Steve Hough’s painting, “The “R” of Entropy,” is both
beautiful and thought-provoking.
On a frigid evening in early January I ventured out to Zg Gallery to see
their latest group exhibition, “Para Natural World.” I tend to avoid gallery
openings because they are usually bustling with people, which is great for the
gallery but not so great for viewing art. But I figured the Chicago exhibition would
be desolate, since it was nearly zero degrees outside. I was wrong: people were
out in droves.
The chance to see a new painting by Steve Hough, an English artist based in
Wisconsin, was my motive for attending the opening. I’d seen Hough’s work in the
past, and found myself mesmerized by his simple motifs that suggest qualities in
nature, such as dimples of sand on a beach. His latest work, “The “R” of Entropy,” mimics the ripple of a pebble piercing the surface of a blue body of water; gradations of circles emanate to the painting’s edge. When I got word that this new painting would be displayed, I knew I had to see it.
Upon entering Zg Gallery, I meandered through small groups of people sipping
glasses of wine as I looked for the painting. I found it hanging in a small side
gallery—distinct from the other artwork on show. In part this was because of its
physicality, about seven feet wide, but also its reflections of color and light
stopped me in my tracks. Rather than a slab of blue paint on a
canvas, the painting’s hypnotic circles had a three-dimensional
quality that radiated light beautifully. In short, “The “R” of
Entropy,” like his others, was aesthetically delightful. Yet
something was different: seeing this painting in a gallery full of
people allowed me to experience Hough’s work in an entirely new
For awhile I basked in its surface qualities. Facing “The “R” of Entropy,” I
noticed how the gallery’s bright lights accentuated the tactility of the circles
wound tightly in the center. At the same time, they highlighted the softness of
the circles that had flattened towards the painting’s edges. I wanted to see how
the lights affected the painting from other angles, and was surprised the shades
of blue changed as I moved side to side.
Matt Nichols upends traditional art expectations in his
Unless you’re looking for Matt Nichols’s exhibition, “SomethingDivine,” you
may miss it. On the DePaul Art Museum’s second floor, three restrooms—men’s,
women’s, and unisex—designed for individual use contain an array of white,
hand-carved soaps and embroidered hand towels. The soaps are mundane with
simple designs. What the soaps lack in aesthetic value, they more than make up
in the questions they pose. Because you are in an art museum, you cannot help
but wonder if these utilitarian objects are works of art. If they are art, how
should you interact with them?
The first question is answered by the museum label. It provides the typical
details you’d expect, including the name of the artist, artwork title, year made
and medium. As for the second question, there’s no direction how or if you
should use the soaps and towels. However, the causal display of objects with
inherent use-value inside a private space baits you to pick up a piece of soap
and use it. You’ve got the freedom to interact with and enjoy art, without
expectations or watchful eyes of a security guard. As such, visitors have taken
the liberty to use the towels, which are tousled on the shelf, and soaps—some of
which are broken or misshapen from use.
Each of the three restrooms offers a similar setup: a handful of soaps line
the sink counter; several more hang from white ropes under a shelf next to the
sink with embroidered hand-towels on top. Indeed, blurring the line between art
and function is at the heart of this fascinating show. As the artist puts it,
“My hope was that the soap would be used and essentially lose its "Art"
value/nature as it assumed its utilitarian role.”
The human effort involved in creating art with
It’s increasingly common to use artificial intelligence (AI) in art. Google
has popularized this process with its platform, Deep Dream Generator. What began
as a way to help engineers and scientists understand artificial neural networks,
a form of AI, has blossomed as a means to create art,1 producing images that
have been described as “trippy” and “psychedelic.” Outside of Deep Dream,
artists are using other forms of AI to produce portraits, landscapes and
abstract works of art.
AI has made significant strides since the 1950s, when it became established
as a field. Today it’s used across industries. Given AI’s vast application and
artists’ inclination to experiment with the latest technologies, it’s not
surprising that AI and art have merged. Excitement around AI as an art medium
abounds, yet this question looms: does AI mean we’ve lost the hand of the
artist? No, but it seems hidden and needs revealed.
For some, using AI in art is a way to show the autonomy and creativity of a
machine, thereby downplaying the human role in the art creation process.
According to artist JT Nimoy, “there can be a tendency in some discussions to say ‘wow, look how much it's
doing on its own.’ Look how hands-off my job became."
A one-room show brings together two art movements,
resulting in a playful and thought-provoking experience.
I knew I was in for a treat when I entered the “Light and Space” exhibition
at the Seattle Art Museum. The show features sculptures, some with reflective
surfaces and translucent materials, which are complemented by subdued paintings.
Individual works by Donald Judd and Robert Irwin immediately caught my eye, but
the cohesiveness of this show kept me lingering. Together, this exhibition
creates an active and ever-changing viewer experience.
The show’s title is a nod to the west coast art movement, Light and Space,
that began in the 1960s and 1970s. Reflective materials, color gradations and
prism-like effects were among the ways artists explored light and space in
sculpture and painting. The exhibition also includes Minimalist artwork, which
originated on the east coast in New York around the same time. This art is
characterized by geometric shapes and the use of unconventional materials, such
as industrial and manufacturing supplies. Selections associated with each
movement are brought together in this one-room show.
I am accustomed to seeing Light and Space art or Minimalist art in isolation,
but not together. The combination is laudable. It conveys the similarities and
differences between these two art movements in an experiential way.