Jno Cook may very well be the best in the Midwest when it come to conceptual art. A long time photography professor at Columbia College, Jno has been contributing to the arts here for decades. Have you ever heard of Spaces.org? That's him, along with ChicagoArt.net and ChicagoArt.org. Jno is not really organizing the visual arts resources and institutions in that city, but he is documenting and adding them all to a database.
Cook's work is filled with imaginative rough cut structures, exposed wires, motors running in cycles and plenty of audio. Some of his pieces have recorded passages coming through exposed speakers but the sounds of his machines create enough noise for one to think about the mechanics of the piece. His motors run on cycles one spins a globe around a light bulb sun to demonstrate approximately how fast we are all hurling through space, and how fleeting time really is. One piece runs a slideshow of found images, advancing one frame at a time, loudly, showing pictures of children on Santa's lap taken sometime in the early 70's, some of these kids are grandparents now, some have debt and some are dead. Jno Cook's work is amazing, I say that because you can laugh while you look at it, that allows you to bring it home with you, then mull it over and enjoy it on levels you couldn't while in its presence.
Cook's work can be seen now through Aug. 7 at the Brauer Museum of Art in Tales (not truths) by The Mechanic & The Handyman alongside another great Midwestern artist Gordon Ligocki. Gordon is showing abstract paintings and collages and, like Jno, uses found objects in his sculptures to get across larger ideas of our place in this world.
Pictures by Linda Dorman