Steve Reber

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Steve Reber

As an artist I am interested in being a thoughtful productive citizen that gains insight about our culture through making. I am interesting in foraging through the past to give voice to the future. I am interested in a studio practice that is self-governing yet embraces the moral and ethical responsibilities of an autonomous practice. I value exhibiting my work as it creates a dialogue and incentive for the viewer to examine the invisible components of our culture as well as our collective cultural interests. I value my workspace as an isolation chamber, laboratory and research facility.


3225 West Belden Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60647
(H) 773-384-9023 (S) 312-421-0207


1985 M.F.A MICA - Rinehart School of Sculpture, Baltimore, MD
1980 B.F.A. Nazareth College of Rochester, NY

Solo Exhibitions

2016 (Upcoming) Devening projects, Chicago, IL
2016 "Thought Models and Mental habitats", Robert Decapario Fine Arts Center
2014 "Threshold Amnesia" Three Walls Solo, Chicago, IL
2011 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago IL
2006 "Steve Reber" Peter Miller gallery, Chicago IL
"Steve Reber recent work", Around the Coyote gallery, Chicago IL
2004 "R-Value", Indian University Northwest Gallery for Contemporary Art
1993 "Sculpture and Drawing", C.Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD
"Time Out", School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD

Selected Group Exhibitions

2016 Dock 6 Design and Art Series #9, Chicago, IL
2014 "Scratch and sniff" Hidden dog gallery, Chicago, IL
"Burn it down" Heaven gallery, Chicago, IL
2013 “Prestidigitation” Slow Gallery, Chicago, IL
2012 “Drawing for Sculpture” Sullivan Galleries SAIC, Chicago, IL
“Euphemism” Slow Gallery, Chicago, IL
2011 “Wood worked” Chicago Urban Art Society
2010 “New World Order” Dirt Gallery Chicago IL
2008 CADD, Art Lab, Dallas Texas
2008 New Art From Chicago, Road Agent Gallery, Dallas Texas
2007 COMA California Oxidental Museum of Art, Chicago IL
2006 “Focus 5” Chicago Artists, Illinois State Museum, Chicago, IL
“Strange Fictions” NIU gallery, Chicago IL
2005 “Strange Fictions” Tarble Art Center, Eastern Illinois University
2004 Peter Miller Gallery, Chicago, IL
2003 Stray in May, Chicago, IL
2002 Stray Show, Joymore, Chicago, IL
Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Sculpture at Evergreen House, John Hopkins University Baltimore, Md
2000 Group Show, Gallery 312, Chicago, IL
Quickie, 202 South State, Chicago, IL
1999 Urban Conditions, Wabash College, Crawfordsville,IN
Harvesting the Urban Landscape, Prairie State College, IL
Suite, a hotel room show, Inn of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1996 Brett Bloom, Piper, Steve Reber, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
Outdoor Installations, Baltimore Festival for the Arts
1995 Material Junction, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL
People-Going Places-Doing Things, N.A.M.E., Chicago, IL
1994 Profiles, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993 New Talent, Around the Coyote, Chicago, IL
1992 Baltimore Sculptors at the International Sculpture Center Conference in Philadelphia, PA
Artscape, Baltimore Festival for the Arts
1990 Summer 90, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD
Maryland On View, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD
City Visions, Harbor Place, Baltimore, MD
1989 Prints and Drawing, C. Grimaldis Gallery
Artists on Mulberry Street, Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore, MD
Window Installation, Tuttle Gallery, McDonough, MD
1988 Black and White, C. Grimaldis Gallery
Baltimore 4, Winston Gallery, Washington, DC
Landscape: Three Perspectives, Maryland Art Place,
1988 Artscape, Baltimore Festival for the Arts
Walking the Line, School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD
1987 Heat, Anton Gallery, Washington DC
Acts of God, Collaborative installation, Maryland Art Place
1986 Sculpture ‘86, Washington Square, Washington, DC

