Messin’ with Texas included vibrant artwork in a variety of media, ranging from large painted foam sculpture to detailed graphite drawings, representing the truly diverse outcome of the Artadia Award process. The untraditional mixed media assemblages by Nathaniel Donnett incorporate plastic and paper bags to compose images of crossword puzzles and maps. The images address how racial identity is learned through childhood games and the American educational system. Augusto Di Stefano creates psychologically fragile pencil drawings and geometric paintings of buildings that raise questions about the effects of the architecture (prisons, childhood houses) on the people who inhabit them.
David Aylsworth is the most traditional painter in the show, using oil paint on canvas to create mid-sized colorful abstractions titled with lines from famous showtunes. Bill Davenport is, at heart, a purveyor of oddities. As an artist he sculpts then paints everyday objects out of foam, sponge or wood. Though created larger than scale, the artworks blend nicely into the miscellaneous items he sells in his junk shop. A more spiritual approach to life is provided by Nestor Topchy, who uses pigments on gesso over cloth over wood to make elaborate Pysanky eggs. For the Art Center, Topchy created an mystical installation suspending eggs with ornate mystical patterns from the ceiling and wall over a child’s school desk.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the artist duo Jon Fisher and Jeff Shore blend drawing, sculpture, video and sound in their 20 foot long installation. Cliff Hanger delights and surprises viewers with an enthralling short cinema noir-style video. An installation of boxes, wires and computer chips reveal how the videos are made using multiple mini video cameras recording in real time.
Lastly, J Hill‘s mobile welcome wagon toured Chicago via bicycle to greet both travelers and longtime natives with a program of surprise acts of generosity and hospitality. Hill enlisted artists to make use of the wagon in a way relating to their artwork. When it was not parading around town, the wagon was on display in the Art Center’s lobby to receive visitors.