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4401 N Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640
USA

Call: (1) 773 769 4226

Email:
gallery@lillstreet.com

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Monday to Thursday:
10am to 7:30pm

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10am to 6pm

Sunday:
10am to 5pm

CJ Niehaus

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To catch a crawfish you have to walk in the creek. You have to be okay with flies buzzing about your face and smidges of gushy mud clinging to your shoes because crayfish hide under the rocks of shallow waters in the creek behind the house. Upon seeing the right kind of rock, which is the right kind of rock after picking up the wrong kind of rocks, you must very gently lift the stone so as not to disturb the water too much. Too much agitation can create a cloud of silt that obscures your view and alert the crayfish to your intent. If you are fortunate enough to have located the creature of your desires, then it is imperative that you have a strategy for placing your fingers. Crayfish claws are not really that painful but it makes for a startled jump when pinched. Right behind the head of the creature is best, just behind the claws on the exoskeleton. It is a joyous moment when lifting the crawfish from the water, watching its claws flail in semicircles trying to reach you and its tail flipping fetid juices from the stream’s underbelly. Marvel at the wonder of its satisfaction. Its simple existence is all it requires. Gently return to its domicile. No need to place the rock over it, for once it reaches the stream, it jettisons backwards and out of sight.

And so a childhood memory goes – and my life in clay – the exploration of a visceral material that delights in the occasional “capture” of an idea amidst the frequent upending of the wrong stones. Getting dirty and periodically bit becomes part of the joy of discovery – mainly of myself – the parts that remained buried under the years of fallen leaves in the backyard.

Each successful snare is a moment- each line drawn a tendril of memory that, at times, barely holds on – and the colors muted as recall fades and the edges become blurry.

Nevertheless, it is a rush when that small wriggling idea is grasped and held, if only for an instant, because it explains me and how I am now. But the greatest satisfaction is when I release it – allowing it to be free – allowing me to be also.

cjniehaus.com

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