Work Experience

1998 - Present
Adjunct Associate Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
2003 Visiting Artist, University of Chicago, Graduate Studio
2000 Visiting Artist, Columbia College, Graduate Seminar

Other Projects

2000 Sound Affects, Reach of An Arm by Nancy Andrews, Outer Ear Festival
1998 Lighting, sets and props, Hedwig Page by Nancy Andrews, Athenaeum Theater
1997 Lighting and props, Woods Marm by Nancy Andrews, N.A.M.E.
1995 Props, Frances Coco by Nancy Andrews, Randolph Street Gallery
1993 Sets, The Workshop of Filthy Creation by Laure Drogoul, The Theater Project and the Baltimore Museum of Art
1989-92 Lighting, 14Karat Cabaret, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD

Grants and Awards

Artadia, fund for Art and Dialogue grant 2006
State of Illinois Arts council grant-2006
State of Illinois Arts council Finalist award- 2004
State of Illinois Arts council grant- 2000
State of Illinois Arts Council Finalist Award - 1999
CAAP Grant, City of Chicago - 1996
Baltimore City Arts Grant - 1992, 1991, 1990,1988, 1987
Artists Fellowship, Maryland State Arts Council - 1992, 1988
Works-in-Progress Grant, Maryland State Arts Council - 1989
Fellowship Award, Rinehart School, Maryland Institute - 1985

Private Collection

The West Collection, Oaks, Pa
Jason Pickelman, Chicago, IL
Costos Grimaldis, Baltimore, MD.
William Hubbard, Baltimore, MD.
Victor Cassidy, Chicago, IL


Eye exam: "Cities built within Galleries" by Matt Morris
Art Chicago 2004, Chicago Art critics on Chicago Art
Victor M. Cassidy, Steve Reber, Sculpture 2004
Maryjane Jacob, “Practicing in Place” Sculpture at Evergreen, Exhibition cat. 2003
Sarah Tanguy, “Sculpture at Evergreen”, Sculpture March 2003
Victor M. Cassidy, “ Prarie Smoke” 2002

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Curator Statements

"Steve Reber, New Work"

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Abraham Ritchie
Chicago Cultural Center

There is a certain melancholia inherent in Steve Reber’s work. Igloo coolers that can no longer hold water, frying pans that cannot be exposed to heat, record players and boom boxes that will not work, a bricklayer’s plumb line that lies impotently coiled on the ground. These are confused objects. They are items that are obviously not employed in their traditional use, separated dramatically from their use-value by their exhibition or their reification as art objects. There is some humor to be sure in these “surrogates,” as the artist calls them, but also a sadness. Through his artwork Reber evokes the feeling one may get when they return to their hometown after many years; things may look the same, yet it all is profoundly different, you are profoundly different. Reber reminds the viewer of the things lost or left behind, both personally and art historically.

The rush to move past Modernism into the nebulous Postmodern era, many are now wondering if art has not left certain questions unanswered and certain paths unexplored by moving too quickly. To begin his essay for Gerald Byrne’s exhibition at the Renaissance Society, Hamza Walker noted this quick succession of art movements that marked what is widely considered to be the height and end of Modernism, “In the decade spanning 1958 to 1968, developments in American visual art moved at a fast clip. In the wake of a triumphal Abstract Expressionism came Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art.” The zero-sum game of the reduction of art resulted in a cohesive body of work but also did effectively follow its own narrative to its logical end. While it certainly was not the “end of art” as the cliché phrase goes, it was the end of a certain trajectory.

The elegiac quality to Steve Reber’s works and their distinctly contemporary appearance recognizes the irretrievability of the modern era and losses attendant with the end of modernism, while moving forward as art. In striving for objective universal forms modernism paradoxically became cold and impersonal. Reber’s In the House pays homage to the Cubi series of modernist master sculptor David Smith while allowing a space for the uninitiated viewer to enter in. We can all recognize the ubiquitous ceiling tiles that grid drop-ceilings in offices and basements all over the country. Swatches of fabric placed on the sculpture complement the ceiling tiles and add to the tactile quality of the artwork, reversing the indifferent, smooth and anti-tactile quality of David Smith’s medium of choice for the Cubi series, stainless steel. Yet even in the familiarity of Reber’s materials there remains something mysterious, something apart. If modernism attempted to bring out art through reduction, Reber goes one further by complicating his choices of media, adding layers of personal associations and challenges for material harmony.

