By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The van Straatens have attracted nearly four dozen artists to Riverhouse, and many of them are big names in the fine arts. When they opened the printer, they were already seasoned art dealers in Chicago, and they used contacts that they had made there. That's how Riverhouse got off to such a quick start, as revealed by some of the prints in the show, which date back to the 1980s. In this group is Alex Katz's remarkable and gigantic "3PM," a 1988 woodcut in which two people are having a conversation, and Al Held's "Pachinko," from 1989, a riot of color and geometric forms crammed into the rectangular picture plane. Though undated, I think Eric Fischl's "Horizontal Images (color)" was also made in the 1980s. A scene of nude bathers at the beach, it's better than most of his paintings.
Riverhouse really hit its stride in the 1990s, and the biggest portion of the exhibit is given over to prints pulled then. Abstract artists were especially attracted to Riverhouse. Falling into this category is Sol Lewitt, whose self-explanatory "Brushstrokes in Different Colors in Two Directions" is one of the stars of the show. Lewitt has gone to Riverhouse several times; this print was done there in 1992. Also from the '90s is "Untitled 78," by Lynda Benglis, done long after she was famous, and Fred Tomaselli's "50 Vs for the center of your face," created just as he started to make a giant splash.
The show also includes some recent prints. The newest of them, done late last year by Kiki Smith, is a matching pair titled "Noon," done in aquatint and drypoint. In each, there's a detailed portrait of a young man set off-center. One is a redneck in a straw cowboy hat, the other a Latino with shoulder-length hair. The implication of the title — and the fact that Smith did two matching prints — combined with the serious expressions on the men's faces suggests that the artist is attempting to conjure up a showdown out on the street.
Over the next few months, the gallery will transition into a new course set by the van Straatens. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the place got a new name. Already, many artists have been asked to pick up their work and are now free agents, a difficult route for them to follow. I just hope that some of my favorites — like Homare Ikeda, Jeff Wenzel and Quintín González — are kept on. Only time, and the van Straatens, will tell.