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TODAY

Monday, February 18

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Mike Genovese's first Chicago solo exhibition, "Showroom," is on view through March 9 at 32nd & Urban Gallery and Space, 3201 S. Halsted, a space that according to the gallery statement (and accurately, it should be stated) "pushes both artist and observer out of their comfort zone by promoting urban expressionism in an almost explosive and in your face approach."

A self-taught artist, Genovese is heralded for his hand lettering, site specific work and public art approaches. On re-title.com it's amply explained: "[Genovese] incorporates the socio-political concerns of his neighbors while maintaining a uniquely personal point of view. His confident hand is evident, creating work which is aesthetically diverse yet singular in its source."

Gallery Hours: Thursday 5pm-9pm; Friday 5pm-9pm; Saturday Noon-6pm or by appointment. 312-846-6569

Q: I noticed that in the gallery announcement for the current show you are referred to as an "art maker." In viewing your work it seems an accurate designation — it has a utilitarian ring to it, which in your case I'd think would sound more distinguished than "artist." How wrong am I here?

Genovese: I wouldn't say you're wrong at all, in fact what I'm trying to do by adapting the title of Art Maker, is to bring the "distinguished" value of the description down to earth. I am a working class artist, and this work is not easy, I'm not out shopping for a new ascot, I'm in the studio. I think the title of artist has a pretentious connotation which isn't taken seriously outside of the art world. If we can bridge the efforts of the industry by demonstrating the process with everyday people I think more of the public will learn to understand the value of a work of art.

Q: To my eyes, the exuberance of your work is tempered by an excited patience. Your use of the remnants and documentation of public projects, and the intricacy of your hand lettering — these best display this "excited patience" I experience in your work. Have you ever meant for your work to express any sense of patience? Have you ever consciously practiced patience while in the process of making art?

Genovese: My work relies on an "excited patience," in the process of making it and for the viewer. I detail my projects with enthusiasm to provoke a moment to question what it is and why it is there, uncovering a story. One of the pieces I have in "Showroom," titled Silent Retreat, presents this more clearly: the paint is removed from the aluminum by impressing and scrawling to reveal a bouquet of flowers that is a reflection of the inner frustration during patience, projecting a moment of silence within the exhibit.

Q: The word "showroom" has two very distinct meanings. A) a space used to display products for sale, and B) a space used to present an entertainment show. To display or to present, products or entertainment, sale or show — which side of the coin best captures the intent of your show? Or have you intended with "Showroom" to erase the line between the two meanings?

Genovese: I'm not trying to redefine it but to embrace it. "Showroom's" primary function is to display the scope of my work as an introduction to the approaches and ideas I've been working on. I wanted to set each individual project or series in its own length of wall space, running a common thread through all five presentations. The entertainment part of it will be featured at its closing reception March 9th from 6pm til 9pm, where we will be hosting a live music event as well as providing coffee and cookies to celebrate this idea of the showroom.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to tqf@gapersblock.com.

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