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Always Already at Chicago Art Source

by Debbie Labedz

Chicago Art Source

Chicago Art Source

In their new group show, “Always Already,” Chicago Art Source Gallery addresses the resonance of memory in contemporary art. Featured artists include the following: Sara Mast, Laurie Rubin, Eric Holubow, Michael Prokos, Jennifer Talbot, Melissa Herrington, Stephen Bullock, Jennifer Jones, and Barbara Moody. Utilizing several media, from encaustic to photography, these nine artists work to manifest the intangible, to capture the fleeting fluidity of the mind.

Erib Holubow “The Soloist, Lee Plaza Hotel Detroit, MI”

Erib Holubow “The Soloist, Lee Plaza Hotel Detroit, MI”

Eric Holubow’s photograph, “The Soloist, Lee Plaza Hotel Detroit, MI” depicts the erosion of a beautiful, ornately decorated hotel ballroom from a scene of grandeur and decadence to a dilapidated memory of a previous era.

Laurie Rubin “Atawater Series”

Laurie Rubin “Atawater Series”

Another photographer in the show, Laurie Rubin, exemplifies the concept of memory in “Atawater Series.” The piece is comprised of 16 photographs, framed together, of open books arranged in a grid pattern. Each book reveals a different notation, souvenir, or relic. The literal openness of the books present a clear symbol for the vulnerability associated with nostalgia.

Melissa Herrington “She’s Veiled and Sleeping”

Melissa Herrington “She’s Veiled and Sleeping”

With her mixed media on wood piece titled “She’s Veiled and Sleeping,” Melissa Herrington demonstrates an abstracted approach to the subject of memory. Herrington utilizes a mostly muted color palette of grey-blues, deep gold, beige and brown. Several faceless silhouettes of young girls appear within the layers of the work, suggesting a reminiscence of childhood and, perhaps, a loss of innocence.

Although there were works that stood out individually for their aesthetic merits and conceptual manifestations of memory, the collective still appears to be somewhat haphazardly put together. The 9 artists in the show greatly differ from one another and the placement of the works bounced around drastically between mediums, not giving the viewer much to hold onto except that the exhibition is supposed to be about memory.

The subject of the show itself poses a larger issue. I had very high expectations for this exhibition, particularly because of its title, “Always Already”—a term commonly used in post-structuralism and deconstructionist discourse. Yes, the concept of memory and its presence in contemporary art has proved to be both a compelling and relevant quest for an exhibition. However, in this case, it has also proved to be too broad a subject for an exhibition already lacking cohesion. There were definitely some successful aspects of the exhibition, particularly for the artwork, individually. At a certain point, either the theme or the artwork must prevail—this time it was the art.

Chicago Art Source is located 1871 N. Clybourn Ave. Always Already will be on display until January 9th, 2010.