As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale. ✶ Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. ✶
Flats is a Chicago-based company that curates live-in spaces for those with character, authentic taste and design. The rent for FLATS is affordable and the spaces are exquisite. In addition to apartments, FLATSstudio is the sister to the housing unit -- the exhibition aspect that displays artists and creatives in the Chicago area in the Uptown neighborhood.
Last Friday, FLATSstudio exhibited its first formal show, titled Gravity. Ethereal forces and otherworldly shapes filled the space, located in a beautifully adorned and decorated building on Wilson Avenue. The opening reception featured nine artists ranging from painting, photography, and installations. Movable walls throughout the large gallery featured liquid mixtures of blood and water by Jen Lewis which were eloquently placed alongside Edward Muela's two pieces which featured a deteriorating clay baby in a clear container.
The show glowed with hues of pink, red and green. All of the pieces reflected and aided one another to create a cohesive and successful collection of works by Chicago artists.
In addition to the hues, Gravity displayed two floor-to-ceiling pieces that spread out like a red carpet (although black and white in shade) across the space. The connections between all of the artists and artworks displayed a strong sense of an ubiquitous force or impression of emotion.
Thoroughly impressed, visitors mingled, sipping on delicious cocktails from Koval Distillery and listening to a DJ set throughout the night. The show will run through Oct. 10 and may be viewed by appointment only. The FLATSstudio gallery is located on 1050 W. Wilson Ave. Contact (855) 443-5287 for appointments and other questions.
The vibrant sculptures bring back to life the once sick and dying trees. In addition to this, the public art in conjunction with nature brings forth a beautiful display of creative work throughout the city of Chicago. The project was organized by Chicago Sculpture International which is a group of artists who promote sculpture as an important aspect to our communities and surroundings.
Learn more about the project and their locations by watching the video below and liking the Chicago Sculpture International Facebook page. Here is a map of the tree locations around the parks in the city.
Okay, okay. So it already started last night. But if you're only going to make it to one art event this weekend, check out Vision Quest 2013.
Held at Mana Contemporary in East Pilsen near the river, Vision Quest is a three-day post-internet [IRL] translation of the dinca.org blog experience, featuring a handful of screenings and live A/V performances that travel the niches of internet art, computer art, new and experimental media, video art, avant-garde film and video, documentary and ethnographic cinema.
Here it comes: another more-is-more Weekend Art Pick for ya! There are a lot of MFA-student open studios this weekend, and there's bound to be something for everybody at them. Open studios are a great way to get a sense of an artist's process and usually provide the opportunity to speak with the artists themselves. Plus, you get to see brand new work.
Hatch Projects was just nominated by Newcity as the "Best Opportunity for Emerging Artists" because of the impressive critical infrastructure the Chicago Artists Coalition has built around the studios it houses to support its resident artists' practices and careers. It promises regular contact with curators, critics, collectors and arts administrators... even a solo exhibition for each member. To see what has come of it, head over to the CAC in the West Loop tonight for Twelve Variations.
East Garfield Park curator Edra Soto (right) with Featured Artists Andrea Jablonski (left) and DJ Mr. Voice (center)
There are a bunchofshows opening in the West Loop tonight, but if only because of its sheer breadth (and that's not the only reason), if you can only go to one "art event" this weekend (because those are the parameters I've committed to for this weekly column), go to East Garfield Park.
This weekend, if you can only go to one art opening, go to David Sprecher's Anchors on Sunday -- his second solo exhibition at Peanut Gallery. He has built a false wall and is playing with perception subtly through various methods, and his playful approach to art making combined with his personal investigation into the human body and spirit makes for a compelling exhibition. BUT, because of my personal involvement with Peanut Gallery I may be biased, so I'm going to give you another option.
Rusty Shackleford Dream Feeder & Katie Torn Dream House
How about some colorful prints, paintings, arrangements & video work loosely based on nostalgia and technology at Roots & Culture?
