installation shots by Jackie Furtado
A LETTER FROM THE CURATOR
This exhibition came about in a rather organic way - Ellis had been making working that I didn’t quite understand until he made Goodbye Cruel World and I was lucky enough to be back in his studio. You’ll see it in the west warehouse in the middle of the room. Maybe it was that he brought an element of death into it - death as something real rather than conceptual, or maybe getting it was simply a long time coming and that piece marked the moment. Either way, it was this event that put his work into a context for me that then also engulfed the artists he had been in a constant critique with over the last couple years, individuals whose work I had followed and lived with and loved over a couple years and in some cases many years. But it was this one piece that literally became the line for me in a connect the dot maze - you’ll see that on the surface, without knowledge of the context, these 6 artists (Mika, Dan, Val, Ellis, Anders, Nick) might seem to be concerned with completely different ideas about what it is to be a maker and what it is we make about. But, as with everything, nothing is ever quite as it seems.
3 select images from each artist; Ellis von Sternberg, Valentina Zamfirescu, Mika Horibuchi, Dan Rizzo-Orr, Nick Nes Knowlton, Anders Lindseth, and Kenrick Mcfarlane, courtesy of the artist
This group of friends I know via Anders, a young man wise beyond his years without whom I would be running around like a chicken without a head - he has been by my side in all the ventures since the close of my first gallery and is one of the smartest, most wonderful humans I know. This exhibition would not exist without Anders and, this being maybe the most proud of an exhibition I’ve ever been a part of, I wouldn’t want it any other way. And when I asked Ellis what he thought, right then in that fateful studio visit, about doing a show with everyone in the group, he of course responded with caution. Because that’s what someone that cares more about their work than about their “career” does with someone that just in that moment realized what their work is about, because that realization could only ever skim the surface, too. The best of it keeps going ad infinitum. It turns out that the artists had been planning a show like this but not quite on this scale for sometime. Nick who is my rock now too came to me with pages and pages of notes. And then I happened to sit down with Kenrick, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, and the first thing he asked me was, how are Anders and Mika and Nick and Dan and Ellis and Val? And then for a minute his work was the line and I invited him in, the impulse was so strong I didn’t have the control to wait and ask the other 6. They responded with open arms, with a why didn’t we think about that kind of vibe. The rest is history.
There’s a lot of things a curator is that I am certainly not in this particular exhibition - I find this important to note - I’ve taken curator to mean simply, caretaker, which is what it literally means, and in today’s world perhaps that also means negotiator. My dear friend Daniel Schor runs Silent Funny with my new friend Matt Baron and his uncle Clark, and Daniel asked me to do a show and I said yes. Pretty simple negotiation there. When I asked him if he wanted to see what we were putting on the wall he said, simply, I trust you. And that’s a good thing, because I said the same to the artists and enough of the work is still wet and if Daniel hadn’t trusted me this wouldn’t be as awesome as it is and if I hadn’t trusted the artists we all would have been bored as shit. It’s much more exciting to allow people to create than to dictate. We invited Rhinehall because Jenny Solberg is a dynamo teeming with as much integrity and sincerity as the artists we’re working with, she focuses on small-batch brandies from a family tradition of fun and excellence and love and it’s all quality over quantity for her. It was really a no-brainer. And then when it came time to hang the show, the artists and I did it together, and the pieces seemed to know where they wanted to go anyway. What I mean to say is that I didn’t really do much except love everybody and believe in the work of all the people involved. And say thank you a gazillion times when Clark and his expert contractor Benny (B&I Restoration Group, Inc./ 773.456.2881) made some changes to the space and trusted us to know what changes would be sustainable. And while I’m at it I feel it pressing to give big thanks to Mark Ginski and Peter Ludlow, who were also hugely helpful in making this happen - this wouldn’t have happened without you, either.
As a group, the artists and I are hesitant to ascribe any dogma, thread, ideology, blah, blah, blah. It’s not about that. There’s too much for that to get down to what it is beyond that. And it will evolve as you evolve, it will evolve with you. We did talk a good amount about Sontag’s Against Interpretation and Campbell’s The Power Of Myth. Still, none of that is what this is. I’ve invited you here tonight because I want you to witness what it is to be solely concerned with making, with the work itself above all, with the future and with your heart in your hand. I’ve invited you because we are each other’s context by nature of whatever context is and because I love you, too. A good dose of integrity, a little reminder that we’re all short for the world, and the privilege of witnessing the future of art in Chicago is something I take very seriously - I hope you can find as much joy, awe and wonder as I do in taking all of this work in. If we all give our brains a little time to digest it all, in fact, if there is one thing I can say with certainty, it’s that I know you will.
-Claire Molek (2015)