One Year on Sixth Street Anniversary

Various Artists

ongoing display

When you walk into a gallery -- or any building, for that matter -- you instantly and somewhat unconsciously begin to form a notion of what happens there, who does it, and whether it meshes with your immediate purpose. When I entered Artworks gallery, I did this and nearly walked right back out. I did walk up with preconceived notions (a nice gallery/frame shop in a beautiful high-rent building on West Sixth), but when I walked in and saw the frame shop and all the artwork with the standard artist/media/price tags, I felt I had made a mistake in coming there. I had no business to conduct.

But it's sometimes worth overriding those instantaneous judgments. Once I made it five feet past the door into Artworks, I noticed the many glass sculptures, the mixed-media pieces by Annis Allen, a set of hand-colored engravings by Rick Laudermilk, and many other dispersed examples of pottery, painting, and assorted media, and I realized there is something worthy of notice here. Though the works seem commercially oriented (the jewelry case would be equally at home in a Dillard's) if not inspired, the quality of the work makes them legitimately so. At the least, it's admirable craftsmanship that you'd love to see in your home, which I guess is sort of the point.

On Friday, July 12, the gallery will celebrate its one-year-on-Sixth-Street anniversary with an exhibition of glassworks by Kathleen Ash, an Austin artist known for her fused glass bowls, plates, and light fixtures; and pieces, mostly room dividers and fireplace screens of stunning stained glass, from the studios of Sledd/Winger in Virginia. For decorative and utilitarian art (with elements of original, creative beauty), Artworks is the shop, or gallery, to visit.

-- Christopher Hess


Doug Whitfield

Chicago `20s
permanent display

Something about the "Roaring Twenties" holds a particularly memorable charm over other eras; women were showing more skin (and showing up at the polls!), drinking was an even bigger no-no than it is now, Hollywood was beginning its ascent to demi-god status, and the mob was god. Icons of that crazy time are now immortalized on the walls of a new downtown restaurant, Chicago '20s.

The restaurant's owners commissioned New York artist Doug Whitfield to paint four huge, colorful oils, which group Twenties greats -- and a few wannabe greats -- together in full garb and regalia. "The Champs" is a boxing moment frozen in time. As Al Capone looks on, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunny swing like mad.

Then there's "The Mob," in which the North Side Gang, Capone's cronies, and Machine Gun Jack McGurn gaze ahead, looking like mischievous college buddies. "The Jazz" catches Louis Armstrong et al. in mid-tune. Sitting at the piano, Satchmo looks ready to rip at the ivories.

Finally there's "Silver Screen," featuring perhaps the motliest crew of them all. The silent screen stars stand together like best buddies, the first in a long line of idolized Hollywood icons. By the way, did Fatty Arbuckle really dress in drag? Did Charlie Chaplin really paint his toenails pink? Either Whitfield took liberties with the stars' appearances or acteurs have always been a little eccentric.

Another element of the Twenties ambience are the laminated, framed pictorials from actual French magazines of the era. The color and style shown here in the era's clothing convey simplicity and charm -- perhaps the main elements feeding our fascination of this time of legends and heroes.-- Cari Marshall

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