Author: Sight Specific

Composition and Improv: Interview with William Pearson

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s interview with sound artist William Pearson. Presented through Sixty Regional. In partnership with pt.fwd, a new series of contemporary music and sonic arts performances featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Sight Specific will be publishing conversations between the featured artists and pt.fwd director Eddie Breitweiser. William Pearson (Champaign-Urbana, IL) will be performing on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 8pm at the McLean County Arts Center. All pt.fwd performances are free and open to the public. Follow pt.fwd on Facebook and Instagram for more information, including upcoming performance dates. Eddie: Part of the charge of pt.fwd is to find a diverse group of local and regional artists and musicians and to challenge them to bring something new to an open-minded audience. Would you mind speaking a bit about your background, your practice, and historically what we’re going to be hearing? What have you prepared for us and how does it both relate to your practice as a whole and indicate where you’re going next? Will:  Yeah. …

#abovetheclouds: Studio Visit with Molly Markow

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s studio visit with artist Molly Markow. Presented through Sixty Regional. In her recent works, Markow skillfully balances scenes of sublime natural (or “natural”) beauty within the constraints of manufacture. These scenes–a white-sand beach with yawning palms, a fluorescent sunset bleeding across the horizon, a deep-green bed strewn with pillows of searing calendulas–provoke deeply-rooted physiological responses of the human subject in nature. But feelings of serenity, of tropical escape, or of wholistic unity (dasein, or being-in-the-world) are subverted by the infinite trappings of contemporary life: in Paradise (2018) the beach, printed on a Walmart shower curtain layered with a soft pink latex paint, is seen vaguely as rectangles where paint has not been applied, like disjointed pieces of an exploded puzzle. In Sun-baked (2019) the sunset, painted onto the plaster cast of the inside of a baking pan, is miniaturized to the size of a laptop that’s been rotated into portrait mode (Given the vitriol of online comments when an uploaded video is shot vertically instead of horizontally, imagine the response …

Sonic Space: Interview with Michael Junokas

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s interview with sound artist Michael Junokas. Presented through Sixty Regional. In partnership with pt.fwd, a new series of contemporary music and sonic arts performances featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Sight Specific will be publishing conversations between the featured artists and pt.fwd director Eddie Breitweiser. Michael Junokas will be performing on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 8pm at the McLean County Arts Center. All pt.fwd performances are free and open to the public. Follow pt.fwd on Facebook and Instagram for more information, including upcoming performance dates. Eddie: For the pt.fwd performance in February, we wanted to have a conversation with you so that we could get more familiar with your work. Today we wanted to talk about three different areas: history, region, and fun. So first, historically speaking, can you place the work you’re going to be performing for us? We ask that because part of the charge that we put on our pt.fwd performers is for them to bring something new that they haven’t …

Risk/Play/Reap at Jan Brandt Gallery

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s review of  “Risk Play Reap”,  a collaborative exhibition by Allison Carr, Danell Dvorak, Monica Estabrook, and Amy Wolfe, which was installed at Jan Brandt Gallery in Bloomington, IL. Presented through Sixty Regional. Art making is usually thought of as a solitary activity, but what happens when that usually solitaire activity is opened up to the direct input of others? This show, consisting of the collaborations of four artists offers some experiential insight into that question. A statement accompanying the show in part explains the collaboration process: “Each artist began a piece, then passed it to another for further development. Additions, alterations, and reconfigurations continued, until the group agreed a piece was completed, whether through lengthy, multiple cycles, or two to three passes.” First of all, I noticed that when viewing the entirety of the show, the exchange of approaches within each piece had resulted in a variety of finished works that, at the same time, had a consistency of formal solutions. Layering, transparency, textural surfaces, juxtaposing of imagery, and often a sculptural …

