A regular guy inspires This Is Paul Halupka | Art Sidebar | Chicago Reader

A regular guy inspires This Is Paul Halupka 

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Baby Paul and His Dad by Pamela Bannos

Baby Paul and His Dad by Pamela Bannos

click to enlarge Anonym as Paul by Mary Lou Zelazny
  • Anonym as Paul by Mary Lou Zelazny

Curator Jessica Cochran had met local graphic designer Paul Halupka only once before deciding to dedicate an entire exhibition to him. She interviewed him when he volunteered to sit naked in an installation created by Argentinean artist Maximo Gonzalez for Art Chicago 2009. He was, she says, the "only legit" applicant. "He seemed like a good guy and a cool person, so when I came up with the idea to do a show about some random person, I thought, 'Oh, maybe Paul.'" Cochran e-mailed Halupka and he responded with amusement. The show, This Is Paul Halupka, features works by 13 emerging and mid-career artists—including Kirsten Leenaars, Ryan Richey, Michael X. Ryan,

click to enlarge A Sound Foundation by Alberto Aguilar
  • A Sound Foundation by Alberto Aguilar
and Mary Lou Zelazny—that focus on different aspects of Halupka's life, from the places where he played as a child to his logo-designing skills. "I call it relational portraiture," Cochran says, "because it involves depicting the same person in a layered way." By concentrating on an average Joe, she adds, the show critiques the manner in which the media thrust people into the spotlight. It also raises questions about the role of the curator as tastemaker or "legitimizer," since Cochran asked the participating artists to carry out a concept that meant something to her but perhaps not to them—or anyone else.

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