Stacey Rozich’s “This Must Be the Place” at Chicago Urban Art Society
It’s not often that illustration succeeds in a fine art context, as illustration, didactic by nature, tends to be without the depth and subtlety we understand to be valuable in “fine art.” However, the illustrative practice of Seattle-based Stacey Rozich not only succeeds in the gallery, it thrives with narrative strength and a clear artistic vision that ranks her recent exhibition “This Must Be the Place” at Chicago Urban Art Society among the best exhibitions in Chicago this summer. - Robin Dluzen, Chicago Contributor
Stacey Rozich | He Hates That Song, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 11" x 14" framed. Photo courtesy of the artist
In “This Must Be the Place,” a series of intimately sized works on paper encircle the space, anchored by a substantial mural that initially commands a viewer’s gaze upon entering the gallery. While well crafted and appropriately engaging the vast exhibition space, the mural rather ironically acts more like a large-scale teaser for the main attraction to be found within the 24 little white frames. Both the mural and the paintings contain the artist’s signature visual language of folklore symbology infused visual cues unique to the present day. With watercolor and gouache on paper, her chimera-like figures are rendered flat, graphic and colorful, softened with a fastidious patterning of fabrics and fur. Some are half-human half-animal, while some are entirely imaginary, all of them in the midst of contemporary human activities of tragedy and debauchery littered with firearms, broken bottles and cigarette butts.
Stacey Rozich | It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 16" x 20" framed. Photo courtesy of the artist
Many works reveal the moral of their stories outright (as in It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt or High Rollers) whilesome of the very best works are those in which the morals are obscured. Pieces like Does Your Ghost Play the Banjo (in which a band of creatures and a ghost play folk instruments while a figure in skeleton footie pajamas is preoccupied with a calculator) or He Hates that Song (a tiger attacking a masked, female musician while winged lizard-fairies look on) are examples of the way in which Rozich deftly injects just the right amount of absurdity into these ambiguous, but nonetheless familiar narratives that, like the folktales she draws from, speak directly to our human condition.
Stacey Rozich | Does Your Ghost Play the Banjo, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 16" x 20" framed. Photo courtesy of the artist
Stacey Rozich | High Rollers, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 16" x 20" framed. Photo courtesy of the artist
Stacey Rozich studied Illustration at California College of the Arts as well as Design at Seattle Central Creative Academy. Her art has been showcased in galleries in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Milwaukee and Berlin. Her work has also appeared commercially with a client list that includes The FADER, The Stranger, K Records, and Southern Lord, amongst many others.
Robin Dluzen is a Chicago-based artist and writer, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Art Magazine. Dluzen's writing can be found in such publications as art ltd. magazine, Visual Art Source, i4design Magazine, the Chicago Reader and the New American Paintings blog.