The Catherine Edelman Gallery, in what is becoming an annual act of benevolence, has opened its space to early career and unrepresented photographers. These photographers have been selected from the gallery’s online selection. The participants selected to participate in this show include Matt Austin, Justyna Badach, Jeremy Bolen, Dan Bradica, Troy Flinn, Lenny Gilmore, Wm. Bradley Johnson, Nate Mathews, Bill O’Donnell, TJ Proechel, Charlie Simokaitis and Shane Welch. As with many group shows, some of this work has not quite developed a satisfactory voice. However, many of the pieces have great promise.
T. J. Proechel and his Dream House project is some of the most intriguing in the show. Proechel has used his insight as a housing contractor in addressing his subject. This experience bleeds through his images of houses undergoing foreclosure. In Virginia Ave., Saint Paul, MN, Proechel offers the artifacts of desolation: a trundle bed covered with a cheap blanket, a Christmas tree tilted askew, a sign proclaiming Merry Christmas and a baby doll faced down under the bed. Proechel has accessed the pathos of the housing crisis without producing pathetic work. Proechel reveals a balanced hand that will assuredly develop as he matures as an artist.
Jeremy Bolen similarly investigates deterioration. Bolen’s leftover and leaving captures the rusting and rotting remnants of communities in the American Northeast that have suffered through a prolonged economic depression. Telephone (2009) captures the weird distortions of spaces abandoned. A gray telephone booth with red panels seems to float in the forest. Glass panels and the telephone itself are missing. But this strange artifact remains. Like Proechel, Bolen begins to pay the promise of his work.
The last of the photographers worthy of note is Matt Austin. As Proechel and Bolen have investigated the deterioration of space, Austin focuses his lens on the deterioration of his family in his series Wake. In most instances, he wisely avoids photographing people and focuses instead on the artifacts they leave behind. Slippers and Flannel (2009) is bathed in a warm red light. In a hastily trimmed corner, a pair of slippers rests. One slipper has been kicked to the right side of the frame, while the other has been almost purposely crammed into the corner. A flannel shirt hangs to the left side of the frame. Everything is worn out and worn down.
Proechel, Bolen and Austin reveal the deterioration of their worlds. But they neither lament nor celebrate, the breaking down of things. They offer the viewer an understanding that this is their new reality.
Catherine Edelman Gallery
Chicago Project IV
July 15 – September 3, 2011