Bill O'Donnell constructs tiny iconic houses, then photographs them in artificial suburban, industrial, or rural settings--evoking the indistinct, poignant images of the homes of our dreams and memories. The 20 black-and-white selenium-toned gelatin prints on exhibit at the Cultural Center all use dramatically selective planes of focus. In Home: Rain (2002) sharply focused raindrops appear to wet the glass covering the print, while the blurry little house in the background seems off on a distant horizon. O'Donnell also plays with scale the way a child drawing a house might, getting the proportions of meaningful details wrong--in Home: Flock (2001) large, softly focused dark crows seem to besiege a small house. In Home: Furrows (2001) he makes a doormat look like a freshly plowed field. Unlike Hiroshi Sugimoto's magisterial studies of modernist architectural monuments recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which also exploited extreme soft focus, O'Donnell's photographs seem like toyscapes, yet the homes he conjures up are both sweet and strange. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, through November 9. Hours are 10 to 7 Monday through Wednesday, 10 to 9 Thursday, 10 to 6 Friday, 10 to 5 Saturday, 11 to 5 Sunday; 312-744-6630.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Fred Camper.