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Review: No Dead Artists at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery 

The annual expo of emerging artists addresses changing times and technology

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Where are we? Some people around the world feel increasingly disoriented as changing times and changing technologies make their once familiar surroundings seem ever more alien. New ripples in the art world often reflect issues that many people sense but cannot articulate, and this year's No Dead Artists exhibition continues its uncanny history of such subcurrents resonating through the work of emerging artists. Beyond all the upheavals posed by global economics, politics and climate change, the widespread human tendency to grasp at simplistic solutions to complex situations fails to provide the answers needed to adapt to a time in which robotics and digital technology increasingly make the world around us seem more like virtual reality. The dizzying complexity of our increasingly technological urban environments is explored in Chicago artist Alex Braverman's geometric photo collages of urban vistas like Chicago Loop Landmarks #43-46, 2010 (pictured), but the contrast provided by Nate Burbeck's more pastoral oil paintings of everyday life in Minnesota should be reassuring. Look again and his surreal suburban scenes and green pastures sliced with graffiti-tagged interstate ramps can seem as disembodied as dreams where a sense of place is replaced by a GPS reading. Disorienting changes offer promise, despair and even a strange kind of beauty. They also can be spooky, as we see in Beth Davila Waldman's images of urban ruins and Jenny Day's landscape paintings based on satellite images of Superfund sites along interstate highways in the West. Meanwhile, in cities including Miami and New Orleans, spaces below overpasses have become dystopian campgrounds for the urban nomads seen in MaryLou Uttermohlen's photographs of those who fell through the cracks. Works by Ti-Rock Moore, Christina West, Jason Willaford, Sarah Knouse, Larry Simons and Mia Yoon further explore the ways in which the world seems to come apart and reassemble itself. Christopher Rico, Ben Long and Jack Schoonover suggest a sublime side concealed within the chaos of modern life, a hint perhaps that a silver lining may exist for those who look hard enough to find it.


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