LOS ANGELES — President Barack Obama stands fully formed in wax towards the exit of the entertaining, kitschy tourist trap that is the Hollywood Wax Museum. Celebrity gazing is a thoroughly American tradition.
CHICAGO — Cartoonist Rube Goldberg (1883–1970) was best known for his depictions of “inventions” that imagined complicated contraptions with far too many moving parts built to solve the simplest of problems. These “Rube Goldberg machines” appeared in his work, and were used as devices to poke fun at the roundabout nature of American bureaucratic and political systems in the post-World War II era. Rube Goldberg’s Ghost, a large group exhibition on view at Columbia College’s small Glass Curtain Gallery (through May 4) features work by more than 20 artists who may very well be Goldberg’s companions in that they, too, enjoy laborious machinations with political undertones.
CHICAGO — A few years ago, when I spent most of a summer in Prague (Czech Republic), I visited the lapidarium, the museum where they store all the fragments of old statues. I thought of that museum again when I saw Industry of the Ordinary: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi at the Chicago Cultural Center. Industry of the Ordinary (IOTO) are Adam Brooks and Matthew Wilson, two British artists who have lived in Chicago for many years. Their stated aim is to raise our consciousness about what constitutes an ordinary or extraordinary human action, or work of art, but that hardly does justice to the almost bewildering variety of forms that are displayed in this mid-career survey.