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The Blackbook Chronicles: Representatives of Narratives

Alongside and underneath the rail tracks on South Wabash is an exhibit that presents excerpts from a graphic novel of a post apocalyptic world, graffitied gallery walls, and ever-changing cut-paper works. As a part of Pop Up Art Loops first Thursday Gallery walk and co-curated by Stuart Hall and Jaba Jones, Gallery @ 220 housed the opening reception for The Blackbook Chronicles: Chapter and Verse. Works by emerging artists Ennis Martin and Lewis Taylor shared the space with resident artist Richard Shipps, as each artist proves their craft in varied mediums.

The works displayed by Chicago native Ennis Martin are based on his forth-coming graphic novel, entitled “The Blackbook Chronicles”. The graphic novel serves as a survey of a post-apocalyptic earth where aliens implement Earth’s reconstruction, based on Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of the Species. Considered the foundation of evolutionary biology, it is no wonder Martin’s works hold a combination of androidish creatures switching niches of land, sea, and sky.  The pieces have big texture and worn looks, with such curious images as a Frakenstein-esque whale, a squid scuba diver, and mushroom machines dripping wires that allude to the image of a jellyfish.

Perched along the windowsill of Gallery @ 220 are graffitied trucker hats. Moving back through the space, you find more familiar street images and lettering in a gallery setting. Lewis Taylor’s section of the gallery is transformed, with the white walls and grey floors lightly marked in golden hued graffiti. As a prolific street artist and graffiti writer, Taylor takes what is familiar in the street and applies it to a gallery setting. With their heavy outlines and layered bright color, his pieces are suspended from ceiling with wires. As a process oriented abstract artist, Taylor’s pieces are “built, dismantled, and rebuilt”, until a satisfactory foundation is set.

Continuing on through Gallery @ 220, you will come to Richard Shipps’ works. Similar to the immediacy and evolving process of Taylor’s pieces, Shipps’ utilizes an immediacy of decision making in creating his works, as his pieces become a spontaneously made road-map.  Working with cut paper, plastic, and steel, Shipps creates pieces that work with the dynamic, and sometimes disparate, tensions of form and shadow as well as negative and positive shape. As the cut paper pieces hover a few inches from the gallery walls – whether delicate or sharp edged, organic or geometric shapes – the shadow is as much a part of the piece as the tangible work.

From the particulars of creating a graphic novel illustration, to the constantly-evolving graffiti writing, to the precision of a cut paper piece, the space of Gallery @ 220 is modified to compliment each artist’s medium. As a compendium of varied mediums, Blackbook Chronicles: Chapter and Verse represents manifold processes through which narrative exists in art – the narrative of a graphic novel, graffiti creating narrative particular to each viewer, and the ever-evolving narrative of cut paper.

The Blackbook Chronicles: Chapter and Verse
Gallery @ 220
220 S. Wabash
Chicago, IL 60604
May 25 – June 30, 2012
Monday through Saturday 11:30-5:30, and by appointment

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