SATURDAY MID-AFTERNOON

A year ago in Paris, switching trains: a middle-aged man in a loose fitting black jacket overheard Daniel and Gert speaking about the Zhou brothers in Chicago. The man approached, and in German asked them please to give his regards to the brothers, whose work he knew.

This afternoon, at the opening on Cleaver Street, the same man is there, but neither he nor Daniel can make the connection right away. In the homosexual atmosphere of a Wicker Park opening, neither one wishes to appear too inquisitive. But eventually they recall the chance meeting in Paris. The man is Dr. Michael Haerdter, director of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

And here in the newly opened basement gallery stands Nathan Mason, local curator of a group show on an American midwestern theme: Butter. Without a common aesthetic or dominant movement among Chicago artists, themes are needed sometimes to bring work together, and to bring people to see the work. Butter is as good a filter as any for work that uses a variety of materials and means. Some months ago, for a show called Mono9, that many artists applied their own technique to printmaking which gave Daniel a chance to reverse the tape's function from adhesive to surface imprint. A show last year (December 97) organized by artist Tom Billings, had twelve artists transposing their techniques onto hand crafted traditional plates: a Blue Plate Special. I've found that the requirement of working in an unfamiliar medium brings out some of Daniel's best work. Such second order taping, letting one's own material or medium affect the surface of another, can be a way of bringing the work into the world. Daniel's tape abstracts, complete in themselves but for the impersonal stamp of postal "approval," might be sent across the world, but these works will always lack the worldliness that can only come through being received by people whose good report, and whose heartfelt approval, you desire.

Overheard:

at the basement entrance: "But what I want is to see you do a feminine piece."

from a couple in their thirties handling Daniel's entry in the show, four cardboard "sticks" grouped according to the dimensions of a standard U.S. butter package and glued together ($600): "It's all scotch tape, see?" (He points to the plaid) "Oh yeah!"

Gesamtapekunstwerk

Kunstkakaphony


Dinner and taxis would have been for six, but I passed on the food and let the group go on without me to the Zhou brothers' loft on the South Side. Daniel's invitation said, Black Tie "optional," but the Wicker Park group were received kindly in their jeans and work shirts. Zhou bros. were happy to have "real people" show up.

Nothing here of the art world politics in a Woody Allen movie. The curators know their work; the artists know their own worth. Politics, though present, is neither paranoid nor pushy. Fortunately for Daniel, his new friend Haerdter knows the Goethe Institute director. That should help settle Daniel's funding application.