Homecoming: Artists and Adaptation is one show where reading the artist-written wall-text feels nearly as important as seeing the art. The group exhibit marks the return of a gallery space to the South Side’s historic-landmark Brew House, an earthy artists’ co-op reborn as a sleek multi-unit residence. The show features recent work by 12 artists who lived or worked there dating to the 1980s.
The Brew House Association gallery itself, though still pretty raw, has been opened up from its old Space 101 configuration, with more daylight. It’s a fit setting for works including Aimee Manion’s elegant mixed-media pieces; whimsical neo-dadaist works by Renée Zettle-Sterling (like a pair of silver lips clamped to the head of a toothbrush); and Keny Marshall’s found-poetry grid of photos of sidewalk utility plates the world over.
Some works explicitly reprise Brew House history. Tim Kaulen’s “C-horse Clamp,” an abstract iron butterfly, incorporates a battered Brew House vent-pipe. Chris Craychee offers a burnt-carpet portrait of late Brew House denizen David L. Smith, while Bill Miller’s linoleum collage “Space Monkey Installation” honors an iconic work by the Brew House-centric Industrial Arts Co-Op, a guerilla outfit that brought scrap art to literally new heights.
In wall-text, Miller notes that it was at the Brew House some 25 years ago that he began creating his linoleum collages (which are now exhibited internationally). In her statement, Carin Mincemoyer writes: “My time at the Brew House was a rare opportunity to live in a neighborhood of artists, which supported creative problem-solving and a DIY ethos. The affordability of living there allowed me to pursue artistic opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible.”
The written testimonies to living and working at the Brew House add real resonance. Also important to read is the text accompanying “She was found ….” Christiane Dolores writes that her sprawled and frayed human form, in textile, was made to condemn our collective silence about endemic violence against black and brown women and girls. Other socially conscious offerings include Wendy Osher’s embroidery illustrating the appalling U.S. record on gun homicides, and Bob Bingham’s “Living Waters of Larimer,” an augmented map created as part of a community-development process.
It’s good to see these Brew House artists still in action, making art and saying what needs to be said.__