Logan Square's CTA Blue Line stop is about to get more colorful. Beauty and Brawn Art Gallery, in collaboration with artist Rachel Slotnick, recently started work on a 200-foot mural at the stop.
Gallery owner Lindsey Meyers has waited almost eight years for the chance to artistically transform this space.
"I had basically given up on adopting the wall until recently when Rachel and I discussed doing a mural that would truly embrace the color and flavor of my neighborhood," she said in a statement. Meyers aims for neighborhood collaboration on the piece, highlighting all of the neighborhood's cultural groups.
When artist Katherine Alexandria took a tour of one of the new condo developments that have risen on the land once occupied by the Cabrini-Green housing projects, it wasn't because she was interested in buying. It was to get a better sense of what she was protesting.
"The idea of displacing 15,000 people so you could use the property for something more profitable is inexcusable," Alexandria said. "There is a massive number of people in Chicago living below the poverty level. We have anti-discrimination housing laws, but we don't enforce them. It's such a slap in the face in how we treat our poorest citizens."
View of Cabrini rowhouses from 873 N. Larrabee St. Photo by Katherine Alexandria
"Oh, the places you'll go" and things you'll see this September at the exciting Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!exhibit at Water Tower Place. As part of the national touring exhibition of the famous author's collections, attendees will be treated to a look inside Dr. Seuss's hidden treasures from his estate, on display for the first time. From paintings to towering feathered hats, this display shows off some of the most whimsical creations of the beloved children's writer.
The work of a Chicago artist who won national and international fame is settled in at a small museum in Jefferson Park, near the neighborhood where he grew up.
Ed Paschke, whose vividly colored and brilliantly grotesque paintings are part of the collections of major American and European museums, grew up the son of Polish immigrant parents on the northwest side of Chicago and lived there much of his life. The new museum dedicated to his work is the Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. in Jefferson Park.
The center, which opened in June, exhibits about 40 Paschke works -- mostly paintings (oil on linen), but also prints and colograms (a digital photographic process that results in a 3D-like effect). His Howard Street studio, where he worked from 1980 until his death in 2004, is meticulously recreated. In addition, a 30-minute video runs continuously, showing Paschke working, talking about how he works, and teaching a class of art students at Northwestern University. The video is well done and worth watching for insights into the work and thinking of this creative and articulate artist.
High Concept Laboratories is an organization which supports Chicago artists through production services, space for creatives and various forms of administrative assistance. HCL has a wonderful open space located inside of Mana Contemporary, an old warehouse in Pilsen which houses artist studios, and hosts events and shows. This past week on Thursday, HCL hosted an event entitled, "Radical Tenderness" which featured performance, sound, poetry and video as a collective event with a small and intimate audience. Artists Amir George, Sofia Moreno, La Spacer and Anna Vitale, were each featured in the event where they brought their voices, their bodies and their overall energy in depicting the theme for the night.
The first "great war" commenced 100 years ago this summer when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The University of Chicago will observe the beginning of World War I with an exhibit of French graphic illustration of the period, opening October 14 at the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery on the UofC campus.
En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I draws from illustrated books, magazines and prints to show more than 100 artistic views of the war. Patriotism, nationalism, propaganda and the soldier's experience are explored through fashion, humor, music and children's literature. The art was part of the mobilization of the French national home front.
Pitchfork Music Festival is known for its eccentric, acclaimed and even avant-garde performances of high musical caliber, and for the attendees that create a show of their own with diverse fashion statements and individualistic notions. Another component to this weekend's three-day phantasmagoria was that of exquisite art, in the form of an installation known as the Geometric Village, curated by Johalla Projects and dreamed up by visionary artists Chad Kouri and Heather Gabel.
Photo by Zachary James Johnston
As I stepped up to the Geometric Village on Saturday afternoon, I noticed sunlight streaming through the trees ahead of me, and falling upon the two upright pyramids in a simply lovely way. Each one allowed ample space for you to walk under it and absorb the messages seeded inside its carefully formed tunnel, one with skillfully designed words, and one with a collage of photographs, one of a skull, the other of a statue, and more. Both portions of the installation were vastly different, but in many ways, linked in commonalities. I noticed concertgoers interacting with the art pieces: some shuffling by quickly, others looking up at the peak and smiling, and a group sitting underneath, resting in a peaceful place. I oriented myself with the artwork, and then was lucky enough to have a chance to speak with curator Anna Cerniglia, and artists Chad and Heather, about the wistful yet introspective work they have been able to create at Pitchfork Music Festival this past weekend.
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.
LVL3, the crowd-pleasing alternative gallery space located in the heart of Wicker Park, had its opening reception last night for the exhibition, Two Rocks Do Not Make a Duck. Milano Chow, Sofia Leiby and Malin Gabriella Nordin are the three artists featured in the group show which exhibit detailed drawings, black and white collage and graffiti covered canvases. Typically, LVL3 hosts conceptual artists that spread out onto the floor, their paintings made up of duct tape and crayons or oddly shaped installations that involve teddy bears. Still conceptual, this show appears to be more tame. This is not to be taken the wrong way--this exhibit is absolutely a breath of fresh air, something viewers haven't seen at LVL3 recently.
Milano Chow, an artist residing in LA, creates large drawings of domesticated settings set through the window pane of a house or a structure. These classical drawings are so precise and so soft that one must take a moment to truly become aware if they are drawings, photographs or digital depictions.
"There's so many things they're doing to solve problems using creativity," said Gary Lehman of G Studio and an exhibit curator and artist of The Plant. "[They're] taking things that are around and creating a really beautiful solution out of it...[it's] what the whole exhibit is about."
Lehman, along with artist and curator Tracy Kostenbader of AnySquared, selected the artists in large part because of the intersection of their work with The Plant's principles surrounding the environment and reuse. One piece was crafted using hundreds of bottle caps and touches on oil spills.
"A lot of the artists create a dialogue about environmentalism, sustainability or how much waste we have," said Kostenbader.
While not all pieces touch on the environment, they all fall under the over-arching theme of repurposing items or ideas and transforming them into something new, thought-provoking and beautiful.
For instance, one artist used an immigration document from when her family came to the United States from China. She layered the document with photographs of relatives she never met, transforming a piece of paper into a comment on place.
In addition to the exhibit's pieces, the location of the show itself brings up topic of metamorphosis.
"We see the art in the context of The Plant," said Kostenbader. "It also transforms and changes because of the activity and action and ideas that are floating around in that space."
The show fits both Kostenbader and Lehman's goals of making art collaborative and accessible, as well as "taking art to a level of where you can really make it contextual and functional," said Lehman.
During Saturday's opening, the International Art Group Ensemble presented "Firebread," a masked performance created specifically for Salvage, and also featured a Brazilian music performance by Rio de Janeiro's Renato Anesi.
The exhibit is presented by AnySquared and G Studio. Logan Square-based AnySquared brings together artists in a collaborative environment, producing projects and events in cooperation with both local artists and businesses. G Studio, based in Chicago, specializes in unique art experiences.
The exhibit remains open through October 19 during regularly scheduled tours of The Plant, which take place Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm. The Plant is located at 1400 W. 46th St. For more information, including events incorporating the exhibit and The Plant throughout the show, visit the Salvage exhibit webpage.
Do you remember your first look at the so-called Chicago Imagists in art galleries in the '60s and '70s? Whether you were on your own or in a stroller pushed by your parents, you surely found the art of the "Hairy Who" to be eye-popping, colorful, vulgar and fun.
You can relive those artistic memories in Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists, a lavishly illustrated new film documentary that illuminates the lively and confrontational art movement that started here in the 1960s. Director Leslie Buchbinder combines film of the young artists and interviews with many of them in their later years. Other interviews are with the 21st century artists they influenced, such as Jeff Coons, Peter Doig and Chris Ware, as well as collectors and curators. Best of all, we see many of the actual works--vibrant, vivid and surreal paintings and objects. The production also features great animation work and original music.
Painters and paintings: this is a special relationship because there are so few relationships we get ourselves into where we cannot hide one little aspect of ourselves. Paint sits on the canvas looking back at us, as painters, mocking our attempt to run from the ugliness, shame and overall lack we carry with us day in and day out. That mocking sits in the studio for years, staring back at us telling us, in full color, what steps need to be taken and what changes need to be made. This is a conversation being had directly with us in full Dolby surround sound, around the clock, and it is still the hardest work as a painter to hear it, follow it and trust it.
If you are not a painter, this might be difficult to understand, but know that when a painter puts a mark on a page it says something. No matter how controlled or meticulously the painter works to hide their hand, there is always something there screaming back at us that we didn't intend. That's a message directly from a part of us that we do not have deliberate conscious access to. As painters we look to describe our work, in writing, to others, but because we don't have direct access to that information the paintings are telling us we go straight to what we, as painters, think we are offering the world.
I think we can all agree photography is not what it used to be, and that the appropriation of found photography as a practice can overstep the bounds of respect, creativity and artfulness pretty quickly. Recent cases of appropriating found photography — meaning using photos taken by other people as the core of your practice — although seemingly accepted in the wide world of fine art, has left a pretty distinct foul taste in my mouth. Polly Yates, a British artist currently living and working in Chicago, uses found photographs in a very distinct and interesting way. When I walked into Roman Susan Gallery to see Unhomely, I initially thought I was simply looking at old photographs that were grouped, mounted and framed but as I stepped closer it was so much more.
International People in the Know, an exhibit of works in colored pencil by Vito Desalvo, opens Wednesday at the Bluebird in Wicker Park. The works are the artist's reflections on "interpersonal relations in today's world."
Desalvo uses both fictitious faces and the faces of real people in his life; each portrait includes a caption-like statement. The backgrounds provide no clues as to place, identity or nature of the "conversation." Desalvo, a Pittsburgh native, studied art at Carnegie Mellon University and has worked as an artist in Chicago since the late 1970s.
The exhibit will open with a reception from 7 to 10pm Wednesday. King Art Collective is curating the exhibit.
The Bluebird, a wine bar and gastropub at 1749 N. Damen, is open from 5pm to 2am seven days a week. The works will be on display through the summer.
The Peanut Gallery, a small creative space in Humboldt Park, is featuring the artist Derek Weber until May 18 for his exhibition entitled Melting. Weber's work is all-encompassing -- ranging from drawings, video, installation and sound. The exhibition at the Peanut Gallery focuses on the natural world, sensory elements and psychedelia within the work of Weber's various mediums.
Upon entering the space, there is an overhead projector which shoots a surreal and unearthly image onto a white wall, while on the other side a more familiar scene is being displayed -- swimming at Devil's Lake. Throughout the exhibition, familiar, yet hypnagogic images can be examined by the viewer.
Derek Weber's interest in all mediums is something that creates a sensory successful exhibition. He includes CDs, pins, photographs and interactive black lights while walking through Melting.
The Peanut Gallery is free and open to the public. It is located at 1000 N. California Ave.
An exciting new art collective has formed in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. Stairway Studios is a combination exhibition and studio space. This weekend it hosts its very first Spring Exhibition.
This unique group of artists thrive in an environment of close collaboration and cross-pollination. Stairway Studios is creating a new presence on the art scene, allowing the artists to take the reins and curate their own exhibitions. While this is most gallerists' worst nightmare, the result is gritty, raw, and utterly inspiring.
Hawk, a sculptor who works with industrial materials, cites the collective as the reason his art has developed thus far. He says, "Eric knows my work probably better than anyone else in the entire world, and because of that he can give the best critique. He sees the final project and knows the exact context because he's seen the entire trajectory." Not only do the artists work in the same space, they constantly are pushing each other. Each has a unique vision and an individual contribution to the Chicago art landscape, giving the spring exhibition an incredibly diverse, yet cohesive survey of the studio's works.
J. Mikal Davis, a.k.a. Hellbent , "Suspect Device (Stiff Little Fingers)," 2014 , spray paint on panel, 22.5" x 22.5"
Hellbent: Past Future Perfect is the new exhibit of post-street art at the Maxwell Colette Gallery in Noble Square. The artist is J. Mikal Davis, a.k.a. Hellbent, a Brooklyn-based artist who uses intense colors with stenciled patterns to create bold geometric abstractions. This is the artist's first solo exhibition with the gallery and first show in Chicago, where he also painted a street mural in Wicker Park.
The paintings in this exhibit are what Davis calls his mix-tape series. They result from overspray patterns on the tape he uses when spray painting. He reconfigures strips of this tape into small arrangements he calls "demos" that serve as preparatory sketches for the larger work. Davis often displays the demos alongside the paintings they inspired. He describes his work as "elaborate abstract fields of color and movement, with compositions ranging from organized, quilt-like patterns, to completely haphazard bands of weaving color." He names them based on songs he was listening to during the creation process.
Davis adapted his street art name from Richard Hell, the influential musician, writer and artist of the punk movement. Davis began his career pasting confrontational slogans in the Deep South. He also paints abstract murals and street works in major cities and, during his recent Chicago visit, created a 30-foot-long mural, titled "Rhinoceros (Smashing Pumpkins)," at 1520 N. Damen in Wicker Park.
Maxwell Colette Gallery specializes in post-street contemporary art. Director Oliver Hild says his goal is to blur the distinctions between fine art, street art and graffiti. His gallery is committed to elevating art and artists who have been marginalized and under-exposed.
Past Future Perfect is on display until June 7 at the Maxwell Colette Gallery, 908 N. Ashland Ave, from noon until 6pm Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 312-496-3153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hyde Park Art Center, located at 5020 S Cornell Ave, is a wonderful addition to the Hyde Park neighborhood. The center holds exhibitions as well as artist residencies and classes for adults and children. While walking from the Bridgeport Coffee shop to the opposite side of the center, one cannot help but notice the new and alluring photography exhibition that the art center has recently installed. Typically, their is a large exhibition space which holds artwork, however, this presentation is located in a pathway and smaller gallery space--a perfect chance for us to take in the work of Ross Sawyers, a professor at Columbia College whose project beautifully documents "the rise and fall of the United States housing market."
At first glimpse, these images are abstract, surreal even. In almost every photograph, their is a glowing light drawing the viewer in, however, the light is too bright to fully contemplate what is there. Upon reading further into the images, one can conclude that Sawyers' work is focusing on the abandonment, manipulation and destruction of the housing market in the U.S. Traveling from the beginning to the exhibition until the end, the viewer is able to see the deconstruction of something that so familiar to all of us. In the beginning of his series, he depicts a closed space--claustrophobic and quiet--and by the end the image are torn and and tattered, yet beautiful and exposed.
The exhibition, Model Pictures, will have its opening reception Sunday, April 13 from 3 to 5pm. A gallery talk is also occurring on Wednesday, April 30 at 6pm.
Hyde Park art center is free and located at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. For more information call 773-324-5520
By now most of you have heard of web series, for those of you that have not, it is simply a series of video content posted and obtained online. The most popular, and probably most recognizable, of these today is arguably "House of Cards." Mind you, "House of Cards" is not what I would consider typical, or most common, when thinking about web series. Most web series that are being produced today are independent, made by people that want to tell a story or be a part of the entertainment or film/video world but do not feel it is accessible from where they are, so like all great producers they just get out there and make it happen.
YouTube, Blip and Vimeo have given video creators a platform for distributing their footage. Today I want to focus on five web series being produced in Chicago.
