Jason Pickleman: Poetry: Literal, Visual and Otherwise

1 - 22 December 2006

Art can be looked at. Poetry is be read. But what of the opposite? Can art be READ and poetry LOOKED AT? Thus begins the premise of the December exhibition at moniquemeloche. Poetry: Literal, Visual and Otherwise is a group show curated by local graphic designer, renaissance-man, and cultural dilettante Jason Pickleman. Known as one of Chicago’s most innovative graphic artists (with clients including the Renaissance Society, The Museum of Contemporary Photography and The Steppenwolf Theater), Pickleman has plundered his own private collection of art, objects and ephemera to produce an art exhibition that brings the rhythm and specificity of language to the forefront of the gallery going experience. This is his first foray into curating.


Selections from the show include a sculpted wind-up human heart by (now famous) novelist David Sedaris; wind it up, watch it beat and die! Photographs from Walker Evans years as a Farm Services Administration government employee; Richard Haas’ 1977 proposal for a 12-story mural to be painted on the Fulton Cold Storage Building ( now condo-central ); and Jin Lee’s portraits of local Chicago newscasters ( Carol Maureen / Joan Esposito / Linda Yu / Fahey Flynn / John Drury ! ) next to portraits of 80’s Playboy Playmates. These art objects are interspersed among large reproductions of poems, most with an existentialist bent. Noted poets include: Mark Strand, E.E. Cummings, Dieter Rot, and Emmet Williams. “When I see a poem in a magazine or book that speaks to me I always cut it out or make a photocopy of it,” says Pickleman. “I have a large, and very personal collection of them. I consider these poems as much a part of my personal “art collection” as the photographs, paintings and sculptures that I surround myself with.”

The exhibition posits the question of WHAT EXACTLY can constitute an ART COLLECTION. Something for the wall, or something for the pocket? Just in time for your Holiday Shopping, nothing in the show is for sale.


Jason Pickleman majored in English literature at Boston University, where he met Leslie Bodenstein, his partner in life and at JNL graphic design which they founded in 1992. His work is currently featured in the exhibition “Young Chicago” at The Art Institute of Chicago through April 29, 2007. Pickleman is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture. A recent interview about Pickleman’s views on “the art of buying art”can be found in the Chicago Tribune