Shellabarger's performances, prints, and artist books are born
from everyday activities — walking, breathing, writing
— taken to extreme measures, as he accumulates massive
amounts of marks, recording discrete units of time and space
that amplify the traces that humans leave on the earth. Repetitive
actions lead to extremely subtle marks emerging as visible artistic
interventions into his chosen object (book, print, ball of twine).
This work addresses issues relating to the body and its environs
and employ predetermined alternative drawing methods that result
in minimal abstract objects. For his fourth solo show at the
gallery, Shellabarger presents a print installation, several
new walking books, sculptural balls of twine, and a new photograph.
The exhibition opens on Friday, October 24, with a public reception
from 5 to 8pm and runs through December 6.
The centerpiece of this exhibition, both an homage to and a
critique of Minimalist artist Carl Andre’s signature sculpture,
“Plain”, was created by walking on a 6 x 6 foot
square comprised of 36 cold-rolled steel plates, laid out to
resemble the Andre piece,of which both the MCA and the Art Institute
of Chicago each own a version. Shellabarger paced a serpentine
path across the steel plates while wearing shoes affixed with
heavy grit sandpaper to his soles. He then printed each plate
like one would a drypoint print. The prints are assembled in
order to recreate the path trod upon the plates, and is presented
on a low pedestal just above the gallery floor.
Andre invites viewers to walk upon his sculptures so that
they can register, on a sensory level, the feel of different
materials (such as steel and aluminum) and the distinction between
standing in the middle of a sculpture and remaining outside
of its boundaries (1).
Shellabarger takes this disruption several steps further.
While viewers are encouraged to walk upon Andre’s sculptures,
Shellabarger aggressively abrades the surface of his ersatz
“Plain”, bringing into play elements of chance and
romantic notions of gesture, anathemas to standard Minimalist
A new artist book captures marks and scratches made by the artist
and his husband as they locked and unlocked the door to their
apartment over the course of three years. Shellabarger will
also present several “Walking Balls” in the show,
balls of twine that are literally physical representations of
time passed and a new photo documenting a discrete performance
by Shellabarger, enacted when a new house was built across the
street from his building. Shellabarger would pass by a wooden
fence constructed on this property nearly every day, dragging
sandpaper down the length of the fence, doing this twice a day,
going and coming. The photograph captures the subtle line that
began to emerge as a result of this activity, an act that was
stopped once the owners stained the fence.
Stan Shellabarger’s most recent solo show at Western Exhibitions
in 2011 was reviewed in The Chicago Tribune and Art Practical
and works from that show were acquired by The Art Institute
of Chicago, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Baltimore
Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Canada and The Newark
Public Library. His solo shows include a pine-needle installation
at the Hyde Park Art Center, a 12 x 12 New Work/New Artists
exhibition at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in December
and he has been included in group shows at Museum of Modern
and Contemporary Art, Nice, France, Minneapolis Institute of
Art, inova in Milwaukee, the Chicago Cultural Center, University
of Buffalo and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. His work
has been reviewed in Art in America, artforum.com, ArtUS, New
City, and Artslant. Shellabarger received his MFA from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison and lives and works in Chicago.
(1) from the Art Institute of Chicago's website: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/48526