Appetites Duly Satisfied at Hungry Man Gallery

by Carrie McGath

Garrett Durant

After a terrible night of being lost again (I think my Friday Night Army nickname should be The Lost Critic), I found Hungry Man Gallery. I was first struck by the pulse of the place at the opening on February 19, 2010. But there was good reason for such a partied pulse — they were launching their journal of art and poetry, In Preparation. Because of my MIA status, I got to the gallery late and missed the reading, but was taken around the gallery, piece by piece by one of the editors, Mark Schettler who added a nice warmth to the commotion of the successful and well-attended opening.

Much of the artwork included in the journal also adorned the walls of this apartment gallery in Logan Square. The cover art by Garrett Durant hung proudly and seemed to set a kind of pulse for the evening with its bright primary colors playing up the excitement, the movement of the work itself adding to the excited motion throughout the gallery.

A highlight were two pieces of complete serendipity, an accidental conversation that was occurring between Juho Heikkinen’s Untitled and B. Ingrid Olson’s Chorus. These pieces were hanging together in the gallery and are also center stage in the journal. The story goes that these two artists were both living in the Netherlands and did not know one another. Each of them submitted these pieces and the Editors were amazed at their conversation with one another. The illustrations, however individual, had the look of being executed together, as if the artists had collaborated. But of course, this was an instance of total and beautiful happenstance that brought these pieces together. Both pieces show a kind of chaos, an internal chaos specifically, terrorizing the subjects in the piece. Putting them side by side makes this narrative grow, a narrative that fits perfectly in this issue of In Preparation and in the show.

Untitled, Juho Heikkinen

According to the Introduction by the Editors, the catalyst for this issue was the artwork of Dutch artist and engineer Theo Jansen who creates what the Editors discuss as “Strandbeests — artificial life made of plastic, wire, and scotch tape. The work raises questions not only about what defines evolution, but what defines organic life.” The English translation of “strandbeets” is “beach animals”. These are people who walk the beaches in search of wind. This romantic idea in these resulting works by Jansen were indeed a nice introduction to the show as well as the journal, the organic growth of every piece speaking back to these notions. In these works as well as the poems in the journal speak of waiting, chaos, and searching, and this is especially palpable in a poem by Emma  Furman called, “Abe Fuckin’ Lincoln.” The poem closes, cinching these sentiments:

I’m rebuilding your skeleton, I can’t help myself,
everyday I cough up a bone. I don’t have any books
because I’m constantly reading your face.
I am making a blanket out of your beard.
I am the arsonist in your abandoned eyes. No big deal,
a piece of human toast in a long line of pieces of toast,
your face on a little white plate.

Mirror, Robin Juan

Ben Bertin’s artwork, Sketch for Moon follows this poem, and its loneliness speaks well the the loneliness of wait and creation in Furman’s poem. I was first struck by its resemblance to a Radiohead-esque record cover with its obsessive illustrations of circles and shapes, organic forms looking for the moon just as the strandbeets look for wind. This piece is across the gallery from another piece that continues these sentiments, a piece that was my favorite in the show, Robin Juan’s Mirror. This photograph shows a mirror on a sheet, and on this mirror is a found squirrel’s skull and a wish bone. The truly organic quality in this piece shows the artist’s maturation with the control and meditation. There is nothing impatient or obsessive in this piece, but it is instead celebratory and poetic.

I would strongly advise anyone to check out this issue. It can be found around the campus of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at Quimby’s bookstore, and other locations in the Chicago area. Also visit the website at www.inpreparation.weebly.com for more information. This issue is an exiting foray into a series of deep ideas and meditation all garnered with very strong and individual works of visual and literary art. So pick up an issue today. I assure you, your appetites will be duly satisfied.