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April 21-May 26, 2007

In Gallery 1
DUTES MILLER & STAN SHELLABARGER

Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger’s first-ever joint show at Western Exhibitions opens on April 21 and will include collaborative artist books, photos and documentation of collaborative performances, a re-staging of work first performed in 1999, and selected individual works by both artists.

Miller & Shellabarger’s performances act as metaphors for the bittersweet rhythms of human relationships. Their work shifts between moments of togetherness to moments of separation, between spaces of private and public, amidst protection and pain and visibility and invisibility.

Between the Sheets, which premiered at the 1999 Cleveland Performance Art Festival, will be re-staged in Western Exhibitions main gallery. Positioned in the darkened gallery, atop a translucent mattress lit from below, Miller and Shellabarger will sew themselves “into bed”. The work reclaims the bed, often the locus of the outrage and disdain expressed by the moral majority and the Christian right toward queers, as a site where people turn to each other for compassion, comfort, and safety. Shellabarger states, “Sewing ourselves into the bed’s sheets, we are both vainly seeking safety while experiencing entrapment, exposing the conflict queers face in a society that is violent and discriminatory towards them.” This performance will take place at 8pm during the opening reception and will be filmed and projected onto the bed for the run of the exhibition.


In addition to Between the Sheets, Miller & Shellabarger will show an accumulation of a thousand paper cranes from the performance Untitled (Origami Cranes). In this recent work, the artists sat next to one another on a bed in the window of a Chicago futon store and folded paper into origami cranes over the course of three Saturdays, 8 hours at time. As they sat together, participating in a shared activity, a barrier of cranes built a wall of separation between them.

This show will unveil a new Butter Book, an on-going project where Miller & Shellabarger collect, clean and bind into a book every wax paper butter wrapper from each stick of butter they consume in a year. Miller is a pastry chef and Shellabarger an eager consumer of his partner’s creations. The book’s pages, filled with butter wrappers, both attract and repel the viewer into the beauty of the domestic and the material.

Another new book collects oversized silhouettes the couple has been making of each other for the past two years. Their profiles face one another across each two-page spread, documenting the different stages of their distinctive facial hair and sometimes featuring bizarre hats.

Miller & Shellabarger will install recent individual projects on the south wall of the gallery: Miller’s visceral and lurid watercolors and collages of body parts and Shellabarger’s photographs of airplane contrails and walking performances from the 2006 solstices and equinoxes.

This is Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger’s first collaborative show at Western Exhibitions. Recent performances by the duo include Origami Cranes, performed in 2006 at the 44/46 Performance Festival in Chicago, Crochet, an on-going performance recently performed at Illinois State University and NUB, presented at the Center of Contemporary Art, St. Louis in 2002 and in Slop’s Supermarket Outlet at Gallery 312 in Chicago, 2001. Stan Shellabarger’s solo exhibition at Western Exhibitions in 2004 was reviewed in Art in America, artforum.com, Art US and Ten by Ten. Dutes Miller’s recent group shows include “Where All the D*cks Hang Out” at Western Exhibitions and “Vomitorium with Agitprop” at 40000 in Chicago. Miller and Shellabarger live and work in Chicago.

 


 

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