Being Human art show at Union Street Gallery by Richard Benoit

It’s not often that I go to an art show and feel compelled to tell everyone I see to attend. Being Human at Union Street Gallery is one of those shows that you can’t miss. This exhibit excels in every aspect. First it is expertly curated by Dan Addington of Addington gallery in Chicago. His curatorial statement is a pleasure to read and sets the tone perfectly. From piece to piece in this show, I was thoroughly engaged. I just couldn’t wait to get to the next one. From conception to execution each work was a joy and an inspiration.

I’d like to share some thoughts on some of my favorites; by the way, it was hard to narrow down that list. The entire show is on line so if you care to, please follow along

Perhaps my favorite is Fold by Corinna Button. It is a quiet thoughtful view of 3 individuals from behind. The figures are held lovingly together by their arms which embrace each other. There’s an umbrella overhead perhaps to protect from some of life’s unexpected onslaught. This tender touch of mutual support fits so sweetly into the show title…Being Human.

Lisa Carter’s nude rendering has an aprehensive look to it. It seems to show an individual from a vulnerable almost wounded perspective. The drawing of this subject is expert down to the fingernails on the subject’s right hand.

Elliot Purse won a first place showing for his painting. The diagonal design of this one added a sense of movement and the color balance reminded me of Lady Gaga’s meat dress. This work is a wild look at someone torn from the inside out and wrestling for a favorable outcome.

As a parent I could just slap Jessica Segal-Fruedenberg’s painting and ground it for a week. There’s no height or width big enough to hold the attitude of this subject…tween angst.  This character stays with you long after walking away from the painting.

I love the design and color treatment of Clarissa Gerber’s painting. I’m just a sucker for a good expressive painting such as this. The wild impulsive colors and upside down subject make this a lively jazzy romp. It’s a joy to look at.

Another favorite of mine is a photo by Valeri Lanbert. Two subjects stand looking simply back at the viewer. Each has hand prints on the other. Are these subjects a father and daughter? The implication being that their lives affect each other. There’s a subtle air of mystery or tension about this one too…unanswered questions seem to lurk and that’s a sign of a good photograph.

I could go on but suffice to say that this show is top notch and on par with anything I’ve seen at the uptown venues.  The work is well presented with ample room for consideration and thoughtful pacing. For those who want to dig a little deeper the artists statements are in a binder just as you walk in. Union Street has consistently attracted some worthwhile art over the years. This particular show includes work from artists as far away as the UK. It appears as though Union Street’s reputation is growing. If this particular exhibit is a sign of things to come I can’t wait for the next one.

Union Street gallery is located in Chicago Heights on Otto Blvd. Their web-site is Being Human will be up until Nov. 12, 2011

My Impressions on Art Prize 2011 from Richard Benoit

Some quick thoughts on Art Prize 2011: This year’s event attracted about 300,000 people. I was happy to exhibit this year but I feel it may be my first and last. It’s like a huge rummage sale of art. Some is excellent but you have to look very hard to find those things. Trying to traipse all over Grand Rapids (it’s something like a 4 or 5 square mile area of different locations that you have to visit) is just exhausting. Most of the art was uninspiring.

Two truisms for the common art observer are…”If I can do it it’s not art” and” If I can’t name what it is it’s not art”. Many artists seemed to have this in mind when they submitted work. There were just way too many junk sculptures that looked like animals to suite me. Jeff Koons would be king here in Grand Rapids. I’ve seen enough kitsch art to last 2 lifetimes after this.

On the flip side I saw a family with a little girl about 8 years old. She had a note pad and she’d try and reproduce each work that she thought was cool. The whole family was there checking the art out. People that would have normally been home watching some football game were instead checking out art and discussioning why they liked one piece better than another.

The winning piece (a scene of Christ’s crucifixion) is almost an embarrassment. It’s technically well done but conceptually it’s trite and overdone. You could pick the same image up at any Christian gift shop. It reminds me of the image on some rug bought out of the back of a van. 

I experienced the show once and I think that’ll do 

To see some of my work including the piece that I showed at Art Prize visit my web-site at