The performance gallery, Defibrillator, will be presenting their annual April Fools Day fundraiser, the Lyp Sinc Show, on Tuesday, April 1. This unique art gallery focuses on performance art. The gallery hosts an International Performance Art Festival annually, entitled, RAPID PULSE, June 1-10. The festival presents a total of 28 international and local performance artists for a series of 10 days. The Lyp Sinc Show occurs as a fundraiser for the artists meals, materials and housing for RAPID PULSE. There will be a total of 13 artists/groups at the Lip Sinc Show, which kicks off at 7pm.
Silky Jumbo will be the host for the evening and Jordan Jaymes will be the DJ.
Defibrillator Art Gallery is located at 1136 N. Milwaukee Ave. The gallery requests a $10 donation at the door, refreshments are included. Call 773-609-1137 for more information.
Additional events include No Lights, No Lycra, a weekly dance party in the dark. The next one will occur Monday, March 31 at 8:15pm.
To demonstrate that an office building can become an art gallery, King Art Collective has curated an exhibit of large-scale paintings by three Chicago artists at 300 S. Riverside Plaza from now through June 2.
The artists whose works are shown are:
Jen Evans, a Chicago native, is a multi-media artist and educator. She describes her current paintings as "a process of creating and discovering history. I use wood, plaster, wax, epoxy and paint to accumulate layers; I sand, carve, scrape, highlight and cover up elements to find balance in the chaos."
Bruce Riley, a self-taught painter, has studios in Chicago, where he lives, and in Cincinnati, where he was born. He has participated in several group shows recently. Recent exhibitions include two solo shows: "Psychedelic" at Packer Shopfs Gallery and "Science Fiction" at Miller Gallery.
Melody Saraniti holds an MFA degree from the School of the Art Institute. Her work evokes abstract expressionist energy. However, her drips and splashes are not the result of a spontaneous hand. Each "drip" is carefully painted with bands of color in order to investigate how different painterly gestures convey emotional energy.
The 23-story curving, glass-walled structure, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, was constructed in 1983. The building, on Jackson just west of the river, and its Riverside Plaza siblings were formerly known as Gateway Center.
The exhibit is free and open to be public from 6am-6pm daily except for national holidays. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Are you intrigued by anatomy and art? Are you interested in (literally) looking inside of yourself? This spring, UChicago Arts will be hosting a multi-venue exhibition entitled Imaging/Imagining that incorporates both the artistic and the scientific history of the body.
This exhibition will be held in various locations across the campus, including the Special Collections Research Center (The Body as Text), the Smart Museum (The Body In Art) and the Crerar Library (The Body as Data). Each space will introduce the history of anatomy in a specialized and organized category. The Body as Text explores the history of medical illustration as well as when the partnership of art and science were separated due to the invention of the x-ray. The Body as Data focuses on modern anatomy and the introduction of computers. The exhibition at the Smart Museum, The Body as Art, focuses on the subjective imagination within the medical illustrations that were once incredibly important for anatomists.
The Chicago Arts District in East Pilsen opens its galleries, artists studios and neighborhood shops for local people every second Friday of the month.
Last night, Rooms, a performance space, had its final performance from an ongoing series entitled, RITUAL NO. 10:WAVES. The ritual included two male performers--one was seated and one was pouring water from one bucket to the other. The seated man beat a steady dream-beat while the standing performer transitioned from a platform to the wooden floor. As pictured above, the individual poured water from one bucket to another for three steady hours.
The weather, warming up slightly this week, urged a substantial amount of Chicago makers, gallery goers and visual arts lovers, to the Flat Iron Arts Building last night. I, finally wearing something that wasn't reminiscent of a Christmas Story, trekked out to Wicker Park for the open studios, refreshments and socializing. This was my first time "First Fridays" at Wicker Park; I usually frequent Pilsen for "Second Fridays," instead. However, I am a fan of the area and decided to wander down for a peek at how they run things down at the Flat Iron Building.
Encircling the Logan Center walls and spreading out like a scroll are the six large projections by the cinematographer and photographer, Yang Fudong. The exhibition, both a film and installation, is titled East of the Que Village, and features a rural area where Fudong grew up.
Upon entering the gallery space, I was struck by black and white film projections on each wall. As I stood in the middle, slowly circling my body to face each screen, I noticed people, rural locations, isolation and most importantly, wild dogs. Lots and lots of ravenous and skeletal dogs--fighting over meat, sanity and space.
As I rotated my body to face each of the projections, I continued to glance back at the dogs. I can't remember if it was their loud growls and bellows that attracted me or their savage existence to simply survive, however, my interest was incredibly sparked for further observation. Once I watched the film for a great amount of time, I began to connect the story between the separate screens. The stray dogs and the humans are all tied together into one, creating a pseudo-documentary which is united because of one young crippled dog.
The East of the Que Village exhibition will be up until to Sunday, March 30 at the Logan Center which is located at 915 E. 60th St. Yang Fudong's film is a documentation of his memories and time spent in his hometown. The dogs were pre-ordered, the locations scouted, but the environment and individuals are very real. Check out more Logan Center events/news on their Facebook and Tumblr page.
"The Cosby Show's" run ended over 20 years ago, yet, in today's pop culture circles, it still remains a popular "go to" reference when discussing what--or who--is black in America.
When it came to The Huxtables, so-called "arbiters of blackness" argued that everything from their professionally successful, financially comfortable lifestyle to their articulate speech was "unrealistic" for a black family.
These visual artists, collectively known as Four Of A Kind, are using their individual artistic styles, expressions, and interpretations to combat and challenge definitions of blackness from within and outside of the black community.
Jackson Junge Gallery will be hosting an altruistic art project this Friday, Feb. 7. The first ever "Paint with a Purpose," will be held in conjunction with Wicker Park's Orange Dot, a campaign aiming to promote the arts and culture nightlife in one of Chicago's trendiest neighborhoods. Every first Friday, the arts scene in Wicker Park will take over the neighborhood, from performance art in the front window of a vintage store, to live music in a comic book store.
Paint with a Purpose is one of many exciting events happening in Wicker Park this Friday. For this event, local artist Brian Morgan, whose Chicago-centric pieces are well known for capturing the cycling culture in the city, has created a very special piece.
The classically modern Maxwell Colette Gallery, open since 2010, is on an undistinguished strip of Ashland Avenue in Noble Square, but don't be deterred by the surroundings. The current exhibit of the work of two artists--one local, one internationally known--is artfully displayed in the two-level gallery and warrants a close look. The art is considered "post-street art" by gallery director Oliver Hild, whose gallery specializes in that genre.
The two exhibits provide a vibrant contrast in the evolution of street art.
White Out is the exhibit by Peeta, an Italian graffiti artist. His elegant mixed media pieces are created by taking the traditional letterforms that make up his name and bending, twisting, folding and styling them with shape and volume. His backgrounds suggest graffiti spraying, while the imagery is crystalline white and shadow.
Peeta says that the paintings in White Out are an "attempt to render the most deceptive condition that snow can cause; in which visibility and contrast are so severely reduced that no reference point remains, and the individual experiences a distorted orientation." Far from cold, these new paintings instead have a "bright, sparkling, total whiteness." Peeta, also known as Manuel Di Rita, lives in Venice; he has been a graffiti artist since 1993.
February marks Black History Month, which has historically been designated as a time for celebration and observance of the achievements and contributions made by blacks in America. Culturally speaking, Chicago always boasts a diverse mix of special events, shows, and performances; here, I've listed a few highlights worth checking out.
From 2 to 4pm, visitors may sit on a life-size polar bear's lap and be hugged, pose for pictures, take a very brief nap -- anything but be mauled and eaten, which is what would normally happen in such circumstances. This is the fourth year Leclery has held polar bear lap hours at the gallery. Admission is free, and (well-behaved) kids are welcome.
There's a steep, narrow stairway off the Blue Line at Irving Park that splits in two and spills out onto Pulaski Road. Commuters climb and descend this shadowed crawlspace, hurrying to their business as quickly as they can.
But these days, something stops them, catches them midstride, quietly and forcefully demands their attention.
M(ani)fest Mural by Tony Sparrow. Photo by Derek Harmening
It's a phoenix in flight, breathtaking in scope, its wingspan captured in brilliant bursts of orange, brown, gold and red. This is the keystone of Tony Sparrow's M(ani)fest Mural — one of 10 panels transforming Independence Park into a living, breathing work of art.
A compelling exhibit of paintings, drawings and sculpture by 13 artists dramatizes the emotional impact of ancient rituals that kill or maim millions of women and children. The 38 works are being presented in the third floor gallery at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law until February 3.
The exhibit--The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions--is "not about gender, culture or religion bashing," says Cheryl Jefferson, executive producer of the exhibit. Rather "it's an exploration of human rights, a dialogue to raise consciousness as the first step toward preventing these horrifying acts." Richard Laurent is co-producer and four of his pieces are shown, including the poignant painting of a young girl shown at right, titled "Small Change."
The thing about reproduction in our world today is it is part of the language. It is presented so haphazardly, almost without regard to its origin. I write these words, which have been reproduced so many times and I don't even care if I spell them right because that is a detail that will be auto-corrected. Appropriation, in the arts, is new but just as haphazardly utilized today as reproduction. I cannot say nor would I attempt to judge whether this is good or bad, but it is interesting. With Instagram and Pinterest we just get in there and tell ourselves we have the talent to gather a bunch of stuff from the internet or choose the right filter for that moment in our lives, but that brings up a host of questions about craft and how we relate to craft. What is craft today?
Jaume Plensa is a sculptor, a poet and a true creative spirit. He displayed all those talents and more in his appearance Wednesday evening at the theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The event -- titled "Architecture Is Art...Is Architecture Art?" -- was cosponsored by the MCA and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Photo courtesy Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Plensa (his first name is pronounced "Jowma") is the creator of the magical Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. If you have ever taken children there, you'll know why I call it magical. The video faces and their waterspout mouths are funny and surprising, and the shallow depth of the pool and the showers that rain down the video columns at regular intervals bring about exuberance and playfulness in kids of all ages.
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.
The inside of Design Cloud's West Loop office, 118 N. Peoria St #2n, is striking. That's partly because the two-year-old design firm looks like every creative professional's dream work environment, with mid-century meets industrial style custom furniture and lighting. But mostly it's because of the motorcycle parked in the middle of the space.
Chicago-based artists and former SAIC grad students Alex Gartlemann and Jonas Sebura are responsible for the motorcycle, which looks like a carriage with a wooden structure attached and a handful of books displayed inside.
It stands as a grand centerpiece for Design Cloud's workspace, and holds a greater meaning to the artists who created it: the piece represents their collaboration during a trip they took together across the Rocky Mountains and into Montana. Called "Enduro," the piece is one of several works of art that make up the exhibit "Revisiting Undomesticated" adorning the walls of Design Cloud's office.
Curators Cameron DuBois and Sarah Nodelman, or "Casa Duno," assembled the exhibit and they are the first residents under Design Cloud's newest initiative, the MOUNT curatorial residency program.
Norwegian-born Amund Dietzel learned the craft of tattooing on a merchant ship and brought it to Milwaukee in 1913, where he opened his first shop. Jon Reiter, himself a Milwaukee-based tattooer, has published a two-volume catalog of Dietzel's work, These Old Blue Arms: The Life and Work of Amund Dietzel, and worked in conjunction with the Milwaukee Art Museum for a recent exhibit of Dietzel's work.
Earlier this year, Reiter was diagnosed with a rare blood clotting disease; he was successfully treated, but is now burdened with medical bills. The Dietzel exhibit is traveling to Chicago as a benefit for Reiter, and will be shown in the gallery space at Great Lakes Tattoo, 1148 W. Grand Ave. On Friday, Nov. 29, there will be an opening reception from 5pm-10pm with appetizers and refreshments, limited edition posters and books for sale, auction items, and a raffle to help offset Reiter's bills. In addition, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, all tattoo proceeds from original Amund Dietzel designs will be donated to Reiter.
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.
At a reception held recently, the University of Illinois at Chicago introduced its new dean of the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts to the local arts community.
Steve Everett, a musician, composer and educator who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, becomes dean just at the time the college is being reconstituted into four separate schools: architecture, design, theater and music, and art and art history.
Everett comes to Chicago after 22 years at Emory University in Atlanta; most recently, he was professor of music and Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. His interests include electronic music, cross-cultural influences in music, and the philosophy of technology in art.
Provost Lon S. Kaufman opened the event by noting that UIC students look like Chicago and America. "We are of the city and reflect the city," he said. His comments suggested the mission of the new college, which Everett later expanded upon.
My first taste of Space Club HQ was a night of karaoke where I scream-sang Kid Rock and sipped PBR tallboys from the liquor store across the street. Between dancing and singing my heart out that night, I grew to admire the people behind Space Club for opening their own artistic venue on top of working full-time jobs -- something many of us only dream of doing.
Space Club HQ, 3925 N. Elston Ave., is best described as an art space operated by a group of friends who originally came together in pursuit of a sizable venue to practice their own art -- theatre, visual art, performance art, you name it. As is the case with great ideas, they soon realized its potential and began to host public events. In addition to hosting a series of karaoke nights cleverly dubbed "In Space No One Can Hear You Sing," the venue has played host to a series of "Freak Show" circus performances by Thom Britton, screened the 1945 British anthology classic film Dead of Night in 16mm and showcased Bogumil Bronkowski's artwork in an exhibit titled "Oh, the Horror!", among several other events. Lucky for us, they're knee deep in programming ideas -- a pinewood derby seems to be in the works.
Amber Robinson, Evan Chung, Alan Callaghan and Bart Pappas are the "official board members," or the organizers, behind Space Club HQ. I chatted with Amber and Evan via email to learn more about why they opened the space, what makes Space Club different than other venues and what you should expect on the calendar in the coming months.
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.
To me, there is one simple guiding principle behind art curator Evan La Ruffa's website-turned-nonprofit art organization, IPaintMyMind: introducing people to affordable local art is mutually beneficial for both the customer and the artist. Over the course of the five or six years since its inception, La Ruffa and 26 volunteers have written about local art and music, installed exhibits and organized performances in Chicago park districts, public schools and community centers under the "IPMM Gallery Initiative."
The sustainability of art has always been at the core of IPMM's mission, so it makes sense then that that the organization has a shiny new home within the country's largest LEED-certified business community, Green Exchange, 2545 W. Diversey Ave., Suite 255.
The permanent gallery space is impressive with its lofted industrial ceilings and sleek modernist feel. La Ruffa says having a central location to host exhibits and performances will allow them to really "put their flag in the ground."
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?
I was over in River North the other day hitting up a few haunts of mine and I stepped into one of the most inspired galleries with a consistent vision here in Chicago, Zg. Meg and Myra never seem to disappoint, and the show they have up now which is in its final week, is no exception. The young and very talented Amanda Elizabeth Joseph who hails from Ohio and studied in Indiana takes a hard look at where she has come from.
Amanda is painting sweet, caring and understanding paintings of herself and her friends living pork rinds and cold beer. There is joy is exposing blemishes and these drew me in, they are bigger than high def and more real than we want to admit but it is a fun show that is worth a look at. Amanda's work will impress you, it did me.
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA) is "the hidden gem of the West Side," according to its president and full-time volunteer, Orysia Cardoso. Founded in 1971 to promote the art of Ukrainian émigrés and Ukrainian-Americans, today UIMA is an art center for Ukrainian Village and West Town and a center for modernism for the Chicago region.
Located on Chicago Avenue just east of Western, the institute has a striking modernist façade that stands out among the century-old storefronts, many of them now businesses owned by eastern European entrepreneurs. The building, created from four storefronts, was designed by noted architect Stanley Tigerman, and opened in 1978. The foyer and exhibit space were renovated in 2006. The original institute opened in 1971 in a three-story brownstone nearby.
