The Krasl Art Gallery held the opening party for a new gallery, The Art Next Door, which exemplifies the artistic work of Chicago artists on Friday, Nov. 3.
Upon entering the gallery, an embroidery display from Aram Han Sifuentes first caught my eye. Directed by Sifuentes, the Embroidery in Translation Project seeks to explore embroidery as literacy, analyzing how traditional embroidery from different parts of the world compares. She seeks to create conversation between places that continue to practice embroidery, although differently, in today’s fast-paced world.
Splayed out on the next wall was Tony Tasset’s work, a close-up photograph of his flower garden at home in Chicago. Four photographs, each four feet tall, created a 28-foot long view of his garden. He sought to present the normalcy and perfect imperfection of real life. While I understand the concept and it is a good idea, frankly, aside from the sheer size of it, this. Apart from the large scale of the photographs, I did not find the content to be exceptional.
Across from Tasset’s flower garden was The Homan Square Project which displayed signs from a Peace March that teenagers from the Homan Square neighborhood carried to spread positivity. “Believe in Yourself,” “Peace of Mind With a Peace of Heart,” “Increase the Peace!!!” and “UnGun” were some of the words inscribed on their paper banners.
At the back of the room a small collection of books huddled, entitled the Read/Write Library. I was not aware that the Read/Write Library was part of the art display until afterwards. It consisted of a few shelves of books and hundreds of papers taped to the wall with handwritten answers to either the question “What does your ideal library look like?” or “What does Chicago mean to you?” I thought that it was simply a fun, creative corner, which would have been pleasant, but knowing that it was supposed to be an artistic display was a little confusing as it did not match the traditional framed-work on bare walls setting of the art gallery.
Sadie Woods presented a display of three or four small music boxes mounted on the wall. The boxes were plain and roughly hewn out of wood, and the background music of the gallery was much too loud to accommodate listening to what I imagine were soft, gentle tunes.
A clay sculpting station occupied the center of the room. The Art Lab, a small side gallery consisting of large three-dimensional floral sculptures by Susan Beiner, inspired this interactive temporary installation, and visitors could sit and sculpt a replica of Beiner’s flower-like clay sculpture.
Marion Huyck, long-time resident of the St. Joseph and Chicago area, commented enthusiastically, “I’m really psyched by the art lab installation. There’s an unusual use of floral inspiration and chemistry. I just love to know what’s going on with the new art.”
The Krasl Art Gallery’s opening night was not as exciting as I had hoped it would be. Many of the displays went entirely against the usual paintings, sculptures, unique angled photography, or even artistic writing that I would expect in an art gallery. I opened my mind to see the meaning in several of the displays, but others, such as the Read/Write Library, or the giant photographs, were not remarkable.