Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby E. christens my night before "Gestures" @ Mattress Factory.

This weekend has been dramatically different from the previous ten days. I've actually had a chance to go out and see stuff, without having to worry too much about rushing home. My job is mostly to make sure that M. has everything she needs in order to get through the day. Fortunately my Dad sent a DVD that provided some useful hints for soothing a crying baby. It's a bit humorous in retrospect that we've been telling people that Little E. is a particularly fussy baby. The fact is that's he's not... not really. We just weren't doing the right things. It turns out that babies actually have a sort of "soothing reflex". The tiny tyke could be losing his shit, but he is always vulnerable to a step-by-step method of calming. The DVD explains that the first three months of a new-born's life is like a fourth trimester. The best thing you can do to keep a baby happy is to simulate the experience of being in the womb. That actually makes a lot of sense.

I was privy to a very special milestone yesterday. M. gave me E. to hold for awhile so she could get things done. I propped him upright against my legs on my lap, facing me. He was wide awake and in a pretty good mood. At one point he looked at me and made a nice burp. A milky air bubble was on his tongue. I had never seen that before, and thought- "Look at that. It's a little bubble. How cute!" The next thing he did was glance at me again and projectile vomit a foot long continuous stream, like a cherubic fountain. The barf was smooth and creamy, and bright yellow. There were no chunks at all. He paused for a moment, and then let out another burst. Whenever I had imagined my kid "spitting up", I didn't picture that. It seemed like he expelled six ounces of liquid. Then he promptly flopped his head down and fell immediately and contentedly asleep. How sweet he is!

Anyway after I got cleaned up (and wiped off the sofa), I got ready for my night out. I planned my itinerary very methodically, and knew that I could hit three of the five galleries I had earlier identified as priorities. I really wanted to see the Gestures show at the Mattress Factory, so I started in the North Side. This is the annual opportunity for this excellent installation museum to roll out a little of the local flavor. The name of this year's exhibition is Illustrations of Catastrophe and Remote Times. It was curated by the assistant curator for the Carnegie Museum of Art, Heather Pesanti. All participating artists were asked to respond to an essay by Robert Smithson and Mel Bochner (no... I've never read it). Of course the range of responses varied greatly, and employed many different mediums and materials.

I was excited to find myself arriving before the crowds that I knew would show up as the night wore on. I got a great parking space and walked by a huddle of what looked like down-on-their-luck medieval reenactors, and into the satellite gallery on Monterrey Street. For the first time in my recollection, they were charging an admission ($10) to see the opening. I finagled the student discount and went in with great anticipation. I knew several of the artists- Renee Ickees, Christiane Leach, Laurie Mancuso, Jen Howison, etc, and was familiar with quite a few of the others. As expected I enjoyed several of the pieces. Particular standouts included a UFO visitation by Matthew Barton and Jacob Ciocci, as well as a meditation on the declining industry of the region by the aforementioned Mancuso.

Not surprisingly the place quickly became more crowded than I could bear. I said "hello" to a few friends and acquaintances, enjoyed another drink, and went out front for a smoke. I took a moment to watch the K-mart-outfitted knights, who turned out to be the subject of a music video by some post-punky band that I had minimal interest in. They did add a bit of lowbrow flavor to the event. Overall, I felt the show was certainly strong enough to recommend to others. Pesanti gave enough space to each artist, allowing their respective works to breathe in a way that I haven't seen at previous "Gestures" shows. As one might expect, the lineup of creators mirrored the social circle of the creator... but this seemed to work in the favor of this particular show. It's a talented group, and well worth at least one visit. I certainly felt like it gave my evening the patina it deserved. In short- it was better than baby puke.

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