Do you love those colorful, childlike figures that are installed in Pioneer Court Plaza? The 16 figures, known as The Watch, were created by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley for Chicago Ideas Week. Brantley is Chicago Ideas Week 2013 Artist in Residence.
Photo by Kristie Kahns.
The figures, brightly colored and at first glance humorous, represent the failures and successes that teenagers face in their neighborhoods. Brantley was inspired by conversations with Chicago public high school students to create the installation in a public space to stimulate dialogue and community revitalization.
It looks like police tape. It's wrapped around the bannisters and plastered to the steps on the way up to the Fulton Street Collective gallery space. It runs long and yellow, the words "Everything is Practice" repeating over and over across its surface. Kyle Fletcher and Steve Juras, the artist curators of the exhibit, look at one another sheepishly.
"The curators aren't supposed to provide any art for the exhibit," Fletcher says. "But we thought it was interesting as a design element. Is it part of the show? Is it not?"
If anything, the yellow tape leading up to the space tells us that we're entering an ongoing investigation, a purposeful look into the forensics of the creative process. "Everything is Practice" explores the repetitive gestures, motions, and thoughts that bring works of art into existence.
It's been a little more than a year since Chicago-based record label Drag City decided to utilize the old soccer-themed bar attached to their office space, but the aesthetic hasn't changed a bit--including the name beside the art on the walls.
Chicago artist and musician Lisa Alvarado showcased her collection entitled "Limpia" for the grand opening of Soccer Club Club, 2923 N. Cicero Ave., in June of 2012, and now she's back with her new exhibit "The Traditional Object." Around 40 people attended the opening reception on October 4. Both Alvarado's artwork and musical talents were on display; she also performed with her husband's musical outfit, Natural Information Society.
For Bucktown residents, there is a new [shoe] sheriff in town: Nike Running, Bucktown, located in the heart of the neighborhood, celebrated its grand opening this past Saturday. The concept store, opening just ahead of this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, will serve and provide resources for the area's runners. "This is really the first and only Nike store in the City of Chicago that was designed for runners and by runners," said Jim Beeman, General Manager, Nike Central Territory. "We really want to make sure we make this feel as comfortable for local athletes as humanly possible."
The contemporary store has a selling space of 3,000 square feet and boasts a modest selection of running shoes and stylish men's and women's athletic gear. It also features rafters for hanging marathon bibs, gait analysis, and a convenient Nike Plus Station for comparing Nike Plus runs, charging devices, etc.
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."
This summer, the CTA requested proposals for art projects that it intends to display at newly-renovated Red Line stations on its southern Dan Ryan Branch. Ever since then, I've been taking a closer look at the art in and around the trains.
Like many commuters, I've caught sight of a mosaic or two on my way up the escalators or pushing through the turnstiles. But this fall, I want to be more purposeful in my hunt. The CTA's website provides a helpful booklet [PDF] locating and describing each piece of public art. Some of them I've leaned up against or walked on without noticing. Others, like the fuschia and red aluminum waves of Krivanek and Breaux's "Reflections Expressions Transformations" at the Chicago Brown Line station, evoke the same emotions every time I see them. Many of them decorate parts of the city I don't often get a chance to visit.
CTA art is art in flux; usually, people will only see it for a few moments. As they move to and from the trains and stations, they may not even register that what they're looking at is intentional. Having the names and locations of each installation in the back of my mind has encouraged me to look up -- or down -- as I travel and appreciate fellow Chicagoans who at one point passed through a station and thought of it not only as a destination or transfer point but as a venue, gallery or stage for their creativity.
A new exhibit--Artists Respond to Genocide--will open this week at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in the West Town neighborhood. The exhibit will open with a reception and viewing from 6 to 9pm Friday, October 4.
The exhibition features the work of 20 local, national and international artists, including Chicago artists Evhen Prokopov, Orest Baranyk, Jason LaMantia, Arthur Lerner, Bonnie Peterson, Mary Porterfield, Dominic Sansone, Eden Unluata and Erika Uzmann. Works will include paintings, photography, sculpture and assemblages.
Artists Respond to Genocide recognizes the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor Famine Genocide of 1932-33 in the Ukraine. The exhibit addresses genocides of the world--the deliberate massacre of millions of people because of their religion, beliefs or ethnicity.
An exhibition catalog is available for purchase for $15 and can be previewed on the institute's online store.
Artists Respond to Genocide will be on display from October 5 to December 1 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago Ave. Hours are 12-4pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free but a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, call 773 227-5522.
Poster image courtesy of the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.
Gallery season is in full swing now, with October marking the beginning of Chicago Artists Month. This month's theme is "In the Neighborhoods." Honoring said theme is Wicker Park After Dark, the solo photography exhibition by David Szpunar, a West Side native who began capturing the lively and eccentric nightlife of Wicker Park."
Spzunar who is also a local musician attended the reception supported by his band mates from "Matthew Morgan and the Lost Brigade." Chemistry professor by day and photographer/musician by night, Szpunar began shooting the series after his Friday night band practices in the neighborhood, trading his instrument for a camera just after the sun went down.
Wicker Park after Dark was inspired by Brassaï's "Paris by Night," and captures the energy, drama, and mystery of the local weekend revelers. There is a voyeuristic feeling to the series, as if Szpunar has for but the briefest moment captured the visceral and magnetic draw of being a part of the Wicker Park late-night scene. Close and wide-angled shots pull the viewer into the intimate setting, creating a sense of inclusion and closeness to the subjects.
The exhibit opened on Sept. 20 at Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., and will run until Oct. 27.
A second EXPO Chicago has now come and gone, passing through Navy Pier like an electrical storm, this time buzzing with a few new satellites -- countless gallery openings and open studios, but also medium-scale alternative fairs like the econo-centric EDITION at the Chicago Artists Coalition and the grassroots, street-oriented Fountain Art Fair at Mana Contemporary, all within five miles of Navy Pier. It's nice to see this happening... hopefully the city will be blowing up like Miami during Art Basel by next year. Or maybe we like to keep things a little more low-key in Chicago. In any case:
"Meet your Maker" is an opportunity for artists and arts administrators to interact and meet face-to-face bridging the divide between them. We invite any and all creative types to join us for an evening of exploration among arts-passionate people. Join your colleagues from the creative sector to make a dynamic difference in the community.
There's a suggested donation of $5 to cover food and refreshments. Open to the public. Register online here.
When: Thursday, October 10, 6-8pm
Where: Fulton Street Collective, 2000 W. Fulton St.
Whenever a fair or festival becomes successful, satellite events are soon to follow. And now that the much-hyped EXPO Chicago has gotten a little steam, that's exactly what's happening. This weekend the Chicago Artist Coalition (CAC) and local gallerist Andrew Rafacz have teamed up to create EDITION Chicago with the aim of exhibiting high quality, cutting-edge work that presents new ideas, while remaining financially attainable. Because let's face it, EXPO is bound to have a lot of exciting work on exhibit, but most of us won't be able to buy any of it.
"We are pleased to present such a diverse and respected list of galleries in our first year that proves great contemporary art can be found in all price ranges," said Executive Director of CAC Carolina O. Jayaram. "Not only is the new EDITION Chicago an incredible opportunity to start building an art collection or add to your existing collection, but the satellite fair builds on the exciting momentum surrounding art in Chicago right now that CAC is proud to be an integral part of."
Well it has begun -- EXPO art week -- and although it culminates in EXPO CHGO beginning on Friday there are lots of things going on all over the city right now. One thing that I am particularly excited about is local artist Tony Orrico, who is adding to his Penwald drawing series with his eighth installment at the Chicago Cultural Center on Tuesday from 11am-3pm.
This series is made up of drawings in which Orrico uses his body to explore the geometry of his movement. With a background in dance he gestures according to mood and his sense of self both physical and mental, creating makes within the confines of his own reach. Orrico's repetition and spontaneity create large scale beautiful drawings that are astounding to watch come into existence.
This performance, which is being presented by both EXPO and Marso gallery in Mexico City where Orrico is represented, is sure to be an exhilarating stop to see the performance that will leave the creation of a drawing as a record.
The Chicago Loop Alliance has added new features to the recently created public plaza on the State Street median between Wacker Drive and Lake Street. Art and music now enhance the street plaza, which typically draws 40 to 50 people during any given afternoon.
Photo by James John Jetel.
Give, a new work by Dusty Folwarczny, was recently installed at the Lake Street end of the plaza. According to Folwarczny, the colorful loop-shaped sculpture is designed to be interactive. Visitors can walk through it or use it to frame photos of State Street--and when it's pushed, the steel loop can bounce back or rock in place. "The piece explores the art of giving--a transfer of energy from one person to another," she said.
In addition, the Chicago Street Musicians will perform popup concerts twice a week for about an hour during lunchtime; musicians scheduled to perform are guitarist-vocalist George Banks, saxophonist Beau Barry, keyboardist Eugene Rowland and violinist Hannah K. Watson.
The Gateway is supported through funding from the Chicago Loop Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes the use of art, design and technology to enhance public spaces in the Loop. The Chicago Department of Transportation's Make Way for People initiative also participated in this project.
Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, separated by ethnicities. Old Irving Park on Chicago's northwest side contradicts that description with residents from 70 countries. The community's new mural--Positive Babel: The World Lives, Works and Plays in Old Irving--was created to communicate that message.
Positive Babel mural, acrylic and spray paint on mason wall. Photos courtesy of Tony Sparrow.
The new work, created by lead artist Tony Sparrow and a team of eight other artists, was just completed in the viaduct under the Union Pacific/Metra tracks at Irving Park Road and Keeler Avenue. It will be dedicated at 11am Saturday with a program featuring representatives of the Old Irving Park Association, artists and public officials. (See Saturday Slowdown for more information.) Marlena Ascher, president of OIPA, will emcee the event.
Old Irving Park is a one-square mile neighborhood bounded by Addison and Montrose on the south and north and Pulaski and Cicero on the east and west. The neighborhood has many underpasses created by two Metra train lines, the CTA Blue Line and the Kennedy Expressway. All have heavy pedestrian and car traffic every day. The community organization has been "turning those eyesores into assets since 2003," according to Anna Sobor, incoming president of OIPA. The Positive Babel murals are the 10th and 11th.
I have been writing and producing a web series, that I am planning on launching in the middle of October, called Our Cultural Center. This series is focused on a non profit arts organization that looses their main funder, Gertrude Vandeberg. The Founder then has to turn to her ex-husband, a profit driven lawyer with no interest in the arts, in order to keep things running.
It has been a great journey and I am very excited to announce my cast, which has been assembled only yesterday, but the interesting thing, by design, is how many wonderful non profits find themselves in similar situations. As an artist I am often surprised at:
one, how little it takes to keep a non-profit organizations afloat and
two: that they have trouble raising it easily
These times are rough on everyone and the arts are struggling to find new ways of raising money I am hoping I, through comedy with Our Cultural Center, can open door to getting more people to contribute to, and enjoy the arts.
The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, known as Expo Chicago, will present its second annual exposition September 19-22 at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. The four-day event will feature art from 120 international galleries from 16 countries plus special exhibitions from museums, universities and organizations.
This year's exposition will be part of Expo Art Week, a citywide celebration of arts and culture, cosponsored by Choose Chicago (a Chicago-destination marketing agency) and the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Included in the week's activities will be museum and gallery exhibits, music, theater and dance performances, and special dining events.
September 19 at Expo Chicago is an opening night preview and benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Most people would not admit it, but there is some art that can be really funny--sometimes, for reasons one cannot quite explain. There have been moments where I have stood, shoulders hunched, arms folded, head slightly tilted to one side, and whispered postulations about the meaning of a piece to a friend in a gallery. Admit it art snobs of Chicago--you have done that, too! But don't you wish there was a place where you could just laugh out loud at art?
The work of eight artists, six of them Chicago-based, will be shown at an exhibit titled Constantly Consuming Culture--The Art Show, September 7-13 on the lower level of 222 N. DesPlaines St.
None of the artists is represented by galleries or management, although some of their work already has been exhibited. The artists work in various media, including painting, sculpture, found art and video art. Chicago-based artists are John Airo, John Hamilton, Elyse Martin, Gretchen Hasse, Mikey Peterson and John Schedler. Other artists include Serene Toxicat, San Francisco, and Mez Data.
A photo by Vivian Maier, courtesy of Ron SlatteryVivian Maier found fame after her death through the efforts of the collectors who own most of her prodigious work. But depending on how U.S. copyright law is interpreted, the ultimate benefactor of Maier's fame may turn out to be the state of Illinois.
Born in 1926 in New York City to a French mother and an Austro-Hungarian father, Vivian Maier was a nanny by trade. She worked for several families in the Chicago area, and was known to be an extremely private person who her charges say seemed to bask in the shroud of mystery surrounding her. Although she was rarely without a camera, snapping photos while on duty and on her off days, her employers knew little about her talent as a photographer.
The sale at auction of her unpaid storage lockers in the fall of 2007 was the key to her discovery as an artist, but it wasn't until just before Maier's death in April 2009 at age 83 that her identity was learned. Her photos were soon electrifying the art world with their gritty depictions of life on the streets of Chicago and other cities.
Bronzeville native Hebru Brantley is a renowned visual artist whose work has been featured on the local, national, and international levels; in addition to numerous exhibitions and gallery shows here in Chicago and in major cities including Los Angeles, Miami, and Atlanta, two of his paintings are currently on display at the Embassy of the United States in Stockholm.
Brantley, also a music enthusiast, creates social and political art that "draws influence from an array of pop culture icons, comic book heroes, and Japanese anime"; it is this unique style that caught the attention of hip hop superstars including Chicago's own Lupe Fiasco, Q-Tip, Lil Wayne, and Jay Z, who are all part of his clientele.
Eunice Johnson was a fashionista before the word was invented; she was a fashion visionary just as her husband, John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, was a publishing visionary. She saw fashion as beauty that should not be confined to the elite and made it her personal mission to bring it to the African-American community. She did this through her direction of the Ebony Fashion Fair, known as "The World's Largest Traveling Fashion Show."
Up at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center right now is a two person show that I would consider pretty exciting and a must see--not just because of the two artists it brings together but because they were brought together by Susan A. Gescheidle. For those of you that don't know, Gescheidle ran a gallery in the West Loop which closed in 2008. In my opinion, she helped support and shepherd contemporary conceptual art into Chicago, and to be able to see her hand so clearly in this show is a great treat.
There is no escaping the news of the pervasive violence among African-American youth in cities across America--and looking no further than our own backyard right here in Chicago, it is practically an everyday headline. Despite many efforts that include camps, workshops, panel discussions, etc., which have been implemented to [try] to help understand and offer solutions for this epidemic, the cycle continues. And it is this same vicious cycle that led to "KKK-Kin Killin' Kin," Ohio-based artist James Pate's touring exhibit series that illustrates visual imagery and the effects of rampant violence.
For Pate, who will appear at the DuSable Museum later this week, the images were born out of necessity; however, for some black people, the illustrations evoke a sense of shame and embarrassment, adding more spotlight on the violence. "Somebody accused me of airing our dirty laundry," said Pate. "I'm not airing dirty laundry; this stuff is out here in plain sight. But I'm trying to go to the laundromat and clean this up."
Recently, I spoke with Pate about the series, how it got its name, and the importance of visual art as a means of communication to the masses.
Tonight at Tony Fitzpatrick's Firecat Projects gallery, an exhibition of artwork by Cal Schenkel tonight from 7 to 10pm. Schenkel is best known for his cover art for Frank Zappa and Reprise Records, as well as many others.