Fever Dream: Allison Lacher at Monaco

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s review of Allison Lacher’s “Full Sun,” which was installed at Monaco in St. Louis. Presented through Sixty Regional. From the street, the interior space is inviting, with a peachy orange coat of paint and floors speckled with iridescent floral cutouts (over the course of a month, Lacher’s work has indeed served as an escape from both the cold and the heat). However, once inside, the comfort of room temperature begins to give way to a sense of hollow domesticity. Hung throughout the space are window panes, stretched over with bars of ribbon, that reveal nothing beyond the flat orange walls. Blocks of plywood, stickered with reflective, neon silhouettes of lamps, balance on precariously high tables. Perhaps “table” is the wrong word, as the table tops themselves are merely empty frames. These are line drawings in space, with no planes to speak of. On another yellow “table” rests blocks that bear the images of a pie and kitchen knives. This is a space of unusable objects: hollow tables, lamps …

A Sense of Place: Photographs by Ted Diamond at Ramp Arts

UNIFORM In his native environment, Homo economicus quietly assimilates with his surroundings. Luggage in tow, he haunts airports, office complexes, hotels, and other vestiges of global urbanity, donning the white-collar camouflage of ubiquity, anonymity, and one-dimensional conformity. In A Sense of Place, Ted Diamond conjures a caricature of Homo economicus and photographs him in scenes depicting travel and its human affects. Marking his personal transition into an artist with a teaching career, these photographs depict scenes from his ambivalent adoption of the capitalist in-group’s signs. In Diamond’s words, “These images have become a document of my life in that rolling laptop bag business culture and how it infused into my life no matter where I was.” But these images are no mere representations of jet-setting businessmen doing business; rather, Diamond extracts Homo economicus out of his natural environment and releases him into the real, human world. He scrambles the codes of global capitalism – rolling laptop bags, frumpy suits, exhausted gazes, and collective alienation – and deposits them into the irrational space that Homo economicus …

Unplanned: Timothy Winkelman at Jan Brandt Gallery

I. GROUND CONTROL Timothy Winkelman’s digital video, Unplanned, immediately vexes the viewer with a question:  what, exactly, is unplanned about Unplanned? Due in no small part to its infinitesimal scope – the video doesn’t quite reach a full minute in length, and lingers on visual and musical subjects that could easily be overlooked – one could be forgiven for focusing less on immersing themself in the work’s content and more on the confluence of formal planning that underpins a video production. But upon repeated viewings, Winkelman’s camera lets something else appear: a subtle commentary on the desire to shape a space into a dwelling where one may Be in the World. The video never detaches its gaze from an urban scene: a modern building – perhaps an apartment complex – alongside a city street. We quickly see that this is a very built environment, quite the opposite of an “unplanned” setting. The city, particularly in its American grid form, constitutes perhaps the height of planning. Urbanity is the coordination of intent and execution, subjugation of nature and …

Boundary Layer at McLean County Arts Center

Just outside the threshold of the Armstrong Gallery, where most of the work in Boundary Layer is contained, two of Nancy Fewke’s photographs are set apart. To the left hangs an image of a jagged formation, its peak barely cresting above a darkened, hazy atmosphere. The lily pads that float in the lower corner are the only cue to scale—reducing an otherwise mountainous form into a submerged, rotting tree trunk. Such a trick of the eye is more mountain range than can be found in much of the Midwest horizon, which is why, for many years, Laura Primozic (whose sculptures serve as counterpoint to Fewkes’s images) set her sights well beyond the Illinois prairies she calls home, modelling her work instead on the changing glacial landscape. Only recently have her more immediate surroundings come back into focus. Fewkes’s vision has followed a similar trajectory. She says of their collaboration, “We were both very interested in ecological integrity…bringing awareness to some of the larger global issues that we might speak to on a microcosmic level—on a …

