Use out of the useless at MAM After Dark, feats by Chakaia Booker

February’s installment of MAM After Dark kept it fun and snooty, truly befitting of the Calatrava. Although the recently opened Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition fills the main gallery space, providing the draw of a registered trademarked name, New York artist Chakaia Booker concluded her MAM co-starring role. The MAM atmosphere, ambient with disc jockeyed music courtesy of Radio Milwaukee, supported the closing of On Site: Chakaia Booker in the Baumgartner Galleria (back hallway leading to the War Memorial).

Booker’s sculptures, forged of tightly wrapped, sharply cut automobile tires and industrial screws, and some other secret bonding agents no doubt, evoked curiosity and anxiety in Quadracci Pavillion patrons. Fourteen unsung weeks on display, the unsettling creations of On Site stood poised on the floor, and perched on the walls presumably ready to strike at any moment.

It was not really an option to stand with your arms folded, gawking. Option one: karate stance with hands prone in an action grip. Option two: impulsively grabbing at the twining appendages. Option two tested, and a nipping from a security guard occurred from 18 feet.

There is not much one can do with old tires. No, I recant. You can contort them beyond recognition, and actually make people want to look at them. Conservation art with found industrial objects is a fine tradition indeed. On Site closed February 13, 2011.

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