acrylic on canvas
Brendan Ravenhill for Areaware
From her series titled Snowballtimore Paintings, Chloe Irla’s work affectionately documents the snowball stands in Baltimore and its suburbs that sell syrupy shaved ice confections from small shacks and trailers tucked into alleys, attached to rowhouses, or pop up on the edges of parking lots. In Dean’s Shaved Ice, Irla pays homage not only to Baltimore’s claim to such rudimentary structures, but also to modernist landscape paintings of the 1920s and 1930s. In these historical works, artists painted vernacular architecture and industrial scenes with a sincere appreciation for seemingly banal sites, and similarly, Irla depicts a specifically American landscape particular to Baltimore and its environs. Here, her square façade – with its lined siding, closed window hand-painted sign, gridded sidewalks, and carefully considered abstracted shadows – also shares with her modernist predecessors a utilitarian interest in plain craftsmanship as well as a Cubist sensibility.
The bent nail bottle opener – with its ergonomic beech handle and inlaid magnets that catch the bottle cap and can adhere to a refrigerator – echoes the straightforward, practical simplicity of the makeshift snowball stand. The color-blocked tips also parallel the bold rectangle in the center of Dean’s Shaved Ice, as painting and object both invite you to enjoy a cold treat.
Chloe Irla is Assistant Professor of Art at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, where she teaches new media and digital art. Irla has been a resident artist at the Vermont Studio Center and the Wassaic Project. As an educator, she has also taught studio art courses at MICA and the University of Maine at Farmington. Brendan Ravenhill is a designer based in Los Angeles. The products made in his studio are devoid of excess and ornament, striving for a logical celebration of physics, material, and craft.