Good Vibrations at Circle Contemporary

Tim Stone with Shambula

Leslie Baum, Shape of the day: a.t,b,n, 2016, oil and acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”

Carolyn Kelley,  Painted Numbers , 2015, Watercolor and pastel on mat board, 11” x 17”

Carolyn Kelley, Painted Numbers, 2015, Watercolor and pastel on mat board, 11” x 17”

Good Vibrations is a vibrant summer exhibition currently on view at Circle Contemporary, the gallery space affiliated with The Arts of Life in Chicago.  

Co-curated by Andrew Rafacz, this selection of works by six contemporary artists based in Chicago (including three who attend The Arts Of Life studio) provides a diverse range of ideas surrounding abstraction and pattern - an exhaustive engagement of materials, processes, and concepts drawn together by a common “vibe.” These particular artists seem to share a generously vivid and graphic pictorial sensibility, presented in a modestly sized format.

The result is an exhibition that provides no concrete concepts to parse, but is also unimposing and inviting, where the willing are able to browse the offerings of these highly distinct voices with confidence that each has the best of intentions - a feel good visual experience, much like one of Tim Stone’s shirts.

For those paying attention, surprising and complex connections arise between the artists’ disparate practices.

Zachary Buchner, Untitled (DyedPurpleRefection), 2017, Dyed memory foam and mirrored acrylic, 19” x 16” x 2”

Carolyn Kelley, Take Care of Mooses, 2015, Watercolor and pencil on mat board, 13” x 16.5

Zachary Buchner’s dyed memory foam and mirrored acrylic works have an apparent origin in painting, but have left paint behind to explore ideas that verge on sculptural. They re-imagine ways to engage with theories or occurrences that may have surfaced in previous painting explorations, fruits of a personal journey within the shallow relief of the picture plane.

The visual similarity of Buchner’s work to that of Carolyn Kelley offers an opportunity to consider phenomena that remain consistent between Kelly’s relatively traditional works on paper, and Bucher’s voyages into highly esoteric materials and processes - the coexistence of various marks - those made by hand with a traceable manual track, and those that are vague, hazy forms informed by the dissipation of pigment in fluid across an absorbent surface. A curious conflict arises amidst layered choices obscuring one another and the inevitable presence of the artist's singularity. Together they articulate an alluring story of exploration and creation, although Kelly’s are a far less guarded record of her identity, as her artist statement reveals:

I am Carolyn Quinn Kelley. This line, this line, this line, this line.

Leslie Baum, Full of moon: k.n,s.d, 2016, oil on canvas, 38” x 40”

Tim Stone,  Shambula , 2015, Pencil, paint marker on paper, 19”x24”

Tim Stone, Shambula, 2015, Pencil, paint marker on paper, 19”x24”

Another compelling conversation occurs between Tim Stone and Leslie Baum, whose works are informed by an affection for art, not only as a personal endeavor but as social institution. Their work shares a deliberate quality that reflects a reverence for the responsibility of contributing to that discourse. Each choice is a proposition; both, in process and product, recall the romantic notion of dutiful, but highly idiosyncratic workmanship typical of 1970s abstraction (which Baum cites as an important influence) and which is also apparent in Cody Hudson paintings, whose punchy, pattern-based works on raw linen are some of the most immediately striking and satisfying.

Cody Hudson, New Forms of (shapes & colors dept.painting #002), 2015, Acrylic on linen, 18“ x 24”

Linda Ruzga, Flowers, 2016, Fabric and glue, 9” x 12”

Linda Ruzga’s improvisational textile work also implement bright, asymmetrical forms to signify elements of the natural world. Her painterly manipulation of fabric glances at Hudson’s brushwork; the irregularities of her hand are made visible, allowing wrinkles, lines of glue, and frayed edges to permeate the work. Like the other Good Vibrations artists, Ruzga thoughtfully refrains from completely controlling the inherent nature of the material, offering unexpected and exciting details within a focused body of work.

Good Vibrations is on view at Circle Contemporary through July 28th.

Linda Ruzga, Sunday, 2017, Yarn and fabric woven on stretched canvas, 12” x 24”, images courtesy Circle Contemporary