The work of Steve Reber reminds us of the successes and failures of modernism. While the melancholia of his surrogates reminds the viewer of the end of a grand narrative in art history, they also suggest that a more personal art, one that is closer to our daily lives. While art has repeatedly promised utopia or better living and continuously failed to deliver on a large scale, Reber’s surrogates suggest their own limits. Their form belies their function, there are certain things that they just cannot do. It is at this point that Reber’s art prompts the viewer to realize his or her own agency. As a reflection of human activity art cannot solve our problems for us, nor can design or architecture. It is up to each individual.

"New World Order"
New work by Efren Candelaria and Steve Reber

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Dirt Gallery
2039 W 21st St. Apt #1F
Chicago, IL 60608
January 2011

“New World Order” features work from two Chicago artists Efren Candelaria and Steve Reber.

Reber’s work for this exhibition continues to explore themes in 20th century architecture and design tropes. Prefabricated and common building materials are paired with found objects, creating tactile and oddly familiar object/spaces that suggest personal histories rooted in both enchantment and apprehension.

Candelaria’s current work fuses his propensity for meditative mark making with an element of happenstance. With the circle taking the role of the mark Candelaria repurposes castoff images and other unexpected surfaces simultaneously sequestering them for his purposes and re-invigorating them with his outcomes.

Together Reber and Candelaria’s work present two views on the world as it is arranged reinforcing the dichotomy between order as comfort and order as restriction.

Reber has been active in Chicago as a sculptor and educator since the mid 1990’s. He has exhibited in Chicago at a number of venues including the Illinois State Museum, Evanston Art center, NIU Gallery, Bodybuilder and Sportsman and COMA He is currently represented by Peter Miller Gallery.

Exhibitions outside Chicago include Road Agent Gallery and Cadd Art lab, Dallas Texas, C Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore MD and Winston Gallery, Washington DC. He has received numerous grants for his work including The State of Illinois Arts Council and Artadia fund for Art and dialogue. Reber will be exhibiting at The Chicago Cultural center in 2011.

Candelaria is a Puerto Rican born artist living and working in Chicago. He has a degree in Painting from University of Miami, Miami Florida, has exhibited solo in Santa Fe New Mexico at Signature Modern, in Miami Florida at Signature Gallery and in San Juan Puerto Rico with The Storehouse Group and has been featured in group exhibitions at Art Basel Miami, CIRCA in San Juan Puerto Rico, Art Los Angeles and SCOPE New York.

"New Art From Chicago"

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Charissa N. Terranova
Road Agent Gallery
Dallas Texas
Jan 2009

Anne Lawrence, associate director of Road Agent, has brought a slice of Chicago's contemporary art scene to Dallas. Scott Anderson, Aaron Baker, John Parot and Steve Reber are comrades in art whose disparate works create an off-kilter harmony.

In addition to a city, what unites these artists is a collective penchant for science-fiction fantasy and yesterday's vision of the future. The work of Mr. Reber, a sculptor, and Mr. Baker, a painter, are the strongest of the four because of innovative materiality and frank use of plastics.

The objects by Mr. Reber are at once nondescript and unique, anonymous yet perverse. Made out of plywood, burlap, aqua resin, plastic laminate and plastic glass, This Place Is Yoursseems like a setup for a still-life painting that one might've seen on the set of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. A split metal pot sits atop a plastic platform covered in tan burlap. A small, orange transparent piece of plastic glass leans up against a large geometric form covered in faux-wood laminate.

