Not of Iron | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Not of Iron

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Geoffrey Bates, the curator of this show of five Illinoisans, says their works "shun the glib irony that typifies much recent contemporary art." Most of these intriguing sculptures and installations--from Yvette Kaiser Smith's over-the-top resin sculptures to Michael Ferris Jr.'s geometrically patterned busts--serve as a reminder that a lack of irony doesn't have to mean a lack of humor. Lucy Slivinski's sculptures made of discarded materials are standouts, with a powerful presence but no signature style. Head, a large ball of brush fiber, is at once imposing and a bit goofy. The small and elegant Stack places a clump of grass atop two bricks, making a third "brick" that suggests the split between nature and industry. Yet her large Seed With Hangers doesn't hint at any such rupture: wire clothes hangers are arranged into a giant organic bloom that appears to sprout from a large, dark "seed." Bill Smith's gentle but affecting F System also connects nature with machines: when a visitor approaches the installation a fan starts whirring, causing a tiny maple seed suspended from a wire to turn as if in the wind. Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery, James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, second floor, through March 14. Hours are 9 to 5 Monday through Friday; 312-814-5317.

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