In Conversation with Terttu Uibopuu

“This is what making work should be like. You should be nervous and you should be a little bit scared. And you should feel kind of apprehensive and you should feel like you’re doing something kind of wrong. That’s the state I want to be in when I make my work. I don’t want to be comfortable. I don’t want to know what the hell I’m doing. I want to feel like I’m trying something new and scary and weird. Something not so polite and not comfortable for anybody.” – Terttu Uibopuu Estonian-American photographer Terttu Uibopuu moved to the United States in 2002. Born in 1984, in Soviet-occupied Estonia, Uibopuu lived much of her formative years during the fall of the Soviet Union. After receiving a photography award from the cigarette company Phillip Morris in 2001, she booked a one-way ticket to the United States. At the age of 17, Uibopuu found herself in a small city in northern Illinois where she began documenting her experiences and forging herself a career in photography. In this …

Hold Me: Erin Hayden at UIS Visual Arts Gallery

This review is part of our Sixty Regional initiative which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and  Illinois. Written by Juliet Johnson, a Champaign-Urbana-based artist, writer and curator, this review is cross-published with the growing Central Illinois platform Sight Specific.  A memorial card shows Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in embrace. Erin Hayden’s paintings in Hold Me are based on this card, made for Lincoln’s funeral. He gazes in adoration at Washington, who places a laurel on Lincoln’s head. The caption reads, “Apotheosis,” meaning “the elevation of someone to divine status, deification.” In all of Hayden’s paintings, this image is warped and built upon. In the gallery, one large painting is flanked by sixteen smaller works behind which the large marigold words, “Hold” and “Me” square off. Like previous work by Hayden, Hold Me contains kitsch, pixelated, and found imagery widely sourced and all on equal footing. We see emojis, iron-on patches, thick paint blobs, and other images more reminiscent of the dregs of a Google Image search. These culture …

The Contours of Absence: Marisa Boyd at Transpace Gallery

This review is part of our Sixty Regional project which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and  Illinois.  Beyond the obvious irony of walking into a room titled A Place That Doesn’t Exist, what’s inside possesses a relentless sincerity. Marisa Boyd’s highly abstract work has a presence that is quiet but insistent. Three framed drawings on paper, hung opposite the entryway, orient the exhibition at Transpace Gallery by capturing Boyd’s process in its most direct form. The scribblings and contours are done with a quick and intentional hand, as though drawn from observation. Appropriately titled Closed Eyes #1 and Closed Eyes #2, the drawings are created blindly, with Boyd referencing only the landscapes she sees behind her eyelids. The central drawing is overlaid with sheets of paper, which have been cut through with amorphous shapes. These cloud-like forms float throughout the space, cut from paper, gatorboard, plywood, canvas, carpet, and fabric. Yet to Say Something Important finds two of these forms mounted adjacent and elevated slightly from the wall, …

Blue at the Edges at DEMO Project

In titling her recent showing at DEMO Project Blue at the Edges, Melissa Pokorny draws from the words of author and essayist Rebecca Solnit. In her autobiographical collection, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Solnit writes, “For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go.” Solnit speaks of vastness as something that lies ahead and out of reach, like the promise of a tomorrow that never arrives. Even so, any wistful admiration directed towards horizons or mountain ranges tends to trigger an echo from yesterday. Despite Solnit’s description of an unattainable horizon — a place “you can never go” — her experience is partly one of physical sensation, of a distance that …

Nobody’s Home at DEMO Project

Nestled in a residential neighborhood in Springfield, IL is a modest white bungalow whose only occupants are visitors to the monthly exhibitions held there. The current display, a collaborative effort, fittingly titled Nobody’s Home, is the work of four St. Louis based artists: Lyndon Barrois Jr., Addoley Dzegede, Cole Lu, and Catalina Ouyang. All that separates the artists’ home city and the DEMO Project venue is 100 miles and a single state line, but they bring with them a collective inspiration with roots far beyond the Midwestern region. Accompanying their work is an excerpt taken from Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson’s children’s book The Exploits of Moominpappa (published in 1950): Images, both literal and figurative, are borrowed from the storybook page and used to transform the venue. As Jansson’s characters tumble into the foggy garden, fog spills through the open doorway of DEMO Project. Adding to the sensation of exterior space is the smell of cedar wood oil that fills the room as densely as the mist. Wading through the thick air of what …