Schenkel's first collaboration with Zappa was on the cover for the Mothers of Invention's We're Only in It for the Money, which brilliantly parodies the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover art. He went on to produce many of Zappa's album covers and liner designs, as well as for other bands. The one you're probably most familiar with is Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, for which Don Van Vliet posed for photographs for hours with a hollowed-out carp head on his face.
The Century Building on State Street has undergone a number of developments to both its structure and facade since it was built in 1915. Next week, the historic building will undergo yet another change: the addition of a mural commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA).
CLA, a member based business organization, commissioned designer and illustrator Noah MacMillan to create a piece of work that invoked the metropolitan flair of Chicago. MacMillan's creation, "Float," is a colorful illustration of a parade of large, bright sea creatures winding through the streets of downtown.
Architect Marshall Brown and artist Geof Oppenheimer will discuss architecture and urban imagery this Thursday at the Western Exhibitions gallery. Brown's exhibit Center of the World, Chicago shows that this urban designer thinks critically about Chicago's architectural history and the city's future, especially when it comes to downtown's Circle Interchange.
If you have ever been driving downtown and reached the Circle, you may feel that encountering with this concrete mystery can be both daunting and time consuming. You may not know that in 1909 one of Chicago's famous architects, Daniel Burnham, wanted to build a civic center where the Circle exists today.
For 45 years, AFRICOBRA (African Commune Of Bad Relevant Artists) has put the political and social views of African Americans on display through visual art. A coalition of five artists began AFRICOBRA on Chicago's South Side in 1968. Their goal? "To encapsulate the quintessential features of African American consciousness and world view as reflected in real time," reads the homepage of the AFRICOBRA website. Artists Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams wanted to bring an authentically black voice and aesthetic, more often depicted in music and dance, to the world of visual art.
Charles White, Just A Walk With Thee, 1958, Linocut, 12.75x45in
The works by AFRICOBRA's five founding artists as well as works by Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Carolyn Lawrence and Nelson Stevens will be on display at the Logan Center Gallery starting June 28. The opening at the Logan Center is the second of a three part series showing at three different Chicago locations. The first of the AFRICOBRA in Chicago exhibitions, AFRICOBRA: Prologue-The 1960's and the Black Arts Movement began in May at the South Side Community Art Center; followed by, AFRICOBRA: Philosophy, beginning soon at the Logan Center; and the final exhibition, AFRICOBRA: Art and Impact, will be held at the DuSable Museum from July until the end of September.
Subject to Change (STC) is a monthly dance party that encourages all types of expression. This Tuesday, Subject to Change brings you their June installment at Township (2200 N. California), the proceeds of which (a $5 suggested donation) will benefit 3rd Language, a self-decribed "Chicago-based collective of artists and thinkers exploring and embracing difference, otherness and transgression." The June 4 dance party will feature DJ regulars Josie Bush (Joe Erbentraut) and Butch Sassidy the Come-Dance Kid (Mar Curran), as well as guest DJs Corrine Mina and Cojuelo Alelao. Tuesday will also include performances from H. Melt, Drow Flow and Nicole Garneau. Mar Curran, one of the STC curators, answered some questions about what makes this Chicago dance party unique.
Experience interactive art from Intel at Grant Park Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9 at "Experience Intel. Look Inside." This global tour aims to introduce customers to the Intel's broad array of innovative devices. The Grant Park installation will combine art, film, fashion, music, and interactive performances that are all powered by Ultrabook. The weekend will include an interactive installation from Universal Everything, a gaming experience from Hide & Seek and a visual history of computing by The Office for Creative Research. Bring your old laptops to be recycled and receive a discount coupon redeemable for a new Ultrabook. In addition, several Ultrabooks will be given away to guests every day of the installation. The event is free and open to the public.
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.
Each year for 79 years now The School of the Art Institute of Chicago welcomes spring with its annual student fashion show, a celebration of conceptual and cutting edge collections for us to delight in as we thaw and shed our winter pea coats. As you might imagine from an art school, many of the garments are not so much "ready to wear" as they are physical experiments, diving head first into concept via tactile investigation. Sensible Chicago-style layers were scattered throughout the collections, juxtaposed with delightful yet completely impractical gestures -- several of the collections had the models blindly stomping down the runway with their faces completely covered, often by wigs or Zentai suits... occasionally by burka-like headgear or gas masks. As in the recent past and definitely the future, a post-apocalyptic style popped up in many collections. Perhaps it's the combination of adaptable, "ready for anything" garments and forward-thinking, futuristic design that makes the End of Days such an inspiring concept. Other trends included laser-cut acrylic accessories, iridescent and metallic fabrics, and sultry veils. Imagine 60's housewife meets manic psychedelia meets S&M cyborg. In other words, the future of fashion design is anything but conservative for many SAIC fashion students -- particularly the Juniors, who are confident enough to spill out of the box and not yet concerned with having to actually sell their work. Enjoy our favorites below:
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. "
Imagine if the designers on "Project Runway" had semesters instead of days to complete their collections and they were encouraged to think way outside the box -- like, down the street from the box -- and come up with intricate, complete looks with solid conceptual frameworks and visual interest up the wazoo. The resulting wearable, avante-garde sculptures delight, amuse, and somehow manage to still (usually) make the models look sexy and savvy. This can all be seen live, right in front of you, at The School of the Art Institute's annual fashion show, Fashion 2013 -- because "ready to wear" is great and all, but when you're paying $75 a ticket, you want a show. And art school kids (love 'em or hate 'em) are the right people to give you one, because they've been poked and prodded by some of the most talented faculty in the world to come up with strikingly fresh designs, incorporating and combining techniques from the fields of sculpture, performance, design, technology, architecture and installation.
"Our strong team of faculty and students inspires us to advance, take more risks and follow unusual directions in order to break through to new territory," said Associate Professor Anke Loh, Sage Chair in Fashion Design. "We are poised and ready to continue to experiment with our individual and collective inquiries into fashion, body, and garment."
Fashion 2013 will be presented three times this Friday, May 3: at 9am is an open dress rehearsal. Tickets are $40. Noon and 3pm shows are general admission seating. Tickets for those shows are $75. Tickets are available now at saicfashion.org and also at the door. Those of us interested in the future of fashion, the intersection of cutting-edge design and contemporary art or simply a breathtaking show make sure not to miss it each spring. It's worth playing hooky from work.
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.
14 15 111: this is more than a series of numbers, it is a series of titles that will be presented at the first event in The Other Room Series at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. This is a multimedia collaboration by composer/songwriter Daniel Knox and photographer John Atwood. 14 15 111 is a suite of music combining live instruments (synth, voice, percussion, two tubas, electric bass, violin, cello and a choir), pre-recorded material, and field recordings (featuring excerpts from Knox's work with The Pushkin Theater in Moscow in 2012), all set to video of footage shot by Atwood.
The work 14 15 111 seems to be created within a closed feedback loop between Knox and Atwood, both referencing their observations and experiences. The start of this loop can come about almost anywhere. To try and honestly define the moment when it began would probably be futile, because, as all creative processes, these compositions seem strictly driven by the passions of the creators. Out of focus video creates beautiful two dimensional meandering compositions, sometimes shot through windows, which becomes the primary grounding source for space within the footage. The scenes are almost abstract, and show us a world we have seen before, it is all so familiar. It is difficult to fully suspend the video into abstraction because throughout the video we are reminded that we are the creators of our reality, we tell ourselves stories, fill in gaps, and finish narratives. 14 15 111 successfully, although subtly, reminds us how much we take for granted.
If you live in the city, which I am assuming you do because you are reading this, then you have heard of, seen, or been involved in some sort of violent act, and that is the topic of Collaboraction's Crime Scene, as the title may suggest. Anthony Moseley is the visionary for this piece that tries to "do something" rather than just entertain or tell a story, and what it does is start the conversation. What is violence? How can it be controlled? Who is contributing to it? And whether your conversation after the show will be about the show or about real violence, which is what the show is about, it doesn't really matter because it gets you talking, and it absolutely will.
This is not a performance I want to touch in terms of artistic quality, although it is, by no stretch of the imagination, quality. It is not about the story though, it is not really even about violence,. I say that because it is a confrontational performance that uses violence to speak against violence, this is about the viewer 100%. How do you feel? How do you react? When I was there I heard laughter when someone was killed on stage, if that person walks away to think about that reaction, I think they would find their relationship to violence a little more easy to locate, or examine. There are no answers to violence, and none are presented to us save the song "Let Hope Rise" which recreates the whole "We Are The World" type sob story, and very directly show how little can be done.
This weekend may be your last chance to see it so make some room in your calendar on
Thursday April 4th 8pm
Friday April 5th 8pm
Saturday April 6th 8pm
Sunday April 7th 7pm
This show is a must see and I would like to plug their IndyGoGo Crowd-Funding campaign - please Help this show continue being seen by seeing it and funding it's becoming a traveling show. Click here to help them out financially.
In the constant hustle and bustle of today's society,
artists Stacy Peterson, Pei San Ng, and Amie Sell have decided to tackle the intricate web of human connections in their Art on Armitage installation: Nebulous Connections.
From April 5-30, Art on Armitage, 4125 W. Armitage, will be featuring an eco-friendly window art exhibit in celebration of the modern era of unity, harmony, and prosperity.
Inspired by a trip to Creative Reuse Warehouse with the goal to use "up-cycled" materials, these artists created a nebulous cloud of recycled industrial hardware and metal wires. The piece plays on modern communication and acts as a visual representation of how people work together to create communities, social networks, and how molecular structures build. Using the individual recycled pieces, a wholeness or oneness is created.
An artist's reception from 6am-8pm on April 6th will welcome Artists Stacy Peterson, Pei San Ng, Amie Sell, and you! Meet these artists and better understand their installation.
A reception featuring the installation's artists will be held on Saturday, April 6, from 6pm-8pm; for more information, be sure to check out Art on Armitage.
Bar nights are meant to be fun, and this one doesn't disappoint. There are always drink deals and some kind of food provided. It seems one of the sponsors does a prize-draw every time, and a business card is all that's required to enter. Yet, with events like this, I always wonder if professionals are actually forming connections, or if this is just a chance to party on someone else's tab.
When I asked Brian Eaves, "photographer first," and "digital tech. second to pay the bills," he said that it is a very important event that offers a multitude of opportunities that may not immediately meet the eye. "It's great for networking," he said, "'cause every now and then you do find some good people here that you've never met before." Eaves told me how a whole community of photo-related professionals ranging from makeup artists to printers surface at the allure of a more informal setting.
This informal setting also offers the opportunity for up and coming artists to rub elbows with the more established folks in order to make the connections that may eventually lead to the coveted photography assistant job.
The bar night has a long history, beginning before ASMP and APA took the event on, maintained by devoted artists until the present day. "There was always like ten of us that would do this," said Eaves, "Everyone that pretty much worked off of Grand Avenue, between Foster and Damen and south to Lake St. -- we would page each other... everyone would come and just talk."
The event still sustains that important human element and cultivates the spirit of creation. The next bar night will be Wednesday, Mar. 13 at DeLux Bar and Grill, 669 N. Milwaukee Ave. It's free to go -- bring a business card to enter the drawing.
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.
Shavac Prakash (top) & Scott Baity, Jr. (bottom); Photo by Cesario Moza
Collaboractions' new and original production, Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology creates a bridge between entertainment, social justice and public service -- there is sophisticated lighting and choreography, touching musical interludes, comic relief and captivating, hyper-dramatic moments that we expect from theater, but to call this play entertainment is almost blasphemy. Luckily for us, it is still entertaining. Crime Scene has a clear agenda, though -- to call attention to Chicago's serious and escalating crime problem by re-enacting three key homicides that took place in the city over the past few years.
"The inspiration from Crime Scene came from a need to create work connected to important issues in our community", explained director Anthony Moseley. "I believe theater can serve a critical role in addressing the issue of violence by offering Chicagoans a transcendent artistic experience that forces us to confront and question the core elements of senseless violence."
Coming this September, come on out for EXPO Chicago's EXPO Art Week 2013 (Sept. 16-22) in conjunction with Choose Chicago and Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. This four-day event will be held in Navy Pier's Festival Hall and will host over 120 leading international galleries providing visitors with a mix of contemporary/modern art and design. Meanwhile, art and cultural festivities will take place all over the city.
During the Expo, keep and eye out and partake in citywide exhibits, gallery openings, installations, public art projects, music, theater and dance performances, and special dining experiences for residents and visiting international cultural tourists.
Oasis, 2013, fiber and paper, Kate Arford and Kristin Abhalter" photo by Nathan Smith
By Troy Pieper
What may be the city's smallest commercial art gallery has taken up residence in a mixed use building near the Loyola Red Line stop. The 200-square foot space has an unfamiliar shape. Its floor is sunk several feet below street-level, the gallery's six walls of various lengths join at odd angles, the bathroom door is three steps above everything. "It's perfect," says founder and director Kristin Abhalter. Named for her grandparents, "a creative force that was incredibly supportive of me," the Roman Susan gallery has a mission to be a similar force in the Rogers Park neighborhood and in the arts in Chicago.
On the Day of the Dead last year, Roman Susan opened its door to what Abhalter describes as a bustling Rogers Park art community. When she noticed the for-rent sign, she had already been thinking about establishing a public destination in her neighborhood to show art and simply connect to residents and local artists. In the age of social media, physical spaces open to everyone are essential to engaging residents in their community and warding off the degradation of networks that provide personal contact with like-minded individuals.
And already, the gallery seems to be building a name for itself doing just that. Artists from Rogers Park and around Chicago have exhibited work at Roman Susan, and the number of visitors to the gallery continues to increase. The building at 1224 W. Loyola Ave., also home to a hodgepodge of eccentric specialty shops, sees considerable foot traffic. Residents like 70-year-old Kate Walsh, a practicing dancer, stop on the way to the train and chat with Abhalter about art or Rogers Park history, and some have shown their work at Roman Susan.
The romance of the Industrial Age will sweep through Chicago for one night only -- this Saturday, Feb. 2 -- when the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts its annual fundraising benefit, artEdge.
MCA's Warehouse location will be transformed into a work of functional and live art reminiscent of days past and of the building's own history as a bakery. The benefit will include a meal and a concert, but is much more than the sum of its parts. Guests will be treated to a complete experience from beginning to end, and with the proceeds going back to the museum, the event is not to be missed.
Attendees will enter through the back alleys of the warehouse, a throwback to Chicago as a city of bricks, and then make their way up a winding, wrought-iron staircase to the first course of their meal, hors d'oeuvres strung from chain-linked walls. Next, guests will find themselves in an industrial-chic wonderland of light and metal created by Heffernan Morgan Designs and Event Creative.
The event guarantees not only a treat for the tastebuds, but also a symphony for the other four senses. As the party-goers make their way through the Chain Link Room, Automation Room, Corrugated Room and Chain Room, they'll experience dinner served on moving conveyor belts, whirling ceiling fans, state-of-the-art manufacturing presentations, and special live performances curated by Peter Taub, the MCA's Director of Performance Programs.
The soiree will conclude with a dessert bar, a VIP Rubber Bar, and a concert by indie pop group Fitz and the Tantrums.
The event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 7pm to 11pm. Individual tickets are available for $1,000, which includes the cocktail reception, dinner, dessert reception and concert performance. Table packages begin at $15,000. Concert tickets are available for $150 and include the dessert reception, open bar and concert performance. To purchase tickets, table packages, make reservations, or to inquire about sponsorship, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 397-3868.
