Children under glass: Caleb Weintraub's insular, precarious worlds | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Children under glass: Caleb Weintraub's insular, precarious worlds 

Don't take the kids to "Snowglobe, a Plastic Dream in a Clear and Present Danger"—they're already in it

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Snowglobe by Caleb Weintraub

Snowglobe by Caleb Weintraub

Last Friday a small group of boys ran around outside the Peter Miller Gallery as Caleb Weintraub's new show, "Snowglobe, a Plastic Dream in a Clear and Present Danger," was opening there. It's probably for the best that they didn't go in and get a gander at Weintraub's sculpture and painting. Billed, accurately, as "Alice in Wonderland meets Lord of the Flies," it isn't a sight for children's eyes.

The centerpiece is Snowglobe, an elaborate installation depicting a pack of feral kids dressed in animal garb. Wolves' heads atop their own, they're frozen in time in the thick of a fantastical forest. Like the rest of the show, Snowglobe is about the bargaining with disillusionment that's part of growing up. The kids gaze out from under a glass dome as if at some impending threat—as if they're just now realizing what admission to the adult world will cost them. The theme is repeated in Glass Ceiling, a painting of a small woodland house sitting inside its own bubble—which for that matter sits inside the artist's canvas. By using this motif in both three dimensions and two, Weintraub seems to be fiddling with his lens (zoom in, zoom out) and reminding us of our roles as voyeurs. Reminding us, also, that the kids behind the glass are trapped.

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