In my first few weeks at Lillstreet I was able to get a first hand account of how the Art Center’s gallery functions in regards to new exhibitions. With “The Perfect Plate” coming down and “Six to the Third” coming in via truck, I helped unload the pieces and gained a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ look at the installation process. While my new gallery insights may not have been as glamorous as other ‘backstage’ passes, I was able to see and experience the work that goes into presenting a successful exhibition. Dealing with the pieces as they remained in boxes, “Six to the Third” was initially shrouded in mystery for me, as the 6 by 6 by 6 inch sculptures boar no possible clues of their appearances, leaving me to only imagine their material makeups based on their weights (some were super heavy).
When I returned the next week as the curtain was opened on the exhibition, the mystery of appearance dissolved and I was able to experience the work on display. Having been curious about the works’ dimensional constraints and wondering how normally large-scale sculptors would conceive of miniature pieces, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity that marked the exhibition’s final products, especially in regard to the materials used.
Indeed, glass, steel, marble, stoneware, plastic, gel, wire, wood, concrete, elm, oriental arborvitae pods, crimps, cables, a teapot handle, cast bronze, polished nickel, porcelain, tatami and acrylic paint were all used in the exhibition which featured 63 Chicago Sculpture International artists. And while there were undoubtedly some pieces that grabbed me more than others, the show’s overall presence was positive as the local sculptors traversed broad representational, symbolic and abstract subject matter. Personally, my favorite pieces were ones that both caught my eye and made me scratch my head: visually vibrant work that begged for multiple interpretations. Standouts included Dominic Sansone’s “Pork Three Ways”, Barbara Hashimoto’s “Pink Tatami”, Ruth Arzuss Migdal’s “The Beginning, Early Torsos I” and Mike Gracza’s “If I had a Nickle Jr.”