Made from a similar amalgam of materials including plywood and MDF, Mr. Reber's Fast Pack/Ice Pack/The Narrows looks like a docking station for a spaceship.

Mr. Baker's We Were Never Meant to Last is a bright circular painting of leafy organic forms. The surface is alternately flat and built up, with colorful abstract patterns creating a planarity from which sculptural plant forms emerge. Applying thick globs of paint to plastic glass, peeling it off and strategically transferring it to the canvas, Mr. Baker enlists an unusual process in the creation of the almost three-dimensional fluorescent orange leaves.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Parot round out the show with less striking works on paper. Mr. Anderson's Rendezvous is small but memorable in its imaginative juxtaposition of forms in a lifeless landscape. A drippy blue head floats ominously over an unpeopled encampment behind which hovers a highway ruin. In The Cliff, Mr. Parot combines ink and gouache collage on Rives, printmaking paper with an absorbent surface, to create a black and hot-pink swirl of striped human faces and seaweedlike form.

"Steve Reber"

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Doug Stapleton
Assistant Curator
Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery

Steve Reber is represented by sculptures and wall drawings from 2003 to the present. Reber has been active in Chicago as a sculptor and educator since the mid 1990’s, after a move from Baltimore MD. Reber’s work investigates questions of how architecture, memory and material recombine in an oddly perfect world of precision, logic and emotion. He uses two paradoxical strategies: geometry and intuition. His geometric approach is reduction to simple forms and outlines, the intuitive; the manufactured materials and found objects in an undetermined, often playful collaboration.

There is an immediate sense of architecture or function in Reber’s sculptures and drawings. They appear to be models or maps for some kind of system or operation—a schematic diagram of a factory, a manufacturing process or transit route—yet any suggestion—beyond a hint—is not given. This is a result of the reductive quality of this work. His material refinement of simple, clean lines and shapes suggest a human-made landscape without speaking to any obvious function. This is our entry point as viewer. Where have we seen shapes like this? What might be happening here?

The two pieces along the gallery windows, You’re the Flower I’m the Dirt and I Don’t Travel Far, suggest most strongly an architecture of use. But their titles reveal something more emotional at play. You’re the Flower I’m the Dirt references a relationship—the you and I in the title and the tension of materials: heavy, crude blocks of concrete contrasting the delicacy of wood grain and smooth enamel surfaces. The silver ‘tanks’ may stand for reservoir or containers of something, probably precious, that courses through this refinery process. I Don’t Travel Far, squarish and playfully abstract, relates a mode of transportation that really leads nowhere.

Reber uses familiar surfaces and materials from our everyday life— plywood, laminates, plaster, Styrofoam and contact paper— to construct his sculptures. He often adds found objects such as boxes, sponges, string and food cans to the sculptures, which invite a further level of subjective interpretation into the work. They suggest commerce and function and encode a modern world of manufactured goods. This juxtaposition between the arrangement of silent, precisely construction elements with recognizable objects of the known world creates a curious, delightful tension and balance in the work. Gunstock and Peony, Reber combines wood grain veneer and Korean drink boxes in an assemblage reminiscent of a site for commerce. Here, converging planes and levers offer pressure and support to cargo moving along many axises.

Reber is also interested in interior and exterior space. Untitled Wall, in the center of the gallery, suggests a construction site— a solid wall section supported and surrounded by an odd scaffold of beams and pillows, and plumbed by a renegade mason’s line that lazes and pools in a rather nonchalant manner. The companion pieces Model 1014 and Wash Out Inn also suggest sites of use, containers or dwellings that imply modernist utopian notions of perfection, economy and modularity.

Reber references modernist vision not as critique or nostalgic longing, but as reminder that those utopian experiments in space, material and function are not over. His sculptural work has much of the same economy of design and material found in contemporary architecture, especially the movement toward intimate, affordable and recycled dwellings. His sculptures—like architectural spaces—suggest where we might place ourselves, both physically and emotionally, in his constructed world-view.