Responsive Art Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Responsive Art Project 

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Close friends Betty N. Butler and Itala Langmar decided to respond to each other's work for this two-person show, and their 22 gentle abstractions, made "with the concept of the Mandala in mind," seem to dance quietly with and around one other. Butler uses broad, gestural brushstrokes; Langmar often covers her more muted pieces with Japanese lace paper, then paints over it. A faint red streak only slightly disrupts the circles and squares in Langmar's Mandala Rising, while a large red brushstroke violently cuts into a black orb in Butler's Mandala Pointing. Langmar's painting seems mysteriously layered, with multiple colored shapes at different depths; Butler's more schematic piece is less layered, though some shapes appear to be in front of others. At times the two artists seem to be half humorously trying to outdo each other in asserting their different styles. In Butler's bold, circular Wave of Fire swaths of red, orange, and green swirl against a blue background and bend into arcs; in Langmar's Wave of Fire Response layers of lace paper seem to float along with circles and rectangles in a large, almost impenetrable void. ARC, 734 N. Milwaukee, through December 27. Hours are 12 to 6 Wednesday through Saturday and 12 to 4 Sunday; 312-733-2787.

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