Sticky wickets at Ice Box

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Friday evening I took my daughter Minna and her friend Becca to a veritable art outpost, a place we’d never explored before–The Crane Arts Center’s Ice Box Project Space, a huge old warehouse two blocks north of Girard on American Street).

The show, “Valsalva Maneuver,” was a display of artists’ takes on croquet course that brought back the miniature golf show at Artists Space in New York. But unlike that show, the artists here are not big, big names, but rather a bunch of young people bristling with energy. (I still remember with especial fondness that show’s Cheeto-coated hole created by artist Sandy Skoglund. Oy, what a color!)

The space was enormous and has great potential for future ventures, especially installations and gigantic sculptures.

Like all such prescriptive ventures for artists (I give you a format, you make a piece of art that fits in), it was uneven, but it did have its moments.

Course 7, a gothic black and brown paper forest was enticing and weird, with brightly colored papier mache mallets and balls to hit down a curved path. The gallery map credits Diane Carr, Nichola Kinch and Kelly McRaven with this one (top).

The deer in Course 6, by Wendy DesChene and Jennifer McTague had a fantasy affect that the painted floor cloth forest and the droopy wickets couldn’t live up to. I did like the distorted painted croquet balls on the floor cloth–or were they eyes? Hard to say (right, Course 6).

The camouflage floor cloth and giant swinging mallet that hung was a big hit with the kids. The artists were listed as Adam Parker Smith and Kevin Hayes. I’m not sure anyone playing there noticed the drawings on the walls that dwarfed the players, turning them into gnomes or elves.

Others participating were Roxana Perez-Mendez, Ivy Green, Michelle Posadas, Sean McMullen, Katie McDory, Leslie A. Mutchler, Samantha Coles and Michael Dur. Plus a funny indoor tent with lawn chairs and lots of coolers holding drinks came from Kameron Gad, Joel Stoehr, Komal Kehar and Elizabeth Manclark. This last one was labeled Course 3 and seemed fun but a cop-out on the art front. Certainly the people sitting in the tent looked happy.

The curators were Wendy DesChene, Adam Parker Smith and Eva Wylie.

Of course I had to look up valsalva maneuver, wondering what it had to do with croquet. Turns out, it’s what happens sometimes when your blowing up a balloon and the air pressure moves back into your ears–but you can do it on purpose. I still don’t know what it has to do with croquet.

Ice Box is at 1400 N. American Street, phone 267-972-8523. I’m unclear on when they’re open.

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