Opening Reception: Saturday, September 12, 4-7pm
Monique Meloche Gallery is pleased to announce our second off the wall season, which will feature the artist Joel Ross. Ross has long engaged dual audiences – both chance onlookers and art gallery visitors – with strategically and surreptitiously installed text-based sculptures and resulting photographs. His work activates our imagination and invites us to stop and consider some of the spaces we travel through or pass by every day: roadways, parking lots, alleys, abandoned buildings, and the dead space behind strip malls. His messages become voices in our heads tempting us to plug the gaps in these short stories, to puzzle out their meaning, and to speculate about their authors.
With THE EVER, a series of site-specific works on public bus benches throughout Chicago’s Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood, Ross offers viewers provocative prompts with phrases like THE HEAVIEST THING YOU EVER TRIED TO MOVE and THE MOST YOU EVER CARED. These voices might be sprouting from cracks in the landscape or directly from the minds of pedestrians or passengers. The signs are, in effect, asking the ubiquitous ‘you’ to fill in the blank. Do you remember holding your breath for an especially long time, trying to move something heavy, or hearing something funny? Our responses help us claim ownership of their subject; these public signs will then become private reflections. Passing by the same sign on subsequent days, viewers might see their contemplations and memories floating above the bus stop. “THE EVER” suggests the infinite number of answers to the “questions” posed by the text, but also the open-ended, always happening nature of life.
off the wall is a public art initiative that invites artists to produce site specific installations throughout the Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood. The impetus for this project is to provide a more open platform for contemporary art that engages with the public at large on a daily basis. The series reaches a demographic much larger than the standard gallery-goers and provides an open-armed invitation to discover the arts and the potential they have to influence everyday life. The project is inspired by the success of the gallery’s “on the wall” project, which has been produced in the storefront windows of moniquemeloche since 2010. Both projects are generously supported by a grant from the Wicker Park Bucktown SSA #33.
Joel Ross (American, born Texas 1966, lives Urbana, IL) holds an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from Tufts University. Born in Port Arthur, Texas, he is the son of a police sergeant and the grandson of a Baptist preacher. He received a discharge from the United States Marine Corps in 1984. Ross’ seminal installation, I Borrowed My Mother’s Bedroom, was the inaugural exhibition at moniquemeloche in 2001. He has had subsequent solo shows at the gallery in 2005, 2009, and 2012. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at The James Hotel, Chicago, where his installation Room 28 permanently resides (September 2015), and Deconstructing the American Landscape, a two person show with Sarah Krepp at Rockford Art Museum, curated by Carrie Johnson, Rockford, IL (October 2016). Past exhibitions include INTERTWINED: Words and Art, University of Chicago Medicine (2014), Not How It Happened (with collaborator Jason Creps), Tiny Park, Austin, TX, (2013); The 7 Borders, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY (2013); and Write Now!, Chicago Cultural Center, IL (2011). Ross’ work has been published in Engaging the ‘Race Question’: Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education (2015); Artnet, Chicago Magazine, NewCity, The Austin Chronicle, ArtSlant, Conde Nast Traveler, amongst others. Ross is Associate Professor at the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois. Urbana, IL.