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Sean Ward and Sam Jaffe at Zrobili Gallery

by Monica LaBelle

Tucked into a studio-style apartment on Chicago’s Northwest Side is Zrobili Gallery, a newer addition to the city’s apartment galleries. It’s run by Nicholas Cueva, a Master of Fine Arts student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cueva’s mission is not simply to feature the work of his friends and favorite artists but to host working artists as well as students to bridge the gap between the art-school bubble and everything that is not the art-school bubble (a.k.a., the real world in which artists toil for years and wonder if any curator out there has seen their thoughtfully crafted web site…)

Sean Ward & Sam Jaffe at Zrobili Gallery

Sean Ward & Sam Jaffe at Zrobili Gallery

Through Sunday, Nov. 29, Zrobili Gallery is showing paintings and photography of student artist Sean Ward and the poppy, soft and bright sculptural forms by post-student artist Sam Jaffe. The two bodies of work have a geometric and textural contrast between each other that is striking in Cueva’s tiny, white apartment.

Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Sean Ward’s images of bright windows and colorful, blocky little pictures are so peaceful, still and subdued that—save for the starkness of Cueva’s apartment (the man piles his furniture into the tub for gallery openings, that’s how dedicated he is)—they are not easily registered unless one goes right up to them. The images, in a movie, would be accompanied by white noise. They demand pause and they magnify the utter serenity and loneliness of simple rectangular shapes and the light and forms that define them.

Sam Jaffe

Sam Jaffe

So Jaffe’s sculptures, which pop out of walls in all their pink, blue, yellow and green glory, come off as comical in contrast. But they might come off that way even if they weren’t in this setting. Her sculptures are aggressive in their desire for attention. If they’re not made of a zillion bright colors on a hard, shiny surface, they’re plushy-soft and poking out of the floor like some misplaced sea urchin. The sculptures look like they crept out of the microscope imagined by Gary Larson (creator of now defunct syndicated comic The Far Side). Just try not to touch them.

To arrange a visit contact Cueva at (zrobiligallery@gmail.com)  or 603-325-0295, or look for the Zrobili Gallery facebook page.