Quick! You only have one day to get to the Elmhurst Art Museum before their spring exhibits close. This Saturday, June 9th, marks the finale of two fascinating shows: Mario Trejo's I Defy You, and Gordon Powell's Details.
The amount of detail within each piece is what binds the two artists. Both are fascinated by intimate, exhaustive, and measured mark-making. Trejo, an SAIC alum, has created massive abstract compositions comprised of tiny repetitive marks. Layers and layers of manic lines create a sense of eternity and infinity within his work. Like stars in a night sky, the scratches are immeasurable, and it’s easy to get lost in the accumulation. Through his calculated and meticulous process, Trejo aims to question the limits of space, time, and numerical values in art. In July, Trejo’s drawings will travel to Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, AL to participate in a group show titled Pulp II Works on Paper, Works with Paper. In the same month, Herringer Kiss Gallery in Alberta, Canada will present a solo show of Trejo’s work, titled Catharsism.
Mario Trejo: I Defy You, archival pens and enamel on panel
Another SAIC alum, Powell cares for his pieces in a similar way. The artist carefully determines the placement of each erratic edge and seemingly-accidental nick in his wood sculptures. His abstracted assemblages are composed of painted and hand-distressed wood. The planes are bound together with dyed glue and then mounted on the wall. Powell’s simplified forms offer limitless possibilities for compositional experimentation, as he strives to defy categorization in his work. Next up for Powell is a show at the Chicago Cultural Center this October, followed by an exhibition at Perimeter Gallery, right here in River North.
Gordon Powell: Untitled (Ochre Center), wood, dyed glue, paint and pencil
Please note: If you plan on visiting the EAM on June 9th to see the closing shows, the museum will close at 3:00pm for a private event, so get there early!
Although we must say a sad goodbye to the work of Trejo and Powell, I’m just as thrilled to meet the Elmhurst Art Museum’s summer lineup. Say hello to Billy Tokyo (also known as John Dempsey), Anders Nilsen, Michael Ferris, Jr., Casey Roberts, and Heather Becker. All of the shows will launch with a opening reception on Friday, June 15th at 6:30pm where you can mingle with the artists themselves. Admission is free, and complementary wine and appetizers will be served.
Micheal Ferris: Toufic, recycled wood and pigmented grout
Casey Roberts: Totally Free Now, cyanotype drawing with gouache
Anders Nilsen, my personal favorite of the group, will exhibit some of his illustrations, drawings, and paintings in a show titled Adam and Eve Sneaking Back Into the Garden to Steal More Apples. Nilsen has recently skyrocketed to fame due to the publication of his critically-acclaimed graphic novel, Big Questions, in November 2011. This exhibit will feature a 5ft x 8ft landscape drawing and a 28ft handmade accordion book called Rage of Poseidon, according to his blog The Monologuist. Nilsen will also show select pictures from the 594-page story about birds living near an old woman and her grandson’s home. With such simple subjects, Nilsen manages to create a sequence that evokes the meditation and anxiety caused by the posing of life’s most basic questions. As the EAM puts it, his narrative drawings “transcend pen and ink”.
The cover illustration of Nilsen's Big Questions.
If you enjoy his work at the EAM, be sure to catch Nilsen at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo that same weekend, June 16 – 17, from 11am – 6pm at 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor. Later this summer on August 17th, Nilsen will be hosting an artist talk and slide reading at the EAM to talk about his work and perhaps answer these “big questions”. Although I may be partial to Nilsen, be sure to check out every fantastic exhibit at the EAM this summer, as they all deserve your attention and admiration.
Visit the Elmhurst Art Museum website for all the specifics on admission, directions, and facilities. Like the Elmhurst Art Museum on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter: @ElmhurstArt.