Leslie Baum's dining room studio
For social distancing purposes, we intend to use the front lawn of 3311 as a waiting area and enter the space in groups of 2-4 people from 2-6 PM. Please use our google doc to sign up for a viewing time.
“Devotional Paintings” & “Garden in a Vase”
Jennifer Sullivan & Leslie Baum @ Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar is pleased to announce our first opening since lockdown.
Jennifer Sullivan was originally scheduled to show in March, but flexibility being a virtue, we find Sullivan joined by Leslie Baum in July. While Sullivan’s work recalls an exhibition predating the pandemic, Baum exhibits work made during quarantine. This Saturday afternoon, please join us for 2 solo shows looking backwards, forwards, and meditating on where we’ve been since the last time seeing each other.
I first encountered Jennifer Sullivan’s work in Instagram stories posted by Amy Brener. Each time I saw paintings I liked, I would ask whose they were. Invariably she replied “Jennifer Sullivan!” They were images drawn from daily life: the interior of her apartment, her cat, and her body. More than a year after we first began our conversation, Sullivan will present paintings of her cat and Courtney Love— images that at once remember and reconstruct a time before quarantine, and yet viewed through a lens colored by months of life on hold.
Asking Sullivan about her imagery, she shared a passage from Marie-Louise von Franz. Ancient Egypt viewed the cat as, “the goddess of music, sexuality, pleasure in life, and life-embracing feminine fertility. The cat, in contrast to the dog, has never sold its soul to man ... The cat is not very amiable, but very true to itself.”
In Sullivan’s work, the cat, like Courtney Love, becomes a symbol for the qualities Sullivan covets. “[Courtney Love’s] image and the narrative arcs of her career and very public personal life, invoke issues about ambition, motherhood, feminism, self-esteem, loss, anger, survival, and transformation,” writes Sullivan. The small-scaled devotional painting are made on unprimed cotton with dye. She looks to materials that evoke crying or bleeding. “She represents raw emotion and a sense of humanness that can’t be contained … she is a great destroyer and her power is in her anger and fieirceness,” writes Sullivan. “My biggest interest is her un-likeability … her resistance to being likeable makes me love her.”
Like Sullivan, Baum’s work drew our attention through Instagram. Producing three water colors a day during quarantine, Baum began posting her project on social media. Many of us salved our desire for closeness by connecting with our communities through digital platforms, and here we have a chance to see the physical works.
“I lean on Spring, as a way to get through the Chicago winter,” writes Baum. “The arrival of shoots, buds, and finally flowers is an embodied pleasure.” But during a pandemic, even the simple pleasures of a private garden become fraught. “My garden is narrow and bookends
the sidewalk ... And so, I decided to bring the garden inside, picking a flower or two every few days and placing them in a vase on my dining room table.”
Previous summers found Baum enjoying Chicago’s public spaces for plein air painting with fellow artists. As the constraints of social distancing rendered the community-forging project inconceivable, Baum found herself, “sinking into the micro-landscape of my informal bouquets.”
She writes, “There was snow on the ground when I first embarked on these watercolors. Bearing witness to the passage of time as experienced through the life cycle of my garden … has provided a necessary respite from, and vessel for, my messy quarantine emotions.”
Leslie Baum makes paintings and painting-based installations that are invitational and deeply informed by her twenty plus years as a museum educator at the Art Institute of Chicago. Baum received her BA from the University of Vermont and studied abroad at the Glasgow School of Art. Since 1993, Baum has exhibited in venues nationally and internationally including exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, Portland, Mexico City, Rome, and South Korea. Her drawings and paintings are in permanent collections of the Chicago Art institute and the Elmhurst Art Museum. Her work has been reviewed extensively including in Artforum, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and the Chicago Tribune. She has received residencies at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center. Leslie Baum lives and works in Chicago.
Jennifer Sullivan is a New York-based artist whose painting practice evolved out of roots in performance and video. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute and her MFA from Parsons. Recent solo and Two Person exhibitions include Female Sensibility (with Kirstin Stoltmann) at Five Car Garage, Los Angeles (2020), Exiled Parts at No Place Gallery, Columbus, OH (2019), Stretch Marks at Real Estate Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY (2018) and the soft animal of your body at Five Car Garage, Los Angeles, CA (2018). Sullivan has exhibited widely including group exhibitions at Marinaro, Brennan and Griffin, Rod Barton, Marvin Gardens, Safe Gallery, and Klaus Von Nichtsaggend. Awards include a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center, and residencies at the Lighthouse Works, Skowhegan, Ox-Bow, and Yaddo. Her work has been reviewed in the NY Times, Artforum, Art News, The Brooklyn Rail, and Art Papers. She is represented by Five Car Garage in Los Angeles, CA.