes of the beginning of something—or the end? An empty room seen through a doorway feels lived-in—like taking one last longing look at an apartment before moving out for good. Or consider the grim, dusky light that dominates a desolate pier at twilight that feels tinged with reminiscence. We get into comfortable grooves: walk by the same doorway a million times or enjoy countless afternoons by the water. And then something happens to remind us that time is passing.

While some might find the relentless onward passage of time troubling, Greta Waller takes great pleasure in it. Waller deals in ice—specifically huge melting chunks of it on thoughtfully placed dishware. The effect is dazzling. Light bends and warps. Straight lines slither and blur with intricate backgrounds. Colors explode. Puddles form and water glistens as the ice slowly dissolves into dimpled curves. One finally realizes that it’s the melting that makes the ice visible. As the blocks fade, Waller is able to capture the weird shimmering evanescent forms that enliven and embellish the objects around it. A boring flower design on a tray becomes something exciting and new. With each passing minute new forms emerge. It seems like magic.

However, this can be bittersweet. After all, the ice will not last forever. But perhaps Gwendolyn Zabicki’s present paintings offer us an antidote. Zabicki invites viewers to greedily inspect her gifts. Feel free to admire the careful folds and the gold leaf that gilds the wrapping paper; appreciate the careful attention to color, shadow, and reflection. These presents hang there like Platonic forms filled with we-know-not-what and destined for we-know-not-whom. Recognize the present for what it really is: a gesture of love, a symbol of friendship, evidence that we are not alone. Wonder what’s in them, but know that inside every present is the fear that soon the party will be over, the ice will be gone, and the doors will be closed forever.

Take a moment while you walk around Comfort Station and remind yourself that it’s summer.

Enjoy it while it’s here.

-Tyler Jagel

Greta Waller was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. She holds a BFA from Cooper Union, New York City and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles. www.maloneyfineart.com/#!waller/ck5

Eleanor Ray was born in Gainesville, Florida. She has a BA in English and Studio Art from Amherst College, and an MFA in painting from the New York Studio School. She currently lives in New York. Her solo show at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects in New York was named one of the top ten shows of 2013 by critic Jerry Saltz. www.eleanorkray.com

Gwendolyn Zabicki was born and works in Chicago, IL. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. www.gwendolynzabicki.com

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