Friday, August 21, 2015

John Pitman Weber's Printed Perspectives on NOW

Look at her. Look at those those eyes that hold a world of anxiety, sadness, uncertainty and caution. Her fate is unknown and unclear, but her current situation we understand is in a holding pattern. A cell or room of confinement. She is waiting, waiting to be let out, to be able to pursue her life.

John Pitman Weber is a well-known commodity in the Chicago art scene. His works have been exhibited internationally, and his public murals are woven into the artistic and cultural fabric of this, and several other cities across the country.

Benedictine University is hosting a Terrific exhibition, "Perspectives on NOW" (opens August 24th) of his recent works dealing with war, migration, environmental sabotage, drones and spying. The exhibition is truly a reflection of current events and Weber's crusade to speak about things that concern him - and things that should concern us all. Weber presents a tour de force in these paintings, drawings and prints that the viewer will not soon forget.
I came across Weber's work while visiting a neighboring institution, and was dumbstruck by his prints. Marvelous work. A marriage of technical virtuosity and the strength of his convictions. The work in this exhibition include a series of prints "Infernal Machines" about oil refineries and their destruction of the environment, via air pollution, and refineries that look no different than mother's milk pumping machines, draining our planet of its precious, life-sustaining resources.

Weber's 'prisoner' prints are life sized, and make us feel we are a part of the procedure of their detention. The helplessness of their upraised arms makes our own arms feel weak and defenseless. The resignation to being captive is palpable on the prisoners' faces. There is no specific culture or country associated with these prisoner images. Weber reminds us that this is a global issue, and the detention of any human being, is wrong.

Weber also includes in this exhibition a grouping of earlier prints; mother Marys of different cultures, and regal, young indigenous women from Latin America, and silhouettes of men fleeing into a void of uncertainty. The range of cultural awareness in Weber's work is solid. He knows the plight of migrants. He knows the elegance and sensuousness of a young woman's gaze, the formal elegance of a cactus vs. a woman's arm. These and many other images show an artist working solidly in his element.
Weber ably and effectively uses all the bells and whistles of line, composition, media, scale, surface, and color to get across his message. The exciting component of this artist's work, is that he looks like he's just getting started. The man is working full speed ahead and that, my fellow inked up friends, is exciting for all of us.
There is more to come from this artist and lessons we can learn from his work can help inform and inspire us to make work and get our own messages out there. Printmaking is bound to its communication roots. Weber understands that, and excels.
The exhibition runs through October 10. Location: 5700 College Rd., Kindlon Hall, fifth floor. Lisle, IL. Artist's reception and lecture: Saturday, September 12, at 2:00 p.m.
Free and open to the public.