Last fall I visited SAIC's graduate painting studios on the 16th floor of 111 S Michigan Ave. to get a better look at Emre Kocagil's paintings. His juicy, energetic abstract oil paintings in Miami Vice colors, accompanying sculptural arrangements and unwieldy sketches fill out his studio nicely. They bring a lightness and an air of joviality to the small studio space, sitting at the end of a long hallway full of canvas-covered doorways, emitting the thick smell of oil paint. Inside, Kocagil excitedly pulled new work out of nooks and crannies, giggling to himself as he explained his trains of thought, spouting out ideas about color choices, painting traditions, modes of painting practice, simplicity and complexity, being a hermit, listening to music, talking to people and not talking to people, and mostly how crazy he feels after sitting alone in the studio for days.
This is a series of paintings done on 8 foot panels, displayed leaning up against the wall throughout the entirety of Gallery #4 in the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. One side of these panels shows devastation, the other side shows a utopia. The devastation is unrelenting ? it shows a world where every resource has been mined, from the trees in the forests, to the ocean and the human spirit ? there is nothing left but the reminisce of the culture that we opted for. The dried ocean floor with its oil tankers and the desolate neighborhood with the tire swing remain, but the corporate promises and support have completely faded.
A five minute walk took us down an awkwardly long and winding hallway to Studio One, a 67-seat black box theater and Henry Moore's temporary home. We sat down in the last row of chairs, which were reminiscent of those in an old airliner, and settled in to see a play about which I only knew three things: 1. It was about Irish gypsies; 2. It involved art; and 3. It was based on a true story.
The true story took place in 2005, when one of Moore's bronze statues, Reclining Figure, was stolen from the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds by a group of Irish Travelers. It is believed that the sculpture was melted down for scrap and sold for only a fraction of its estimated value. Seidelman's play brings these events and characters to life in a fast-paced, whiskey-filled, understatedly witty and passionate tale of a young man who loves art more than anything else in the world.
People are strange. They can be such idiots, and so violent. American culture is so ass-backward, yet so sickeningly appealing. Paul Perkins knows this all, and thinks about it, maybe a little too hard, as he cuts up tiny pieces of cellophane and construction paper in his carnivalesque basement studio on the South Side.
As part of an ongoing "Studio Visit" series for Gapers Block, I visited him in his studio back in July and asked him a few questions about his work. Perkins has a solo exhibition up at Peanut Gallery (1000 N. California Ave.) through this Saturday, January 12.
Edie Fake, Gateway (for Mark Aguhar) (Palace Door - calloutqueen), 2012
Dame Frances Yates, renowned scholar of English proto-science alchemy and mysticism, recounts the history of an architecture-based "art of memory" handed down from Simonides of Ceos to Greek and Roman orators, through Thomas Aquinas and Dominican monks, to Renaissance Italians Giulio Camillo and Giordano Bruno, to eventually influence the logical method of Descartes and the monadic metaphysics of Leibniz during the Enlightenment. Explicating Bruno, Yates says that, "(i)n 'your primordial nature,' the archetypal images exist in a confused chaos; the magic memory draws them out of chaos and restores their order, gives back to man his divine powers." The utilization of spatial structures as tools to link mortal minds back to eternal ideals, and thereby strive for self-perfection, seems a relevant technique to consider in contemplating the icons of local queer historicity lovingly executed in gouache and ballpoint pen on paper by Edie Fake.
SOFA is a fair of history. This is evident upon first entering Festival Hall at Navy Pier and was especially noticeable on opening night of the 19-year-old fair. Unlike the weariness masked as over-jubilant fervor of the inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, the spirit of SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design) is born out its familiarity for visitors and for collectors.
Truly great design is invisible. It exists outside of our day-to-day interactions, instead seamlessly blending into everything else we do - the work, the play, the relaxation at home. You don't want a designed object to insert itself in the things you need to do, only help facilitate what happens from morning to night.
The exhibition welcomes attendees to step into the colorful and exquisite realm of India's maharajas, who ruled the large nation from the 1700s to the 1940s. Their absolute rule, including immense military and religious influence, caused them to play a significant role in both the cultural and political history of India. To this day, they are still a very important national symbol.
Maharaja teaches its visitors the rich background behind India's royal duty, including stringent expectations and guidelines.
The exhibition features over 200 regal artifacts, including ornate jewelry, instruments, artwork, clothing, furniture, and weaponry. Experience the decadence first-hand by viewing the bejeweled every-day objects of India's "great kings."
Admission to Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts is included in The Field Museum's Discovery and All-Access passes.
A sense of smell is paramount to a true food-tasting experience. Earlier that day, what began as a tickle in the back of my throat developed into a full-blown cold, one that challenged my enjoyment of the Chicago Artists' Coalition annual Starving Artist benefit. For the event, local celebrity chefs team up with local artists to craft works and eats inspired by each others' vision. Despite my own physical ailments shaping my experiences of the food, as a benefit in support of the visual arts, 2012's Starving Artist event was a success.
What does it take to run a worthwhile and eclectic artist-focused event? Well for one, the ability for guests to view and interact with a variety of different artistic practices. Rather than load the space and the evening with in-cohesive artworks, the event's organizers gave guests room to breathe and interact with the art on their own.
In case you haven't heard by now, EXPO was good -- really good, and filled with museum-quality work. Little-seen gems by established icons hung next to ambitious new works by burgeoning talent. The overall quality of the work was astounding, as well as level of organization and class of the fair itself. I was left unimpressed by very few booths, and my only quibble is that the fair was only up a few days and I only made it there for one of them. Granted, the smell of commercialism wafted through EXPO, just like the rest of Navy Pier -- this was an art fair, after all, and it seemed that sales were ubiquitous on opening night. I enjoyed rubbing elbows with stylish, important-looking well-to-dos, and picking the goofy artists out of the crowds of goofy collectors. Make no mistake, this is great news for Chicago, and I for one am happy as hell to welcome EXPO (and the rest of the world, for that matter) to the city. We know we're awesome, but until last weekend, I don't think everyone else did.
If you've strolled along Michigan Avenue past the Van Buren Metra station, you may have noticed a poster for an unusual creature: the Octophant, a wondrous creation of Phineas Jones, artist, printer and Gapers Block's house illustrator. The faux Century of Progress poster was commissioned by the City, and has baffled tourists and locals alike.
And now, you can take it home.
Jones has set up an IndieGoGo page for pre-orders of a special limited edition of the poster. The 20"x18.5" silkscreen print will be at least 10 screens, he says, making its $45 pre-order price a ridiculous bargain. Get yours today, before it's too late.
It was apparent within my first few moments at EXPO CHICAGO that the caliber of artists and the chosen galleries were above and beyond the last year of Art Chicago. Last year, I reported on the dearth of quality of work at the now-defunct exposition. The attendees were more exciting than the artists and the Merchandise Mart, with its expansive yet claustrophobic environment did not provide a welcoming environment. Unlike Art Chicago, one of EXPO CHICAGO's greatest advantages are the size and scale of Navy Pier's Festival Hall. The vast ceilings and open floor plan allows room for guests to breathe. But most importantly, that extra space gives viewers a chance to actually see the art. The guests at last year's Art Chicago were compelling because that is all one could see in the tightly-packed space. EXPO CHICAGO succeeds then in its great focus on art. Rather than stifling the purpose of the exposition, EXPO presents works cleanly and precisely for collectors and novices alike. Below are my picks for the top galleries and artists for EXPO CHICAGO 2012.
The African Festival of the Arts, one of the city's largest cultural neighborhood festivals, kicks off today and runs throughout Labor Day weekend at Washington Park, 5100 S. Cottage Grove. The family-friendly festival, now in its 23rd year, boasts a variety of visual and sculpted art, fashion, dancing and workshops, as well as live entertainment from local, national, and international artists.
Among the highlights for this year's festival is hip hop star MC Lyte, who will sign copies of her new book, Unstoppable, and performances by Chicago's own Joan Collaso and the Eleven Divas, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic, legendary house music DJs Terry Hunter and Mike Dunn of the Chosen Few, Nona Hendryx and more.
Tickets are $20-$30; for a complete schedule line-up and ticket information, visit the website or call 773-955-2787.
Earlier this year, I wrote about one of the more interesting and independent project spaces in Chicago, SUB-MISSION. The space is below THE MISSION, an art gallery located in the East Village and featuring the work of local, national, and international art of the Americas. SUB-MISSION exclusively features Chicago artists and gives them a space to create unique, one-of-a-kind installation work that engages their community and the featured artists on the main level.
THE MISSION recently announced their open call for new local artists to exhibit in this subterranean space. The deadline for the next round of artists is October 15. More information about submission guidelines is available on their site. For additional questions, contact Sarah Syman by email at: email@example.com.
Around January or February of this year a picture of a house with wings started following me on Twitter - yes, this post starts with a Twitter follow. I checked out the house-with-wing's Twitter and found out that it was an organization called Flying House - an annual collaboration project with artist-writer pairs. Naturally, I followed back.
In March, I submitted my application to Flying House - it sounded like fun being paired up with a random artist and having a guaranteed show out of it. A few weeks later, I got the adrenaline-producing call that I was chosen as one of six artist-writer pairs to work on collaborations.
Now, nearly six months after those first submissions, the six pairs are preparing for the upcoming show on August 25th at Maes Studio.
"Collaboration is so much about artists being OK with putting your work in front of somebody else and hearing the feedback and using each other's ideas," said Megan Paonessa, Flying House co-founder. "It's definitely that piling up of ideas and making something out of it."
The Edgewater café Kitchen Sink is currently presenting a group art show called "(wo)men & me(n)." The show is in conjunction with Chicago's first ever trans-pride event, Trans, Gender-non-conforming and Intersex Freedom (T.G.I.F.), which was held last Sunday, July 29 at Union Park and had around 300 attendees.
"Since [T.G.I.F.]was being organized this year, and we have such a wonderful trans-community in and around Kitchen Sink -- both in terms of customers and staff base - we decided that we wanted to do a collaborative group art exhibit focusing on the experience and the artistic vision of trans and gender non-conforming artists," said Jakob Van Lammeren, writer, artist and Kitchen Sink employee. "We really wanted to showcase what our community is doing in terms of art both visual, photography, and writing, as well."
The Chicago Film Archives is dedicated to preserving and cataloging films that reflect Chicago and Midwest history and culture. In this spirit, the organization is hosting its first annual fundraiser, the CFA Media Mixer, featuring three newly commissioned video pieces created by three video/film artists and three audio artists. The night will be hosted by WBEZ's Alison Cuddy on Friday, Aug. 17.
The video pieces were constructed in parts over the last two months. In June, the video/film artists worked with footage from the CFA's collections. Each visual piece was then handed off to an audio partner who spent the month of July composing an accompanying sound track. The final products will be premiered the night of the fundraiser.
The streets of Wicker Park are filled with upscale boutiques and gourmet taco shops, but the neighborhood was once reborn as an artist's enclave. Like many parts of Chicago, Wicker Park has undergone transformation, both good and unfortunate. The last legs of gentrification usually ensure that the artistic colonizers that first remade the neighborhood are pushed out. And yet, many artistic practices (even those still gaining footing in Chicago's fickle art community) remain. Defibrillator, a performance art gallery, has quickly established itself as an epicenter for emerging and established local, national, and international performance art in the city. For the 2012 Wicker Park Fest, the gallery curated (with a grant from the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce) Air Pocket Project, a series of five inflatable performance installations located at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Wood Street. The Wicker Park Fest runs from noon to 8pm today and Sunday, July 29.
When we talk about the Pitchfork Music Festival, we usually talk about the abundance of performers from across the country and globe. Perhaps we mention the heat or the the ongoing mini-events (CHIRP Record Fair, Flatstock) that provide a welcome respite during the long, intensive days spent walking from one end of the park to the next. This year, art installations by Chicago-based Matthew Hoffman and Andrea Jablonski in conjunction with Johalla Projects, aim to frame and entice the experience of festival goers. The Pitchfork Music Festival begins today, July 13, and runs through Sunday, July 15.
Work by one of my favorite screenprinters, Milwaukee's The Little Friends of Printmaking, will be on display at Inkling, 2917-1/2 N. Broadway, starting today. The shop will be holding a reception tonight from 6pm to 10pm. Meet the artists, Melissa and JW Buchanan, enjoy complementary refreshments, and pick up a poster or two!
Untitled (Self-portrait), Vivian Maier Gelatin silver print, no date
3 3/8" x 3 1/4"
Corbett vs. Dempsey, 1120 N. Ashland Ave., 3rd floor, opens an exhibition of more than 50 of Vivian Maier's original photographic prints from the collection of Ron Slattery tonight, June 29, from 5pm to 8pm.
Vivian Maier, as you may recall, was a North Shore nanny whose passion was street photography. Her brilliant artistry only came to light after her death, when large portions of her output was sold at auction and collectors of street and vernacular photography took notice. Slattery was one of the collectors who purchased prints at that auction in 2007, while others have exhibited their collections and produced books, he has kept his stash of photos a secret until now. The vintage prints in this show, all no larger than drug store snapshots, have never been exhibited to the public.
Interestingly, gallery co-founder Jim Dempsey knew Vivian Maier in real life. When he was manager of the old Film Center, she was a regular film-goer. Dempsey nicknamed her "Frau Blucher" for her heavy accent and idiosyncrasies, but over time became a friend.
As an artist making my way through all of the art Chicago has to offer I am often overwhelmed, not only by the amount we have to offer, but by the talent we have here as well, it is outstanding. Week after week we get the opportunity to see shows that deserve international attention and this week is no different. As I write this two of the biggest art advocates I know, Linda Dorman and Tom Torluemke, are putting the finishing touches on a great show at the Co- Prosperity Sphere that is comprised of some artists, which, for one reason or another, are flying under the radar.
Opening tomorrow, June 22 at Linda Warren Projects is a much anticipated show of two artists with distinct voices and ideas of process. Juan Angel Chavez presents Gone, which is a collection of pieces that he arrived at, dealing with process as a means of creation rather than attempting to "create" something or another. The other artist, Glenn Goldberg, presents us with masterly crafted canvases of a world created by just as much of what it is as what it isn't.
June 22- August 18, 2012
Gallery Y: Juan Angel Chavez: Gone
Gallery X: Glenn Goldberg: Fables and Other Places
Opening Reception: June 22 from 6-9pm
It's not that traditional architectural practices lack a focus on design and the execution of ideas. But after spending time in Tele Vision, the School of the Art Institute's final graduate exhibition featuring works from students in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, Designed Objects, and Fashion departments, it is apparent that like other departments in the school, SAIC students value the complete synthesis of the tangible and conceptual.
(left to right) Ryan Lanning, Elizabeth Hope Williams, Ryan Hallahan and Tracey Kaplan in Theatre Seven of Chicago's production of Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Cassy Sanders. Photo by Amanda Clifford.
Only the truly gifted can successfully make a hamburger from a societal sacred cow -- think Parker & Stone taking the most delicate of subjects, once relegated to tearjerker morality plays, and throwing it into the "South Park" blender. Remember Eric Cartman's afternoon adventure as special guest at the NAMBLA convention? The scene in the movie The Other Guys in which comedic actor Steve Coogan's sleazy hedge fund manager gets caught by police officers Farrell and Walberg (very) briefly watching kiddie porn on his laptop? Yep, grizzly topics, and the most talented staff has to perform a creative smash-and-grab -- get in, make the joke, and get out of Dodge, and fast. If you've got to stop and give the audience stage directions, well, the battle and the war hit the lost bin. I'll admit I wanted to see Exit, Pursued by a Bear, to see how long I could remain squirm-free in the seventy-five minute performance time.
