Timeshares at LVL3
Is the myth of paradise all that compelling? The resort paradise, the motel bliss, dreams of tropical shores and youthful ocean air – are these the same dated visions of vacationing we still cling to, or has anything supplanted their modern aspirations? Do we really delight in a shallow image of shared retreat locations, or long to buy our piece of time from out of a brochure or agency – just another one of many touristic occupants? The theme of the temporary vacation and all its shortcomings has garnered quite a lot of attention by contemporary artists over the past few years. An exhibition by this very namesake, Timeshares, currently on view at LVL3, pictures three artists preoccupations with the idealism the term represents – if not the effects that summer tends to have on more “relaxed” thematic group shows, as well. Paintings and objects by Josh Reames (NAP #89, #95), Calvin Ross Carl, and Maria Walker prod at this artificial fabrication of time as it relates to art and practice; while some pieces directly picture seascapes, palm trees, and other brochure-ready visual ephemera, others take the spirit of vacation as a material cue – works that deal with pattern, perhaps belonging to a swimsuit, a lawn chair, or mosaic brickwork, and detritus wrapped in colored fabrics, the idea of something less refined simply wrapped into a higher context, masking themselves as paintings. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor
Calvin Ross Carl and Josh Reames, “Mañana,” 2013. Sand, 136” x 54”
While the exhibition suggests a tone of luxury, the feeling is anything but – not quite seedy, but certainly not five star. There was even a trench coat salesman at the opening, pawning off bootleg merchandise (also a piece), typical spring break sunglasses by Reames, custom manufactured with his name printed on the plastic. The purposefully less than perfect atmosphere created by the predominantly formal works on view delivers the misnomer of a “timeshare” in the truest fashion, which is that “paradise” as we know it is only attainable when spread thin. In this sense, the only successful way to convey the truth of this constructed image is if it falls flat, just a little bit. In one of the most provocative pieces in the exhibition, Mañana, a collaborative work by Ross Carl and Reames, the word “tomorrow” is scrolled in an all-too rectangular plot of sand. While the term sites the future, what it really hints at is a feeling for forever – an indefinite extension of the current moment, tomorrow, tomorrow – the delay of a deadline. The piece makes its mark in the sand, a thing we view in the present, though the present moves to quickly forward.
Josh Reames "Yesterday's Coconut Farm," 36"x40," acrylic transfer, acrylic, and oil on canvas, 2012.
Striking the same pitch is Reames’ Lattice, perhaps a pun on the structure of a painting, as if we are seeing the image through a partial scrim. The piece is very good, precisely because the image (if there is one) registers as a mood instead of a picture or place. Similarly is Yesterday’s Coconut Farm, the fragmented planes compositing an image that has vernacular qualities, but never quite belongs to collective memory, falling short of something we can piece together. The image is always in limbo – which may be the wrong word to use.
Calvin Ross Carl, “Red Fanged Maw,” 2013. Acrylic on primed canvas, 12” x 12”
The graphic patterns by Ross Carl are never quite optic, though they appear as if they should oscillate, vibrate, and adapt to all the visual mechanics we are used to seeing in Op art. The surfaces of the paintings are deceptively flat, especially since they recall another very predominant Chicago artist, whose surfaces are thickly applied, viscerally wet, and robust, despite their initial graphic effect. Walker’s pieces, which float around the gallery, approach the banal in a different manner – while the color of the works are of a similar palette, corals, dappled greens, various greys, their context makes them more arbitrary and material. Fabricated out of drop cloths, the material wrapping the studio debris is equally as depleted. Though this gesture is certainly nothing new, it brings a certain freshness to the exhibition; not a portrait of luxury living, but the idle wanderer.
Calvin Ross Carl is an artist and designer, born in Spokane, WA. He now works in Portland, OR, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Intermedia in 2008 from Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA).
Josh Reames lives and works in Chicago, IL. He received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been included in exhibitions at Meulensteen (NYC), Andrew Rafacz Gallery (Chicago), Monya Rowe (NYC), Dittrich & Schlechtreim (Berlin), Green Gallery (Milwaukee), and Devening Projects (Chicago). He has upcoming solo exhibitions at Circuit 12 Contemporary (Dallas) and at Annarumma Gallery (Naples, Italy).
Maria Walker lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA from Brown University in 2002 and her MFA from the Tyler School of Art in 2006. She also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2011. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently in the group show Saturation Point at Dutton Gallery in New York, and in a two-person show in Brooklyn, organized by Sam Zients.
Stephanie Cristello is an artist, curator, and writer who lives and works in Chicago, IL.