Gallery Y: Conrad Freiburg “Before the Grave and Constant”
Gallery X: Eric Edward Esper “Chicago Catastrophes, Conflagrations
June 7 – August 10, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, June 7, 2013, 6–9pm
Artist Talk: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 6 -8pm
We proudly open on June 7th at 6pm, our two summer exhibitions: Conrad Freiburg’s “Before the Grave and Constant” and Eric Edward Esper’s “Chicago Catastrophes, Conflagrations, and Calamities,” as we celebrate Linda Warren Projects’ 10 year anniversary in Chicago.
While conceptual artist Conrad Freiburg continues his ongoing investigation of the “void,” seeking to explore the many unknowns and invisible forces at play within the realm of consciousness, his attention, not surprisingly, steers to one of mankind’s greatest concerns and mysteries: mortality. From this terrain springs the perfect fodder for Freiburg’s well-known intellect, imagination, craft and his humorous “Rube Goldberg”-like aesthetics. It is the thing that isn’t there that is always the most interesting for Freiburg, fueling his quest to create objects that embrace and recognize the beauty of the here and now. His works are enriched with both a playfulness and a ridiculousness that succeeds in expressing the weighty certainty of mortality, the sublime quality of uncertainty, and everything else beyond materiality, to emphasize the notion that art, like life, is laden with the unexplainable and that every good story is not logical.
At the core of Freiburg’s exhibit in Gallery Y, “Before the Grave and Constant,” is the experiential, interactive sculptural installation that joyfully deals with the idiom “kicking the bucket.” Upon entering the gallery, one will find that the opening and closing of the front door will actuate a mechanism which literally kicks a bucket filled with little metal balls. These reflective balls go to various places and sculptures around the room where participants can set them in motion, enabling them to pour into additional sculptures and buckets, until eventually they return back to their origin. Each point along the path is like a different ride at an amusement park beseeching you to experience and enjoy, acting as metaphor for consciousness with a very clear message: live life, love better and appreciate beauty while you still can.
Perhaps nothing confronts death more head-on than witnessing horrible accidents in which there are massive casualties and victims. Eric Edward Esper’s oil paintings in “Chicago Catastrophes, Conflagrations, and Calamities” in Gallery X are momentous works of art depicting Chicago’s most serious disasters in the last one hundred years that amounted to the greatest loss of human life. They reveal an artist who is now emerging not just as noteworthy painter but also a historical documentarian. Beginning with the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and ending with the crashing of American Airlines Flight #191 in 1979, Esper brings to life in labor-intensive, meticulous oil paintings, depictions of the Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903, the Water Crib Fire of 1909, the Eastland Disaster of 1915, The Green Hornet street car fire of 1950, Our Lady of Angels fire of 1958 and The EL Train disaster of 1977. Six years of diligent research and devout painting time has enabled him to piece together these terrifying historic events that in many instances have come to shape who we are as a city. It is Esper’s in-depth commitment to this subject matter that elevates these works beyond mere illustrations. Esper has grappled with each detail and nuance, reimagining them in their truest reality, leaving for us a legacy of important work—historical, in their own right.
Both shows, while obviously in extremely different manners, address the subject of death. They connect our shared humanity and take us on a journey through the past into the present, instilling in us recognition of life’s fragility and the need to embrace and savor the moment. We aim on this evening to rejoice in our relationships with each other, as we also put artwork from all of the gallery artists on display in the office space, offering a sincere thank you to them and all of our community of supporters and art lovers for the good years behind us. We will toast to the here and now, and share a few additional surprises that evening, as we look forward to the future with great anticipation and hope for further growth and consciousness.
Conrad Freiburg received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute in 2000. Since then he has shown his work and performed his music in venues throughout the United States and abroad, including a solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center in 2011 as part of his six month Artist-in-Residency. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including being named “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune in 2007 for his awe-inspiring creation of the Slipping Glimpser. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a New York Foundation for the Arts fiscal sponsorship, as well as a frequent and welcomed resident at Harold Arts’ Artist in Residency program, where he created this new body of work as well as the work in a concurrently running show curated by Shannon Stratton at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. His work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including Art Ltd, Artforum, Artnews, Time Out, New City, Bad at Sports, Chicago Public Radio and the Chicago Tribune. This marks his fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.
Eric Esper received his BFA in Illustration from Northern Michigan University in 1996. Shortly thereafter he relocated to Chicago and began his painting career primarily working in plein air to chronicle scenes of Chicago. He has exhibited paintings of that genre in galleries throughout the city for the past 15 years. Since 2007 his fascination with landscapes and history has led him to create oil paintings of scenes that have affected us in dramatic ways. Often painting from an aerial perspective, he reconstructs significant historical locations, encapsulating true stories that are hard to imagine and harder to forget. From Jonestown, to Waco, to the Manson Family ranch, Esper immerses himself in myriad source material, to capture every detail in order to depict them with historical accuracy. He brings these similar, masterful skills to his business of antique poster restoration, specializing in Soviet Propaganda from WWII. This marks his second time showing with the gallery, and first solo exhibition. This project is partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.