The Nite Gallery

text & illustration: Korey Martin


text & illustration: Korey Martin
translation: Catherine Lealand

Pretend it’s your fourth and final night in Chicago. At The Roger Brown Study Collection you saw work by the Chicago Imagists and Joseph E. Yoakum. While at the Intuit Center, you lost all sense of time gazing at illustrations from Henry Darger’s epic fantasies before rushing north to see Vivian Meier’s street photography at the Chicago History Museum. You’re savoring a wild Midwestern persimmon (which tastes deep and sweet like a microwaved banana) when suddenly Chicago’s ferocious pink sunset fades to black, queuing sodium streetlamps to light-up and tint your duffle coat orange. Seeing only enough to inform you that there is much more beyond the frames, you stroll by one last gallery of homes and illuminated interiors. Burying your nose a little deeper into a tartan scarf, you casually glance through a window–mine.

You see a 1920s beach chair from a shuttered Lake Michigan resort. Citron green bottles punctuate various shelves and tables, one of which holds a nodding chrysanthemum. In the bathroom, a medley of ephemera is variously taped or hung on the walls, including a postcard from Wisconsin’s Dickeyville Grotto and clumsy portraits of the resident cats. By a wedge of children’s books, a lopsided Noguchi lamp amends the cover of a jazz album with the shadows of teak rodents. In a hallway hangs a scribble, or is it a headlight?

You notice a tarnished landscape painting and, incredibly enough, can discern a message, “Kathy Loves Dan”, defacing its sky. You somehow know that I brought it home from a stranger’s, and you know that I don’t know Kathy, and neither do you, of course, so you wonder aloud “Did Kathy write it? Someone suspicious of Kathy’s feelings? Was it in earnest or spite? Does Dan love Kathy?”

Then you see this baseball marked with “M → A → X” and somehow know that I found it amongst miscellaneously filled ziploc bags. Maybe you’re a world famous baseball player and effortlessly decode the diagram. Maybe you’re not, and a series of questions come to mind. “What is this diagram telling the player to do? Is it someone’s name?”

Paintings and love, baseballs and diagrams: these objects seem simultaneously recognizable and mysterious. However unfamiliar they may be, they are intimately familiar with someone. Kathy’s love is hidden, yet blatantly obvious and the painting shows just enough to suggest there’s more. Mystery becomes another descriptor alongside the baseball’s scuffed leather or the painting’s cracked varnish–a part of something’s familiarity. Together, familiarity and mystery emerge from life to describe it, to draw its contours.

Maybe it’s silly to ponder them, but I take great joy in being stumped by obvious things. It’s humor–expectation versus reality–only, there’s no punchline and the reality you encounter doesn’t reveal much of anything. It’s a deadpan impression. It’s beyond beautiful or ugly, strange or mundane. It is what it is, even if the details elude you.

On this night, your last of four in Chicago, you glanced through my window. Like Kathy’s love and baseball, junkyards and basement equations, Wranglers, comics, and the city of Chicago, you saw just enough to know there is much more.


Korey Martin

1989年、テネシー州生まれ。シカゴ在住のアーティスト。その印象的な走り書きのようなドローイングは、最近では「The Quarantine Times」「Actual Source Books」に掲載されている。「POPEYE」の2020年11月号に掲載された卵料理企画のページにも、素敵な作品を寄せてくれた。