Chris Dorland | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chris Dorland 

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Chris Dorland's Human Potential is a moving tribute to and critique of modernism's utopian dreams. A circular balcony with a few spectators hangs above a vast city whose circular shape suggests our planet. The city's hub-and-spokes plan and the boats regularly spaced in the river suggest a desire for perfection; but since the city is obviously a miniature model, it becomes a grandiose unrealized fantasy, and Dorland's fuzzy-edged style turns the entire scene into a subjective dream. In his statement Dorland explains that most of the 11 paintings in this exhibit at Wendy Cooper are "based on found photographs from world's fair pavilions, architectural models and prototypes"; the photo for this painting was of a model for a "Democracity" in a 1939 New York World's Fair pavilion. Thomas's World provides a closer view of the same model, revealing a mix of low-rise buildings and skyscrapers whose design variations are so insignificant the cleanly laid-out metropolis becomes a repetitive nightmare. This impression is only intensified by the weird blue-green hue, which is the color of the light from a television. The same light permeates Festival of Gas (Small), a work dominated by the flat roofs of a futuristic building, with people in a plaza who are nearly vanishing shadows. Wendy Cooper, 119 N. Peoria, through July 24. Hours are 11 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday; 312-455-1195.

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