Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jessica Bizer at Good Children; Bonnie Maygarden and Carl Joe Williams at the Front

What is it about painting anyway? For ages, self-styled prognosticators have pronounced painting dead, and for ages painting has not just survived but thrived, often dominating the art world. According to, paintings accounted for 65% of art sales in the last 12 months, more than all other media combined. Part of its appeal must surely be the versatility of this most fluid and immediate of all media. Just as our stone age ancestors used cave paintings to attune themselves to the forces of nature, today's artists use paint to explore the perplexing new realities that surround us in a digital world that is ever more connected but also more ephemeral, or even illusory. Jessica Bizer's new paintings explore what she calls "atmospheres" created by the way digital technology blurs the line between "ordinary and fantastical experience," qualities she has neatly, if ironically, evoked by the use of distinctly analog air brush techniques in conjunction with with her usual acrylic pigments. The results can range from pristinely buoyant works like Hey You, to somewhat darker realms like We're Having a Party, above, where rich wine and paisley tones hover like otherworldly life forms in search of some hedonistic fourth dimensional utopia.

In Bonnie Maygarden's Virtuous Reality show at the Front, the ephemeral aura of techno culture is recreated in painterly abstractions that serve as meditations on the collision between art history's traditional hand crafted values and the weird new world of synthetic imagery that exists all around us. But artist-musician Carl Joe Williams merges the electronic with the shamanic in his outdoor labyrinth-like installation of painted totemic sculptures that incorporate his music in an attempt to attain what he describes as "a supernal place of introspection, and a reminder of connection to all... I see music and art as extensions of each other, visual music with audible imagery." ~D. Eric Bookhardt

The Homeland We've Never Seen: Paintings by Jessica Bizer, through Oct. 6, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427; Virtuous Reality: Paintings by Bonnie Maygarden; In the Beginning, There Was No Beginning: Installation by Carl Joe Williams, through Oct. 6, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980.