Chicago’s art scene continues to elude easy characterization, but the creative crosstalk between our own art community and those of smaller Midwestern cities is turning Chicago into a regional center of creative dialogue. Tapping into this teeming reservoir is Pilsen’s No Coast Collective, whose new series of gallery shows, “Exhibitions and Editions,” is devoted to presenting the work of artists from Chicago, the Midwest, and beyond. The series starts off on Saturday, February 13, with an exhibition of work from Minneapolis-based printmakers and designers Danimal and Jes Seamans, entitled “Look Into the Light.” Taking advantage of No Coast’s multiple uses as a production space, performance venue, and storefront, “Exhibitions and Editions” will present original works from the artists along with limited edition prints.
Both of the featured artists are well-established purveyors of the fine art of printmaking and design, which they incorporate into an interdisciplinary mÃ©lange of music and image. Described by No Coast as “the underground disco of our gay-ass techno-pagan mutant future,” Danimal’s work combines a multisensory overload of linear optical geometrics with the vague, milky presence of individual figures. Surfaces and angles combine and reject one another in these busy compositions, whose subject matter can be equally confounding. One piece depicts a retro-futuristic projection of Aztec Olympians competing against a background of abstract color patterns. Danimal’s aesthetic may be familiar to fans of his Minneapolis band, Gay Beast, as his artwork graces their CD covers and posters.
Equally imaginative and inspired, the folky character of Jes Seamans’s prints and watercolors invoke a calmer and more contemplative world of subdued forms and gestures, but the subject matter is still intensely surreal. In Seamans’s images gravity threatens to knock buildings over, and the Minneapolis pop icon formerly known as Prince makes occult hand signs in an attempt to regain the lower part of his body. When Seamans is not conjuring deceptively innocent images, she is busy operating as half of Landland, a graphic design and illustration studio in Minneapolis. The young organization focuses on the production of imaginative band posters, record designs, and art prints for a clientele that ranges from the everyday print enthusiast to HÃ¼sker DÃ¼ guitarist Bob Mould.
The first exhibitions in No Coast’s space will remain relatively local. Future “Exhibitions and Editions” artists will include Chicago multimedia and performance artist Tessa Siddle and Chicago-based sculptor Marvin Astorga. However, the gallery hopes to provide a platform for the many talented artists, designers, creators, and inventors across the country. Young Joon Kwak, one of No Coast’s many coordinators, all of whom are artists themselves, stresses the importance of maintaining multiplicity as part of creative practice: “[No Coast] has always brought together diverse artistic communities in Chicago through the artist consignment store, the workshops we offer, music, and performances. Now, in addition to these things we want to support artists through our new gallery programming. We’re really trying to show a diversity of contemporary artistic practices.”
No Coast Collective, 1500 W. 17th St. February 13-March 7. Opening reception Saturday, February 13, 6-9pm. (312)850-2338. Free. no-coast.org