Mortar Theatre's Bombs Babes and Bingo (L to R) Stephanie Shroud, Richard Perez and Megan Tabaque. Photo by TomMcGrath.
Can the brain lie to itself? The definitive answer is "yes," from taking the obvious and rationalizing it to something else, or completely out of existence, to utter denial of the experience that's had, and having, the brain always lies to itself; it has to, to better serve its host, to keep moving forward. But on occasion, the brain can get stuck on stupid, embedded in an anatomical quagmire where no matter the jumbling of experiences, the jostling of gray matter, memory is faulty, unreliable, manipulative and manipulated. We're "fixed" to enhance to goodness, rationalize away the badness -- or simply forget; three speeds: rationalize, deny, lie -- all set to turbocharged.
Chicago is a city historically-rich in the practice of performance art. But like many artistic practices that were once prominent in the city, it is only now that this history is being recognized on a grander scale. Featuring a mix of 29 local, national, and international performing artists, the first Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival aims to address both the city's emerging practitioners of performance art as well as the eclectic array of seasoned performers across the globe. The festival runs through June 10 at various venues across the city.
One of the most exciting (and much needed) grassroots film projects in recent memory is the Chicago 8 film festival, which is devoted to exclusively showing Super 8 and other small gauge format films. After a successful fundraising campaign, the fest is gearing up for its second run in October and currently accepting submissions. I sat down with co-programmer JB Mabe for a chat about the festival's origins, the ongoing analog VS digital feud, and STEP UP 3-D.
Red Tape Theatre's Elephant's Graveyard by George Brant with Ensemble Cast (photo by James D Palmer)
What the folks down home won't do for a little excitement -- anything to justify their existence, and everything to prove that they actually exist. Even the risk of being poisoned and suffocated with WWI mustard gas beats staying around a place that even Death forgets to visit sometimes. In a split second you can go from a benign spectator, watching the excitement of, and living vicariously through someone else's minds' eye, to the performer, the chorus, even the ringmaster of events. Just when you think you've got the whole town figured out, cataclysm strikes. The circus comes to town, and nothing or no one is ever the same.
Kathleen Waterloo is opening her exhibition of new encaustic paintings tomorrow, June 1, at Addington Gallery in River North. These works made of layered wax infused with pigments are references to charts and graphs the artist sought out and encountered while working on the series.
Bruce Nauman's "Cast of the Space Under My Chair" is a pretty good rebus for a lot of postwar art. A cast concrete block bearing the rectilinear impression of nondescript legs and a seat, it disposes of concerns with high-tech functionality, high-fashion prettiness, or high-concept intangibility. Precious without being at all special or unique, it recalls a moment and a space that can be recorded but not retrieved, just an oddly pointless fossil of the industrial-design era. Much the same could be said of the thrust of contemporaneous Pop, Minimalist, and Fluxus artwork, currents which have resurfaced in the last decade.
On Monday, May 21, Northwestern University's Evanston campus will host a fleeting work of art, erected by students, staff, and faculty and removed by nature. The construction is a recreation of conceptual artist Allan Kaprow's seminal sculpture/performance work, "Fluids," and will entail stacking approximately 375 blocks of ice to build a monumental structure on the Plaza outside the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at 40 Arts Circle Drive.
Kaprow coined the term, "Happening" to describe an event or situation performed in the name of art. He first conceived of "Fluids" in 1967 and intended it to be staged again by others--creating a shared experience in art through separate happenings. This will mark the first time the project has been reenacted in the Midwest.
The cool cats over at FugScreen screenprinting studios have a conundrum (albeit a pretty good one to have): too much art, not enough space. So they're opening a gallery in Logan Square this July to exhibit the best work that's run through their hands by their cohorts. With a focus on poster and street art, Galerie F has a unique ethic: fully functional six days of the week, all day long, with no appointments required. In other words, an "open door gallery". This is important to them because they want to be accessible -- they want people to be able to wander in and browse at their own pace. And as cool as Chicago's plethora of artist-run, DIY spaces are, you just can't do that at most of them.
Coming to Carlos & Dominguez Fine Arts in west Pilsen is a group show entitled 19th State of Mind. The title of this show refers to the 19th state to enter the union, Indiana, and the state of mind of the people who have grown up in this industrial, depressed area. A large portion of this show features the artists from CISA (Crazy Indiana Style Artists). I got to sit down and talk to Ish, a long time member of CISA, he spoke about the idea that Hammond, although not a "big city" like Chicago, has an inner city quality and, for some, long term effects that are directly related to the waning industry that the area was built on.
Hell, at the Intuit, is a bright collection of work that takes a hard look at the evils of life. The artists that are in this show obviously deal, or dealt with, these ideas regularly in their daily lives rather than, like most of us, deep inside ourselves. Being so familiar with the material, they are able to conjure up imagery that most artists would feel might be too overt, and for them it very well may be. Without a formal arts education to decipher for them a random group of rules, they are free to examine art however they feel.
Laura Elayne Miller describes the process of her work as an "archaelogical dig." Before creating any new work in mediums ranging from sculpture to filmmaking to printmaking (and many others), Miller must collect, read, look, listen, and jump into the themes and ideas of her work. In her latest work - an "artistic cartography" of her three interpretations of sensory experience and space - entitled Sentient Space at THE MISSION, Miller based the creation on a prototype from two years ago.
"I just find it really interesting that you could take the structure of cartography or the idea of concrete data or elements from environment, space, and place to combine that with metaphor and experiential ideas."
Opening tomorrow at Linda Warren Gallery, Tom Torluemke's Ring Around the Rosie looks at life, packages it all up in beautiful colors, and presents it for us in all of its odd, conflicting and contradicting glory. As a seasoned artist Tom brings to the table maturity, deep exploration and a goofiness all his own, and to really appreciate it you would need to spend time absorbing what he has to offer in this, his first solo show at Linda Warren Projects. Also opening there tomorrow is Living Dead Girls, which features the work of Jeriah Hildwine. This group of paintings presents a body of work, created over the period of five years, that emanates from a slew of pop cultural influences.
(L to R) Andrew Goetten, Kyle A. Gibson, Lindsey Dorcus, (standing in center of circle) Justine C. Turner , Paul Fagen, Nigel Brown. Photo by Chris Ocken.
John Webster crafted the uber-tragedy The Duchess of Malfi in 1612, based on the true life events of Giovanna d'Aragona, widow of noble-borne Alfonso Piccolomini, who secretly married the lesser-borne Antonio Bologna (of the same name in the play). After a brief and secret courtship, Bologna (Stephen Dunn) and the Duchess (Justine C. Turner) seal their earthly bond, ignoring political and sexual jockeying from brothers Ferdinand (John Taflan) and The Cardinal (Christopher Walsh), who vow to destroy anyone, including The Duchess, that gets in the way of the fate they have planned for their sister's hand and wealth.
The inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art and Design, announced yesterday the following list of galleries that will exhibit September 20-23 at Navy Pier. This promising list, along with the ambitious idea of creating an all-encompassing sensory event, rather than just a bunch of art randomly stuffed into endless corridors of cubicles, leaves me confident that EXPO CHICAGO will do more than just fill the gap that Art Chicago/NEXT have left.
"We set out to re-establish Chicago as a preeminent art fair destination with solid collector, dealer, institutional, civic and city support," said Karman. "What has resonated with our exhibitors is our steadfast commitment to quality, our limit on the size of the exposition, our return to historic Navy Pier and the opportunity to open the fall arts season with a great international fair in America," he added. "With this extraordinary list of galleries, along with the contemporary and 20th century work that will be presented, I am confident that we will host an international exposition that truly befits the rich legacy of our city and exceed the expectations of the international arts community."
Installation view at ADDS DONNA. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Why make ceramic vases when you can construct realistic model cities instead and methodically destroy them? After all, if you've ever turned clay on a wheel, you know it really just wants to slump back into the lump from whence it came. In Natural Disaster, Allison Ruttan embraces ceramic's uncooperative nature, building intricate structures and craftily deconstructing them so that they look just like tiny versions of the bombsites we see on the news. Or, for a Chicagoan, like Cabrini Green looked a couple years ago. Despite the title of the show, Ruttan urges viewers to keep in mind that these are not accidents of nature but man made acts of destruction.
The American culture is highly visual, and always has been, with the creation of great works of art punctuating some of our darkest days. A joint effort between seven premier cultural organizations in Chicago has resulted in a new website that will connect students to a piece of American history through art, fostering critical thinking and a deeper understanding of our national roots.
The artwork features photos, paintings, prints and sculptures. They invite students to experience the war through the lens of a camera, feel the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation through the strokes of a paintbrush, and recognize the sacrifices of families and soldiers as reflected in memorials made of stone and clay.
As you might imagine, there are difficulties that come along with hypnotizing groups of people at a time, and Jacob C. Hammes certainly faced these difficulties on Friday night as the small room he performed in at New Capital coursed with 50+ fidgety onlookers, awkwardly trying to cram themselves closer together so that they could take part in the action, or at least get a glimpse. About an hour into it, the room had emptied to about a dozen people - about five who seemed to be hypnotized and the rest along for the ride. The hypnotized slouched in their chairs, eyes closed, mumbling about balls of gas and floating inside of diamonds when engaged by Hammes.
It is not that Marc Bamuthi Joseph sees the world differently, but that he sees the world - and some of the world's problems and challenges - more clearly than others. Much of his past work and his current performance project investigates and dissect issues of the environment for the underserved and communities of color. The rise of the green movement - despite the movement's power and importance - has also created a limited, often one-sided interpretation of and reaction to environmental issues.
"It became clear," Bamuthi began, "that there was a homogeneous population with a certain kind of literacy and a certain kind of vocabulary that bordered on jargon in terms of environmental consciousness and environmental actions."
Bamuthi's latest project at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), red, black and GREEN: a blues, a multimedia performance work combining text, dance, and visuals and in collaboration with Chicago-artist Theaster Gates, addresses the discrepancies of the goals and actions of the environmental and green movements with the various communities often ignored.
This is not for the faint of heart, but few good things are: The Homocult Show (featuring a screening of Homocult & other Esoterica) takes place this weekend at S&S Project(NSFW) in Bridgeport, and a visit is highly recommended, especially if you're looking to step a little outside of the box.
Homocult & other Esoterica is a group of short experimental queer films focused on magick & the occult, curated by Daniel McKernan.
Many of the films capture the spirit of arch-gay cinematic spell-casters Kenneth Anger and Derek Jarman, especially those made by the program's more (in)famous participants, such as Throbbing Gristle alumni Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson. The younger contributors, such as Black Sun Productions, are clearly influenced by P-Orridge and Christopherson's bold career choices; their homages make the films crackle with cross-generational currents of erotic, creative energy.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) today announced a gift of $10 million from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Long-time supporters of both the arts and the MCA, Edlis also serves as an officer of the MCA Board and an MCA Trustee. Edlis led the museum's Collection Committee from 2004 to 2008. Neeson serves on the Exhibition Committee.
In 2000, Edlis and Neeson gave a major gift to establish the Edlis/Neeson Art Acquisition Fund that has enabled the MCA to acquire significant works for the collection, including Maurizio Cattelan's Felix (2001), Thomas Schutte's Ganz Grosse Geister (Big SpiritsXL) (2004), Jenny Holzer's For Chicago (2007), and Olafur Eliasson's Your eye activity field (2009).
Every day, people face the constant struggle for approval - from superiors, peers, even strangers - and fear of reprimand. It's basic psychology; we seek reward and avoid punishment. This process, though, can be detrimental to an individual's creative outlet.
The concept of the Open Studio Project is an oasis in a dry desert of criticism. The only rule in the small Evanston art studio is that there is to be no comment. The classes held here aren't about learning technique or drawing a perfect circle. They are truly about self-expression -- which is a lesson that can be learned time and time again. Neither the facilitators nor class members are allowed to make a comment on someone else's work -- positive or negative, and the result is a liberating environment full of opportunity.
Those who enjoy directing their own artistic experiences should check out I Take Back the Sponge Cake, a "lyrical choose-your-own-adventure" book, illustrated by SAIC alumna, Loren Erdrich. Erdrich's simple yet gritty drawing style compliments Sierra Nelson's poetry nicely, giving us disorienting sensory experiences to dip our toes into and leaving us to sink or swim from there.
LVL3 Gallery presents its 3rd Annual Benefit Auction and Raffle, "hArts For Art" on Saturday, April 7, from 6pm to 10:30pm.
LVL3 is an exhibition space in Wicker Park directed by artist Vincent Uribe. The space welcomes artists, both established and emerging, to create and collaborate, building art and relationships.
The art benefit auction features work from more than 20 artists and a portion of the proceeds go to a local not-for-profit, Yollocalli Arts Reach. This is a youth initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art dedicated to providing equal access to communal artistic and cultural resources that allow youth to become creative and engaged community members.
Yollocalli provides a similar space to LVL3 that encourages communal art and learning for youth. Originating in Pilsen, it claims a safe space that enables a progressive dialogue in urban and youth culture.
Advanced bids start Saturday, March 31 online and bidding ends at 9:30 pm on April 7. Artwork starts at $20 and raffle tickets will be sold at 1 for $3 or 2 for $5.
Combining paintings, sculpture, audio and video, PLAY! immerses viewers in an unusual urban environment that stretches beyond the walls of the small gallery. It's on view every Saturday from 11am to 5pm through April 14. There's also an artist reception on Friday, March 30 from 6pm to 11pm. [via]
My favorite thing about Chicago is the way that we take things into our own hands. When we see a gap, instead of waiting for it to be filled -- instead of writing letters or signing petitions -- we just fill it ourselves. Chicago is full of hard workers and go-getters. And this is the case with Final Fight Family, a multidisciplinary arts & entertainment company focusing on uniting artists in a collective community of forward thinking individuals. Formed by an ambitious but small group of youngins in 2007, FFF provides artists with opportunities to expand their careers via collaboration and collective projects.Then, they showcase the artist's work by organizing events, highlight their daily developments in the media, and seek new ventures for them, to "establish a movement of creators who use their unique visions and perspectives to shape the world around them."
One of the original family members, Jarvis Smith, recently reached out to me to let me know about the FFF documentary, YOUNG, which will be released on April 7. I was immediately intrigued, so I emailed him a few questions about the "family."
Erica Cruz Hernandez, Emma Peterson, Jackie Alamillo, Natalie DiCristofano, Meghann Tabor and Natalie Turner-Jones in Chicago Fusion Theatre's Las Hermanas Padilla. Photo by John W. Sisson, Jr.
A couple of decades ago, social satirist Paul Mooney gave an exhaustive commentary on the state of how race patronage works in show business, specifically Hollywood. In his act, Mooney lowers his voice to become the voice-over for the marketing campaign for the 1990 movie Darkman - "Who is Darkman" Who is Darkman?" in a deep and slow bluster, Mooney mimics the announcer, recounting his enthusiastic anticipation of wanting to see this "Darkman." Of course Mooney comically implodes upon the revelation that "Darkman," well, ain't "dark," but Liam Neeson.
I've had several run-ins with food-related arts events of late.
There was "The Dinner Party" on Jan. 30--a monthly, streamed-live meal/performance featuring artists Tony Fitzpatrick, Jon Langford, and Rachel Rockford, as well as chef Homaru Cantu of Moto (see www.FearNoArt.tv for more). Coming soon, "Food & Performance", a two day installation of interactive, edible performances, will be held at Defibrillator March 17 and 18.