Every weekend in Chicago, there is more art available to check out than any of us actually have time for. Most of it is listed at thevisualist.org and at Art Talk Chicago. For those of you who have a hard time deciding which to go to, I'll make a recommendation for you every week. This week's pick:
It's a 10 o'clock on a Tuesday, and the regular crowd shuffles in. Among the regulars is Ennis Martin, a local artist whose futuristic paintings are a favorite in the neighborhood. Martin has taken to painting at The Crocodile Lounge on Tuesday nights, turning the front window into a working studio.
Martin, who was born and raised in Chicago, became interested in art at a very young age. As a child he loved comic books and cites this interest as his first foray into art. His imagery draws heavily on the comic book tradition, with each piece being a "panel" that advances his plot line one step further.
Using science fiction as a springboard, Martin has created an elaborate storyline for his paintings, a series titled The Chronicles. He explains, "The Chronicles story line described in my artwork begins in a post-apocalyptic Earth, in which aliens come to re-create our world, though they have little to refer to determine what it once was. The only record they have is torn and tattered pieces of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species. The aliens commence experimenting with concepts of how they perceive life should be. Beginning with aquatic life, they fashion jellyfish, squid and whales. The latter they have termed "Darwins," in reference to their Origin of Species manual. These original creations are metamorphic beings that can walk on land, as well as swim the waters."
On Monday nights, you can usually find throngs of hip, artsy folks smoking and chatting outside of Beauty Bar. Inside, you can find even more of them dancing and performing. Salonathon, which takes place every Monday night at the bar where you can get a martini as easily as you can get a manicure, is one of Chicago's favorite parties. Combining performance of all varieties--from storytelling to improv to live music--with a killer post-show dance party and great cocktails, Salonathon is sure to please. The founder and curator of this weekly extravaganza, Jane Beachy, not only runs Salonathon, but also produces events at some of the hippest venues in the city, including the Metro, the Logan Square Auditorium, and Steppenwolf Garage. Currently, Beachy is planning for a Pride event at Berlin and for the Two Year Anniversary of Salonathon on July 15 at Beauty Bar. I got to chat with this Chicago gal who seems like nothing short of a party expert.
Tonight from 6-8pm, join the DePaul Art Museum (935 W Fullerton) for a free artist talk with Mequitta Ahuja, whose mixed-media drawings are part of the current exhibition at DPAM, "War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art." Exploring constructed Asian American identities in the US, "War Baby/Love Child" is a multi-faceted project that includes a book, traveling art exhibition, website and blog. The project examines if, and how, mixed heritage is expressed in the artwork of Asian Americans. Multi-media works, including video and installation, bring to light the overlap of race, war and imperialism, gender and sexuality, and citizenship and nationality.
View a trailer for the project here:
"War Baby/Love Child" is at DPAM (939 W Fullerton) from April 25-June 30. Photos courtesy of museums.depaul.edu.
Beyond Influence: The Art of Little Citywill be on exhibition in Chicago May 10-August 31, 2013 from 5-8pm at The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Intuit) (756 N. Milwaukee Avenue) with a free opening reception on Friday, May 10th from 5-8pm. Presented by Intuit and in conjunction with the Little City Center for the Arts (Little City), Beyond Influence is co-curated by Matthew Arient and Frank Tumino. The exhibition features the work of 11 artists, who have been creating work at Little City in Palatine, Illinois for the past 20 years. Little City aims to provide artistic opportunites to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The artists in Beyond Influence will include Harold Jeffries, Tarik Echols, and Wayne Mazurek, and their work will vary in media, demonstrating the wide-ranging capabilities of the Little City studio. Intuit describes Little City as "a place where there are no constraints in ideas, mediums or possibilities." The featured artists in the exhibition, says Intuit, "display that they are in fact 'beyond influence' - that of the mainstream art world, other's expectations, and their own limitations. "
If you've been paying attention in Chicago lately, you've probably found white, pre-stamped and pre-addressed postcards scattered throughout the city--in bookshops, record stores and anywhere they can find a place to hide. The postcards have one prompt on them and a code in the bottom right corner. The prompt is always the same: "Tell me one thing you dream of doing before you die. Use this card as your canvas." You've probably figured out is that this is part of something artsy. But what you may not have known is that the postcards are part of a huge, city-wide art exhibition by Jenny Lam, one of Chicago's most impressive independent curators and a self-described "troublemaker and all-around nerd."
