images: (L) Next Door Neighbor by Gwendolyn Zabicki, (C) Blue Hallway by Eleanor Ray, and (R) First Block by Greta Waller
Tyler Jagel wrote an elegant take on my exhibition, Cool and Dark, on display at Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, July 1st-27th.
Cool & Dark
Eleanor Ray, Greta Waller, Gwendolyn Zabicki
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.
Greta Waller “Miami Ice”, 26”x32”, oil on linen, 2013.
Greta Waller, “ Mongolian Ice”, 27”x36”, oil on linen, 2013.
Greta Waller “Midnight Ice”, 30”x36”, oil on linen, 2013.
Greta Waller, “Hello Kitty Ice”, 28”x36”, oil on linen, 2013.
Eleanor Ray, "Hallway Interior" 4"x6", 2014.
Eleanor Ray, "Sculpture Night" 4"x6", 2014.
Eleanor Ray, "Waterfront Warehouses 2" 4"x6", 2014.
Eleanor Ray, "Pier Evening" 4"x6", 2014.
Gwendolyn Zabicki, "Gold Gift", 16" x 20", oil on canvas, 2014
Gwendolyn Zabicki, "Green Gift", 16" x 22", oil on canvas, 2014
Gwendolyn Zabicki, "Present", 14" x 16", oil on canvas, 2014