And, I forgot to mention all of the odd salons/underground dinners/etc. that seem to be sprouting up around the city faster than I can say grace.
Where does our fascination with the intersection between art and food come from?
The Smart Museum's newest exhibit, Feast, sets out to chart our obsession with food, drink, meal-sharing, and art in a new, interactive series of installations and events in Hyde Park. It not only chronicles the history of the "artist-orchestrated meal", but also brings that history to a more contemporary table in which audience is asked to assess, participate, and celebrate in its meaning.
Local artist Edra Soto and her husband Dan Sullivan recently completed a project titled "the Franklin" -- an outdoor exhibition space currently installed at NEIU Gallery for a show titled Living By Example (a damn good show, mind you.) When the show finishes we it will be deconstructed and moved to Soto and Sullivan's backyard in East Garfield park, where it will be permanently installed. NEIU helped pay for materials, but in order to complete the project they need to purchase additional materials for the roof, deck and footings.
Watching the US premiere of Infra by Wayne McGregor was more like walking into a living, breathing art installation at the MCA and less of what we traditionally perceive as "ballet" -- a term that stereotypically evokes images of pink tutus and satin pointe shoes.
It's time for the Ox-Bow Winter Benefit! Hooray!!! What's Ox-Bow, you ask? Only Michigan's most inspiring, wild, longtime retreat/residency for artists, where Jim Henson is said to have invented Kermit the frog. What's the Winter Benefit? Only Chicago's best winter art party. Why? Well, it's a great chance to buy some fiiine pieces of work by Chicago's finest pieces of work -- big names, people. We're talking Jim Lutes. Rachel Niffenegger. Carl Baratta. In short, if you collect art, this is the premier event for buying it -- not only because you can get great deals on it, but the money goes to a pretty damn cool cause (Ox-Bow). And if you, like me, can't afford to buy much art but you still appreciate a good Swamp Thing-themed dance party, well, this is for you, too. Not convinced yet? Here are some more reasons for you to go:
I've checked in on OhNo!Doom's website since November for any events worth highlighting and always wound up disappointed on a calendar for 2011. I feared that the little gallery that could might have called it quits until I recently spotted a Facebook feed from them that read, "DOOM IS NEAR," and was filled with the same excitement I felt when I heard Bueller is back. Now, it's Facebook official.
Saturday, Feb. 11, marks OhNo!Doom's [temporary] name change to OhNo!Arcade and opening of its first 2012 exhibit, titled Super Button Mashers, a gamer tribute. The night will feature works from several local and import artists such as, Jeremiah Ketner, Aya Kakeda, Alex Willan (top right) and many more, as they present original art inspired by game console classics.
Brand-spankin' new multimedia book project Lightness & Darkness will throw its release party and first performance on January 28 at Happy Dog Gallery (1542 N. Milwaukee), a Wicker Park apartment gallery and alternative art space.
It has been a long time since my first visit to Woman Made Gallery, this year, on their 20th anniversary I am so glad, and proud, Chicago has such a great space that has nurtured and helped grow the arts here.
Woman Made Gallery has recently announce its 20 Years Strong campaign, and with it comes a look back on the arts, the women and the years that have made Women Made Gallery a unique institution, not only in Chicago but throughout the United States.
Scientists and history buffs may not realize it, but artists of the Northern Renaissance made vital contributions to the development of science during the 16th century.
Through a collection of rare and treasured prints, drawings, books, maps and scientific instruments, Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe at Northwestern University's Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art will demonstrate the active role artists played in facilitating the understanding of new concepts in astronomy, geography, natural history, and anatomy.
Nearing its Chicago premiere at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., on Jan. 31st, The People Speak, Live! performance has officially added Academy Award Winner Matt Damon to host the event and compliment a cast of local talent. The supporting cast includes Robert Breuler and Alana Arenas of the Steppenwolf Theater, various local poets and Rick Kogan of the Tribune.
Based off of the 2009 documentary, The People Speak, The People Speak, Live! is a benefit performance that features dramatic readings of written works from people of the past. This month's performance will include readings of a fifteenth century priest documenting Columbus' arrival in the New World, a fugitive slave's scathing letter to a former master, the words of pathbreaking Chicago labor organizers, testimony of civil rights activists and more.
Tickets are available at $11 to $24. Doors open at 6pm. Performance at 7pm.
After graduating with a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2006, Sprecher spent a few years working at a chemistry lab in New York, saving up money, and then about a year in Berlin (until he ran out of money). When he found a good deal on a studio space in Chicago via Craigslist, he jumped on it and he's been working here since.
Sprecher's work is engaging and accessible, lively and mischievous, but also deeply dark and potentially disturbing -- not unlike a frat house keg party or, for that matter, an African witch doctor keg party. Or an after-hours, staff-only keg party at a Louisiana state fair.
At first glace, Sprecher's work seems like it would look fantastic in a child's playroom, but don't be fooled -- that child would likely rack up therapy bills later in life.
I visited his studio shortly before Christmas to pick his brain.
A boat heads east on the Chicago River through the State Street bridge in 1910.
Independent Chicago publisher City Files Press just relased a new photography book documenting the reversal of the Chicago River. The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond draws from nearly 22,000 photographs made between 1894 and 1928 for the Sanitary District of Chicago. The result is a gorgeous volume chronicling the development of the engineering marvel, its context and its effects. As Booklist reviewed, "Williams and Cahan profile the players, elucidate the technological innovations, track the politics, and document the beneficial and catastrophic consequences of this massive and hubristic tinkering with nature."
Check below the fold for a video providing an overview of the book as well as some additional sample photographs.
Groban's best known work is The Cure for Insomnia, an 87-hour-long film based on his epic poem by the similar name A Cure for Insomnia, which he co-produced with John Henry Timmis IV. It holds the Guinness world record for the longest film, and was first played in its entirety at The School of the Art Institute from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 1987. The poem was a continual work in progress; Groban claimed it was well over 5,000 pages at the time of his death.
Here is Groban reading a portion of A Cure for Insomnia and sharing some philosophy with a group of people on the street in New York this summer.
I recently had the pleasure of previewing Memoria (Memory), a new installation at the Hyde Park Art Center of new works by Puerto Rican/Chicago-based artist Bibiana Suárez that reveals the shifting nature of memory, place, and identity within the Latino community.
The opening reception is Sunday, Dec. 11 from 3pm to 5pm.
Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, has long been a staple of African-American culture; however, the sale of the South Michigan Avenue corporate offices to Columbia College Chicago in 2010 was to the dismay of many devotees of the magazines.
David Hartt, Award Room, 2011. Edition of 6 + 1 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago.
Curated by James W. Alsdorf and part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's new "MCA Screen" series, Stray Light, the latest work by Chicago-based Canadian artist David Hartt, explores the timeline and sociocultural impact of this legendary cultural institution via film and photographs.
See the opening of Stray Light on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; museum hours vary. Tickets are $7-$12 and are available online or at the box office. Exhibit runs through April 29, 2012. For more information, call 312-397-4010.
Well, there's not much going on on the visual art front this weekend -- at least as far as I can tell. If you know of anything, please do leave info in the comments section.
There is one thing, though, which looks pretty darn cool, going on all day today: a Chicago Data Portrait. Today from 10am to midnight, 50 Chicago dwellers have volunteered to record their movements using an app that tracks their GPS data. They will also record a narrative of their day. The data and narratives will be curated into One Image, Fifty Stories, an exhibit at the RGB Lounge design co-op in Wicker Park, Chicago opening January 5.
It's probably too late to volunteer, but the show should definitely be worth checking out. Details here.
In September, I attended an exhibit at the LVL3 Gallery titled This is the Same as That, a joint exhibit between New York artist Letha Wilson and Chicago artist Dave Murray. The show dealt with examining the real and the unreal, the physical and the imagined. The exhibit included photography, sculpture, and installation that dealt with the duality of materiality and material limitations.
So in October, over the din of silverware scrapes and the clank of beers at the Exchequer Pub (a supposed SAIC graduate student spot), I was finally was able to interview Dave Murray between his trips from North and South East Asia stopping in Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing, and his next trip to India and the Middle East including stops in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kuwait, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. As the Assistant Director of International Admissions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dave's job involves grand travels. In a few weeks he will be traveling to Portugal and Turkey.
Our conversation varied from kindergarten to the Tower of Babel, and in between we had some great discussion about art.
Here's an excerpt and link to a new cover story recently published over at Chicago's alt-weekly, Newcity on the human costs of unemployment. Above illustration: Zeke Danielson. Courtesy Newcity. -MW
In America, there is no more terrifying a ghoul than the threat of sustained, cripplingly high unemployment. We hear about it all the time. Have maybe even decided just to tune it out or maybe the ubiquity of the bloodless discussion of it has just inured us to the subject. It's just numbers, right? It'll get better eventually. Figure it out. After all, it's hard to get a sense of what's happening from those chatterboxes in the news, those talking heads feeding us an endless tickertape of statistics, empty percentages; high here, low there. We treat it like the weather. Numbers. Never any stories. Why does it always have to be numbers? Maybe it's too much, what's happening. Too garish, what's happening to them, how the poor behave. How low.
Ask yourself. What actually are the effects on a family slipping below the poverty line, of losing their home in a foreclosure, of a family unable to afford gas, utility bills, clothes? Its effects aren't just felt for a month or two, or something you get past in a year. There's a price. And it's one paid almost entirely by the less fortunate. And that's what defines our society: how we treat our less fortunate and what price they pay for other's prosperity. And if we're a privileged society, maybe all that means is that the privileged get to ignore the silent anguish of the poor. But the cost of it doesn't go away, ever. It stays with us as a people, changes and defines us psychologically and emotionally, and sometimes we lose one. But surviving it doesn't fucking make you stronger, it scars and mutilates. CONTINUE READING
Originally published at ARTINFO.COM, where I write a regular column, "True Stories" on Chicago and international art subjects. -MW
Cynthia Plastercaster, nee Cynthia Albritton, has earned a place for herself among the world's most famous groupies, if not THE most famous groupie. A product of the sexual revolution, she began making plaster casts of famous rock stars' penises in the mid-1960's, counting Jimi Hendrix and Jello Biafra among her collection of "babies." An iconic and legendary figure in Chicago, she has never told the story of her intimate encounters with the rock gods who populate her collection...until now. She recently began a Kickstarter campaign to buy herself some time to finish the writing, and "True Stories" sat down with her to get the skinny.
You're working on writing your autobiography, finally, after all these years.
After a certain point in my life I couldn't help but notice I'd led a really interesting life, unlike any that I'd heard of and I thought it would make a good story. I've kept journals since I learned about Samuel Pepy's diary about the plague. I've also been into documents and that actually made me a really great file clerk. CONTINUE READING
A still from Rooftop Wars, which will be featured on Cine Latino this Saturday. Photo courtesy of CAN-TV
For those of us who prefer to stay in on amateur night, Chicago's (fantastic) CAN-TV has a new program called "Cine Latino," featuring short Latino films every Saturday at 8pm. Although "Cine Latino" features films made from all over the world (From Peru to Spain), this Saturday's program features a film shot in Pilsen! More info here.
I had a great time today at kasia kay art projects, hanging out at the Diane Christiansen show. Let me start by saying that this is a very understated show, at first it doesn't seem like much. The show consists mostly of a number of relatively small oil paintings on plaster. These are not frescoes; the oil paint is applied on top of cured plaster where the paint is layered and sanded, and layered and sanded. Many of the pieces in the show reference landscape, they create a significant amount of space and it should be said that Diane uses a number of techniques and styles to create her work.
Kristin Mariani, "A Sample of Making", 2009. Spoke, Chicago, IL. (Photo courtesy of Spoke)
Spoke, a mixed project and studio space in the West Loop closed its doors in August after hosting over forty artist projects, events, experiments, and residencies in its nearly three years of programming. What always struck me about Spoke was how public its programming was. Once while wandering around their building at 119 N. Peoria, I knocked on their door and was soon let into the middle of an artist's project under construction. I assumed I was interrupting, but the artists chatted with me, explaining their project, and inviting me to stay if I had time. Visiting a later opening, I was taken back by the SAIC cheerleaders, mini-marching band, fake sports mascots, and kooky drum major who had crammed into Spoke's small project space to accompany "Game On", their interactive opening full of nonsensical artist-made games. Through art parades, beer making projects, international collaborations, and more, Spoke's programming proved to be unique, surprising, and full of variety.
This month, explore the relationship between fashion design and art at Columbia College Chicago's Black Gossamer exhibit; this showcase, curated by Camille Morgan and featuring work by contemporary black artists including Aisha Bell, Marlon Griffith and Columbia Assistant Professor of Photography Myra Greene, examines how clothing, fabric, material, etc., are used as artists' inspiration and how they are used to reveal various expressions and meanings of black identity and culture.
Marlon Griffith, Louis (Schoolgirl Series)
See the opening of Black Gossamer at Columbia College Chicago's Glass Curtain Gallery, 1104 S. Wabash, on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5pm to 8pm; regular gallery hours vary. The exhibit is free and open to the public; closes February 11, 2012. For questions, contact Justin Witte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-369-8177.
The California stop on the Blue Line is getting a new piece of public art, donated to the CTA by Johalla Projects. Ryan Duggan's 4'x8' mural, Today Is Yours, will be installed on the northwest interior wall of the station, near the stairs to the platform.
Starting Friday and running through this weekend, The MDW Fair presents a Fall Showcase of solo and duo exhibitions curated by small not-for-profits, artist-run spaces, independent galleries, collectives and curators from around the country. This, the second iteration of the MDW Fair runs in conjunction with The Hand in Glove Conference and will highlight innovative curatorial and administrative practices happening in independent arts initiatives. The Fall Showcase will focus on the practices of individual artists, offering the opportunity for each artist to mount an ambitious project. The Fall Showcase, like the previous MDW Fair, will also feature an independent arts publisher's forum. The fair opens this Friday from 8 to 11pm and then noon to 6pm over the weekend. More info here.
Perhaps if you've got cable you've seen Ryan Shultz on TV -- he was on the first season of Bravo's "Work of Art," a reality television show which, to the dismay of many an artist, attempts to sort out the good from the bad, and decide "who will be the nation's next great artist". And he did pretty well, even though, as he told me, it "destroyed his soul." He's also been featured in several glossy "Barnes and Noble magazines," as he calls them. He scored a full-color, eight-page spread in Artworks Magazine and a feature in Germany's Intro Magazine, where they called him "so drauf!" (Apparently this means "on top of it" or "hip" or something like that.)
Diane Christiansen has been working as an artist in Chicago for decades, with an evolving body of work that incorporates drawing, painting, music, video, animation and more. Most recently, her collaboration with Slovenian artist Shoshanna Utchenik has yielded an intense and sprawling body of interconnected drawing, painting and sculptural work conceived as a totalizing installation for an exhibition last year, "Notes to Nonself," at the Hyde Park Art Center. Christiansen's works displays a wide array of evocative imagery, stunning for its sheer degree of inventiveness and ability to incorporate the internal logic of her own personal experiences into visual motifs that recur throughout. The Octopus of Attachment, her recurring Cocoon Girl character (which recalls fellow Chicagoan Archer Prewitt's Sof' Boy character comics), all add to a lush, illustrious imagined world of sacred ritual and psychic attacks from the so-called "reality" that confronts us daily. Briefing Room recently visited Christiansen in her Wicker Park studio to get a handle on it all in advance of the opening of her newest show at Kasia Kay Projects Gallery(information on the show and image credits appear at the end of the interview, please scroll down for these details).
