What We're Reading: 7/19
A large wood-fired vase holding a spray of bright flowers greets you when you walk into How to Sell Hardware, Theaster Gates’s installation at Chicago’s Gray Warehouse. It’s a piece Gates made, and it’s a warmly welcoming gesture to viewers stepping into the austere gallery space. It also serves as a reference to the artist’s early career as a ceramicist: Gates trained as a potter, and for 15 years wood-fired vessels and other ceramic pieces were his primary means of artistic expression. The works in his new installation, composed of the contents of a defunct hardware store, seem at first to have little in common with such a traditional ceramic form. But in a sense the vessel offers a key into the themes of the show. Firing a wood kiln is a communal, intensely laborious effort, sometimes involving squads of potters tending the fire together for days on end — and How to Sell Hardware, despite the name, is less concerned with commerce than it is with the intersection of labor and community.
A couple of Wednesdays ago, I spent a couple of hours loitering outside a public restroom facility. Dozens of us did.
Before you call the cops, let me explain. I was one of 63 — give or take a few wander-inners and passers-by who passed by, came back and stayed a while — gathered under the trees outside the tiny, century-old trolley line warming house now known as Comfort Station, the unlikeliest arts micro-organization in town.
Via Chicago Tribune
Image thumbnail: The Comfort Station can be seen July 13, 2021, in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
If you happen to be near the South Pacific Playground in Brooklyn, keep your eyes peeled for a 2003 Silver Honda CRV. It belongs to someone named Conor, and if you text him (419-971-1233), he’ll direct you right to it.
Brooklyn not your home base? Near Gramercy Park, there’s a dog named Oh Papa who usually hangs out there with his owner, Starlee. You can text her, too, for an exact location.
These seemingly random people and places are actually locations of site-specific artworks that make up the roving installation Public Sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Adam Milner, and presented by Colorado-based nonprofit Black Cube, a nomadic contemporary art museum.
Milner is a self-proclaimed “collector” who constructs elaborate installations from discarded or found objects. Babybel cheese wax, porcelain figurines, a friend’s braided hair (“is it my hair now?” he wants to know) or plastic gems embedded in a smooth jasper stone, all collected from thrift stores, street corners, or simply amassed over the years, each become the foundation of his work.