by Shannon Schmidt
The title of the exhibition at 1366 Space, “Midnite Snacks: Chicago,” implies a trip to the refrigerator or a run to the nearest corner store. One imagines a snack buffet: an assortment. It conjures up quick, bite-sized tasty morsels of all kinds. One does not feast upon a snack; it is a pause, a break within the larger scheme of one’s daily sustenance. It can be healthy; it can be artery clogging. Regardless, the consumption of the craved object becomes the essential part of the process.
As the title indicates, the exhibition is a variety of drawings, paintings, collages, and maquettes of over 150 international artists along the two parallel walls of the gallery space. The premise of the show is to “reveal the thoughts of the artistic mind at work” and exhibit “a collection of the forgotten blueprint.” Yet, with works crammed next to one another in the large exhibition space, the pieces appear to continue their forgotten life. Instead with 152, twelve by twelve inch pieces, the curators force the work to vie for the viewer’s attention. And, in a copious raw space—complete with magnificent pipes and architectural idiosyncrasies—the pieces further compete with the space itself.
As tastes go, it is clear that some works are really leftovers that have failed to be thrown out in time, while others give viewers a glimpse at burgeoning plans. Fortunately for a few artists that work more minimally, the range of work actually allows their pieces to attract more attention, as viewers look for a visual place of respite. Amidst the hodge-podge of work, an abstract drawing and collage by Fatima Haider, Untitled, (made from paper, medium and cello tape), offers a visually topographical sketch complete with deletions, additions, rubbings and alterations. With the crumpled and curved edge, the worn drawing details a history of different marks and scores, signaling the artist’s hand along with the passage of time.
Another piece, Untitled: a found handkerchief embroidered by Barbara Wakefield, stands out from the motley. The fragility of the piece floats out from the wall with the simple sentence stitched in spring green, “I think it was the blades of grass that killed them.” Now, I must admit, upon seeing this I was excited, thinking about possible Walt Whitman references. “All shapes of beauty, grace and strength, all hues we know, Green blades of grass and warbling birds, children that gambol and play, the clouds of heaven above….” Furthermore, the delicate stitching and the lilted line of thread from one word to the next created an organic quality much akin to the bending blade in question. The artist also used sentimental material to point toward the purpose of the found object: the removal of the abject body. Through the use of the handkerchief, one wipes away embarrassing tears, excess mucous and the sweat of the brow; so, too with the embroidered word, the loss of the body becomes fixed in the purpose of the object.
Overall, the exhibition offered, mainly, a two-dimensional buffet with the occasional treat here and there. The small works are quite affordable and with the variety, artists are bound to be consumed themselves by local collectors as the show extends into Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Virginia. Hopefully, as the exhibition continues, the space of the gallery will become an integral consideration in the display of works along with a more interesting arrangement of individual pieces.