Playhouse II, 2006
Poly-fil, steel, rope, wood
96 X 96 X 96 inches
Clouds, Et Al
May 30—July 12, 2008
“Clouds, et al” by Lauren Weinberg, printed in Time Out Chicago / Issue 175: July 3-9, 2008
Like its subject, “Clouds, et al” isn’t as light as it appears—but it’s a fun example of the large group shows that dominate the art world this season. Gallery artists’ encore presentations, including Petroc Dragon Sesti’s Event Horizon (2005)—a never-ending whirlpool enclosed in a glass vessel—meld seamlessly with works by outside artists that (mostly) adhere to the show’s theme. Perhaps this is because the concept of “clouds” is interpreted broadly: One of the first pieces viewers see is Dietrich Wegner’s Playhouse II (2006), which is shaped like the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast. The sculpture is made of warm and fuzzy Poly-fil and features a rope ladder leading to its steel-supported hollow interior, but its horrifying form negates its child-friendly purpose.
Other pieces portray clouds as beautiful phenomena that can be enjoyed in both natural and urban environments. Scott Fishman’s two photographs capture Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the Bean) from an angle that makes the entire sculpture reflect the sky above it, so that its surface seems to be made of clouds rather than metal. Antonia Contro’s film, Vista (2008), follows a cloud as it expands above a mountain; the image changes so slowly that it commands viewers’ attention for several minutes, calming them in the process.
Some artists focus on more turbulent aspects. Three ink and gouache works by Lora Fosberg depict young boys dwarfed by roiling skies, and the black-on-gray palette of Eva Schlegel’s clouds printed on lead hints at a coming storm. But the show’s prevailing mood is tranquil: perfect for a rainy summer.