Desires Past and Present: A Review of “Our Lovely Secret Wreck” at Hume Chicago

Installation view of “Our Lovely Secret Wreck” at Hume Gallery with work by Brian T. Leahy, J. Michael Ford and Margaux Crump, Summer 2016/Photo: Brian T. Leahy

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Brian T. Leahy brings J. Michael Ford and Houston-based artist Margaux Crump into this artist-run space for “Our Lovely Secret Wreck,” a group show that puts three artists with three distinctive practices into a larger conversation of material-based objects and their relations to desire and attachment.

Organizer and painter Brian T. Leahy places the artists’ work into a setting of domestic familiarity. In one corner of the gallery, backdropped by a floral pattern resembling wallpaper, a condensed group of paintings, sculpture and found objects are forced to respond to the symbols of the familial home that Brian has placed alongside them. Some of Leahy’s works in this cluster incorporate conceptually loftier elements of abstract formalism, but when placed in tandem to a framed MasterCard printed with the image of “Starry Night,” the purpose of painting is thrown into question. And through the use of these same symbols of interior design—armchair, bookshelf, wallpaper—Brian acts as both participant and critic to address the more pragmatic components of painting’s representation of wealth.

Installation view of “Our Lovely Secret Wreck” at Hume Gallery with work by J. Michael Ford and Margaux Crump, Summer 2016/Photo: Brian T. Leahy

J. Michael Ford’s open-ended tube sculptures afford looseness to the interpretation of desire that act like an interstitial mediator between Leahy and Crump. Ford’s “Relaxed Mood” exemplifies the sometimes unpredictable and temperamental behavior of attachment with a mood ring attached to an otherwise rigid white conduit. In contrast, Crump’s “Preserving My Desire” simultaneously achieves both reflection and aggressive assertiveness through her installation of handmade panties encrusted in brining salt. Spiked to the wall like the skinned hides of wild game, the triumph of a fresh kill swirls intensely with intimate memories.

The accompanying catalog for the show, designed and printed by Kitemath, compiles an array of text from the artists and other contributing writers. Adding yet another component to an already densely layered exhibition, this book provides a welcomed opportunity to spend more time with this thoughtful undertaking.

Through August 13 at Hume Chicago, 3243 West Armitage, with a catalogue release on August 5, 6pm-9 pm

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