Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan | Living by Example at NEIU
Fine Arts Center Gallery hosts the Franklin, a future artist-run space.
Sometime after it leaves NEIU, “Living by Example” will travel to another venue: artist Edra Soto and furniture designer Dan Sullivan’s backyard. The Chicago couple intend to use The Franklin (pictured), the wooden structure that dominates their unusual show, as an outdoor gallery. Fabricated by Sullivan, The Franklin will brave the elements once he adds decking and a roof.
For now, the tiny gallery houses paintings and mixed-media works from Soto and Sullivan’s art collection. A few sculptures sit on pedestals outside the entrance, including Scott Wolniak’s life-size Peanut—so realistic that it’s hard to believe it’s plaster—and a wooden dagger and sheath crafted by Michael Rea.
The 23 pieces on view represent a familiar sampling of up-and-coming and midcareer local artists, such as Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (see next review), Paul Nudd and Heidi Norton. Their work is shown by plenty of museums and galleries as well as the artist-run spaces that flourish here and influence Soto and Sullivan’s project.
The Franklin’s first foray would be stronger if the duo provided more context for their collection. Without the cohesiveness of a conventional gallery show or the warmth of artist-run spaces’ domestic settings, “Living by Example” feels a little like a laundry list of Chicago’s next (and, to some extent, current) art stars. Nudd’s untitled drawing, which spells out Soto’s name in his signature splatter lettering, is among a few objects that reflect a personal relationship between collectors and artist. But it’s largely unclear what attracted Soto and Sullivan to these particular works, and what ideas bind their collection together.
Still, the couple have great taste. The Franklin could set an example for many artist-run spaces to follow.