Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kenneth Baker

The title of Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner's show at Gallery 16 prepares us for levity: "Collaborating With Michelle Grabner Isn't as Much Fun as You Might Think It Is."

And the pieces the couple - who are married - have produced together suggest collision as much as collaboration, though they are famous for beyond-the-studio doings such as the artists residency program, they have hosted for a decade in Oak Park, Ill.

Grabner's paintings and silverpoint drawings on gessoed canvas follow strict programs: radiating or gridded lines, staccato spirals that can make a circular canvas resemble a braided rug.

Killam's sculptures, such as "Blast Double" (2010), bring to mind things such as clotheslines, hanging lamps and bird feeders as readily as they do the mobiles of Alexander Calder.

Yet in their simpler collaborative pieces, such as the two-titled "Head Gear" (2010), Grabner and Killam evoke a tension between sensibilities respectively centered on studio practice and on seeing grist for art in the street or backyard. Nothing here suggests they can't inhabit the same person.