Either/Or/Both explores the poetics of relationships and correspondence through painting, drawing and text based work that troubles the boundaries between the intuitive and the systematic by making do within a set of givens and the possibilities in them. Either/Or/Both is an attempt at dispassion, but rather than overtly reveal the messy stuff, it wonders about the human inclination and struggle to mediate the subjective, the body, the emotional, the intuitive through the invention of predictable systems. The inevitability of mistakes, glitches, and fallibility is present in all of these works, posed against the predictability – inherited or perhaps desired – that comes with predetermined, established or cultivated forms. Artists: Samantha Bittman, Stephanie Brooks, Casey Droege, Michael Milano, Hans Peter Sundquist Curator: Shannon R. Stratton
Painters Hans Peter Sundquist and Samantha Bittman both work on woven patterned fabrics, Sundquist on found materials and Bittman on hand woven (by the artist) textiles. Sundquist layers his own colors and patterns onto the calculated surface of the manufactured materials; Bittman disrupts the woven patterns she creates through working back into the cloth with acrylic paint. Michael Milano’s drawings are patterns produced from exhausting all possibilities within a set of constraints. Those final drawings recall weaving drafts, which Milano further translates into sound work. These abstract works are partnered with text-based works by Casey Droege and Stephanie Brooks, artists who frequently mine the emotional territory of love and relationships in a struggle to make objective the often destabilizing world of sentiment. Both artists make form from the formless world of feeling, attempting through reductive acts of editing and enclosure to clarify territory that ultimately will remain untidy.
Sundquist’s work attempts perfection through masking, the even layering of sprayed paint and seemingly determined patterns, but his own subjectivity is betrayed by a lack of regimentation and subtle “mistakes.” Fashion, taste and haberdashery are all evident in Sundquist’s choice of men’s suiting materials as substrates, with his own interventions acting as marks of individuality within prescribed cultural forms. Bittman’s paintings begin with her hand-weaving a specific 2-color pattern that becomes the basis for her paintings. Working back into the cloth with the identical colors in acrylic paint, Bittman creates paintings that level the usual dichotomies between art and craft, objective and subjective, determined and intuitive. The weavings themselves require a system for their completion and Bittman’s interventions although systematic and known to the artist, appear more mysterious and intuitive. Milano’s drawings work out small “t” truths in his exhaustion of sets. By working out every possibility Milano explores questions of determinism and free will, a theme that permeates the exhibition in the posing of tensions between predictability and chaos or the question of what is subjective and intuitive versus objective and systematic.
threewalls summer resident Casey Droege studies relationships through distilling them into text-based works comprised of timelines, lists and singular objects. The results are attempts at the organization of the intangible space and time of emotional experience into pragmatic and detached data. Droege’s work enters into conversation with Chicago artist Stephanie Brooks, whose text-based works render ordinary affect impersonal through minimal form. In Hard Feelings: Stephanie Brooks, Laura Berlant describes this as “cool form and hot text” that “interferes with emotion in the service of a critical anti-sentimentality.” The interference (or containment, remixing or fermenting) of emotion that both artists provide, throws a spanner in the works – an interference shared by Sundquist, Bittman and Milano.
Samantha Bittman received her BFA in Textiles from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA in Painting/Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. Through her weaving-paintings, she explores the relationship between image, structure and perception, drawing on her long-time interests in pattern and geometry. She’s exhibited extensively in Chicago at venues: Thomas Robertello Gallery, Western Exhibitions and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, and in New York at Southfirst Gallery and in San Francisco at FFDG. In summer 2011 she participated in the Skowhegan residency program.
Stephanie Brooks has shown in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States. Recently she featured at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Museum as well as group exhibitions at Peter Blum, New York; Park Life, San Francisco and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She has published artist books with Green Lantern Press, Perennial Currents/Harper Collins and Whitewalls. Reviews of her work have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Artforum, The New Yorker and The New Art Examiner among many others. Brooks teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is represented by Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago.
Casey Droege was raised by two artists and a mime. Their incessant side hustles, ranging from chimney sweep to insurance sales, created the time management monster/slightly organized tornado that is Casey. And while her mother made it clear to her that she should go into computers, she now lives and works as an artist in Pittsburgh. Droege earned her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Recent exhibitions include: Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, Greensboro NC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit MI and Collar Works Gallery, Troy NY.
Michael Milano is an artist living and working in Chicago. He received a MFA from the Fiber and Material Studies department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Humanities from Shimer College. His work explores the structure and logic of weaving, binary systems and other rule-based processes through drawings, books, sound, and video. He has co-taught a class at Oxbow and facilitated an early Greek literature study group at the artist collective/study/gallery Adds Donna.
Hans Peter Sundquist majored in fine art at Bethel University, during which time he studied painting in the Domincan Republic, taught arts and crafts at Deerfoot Lodge in upstate New York, and spent a semester at the Oregon Extension. In 2005, he received a post-baccalaureate certificate, followed by an MFA in painting at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007. Sundquist co-founded Julius Caesar in Chicago in 2008, an exhibition space he still runs with Dana DeGiulio, Diego Leclery, Colby Shaft, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. He currently works for the Video Data Bank in Chicago.