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Press and reviews



While the infamously grouchy Samuel Johnson averred that those unleashing their brute natures were in fact purging themselves of "the pain of being a man," The Beast in Me - a new exhibition at Ping Pong Gallery - grants our inner wild things a far more nuanced and sympathetic ear. Inspired by Nick Lowe's glum crooning, the show features Astrid Bowlby's meticulous, swarming drawings and Bethany Ayres' bold, cherub-laced tableaux. Meanwhile, Paul Clipson's montage films and Walter Logue's equally clipped, etymological paintings bookend the beast in a dreamier, abstract context. Most compellingly though, Reuben Lorch-Miller and Alexander Cheves suggest that struggle's darkest elements are self-made.
-- Isaac Amala, "The beast in me at Ping Pong Gallery", Flavor Pill, June 20, 2008


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Architecture also inspires the work of Alexander Cheves in Paule Anglim's "Introductions 2004" show. Cheves' sculptures upstage his paintings, partly because they risk confusion with model-making of the sort William Christenberry does to accompany his photographs of the rural South. Cheves' paintings play at translating the facades of small buildings into abstract townscapes of polygonal colored planes. But his buildings, with their unfastidious and generic character, bespeak a more ambivalent involvement with the American Scene aesthetic. Looking at Cheves' "Little Bit of Everything" (2004), one may think as readily of Joel Shapiro as of, say, the clean, faceted architecture in Charles Sheeler's paintings. Yet like Sheeler's images and unlike Shapiro's blocky constructions, Cheves' buildings give the impression of having specific sources, despite being stripped of descriptive detail.
-- Kenneth Baker, "Threesome at Anglim", SF Chronicle, July 24, 2004.


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None of his works really resembles an actual landscape, but literalism isn't what he is shooting for. For him, the shapes are more like an endlessly re-combinable architectural vocabulary. It's a personal language - a product of the artist's individual history - but also a familiar and, perhaps even, nostalgic language to anyone who has lived along California's Highway 99...As the artist repeatedly arranges and rearranges the same modular parts on the painted stage, his finished works begin to look very much like a collection of aerial views of central California's farmland. They're abstract, strictly speaking but it's easy to squint your eyes and imagine broad, sharply defined fields of crops punctuated by the occasional house or barn...Mapping, or something like it, is a subtle obsession for Cheves. Too much literalism clearly makes him nervous - his sculptures and paintings dance and hover on that edge - but he is fascinated with ideas of location and position, and manipulating a set of abstract elements to evoke a view of something familiar from the real world. Repetition is also a fundamental part of his work. Indeed, it wouldn't make much sense taken one piece at a time. Only when it's viewed as a whole does it begin to add up to something - to point outside itself to the landscape "out back" that Cheves calls home.
-- Lindsey Westbrook, "Alexander Cheves at Ardency Gallery", Artweek, May 2003.


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Cheves grew up in California's Central Valley, and its landscape and architecture have always been his fundamental artistic inspiration. His sculptures arrange grain silos, storefronts, and fields into complicated systems of intersecting, overlapping parts. They're like miniature jigsaw landscapes with their own internal rhythms of color and shape and their own logic of scale and spatial relationships. Some look like realistic aerial views; others are clearly a product of Cheves' imagination.
-- Lindsey Westbrook, "Critic's Choice: Works from the Wash House", San Francisco Bay Guardian, December 5, 2001.


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The newest exhibit at the Carnegie Arts Center offers and intriguing look at the essence of the Central Valley...entitled "Farms, Barns, and the Ranch House"...The three-dimensional painted wood structures that make up the show are placed on concrete blocks, towers, and plywood platforms that vary in color, size, shape, and direction...The result is a feeling of openness that reflects both the Central Valley and other farming communities across the country...[Arts Development Coordinator Rebekah] Burr-Seigel said "I feel it really speaks strongly of the Central Valley." [She] feels that those who attend the show might also feel a connection. "I think that anyone who has lived in the Central Valley area will be able to relate to what Alexander has created."...This installation essentially offers a map-like, yet metaphysical way to consider place, inviting questions of how we see and feel landscape.
-- Aaron Swarts, "Landscape sculptures now on display at Carnegie Arts Center", The [Turlock] Journal, June 29, 2000.


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Cheves fragile "1.5, a Quonset Hut and a Trailer" looks like an improvised component of a very strange model railroad. Standing nearly five feet tall on slender wooden legs, it resembles a romantic, broken down fragment of an industrial landscape isolated from context like a detail in search of a story.
-- Gerard Brown, "No Story Here", Philadelphia Weekly, December 10, 1997.


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Alexander Cheves, whose work "The Shape Traders" occupied an adjacent side alley shared some of Hutton's whimsical qualities. Two stacks of white concrete slabs were piled on pink cement boats. They appeared to be sailing away from a similar pile of forms perched on another slab and toward a house-shaped construction at the end of the alley. Inside the house was a similar pile of slabs that were painted gray. The effect transformed the narrow alley into a narrow straight in the sea of urban concrete. The slabs, about the same thickness and size as paving stone, were transformed into vertical pathways in this curious equation, and the quirky logic of siting the work in the claustrophobic alley became clearer.
-- Gerard Brown, "Backyard Sculpture Invitational", Eye Level, September, 1997.