Review: ‘Nothing from Something’ at Gallery 19

The new exhibition, Nothing from Something,  at Gallery 19 explores when a moment of clarity is experienced through the realization of perfect peace, perhaps no matter how fleeting or how elusive that moment may be. In this impressive group exhibition, the artists display works that express the harmony of human movement, the elation of skyward contemplation, and the solitude of distance.  Even though at first glance, these ideas can be seen as trite or as merely New Age clichés, the works on display bring a more analytical view to these concepts through natural and urban settings. This exhibit avoids the pitfalls of becoming mawkish or sentimental. Nothing from Something  features five emerging artists: Charles Callis, Anne Kaferle, Elizabeth Bick, Halle Siepman and Sam Chung. “Saucer” by Charles Callis. Oil on canvas. “Saucer” by Charles Callis. Oil on canvas. Photo courtesy of the artist. Charles Callis is an abstract landscape artist who resides in Utah and is deeply influenced by the landscape where he lives. Each of his seven paintings challenges our perceptions as he explores new perspectives on the landscape. His work offers another way of seeing the natural environment ― he creates intrigue by integrating the familiar with the unknown, allowing for a variety of interpretations. And his abstract landscape paintings are constructed as organically and irrationally as life itself. His manipulation of color and texture also creates a balance and depth to his work. His expression inspired by the open spaces in the natural world draws us to that inner place we at times experience in our most contemplative moments. “Hourglass” by Anne Kaferle. Oil on canvas. “Hourglass” by Anne Kaferle. Oil on canvas. Photo courtesy of the artist. Anne Kaferle is also an artist from Utah who expresses her fascination for geology through her portrayals of landscapes and rock formations. Just like her colleague in this show, Charles Callis, she challenges our perceptions as she explores new perspectives about the western landscape.  What is perhaps most impressive about her work is that even though they are small in scale (most of her paintings are approximately 12”x12”), she is able to convey expansiveness. Kaferle shows a landscape that is forever in flux – the knowledge of what came before and the inevitable changes that are yet to come. “Street Ballet I” by Elizabeth Bick. Archival Ink Jet Print Mounted on Foam Core. “Street Ballet I” by Elizabeth Bick. Archival Ink Jet Print Mounted on Foam Core. Photo courtesy of the artist. The Street Ballet series by Elizabeth Bick cannot be categorized as traditional street photography. Due to her background in ballet and performance art, Bick captures street scenes as if a performance has been choreographed on stage. In these scenes, she inserts a performer who mimics the movements of others on the street. The end result is movement that displays a sense of rhythm at work. Bick also captures that sense of space that people create for themselves while walking on the street ― maintaining their own separate environment in a public setting. She evokes the feeling that people aren't only creating a physical space for themselves in an urban setting, but perhaps more importantly, they are trying to achieve their own psychic space as well. Also noteworthy are her aerial views in which the placement of people walking on the street gives the appearance that they are musical notes on a staff. “Linear Consequences IV” by Halle Siepman. Mixed Media on Clay Board. “Linear Consequences IV” by Halle Siepman. Mixed Media on Clay Board. Photo courtesy of the artist. Halle Siepman’s six works examine the conflict between passively living in an architectural space and actively constructing one’s own space (no matter how architecturally unsound) in the environment. By creating disjointed architectural forms, she addresses the contrast of balance and imbalance. Through her use of controlled and at times frenzied lines, she looks at the architectural and geometric potential in our environment. Siepman’s work is not about creating architectural representations, but rather engaging with architectural forms by playing with color and space while creating an almost whimsical feel about our environment. “Cloudscape Emergence” by Sam Chung. Porcelain. “Cloudscape Emergence” by Sam Chung. Porcelain. Photo courtesy of the artist. Sam Chung’s six porcelain vases reflect a contemporary feel while drawing from traditional Korean rice vessels as his inspiration. The cloudscapes on each vessel are quietly beautiful with intricate detailing. The contours of the cloudscapes work with the shape of the vessel that allows for an elegance while at the same time creating a sense of drama.  The relief of each cloudscape is brought out in an almost cubical fashion and juxtaposes with the curvature of the vases. While there is a meditative quality to his work, there is also a sense of playfulness with his design. In this group show, each of the five artists ― Callis, Kaferle, Bick, Siepman and Chung ― reveal through different media how an environment can shape one’s perception and how perception can shape one’s environment. Nothing from Something  runs from January 13 through March 11, 2017. Gallery 19 is located at 4839 N. Damen Avenue. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. Phone: (773) 420-8071.
Picture of the author
Thomas Wawzenek