OUR RATING: Do It!
Last week, Storefront City dropped into the Eyeporium Gallery in Wicker Park for the opening reception of Brian Leli’s photography exhibition “Silence Kills,” which also provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the release of his new photo and essay book, “London in a Year.”
“Silence Kills” tells the everyday story of a city (in this case London), which seems to prove the point that an ordinary day doesn’t exist for a huge metropolis. Documenting everything from protesters in the Occupy Movement outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, gay pride celebrants in Trafalgar Square, or a coffee shop owner in Camden, Leli’s work focuses on the people that make a city tick, and their place beside these well-known monuments of old. As such, this is a snapshot of Londoners, rather than the city, and what it means to be a member of (or outsider in) a modern cosmopolitan capital.
The exhibition is located within the Eyeporium Gallery, which is, in turn, inside an eye-wear store, EyeWant. But this isn’t your average Pearle Vision. Colorfully decorated with Oriental lamps topping display cases, luxuriant plush seats, a plethora of bespectacled mannequin heads, and fantastical representations of the ocular variety (yes, even including a hoard of The Residents paraphernalia), EyeWant is the perfect space to host a gallery, and really peer into a different kind of retail experience.
Due to the eclectic nature of this salon-style gallery, the gallery can maintain an attractive fringe quality while not being subsumed by the faux vogue of similar galleries elsewhere. Owned by local philanthropist Annette Sollars, the gallery is directed by Carron Little, who we had the good fortune to speak with at the opening. Apparently, this little gem has represented some of Chicago’s more well known visual artists, including Tony Fitzpatrick and Marc Hauser, but we’re always excited to see galleries who nurture a variety of artists, both emerging and established.
Photography often ranks lower on the scale of artistry for some people, probably because it is believed that anyone can snap a photo, while only a talented few can apply paint to canvas with even a modicum of success. However, Leli’s work seems to show us that a certain artistic endowment is absolutely necessary to capture that look of proud triumph while marching with Occupy London or a state of complete defiance whilst protesting against the bombing of Yemen. Then again, the choice to close the shutter on a mundane puff of a cigarette whilst outside St. Paul’s or the pain of illness in a London hospice, seems to immortalize moments otherwise lost, perhaps because we don’t want to remember these happenings in the grand scheme of history. By being forced to remember them through photography, artists like Leli do humanity a service that any other profession would be hard pressed to emulate.
Ravishing, didactic and insightful, Leli’s exhibit will let you explore London at your own pace, and see the city (and its people) behind the monuments.