For months now, Lam has been collecting the postcards you send in, reading your answers, and tracking where you obtained your postcard by the code in the bottom right corner. The evidence she compiles will be part of her project, Dreams of a City, which will include a book of the postcards, a large exhibition, and site-specific installations around Chicago. Collecting postcards from every Chicagoan who is willing to send one in might seem like a daunting amount of work, but Lam has actually done this before: in New York City in 2008. Lam's current Dreams of a City in Chicago, however, promises to be bigger in scale and better than ever. Lam, who's most recent exhibition I CAN DO THAT won audience choice for "Best Art Exhibit" in the 20th anniversary edition of NewCity's Best of Chicago issue, is a pioneer of art that is interactive, collaborative and as much fun for viewers as it is for artists. She sat down to talk with me about her exciting and mysterious Chicago postcard venture.
If you think you know Pablo Picasso, a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago's new exhibition Picasso and Chicago might have you second-guessing your expertise. In a sweeping tour of dozens of rooms, nooks and hallways, Picasso and Chicago takes viewers on a captivating journey into the artist's life and works. You would be hard-pressed to find an exhibition that is more engaging or more thoughtfully laid out.
In Picasso and Chicago, we learn of the people, places and events that shaped Picasso's work: the many women who served as his muses, including Fernande who inspired Picasso's cubist sculpture Head of a Woman (1900); the many landscapes that sparked his imagination, like the Cote d'Azur, which shaped his exploration of fauns and other mythical figures; and his relationship to wars happening around him, including the Spanish Civil War, which informed his notable and anguish-filled work Guernica (1937).
Kara Walker's new installation at The Art Institute of Chicago is as impressive for its visually rich and thought-provoking material as it is for packing itself neatly into a room no bigger than your living room. In the intimate, secluded space of Gallery 293 in the Modern Wing, Rise Up Ye Mighty Race! offers viewers a chance to confront issues of race, gender, and sexuality as historic and enduring phenomena of the human experience.
Rise Up Ye Mighty Race! includes eight silhouettes cut from white and black paper, five large graphite drawings, and forty small mixed-media drawings. Against the rich gray walls of Gallery 293, Walker's white and black paper silhouettes are immediately captivating. The silhouettes portray characters in groups of two or three with cartoon-like simplicity. Walker chooses characters that predominate in our collective imagination of the antebellum South, including slaves, masters, and Southern belles. The silhouettes seem to completely lack detail while simultaneously being completely filled with it. In the character's faces and bodies, we see nothing but blank white or black paper. But along the carefully carved edges of each cutout character, Walker has spared no detail. We see the armpit hair of a man with his arm outstretched, the erect nipples of a woman facing sideways, the fullness of a girl's lower lip, and a drop of urine clinging to the penis of a young boy. This is the most striking thing about Walker's silhouettes: we know practically nothing about the characters, while simultaneously knowing their most intimate details.
It is amazing how easily we sort each other into categories with one glance in our daily lives. White or black. Rich or poor. We see a mere outline of each other and we somehow know all we need to know. Walker's complex silhouettes, however, remind us that we never do. Maybe you try to ignore a homeless woman asking for change, but the color of her frayed shoes stay with you for the rest of the day. That detail reminds you that she is a person with a unique story, rather than just a stereotype. It is this tension that Walker captures--the tension between our desire to never really see each other, and the intimate details that we can't help but see.
The big, glaring (in a good way) art event this weekend is obviously EXPO, which I highly recommend after seeing it last Wednesday (I will be posting about it shortly). Give yourself a good two hours there, at least. BUT after you check that out, check this stuff out:
Hi ya'll. I just wanted to let you know that I wasn't able to do the Art Around Town column this morning because I've come down with some terrible virus and I can't think or stand or do much of anything right now. Damn Chicago weather. I will post it ASAP. In the meantime, check out The Visualist, and have a better weekend than I will!