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April 21-May 26, 2007

In Gallery 1

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In Gallery 2
VINCENT COMO In Praise of Darkness
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Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger’s first-ever joint show at Western Exhibitions opens on April 21 and will include collaborative artist books, photos and documentation of collaborative performances, a re-staging of work first performed in 1999, and selected individual works by both artists.

Miller & Shellabarger’s performances act as metaphors for the bittersweet rhythms of human relationships. Their work shifts between moments of togetherness to moments of separation, between spaces of private and public, amidst protection and pain and visibility and invisibility.

Between the Sheets, which premiered at the 1999 Cleveland Performance Art Festival, will be re-staged in Western Exhibitions main gallery. Positioned in the darkened gallery, atop a translucent mattress lit from below, Miller and Shellabarger will sew themselves “into bed”. The work reclaims the bed, often the locus of the outrage and disdain expressed by the moral majority and the Christian right toward queers, as a site where people turn to each other for compassion, comfort, and safety. Shellabarger states, “Sewing ourselves into the bed’s sheets, we are both vainly seeking safety while experiencing entrapment, exposing the conflict queers face in a society that is violent and discriminatory towards them.” This performance will take place at 8pm during the opening reception and will be filmed and projected onto the bed for the run of the exhibition.

In addition to Between the Sheets, Miller & Shellabarger will show an accumulation of a thousand paper cranes from the performance Untitled (Origami Cranes). In this recent work, the artists sat next to one another on a bed in the window of a Chicago futon store and folded paper into origami cranes over the course of three Saturdays, 8 hours at time. As they sat together, participating in a shared activity, a barrier of cranes built a wall of separation between them.

This show will unveil a new Butter Book, an on-going project where Miller & Shellabarger collect, clean and bind into a book every wax paper butter wrapper from each stick of butter they consume in a year. Miller is a pastry chef and Shellabarger an eager consumer of his partner’s creations. The book’s pages, filled with butter wrappers, both attract and repel the viewer into the beauty of the domestic and the material.

Another new book collects oversized silhouettes the couple has been making of each other for the past two years. Their profiles face one another across each two-page spread, documenting the different stages of their distinctive facial hair and sometimes featuring bizarre hats.

Miller & Shellabarger will install recent individual projects on the south wall of the gallery: Miller’s visceral and lurid watercolors and collages of body parts and Shellabarger’s photographs of airplane contrails and walking performances from the 2006 solstices and equinoxes.

This is Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger’s first collaborative show at Western Exhibitions. Recent performances by the duo include Origami Cranes, performed in 2006 at the 44/46 Performance Festival in Chicago, Crochet, an on-going performance recently performed at Illinois State University and NUB, presented at the Center of Contemporary Art, St. Louis in 2002 and in Slop’s Supermarket Outlet at Gallery 312 in Chicago, 2001. Stan Shellabarger’s solo exhibition at Western Exhibitions in 2004 was reviewed in Art in America,, Art US and Ten by Ten. Dutes Miller’s recent group shows include “Where All the D*cks Hang Out” at Western Exhibitions and “Vomitorium with Agitprop” at 40000 in Chicago. Miller and Shellabarger live and work in Chicago.

Vincent Como’s show in Western Exhibitions Plus Gallery, “In Praise of Darkness”, is an exploration of physical space as it relates to two-dimensional objects and the history of painting. The show will consist of a large drawing containing copious footnotes, a small wall-hanging sculptural piece, a giant hand-bound book of drypoint prints and a series of 40 framed drawings.

Como is interested in the color black as a vehicle for “pure information” and is particularly concerned with the history and objectivity of Painting, referring often to the works of Kasimir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt. He restricts his artistic activity to a spare aesthetic to explore concepts as divergent as history, folklore or the sciences, and exposes the dialogue that occurs between the idea, physical medium and presented object. By utilizing the trope of the Painting and its surrounding lexicon, Como explores the two dimensional object and the space that it both occupies and provides in order to challenge the viewer’s understanding of the subject.

Dark Matter is the first in a series of large-scale works that reference properties of black holes, art history, theory and science through the use of accompanied footnotes. It pulls from Robert Fludd’s renaissance thoughts on primal matter as well as contemporary theories of dark energy and visible light.

4.5 Cubic Inches (Volume of the Inside of My Head) represents the physical space inside the head of the artist as a solid cube of cast black sumi ink, while Untitled (Black Book) presents a large book of black content requiring a very physical engagement with the text.

History of Painting
is a series of 40 drawings of period picture frames with a unifying central black image where the portrait, landscape, or abstraction would reside in order to question the impact of contextual elements on artistic intent. The disconnect between black as pure information, a pigmented representation of some-other, or an event (such as darkness) is where these ideas meet, and where they strive to bridge those gaps in order to develop a new and comprehensive theory about the structure, function and autonomy of Black.

This is Vincent Como’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions. He will have a (semi) simultaneous show in Chicago at VONZWECK gallery, titled “Black: Theories and Ongoing Research”, that Como considers both a footnote and endnote to his show at Western Exhibitions. Como’s work has been seen at the ArtLA art fair in 2006 in a solo artist booth presented by Dogmatic and his last solo show in Chicago was in 2004 at Standard. He has been included in group shows at Western Exhibitions, Barrow and Juarez Gallery in Milwaukee, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Michigan, Gallery 400 in Chicago, and in the group show “Perfect”, organized by the Chicago Cultural Center and traveled to the Illinois State Museum and the Art Museum at the University of Memphis. Como has been an artist-in-residence at Cliff Dwellers and Anchor Graphics, both in Chicago. His work has been discussed in Art Papers, the Memphis Flyer, Dialogue, New City and the Chicago Tribune. Como received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1998. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.