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Art & Art History

Hello Mr. Soul

Monday, February 01, 1999–Saturday, March 06, 1999

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Artists: John Coplans, Klindt Houlberg, Joe Jachna, Mike Kelly, Sean Landers, Kevin Maginnis, Robert Maplethorpe, Paul McCarthy, Hirsch Pearlman, David Robbins, Allan Roin, and Kevin Wolff.

In his essay for Hello Mr. Soul, curator Tony Tasset describes his own mid-life crisis as “an existential funk; an acute awareness of one’s own insignificance; the big D – disappointment; an emotional emptiness; Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” But his prognosis for the future is optimistic. “After life beats you up a little, and you experience a universe larger than your own ego, wonderful things begin to happen; an emotional loosening up, a new stop-and-smell-the-roses-attitude. If you have no expectations, life is a gift.”

Hello Mr. Soul was an emotive meditation on the subject of men and aging, as described through the work of twelve male artists. The works were chosen by the curator not as didactic examples of a thesis, but for their evocative and emotional charges. They address issues of aging in a traditional romantic sense, embracing a whole range of feelings: hysterical and stoic, sensitive and crude, loving and mean. The resulting exhibition was a complex environment in which elusive aspects of male desire were revealed.


Postcard: Hello Mr. Soul – Opening Reception


Tasset Head Shot Tony Tasset (born 1960) is an artist who has worked in a variety of styles and mediums including sculpture, photography, video and film. In the last few years he has created several large-scale permanent outdoor sculptures. His work deals with universal themes and emotions through common pictorial languages. To this end he employs familiarity, humor, craft, sentiment, confession and shock. He makes iconic images about the current cultural moment from an individual perspective. Tasset also serves as Associate Director of the Studio Arts Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Tasset’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries around the world. Solo exhibitions of his work include Life During War Time, Rochester Arts Center, Rochester, MN, 2011; Selected Works 1986-1996, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, 2010; Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO, 2007; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Portland, OR, 2003; and Robert Smithson/Tony Tasset: Site/Nonsite, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, 1995. Recently, Tasset’s work has been featured in group exhibitions such as This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s, curated by Helen Molesworth, MCA, Chicago, 2012; 100 Years a Draft of History, PS 1 Moma, NY and the Stoschek Foundation, Dusseldorf, Germany, 2010; and Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; traveling to Musée d ’art Contemporain de Montréal, Québec, 2007-8.

Tasset received an MFA from The School of the Art institute of Chicago and a BFA from The Art Academy of Cincinnati. Tasset is currently a University Scholar at The University of Illinois at Chicago; was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; and received The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award.


Grabner, Michelle. “Review: Hello Mr. Soul.” Frieze, Jan. 1999, no. 47, pp. 100-101.


Hello, Mr. Soul is made possible by the School of Art and Design, the College of Architecture and the Arts, and supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Gallery 400 gratefully acknowledges the assistance of: Blum and Poe Gallery, Feature, the LaSalle National Bank, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and Andrea Rosen Gallery.


John Coplans

Self-Portrait (Three Times), 1987
Gelatin Silver Print, 37 x 43 3/4 in.

Klindt Houlberg

Barbara and Marcus, 1998
Color photograph, 29 1/4 x 29 1/4 in.

Barrelful, 1999
Installation (pine and steel)

Joe Jachna

Snow Angel, Adam’s Resort, 1976-1977
Black and white photograph, 16 x 20 in.

Mike Kelly and Paul McCarthy

Heidi, 1992
Video, 62:34 min.

Sean Landers

Chihuahua, 1988
Oil on linen, 60 x 48 in.

Kevin Maginnis

Eisenhower, 1988
Ink on paper, 23 1/2 x 29 in.

Weber, 1998
Ink on paper, 23 1/2 x 17 1/4 in.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Calla Lily, 1988
Gelatin Silver Print, 40 x 40 in.

Hirsch Perlman

Acute Conversation #1, #2, #3, 1996
Video with Three Black and White Fiber Photographs, 33 3/8 x 29 7/8 in. each

David Robbins

Untitled, 1996
Colored pencil, 21 1/4 x 24 in.

Allan Roin

Figurative Distortions, 1995
Video, 10:00 min.

Kevin Wolff

Big Mug, 1998
Acrylic on canvas, 34 x 43 in.

Handmade Object with Mirror,
Graphite on Paper, 20 x 24 in.


I am 38, male, white, married, one child, with a combined income in the upper middle class tax bracket On a happiness scale from 1 to 10; 1 being a medicine cabinet full of anti-depressants and 10 being a Heavens Gate disciple just prior to lift off, I would classify myself as a strong 8 bordering on 9. And yet over the last few years I have experienced a mid-life crisis. The feeling, which I share with many friends, is profound; an existential funk, an acute awareness of one’s own insignificance, the big D – disappointment, an emotional emptiness, Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”.
At this point I expect I’ve lost at least half of you. There is nothing more nauseating than hearing a successful white male whine. But I assure you I have no intention of complaining. My own life crisis was the closest thing I’ve experienced to enlightenment There is first a rather painful period which could result in dramatic behavior such as heavy analysis, finding Jesus, losing Jesus, buying a motorcycle, attempting to pull off the heroin look without actually taking heroin, learning to play the guitar, rapid weight loss or gain, a funny haircut, buying a pair of leather pants, or sleeping with the wrong person.
President Clinton is surely a man in the throes of a life crisis. Six years of high approval ratings and economic growth, just wasn’t enough for the heir to JFK, life needed a little spicing up, a new challenge. Let’s face it, anyone crazy enough to run for President must be addicted to power, and any good power addict, not to mention sex addict, gets off on risk. I would like to offer a solution to our beleaguered country. We don’t need impeachment, we need an intervention. Mr. President can keep his job, most folks like what he’s doing, but he has to go for some serious counseling. Perhaps he could join a support group with Bob Packwood, Bob Livingston, and Dick Morris. After a year or so he goes on Oprah to discuss recovery, the Senators give each other big hugs, and we all grow a little older and mellower as a nation.
My own crises has been relatively painless, a bit of embarrassing art production and an
obsessive interest in Neil Young ’s music. Now I’m on the other side of the mountain (although one friend assures me that I have simply hit the first wave before the major quake), and I come bearing good news, brothers and sisters. After life beats you up a little, and you experience a universe larger than your own ego, wonderful things begin to happen; an emotional loosening up, a new stop and smell the roses attitude. If you have no expectations, life is a gift.

Tony Tasset