Let's start off by talking about your collaboration with Shoshanna Utchenik, how that evolved and developed.
She would say to me, that she thought I had figured out how to be an artist and a mother and she desperately needed a connection because she was out in the middle of nowhere. She asked if I'd do some therapy sessions with her. You know where Slovenia is, it's out in the middle of nowhere. It's beautiful but it truly is not near anything else. So we did a few sessions and I said, I don't really want to be doing this. Because I think you're my friend and I think you should be making art. I think that's the antidote here. And so we started sending each other back and forth little notes. They're everywhere. This is one of the first notes, this blue blob and she sent me back this map of these little different parts of one's mind, because we were both reading the same Buddhist texts at the time. I'm a Buddhist and she was interested in Buddhism. So, that was one of the first notes but they became like...we'd only touch them once.
Elizabeth McQuern producing at Chicago Underground Comedy. Photo Credit: Tripp Watson
When I was given the opportunity to write about women in Chicago comedy, I knew exactly whom I wanted to feature. These five women were my first choice, not because they are better or more deserving than any other women in comedy, but because each of them has had a significant impact, in some way, on my own experience. Some of them are performers, some producers, some teachers, but they are all equally important, to me and to comedy as a whole. This is my homage to them.
Elizabeth McQuern was one of the first people I met after moving to Chicago. If not for her, I wouldn't have met most of the people that I did the first year I was here. She co-produces Chicago Underground Comedy, one of the longest running and most popular stand-up showcases in Chicago and freelances as a video editor, among other things. As a producer, writer, photographer and filmmaker, she is one of many unsung heroes of Chicago Comedy.
September marks a special time for the visual arts in Chicago. It is the annual kick-off to what is known as the art season. Out of the many art happenings that took place this month, Art on Track might possibly be one of the most anticipated annual events. It is an intriguing combination of site-specific installations on one of the Orange Line CTA train cars circling the loop.
Meeting of Styles (MOS) is an annual meet-up of graffiti writers and aficionados. Artists are invited and assigned to an area on stretches of wall space. Public focus is emphasized at the main wall called the "Wall of Style" located at 30th and Kedzie Avenue. The remaining permissioned wall locations are segmented in general proximity to the Wall of Style. To get a good perspective about the event and it's general history, graff writer and organizer of Meeting of Styles (MOS) Đmn ÔloǤy chatted it up with me regarding his experience and involvement with the event and graffiti writing culture. In addition to speaking with the organizer, two former participants provided a better understanding about their experiences with participating in past MOS events.
Nicolette Caldwell: How many times have you participated in MOS?
Đmn ÔloǤy: Well, since I am one of the organizers, I have been involved since the inception of Chi MOS, starting in 2003, 7 times... but I have also participated in several MOS outside of Chicago, in Germany, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.
Get a head start on Chicago Artist Month this weekend with the kickoff event -- the Ravenswood Art Walk, which will feature the work of over 200 local artists, including over 40 open studios. This opening night event this Friday will also include live performances and some damn good food by some of Ravenswood's best restaurants.
The Friday night event will kickoff at 7pm in and around the Ravenswood Event Center (4011 N. Ravenswood), with ample spillage out into the street (Ravenswood Ave. itself will be shut down between Montrose and Sunnyside for a street fair)(Stop by the GB booth!). The fun won't stop Friday, though, so make sure to stop by on Saturday and/or Sunday for more festivities. Bring the kids. Details here. MORE details, including a schedule of performances, can be found here. Click here for a map. Best of all, admission is FREE!
We consider it a sort of genre-bending -- journalistic reporting with comic books. Graphic journalism.
Our first story follows one Chicago woman through her marriage at the Cook County courthouse to her fiancé, an inmate at the county jail who will eventually be tried for first-degree murder. His next court date is Oct. 13, 2011.
All illustrations and narrative are pulled from a flow of events during this year's annual Department of Corrections ceremonies. All of the words spoken by people in this story are actual words spoken by actual people. Everything else is up for interpretation.
Click on the icon at the bottom right corner of the slideshow to view full screen.
This feature is supported in part by a Community News Matters grant from The Chicago Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More information here.
(left to right) Cliff Chamberlain, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Brendan Marshall-Rashid, Stephanie Childers and Karen Aldridge in Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, directed by ensemble member Amy Morton. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
The hotly debated R and G words are taken by the horns in this candid and confrontational two-act play by Bruce Norris.
Set in 1959 in the fictional Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park, first introduced to us in A Raisin in the Sun, the first act picks up where Raisin left off, introducing us to the white family who is moving out of their house -- the house that The Youngers in Raisin are so looking forward to moving into.
On a sunny afternoon early in September, I drove to the Humboldt Park studio home of Chicago artist Lauren Levato. We drank coffee with chocolate, smoked cigarettes on her back patio, and spoke at length about her work. I first became acquainted with Levato through our mutual friend, Chicago artist and provocateur Tony Fitzpatrick, for whom she works as a Girl Friday. Diligent, focused and at times hard-boiled, Levato has been a fixture of Fitzpatrick projects ranging from stage plays to trade booths at art fairs, including (full disclosure) the Art Brooklyn fair I organized this past March. After trading emails and Facebook messages about writing and art, it became clear there was a story to tell, and so we took Briefing Room along to get it all on tape. (scroll down to end for image credits)
Let's talk about the ideas behind your work, and some of your history. I know you do a lot of writing too, and I wanted to discuss that and how you got into the visual work you're doing through that. The historical development, how it all got started.
I started working at Woman Made gallery when I was in undergrad at Purdue and I would work there as I could doing art handling and PR. I was pursuing a writing degree, and was working for local papers as a stringer immediately out of high school in '96 and was a reporter and editor until 2006. I'd always been interested in visual art, and Woman Made just made sense because I was also getting a degree in Women's Studies. So, I am just one of those people who does a lot of different things at once, holding down three jobs or whatever. I'm from Hobart, Indiana and the state has a great program, being the daughter of a disabled vet, they paid 75% of my tuition if I stayed in-state, so that's how I ended up at Purdue. They had a professional writing program and being a Midwesterner through and through, I was like "How do I do this practically?" meaning, how do I make money?
Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery has taken interactive art to another level with their current exhibition, CoLaboratory. Two artist collaboratives - ED JR. and (f)utilityprojects have joined forces to create a site specific video installation with moveable screens that, although quite beautiful in its own right, is made manifest by you - the visitor. Visitors are invited to adjust the structures on which video projections are shown, amending and re-forming the evolving images as they move. If that's not enough interaction for you, check out one of ED JR.'s free, public workshops at the gallery (Thursday, September 22, 6-8pm; Saturday October 1, 3-5pm; Thursday October 27, 6-8pm), where you can get your hands dirty and be featured in a video, which will be later projected in the space.
For this edition of Briefing Room, we check in with artist, artist agent, writer, and independent curator Jenny Lam. A recent transplant to Chicago from a stint at Columbia University in New York, Lam has embraced her engagement of the Chicago scene with wave-making zeal, landing in the press and in conversations for her work at the Zhou B Art Center, 4Art and, most recently, at the Fulton Street Collective. "Exquisite Corpse," the frenetic exhibit she organized for the Collective, drew notable crowds for its open embrace of artistic collaboration. We sat down with the Northbrook native to get some perspective on her splashy re-introduction to the Chicago scene, and here's what she had to say. (scroll down for photo credits)
Tell us a little about your background, what brought you here, etc., and what got you interested in art.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and lived in New York City for four years while studying at Columbia University. There, I split my time running the undergraduate art gallery, Postcrypt; interning at Christie's and at Eyebeam; getting weirded out by people folding their pizza slices; and tagging. And yeah I guess there was schoolwork too. I returned to the Midwest after graduating two years ago (a severe lack of money brought me back), and I moved into the city about half a year ago.
This article was originally published on Sixty Inches from Center on Sept. 5. This is the first of a series of content exchanges with them.
By Zachary Johnson
Last week, while exploring Chicago's Polish Village, I interrupted my friend mid-sentence as a familiar sight came into view. "Another one!" I exclaimed. Quickly, we crossed Milwaukee and headed towards a wall featuring the street art of Mental 312. Mental's thick, blue lines were similar to his other pieces: bold and expansive, almost Aztec in their geometric style. I didn't know how old the piece was, but judging from what I've observed of Mental's other works, it may have been around for a while. What strikes me about the pieces is that people don't seem to mind them. The ones that first went up last winter along the Garfield and Indiana Green Line Stations are still there, and those at the Sheridan and Bryn Mawr Red Line stops have stayed up for months as well. In fact, the Bryn Mawr piece looks even older, as if it's been around for years.
Last Friday several galleries around the city kicked off their fall programming with opening exhibitions featuring work by their crème de la crème. A/C writers Natalie Edwards and Kelly Reaves each spent the night frantically hopping from show to show, trying to absorb as much of it as they could, with their powers combined. Here are their impressions:
Kelly: This is an engaging, quality group video show in a cool, new(ish) space. The first piece that confronts you upon your entering the gallery is chopped up footage of Whitney Houston from The Bodyguard. She is on two "battling" monitors, which you can stand between, walk between, or awkwardly squeeze around. I believe one Whitney is only singing "I" and the other is only singing "you". I thoroughly enjoyed it and it looked like other people were enjoying it, too. I would have liked to stand between the monitors but, at least on the opening night, the amusement proved too popular for my tight schedule.
Alright, guys. This is it. This is a big weekend for gallery openings, with many (most?) of them kicking off their fall programming with the best of the best tonight. If you only make it out art-hopping once this year, go tonight.
...and there are surely many more I've missed. Check back on us in a few days -- A/C's newest contributor Natalie Edwards and I will have a recap of the opening chaos, including our two cents on the art we were able to catch glances of while smooshed amongst the drunken hordes.
This Saturday, after the big opening night of the art season, you might want to get a bit of the hair of the dog down at Prospectus Gallery in Pilsen. Walter Fydryck has been working on a new series of drawings that features prominently in this one man show. For a long time Walter has been inventing and perfecting a process of painting on Plexiglas, a few of these are present and help to understand the place where the drawings are coming from.
This is not your mother's art exhibit, it is an event. An art attack. An art war.
In fact, this two-day event is called ART WAR, and it is the first in a series of new explorations of the forces behind art. ART WAR, inspired by Tolstoy's writings of civil disobedience & non-violence, will involve the 7,000 square foot loft in Little Village known as Treasure Town being filled with artworks by over 100 artists from all backgrounds. From interactive installations to an entire circus, a dance war with fake blood on a blank canvas to the most inspiring local musicians, ART WAR promises to "not say what we do not think or feel."
Admission is a suggested 5-10 dollar donation, and every dollar earned goes directly to the contributing artists & future like-minded shows. This event will take place September 16 & 17 at Treasure Town Loft. Details can be found on Facebook. PS: The Tamale Guy will be there. Bring your hungry pants.
Local online and print art publication Jettison Quarterly made a splash at NEXT as part of the larger Art Chicago weekend with their newly formatted print edition of the magazine. Their latest issue -- featuring artist Scott Reeder and former MCA curator Tricia Van Eck -- promises to deliver on locally focused news, art and culture. To celebrate their latest release, the publication will be joining Old Style and Longman & Eagle for a free block party on Kedzie and Schubert. The event will feature a pig roast and dance party with tunes spun by DJs from the ever-popular Windy City Soul Club. The What's Happening!! block party takes place this Sunday, September 4 from 4pm to 10pm.
Additional copies of Jettison Quarterly will be available Sept. 9 at the Kavi Gupta gallery as part of the opening night for the fall art season, the Renegade Craft Fair on Sept. 10-11, and at various cafes and venues in the city.
Soul mates don't die, directed by J. Preddie Predmore and produced by MacMillan's company, Never Assume Productions, illustrates how soul mates connect regardless of sex or mortal form. Set to debut at The Doppler Stage on September 3, it tells the tale of two star-crossed newlyweds who are ripped apart when their sexually oppressed guardian angels meet and fall in love. Love can be a funny distraction.
For more information about MacMillan and his show, visit his website. Also, check out his blog, which documents his epic bike trip.
The wildly popular and successful MDW Fair of last spring is happening again this October 21-23 at the Geolofts. Formed as a collaborative project between the Public Media Institute, Roots & Culture and threewalls, the MDW Fair was conceived as a showcase for independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries and artist groups from the Chicago metropolitan area -- basically what NEXT was eight or nine years ago, but on a larger scale.
A burlesque dancer at "Starving Artist". Photo by Andrew Huff.
The Chicago Artist's Coalition hosted a swanky event last Thursday called "Starving Artist" -- essentially a benefit for the CAC -- where eight Chicago's top chefs and artists were paired up to create a "unique sensory experience," inspired by each other's work. One sixtyblue pastry chef Hillary Blanchard-Rikower was paired with Lauren Brescia, avec's Koren Grieveson was paired with Tim Anderson, The Girl & The Goat's Stephanie Izard was paired with Richard Hull and Province's Randy Zwieban was paired with Judy Ledgerwood.
The results were delicious, both gastronomically and visually. Between finger foods and swigs of champagne, I spoke with each of the artists about their experiences working on this project. (Read interviews with the chefs over in Drive-Thru.)
Influential humorist and art commentator Hennessey Youngman will visit the Windy City on September 7 to join "The Dialogue," an annual live-chat panel on "museums, diversity, and inclusion" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Theater. This year's event with Youngman will focus on Millennials and their effect on museum issues, alongside "Chicago's Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Michelle T. Boone, and our newest curator, Naomi Beckwith, formerly of The Studio Museum in Harlem." While some concerns with Youngman's gender politics have been voiced among those in the art crowd, his highly entertaining video segments are largely appreciated for gleefully punching holes in otherwise hyper-serious art world conventions. The MCA's press materials describe Youngman as "You Tube's most followed art theorist," and points out Art in America's description of his satirical Art Thoughtz program performances as "Ali G with an MFA."
The characterization seems apt. In response to this writer's recent romantic breakup and search for art to make/look at appropriate to the moment, Youngman had the following hilarious advice (intentional spelling errors and grammatical breakages left in): "Break up art? Break into her/his house and lay naked in their bed until they come home from work and recite TLC's "Waterfalls" while they call the police. Videotape the whole ordeal, show the video of you waiting in bed on one channel projected onto the wall, then the police beating and crying on another channel, but way smaller. This way, the audience connects more with your interpretation of your ex's arrival, and your humiliation is underplayed and dismissible, also take every Macbook photobooth photo you've ever taken with them and make a rapid slideshow of the images to enduce nausia."
The Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Program and reception $35. Program only: nonmembers $10; MCA members $8; students $6. If you can't make it to the live event, check out the Live Tweet at @mcachicago, using the #thedialogue to participate in the conversation via tweet. Twitter comments can also be followed live during the event at the MCA's website.
Hokanson and Reilly are the co-creators of the open-source DIYLILCNC project, with the mission of increasing the accessibility and educational potential of CAD/CAM tools and research. Hokanson and Reilly share a taste for the absurd artistic application of high technology in their respective practices (examples include a sledgehammer-operated keyboard and a wind-powered guillotine).
(left) one sixtyblue Pastry Chef Hillary Blanchard-Rikower and
(right) Artist Lauren Brescia. Photo by Jon Shaft Photography.
This Thursday the Chicago Artists Coalition is putting on an event pairing local visual artists with local chefs in which they create original works (food & art) inspired by one another's aesthetic. The artwork created will be exhibited and auctioned at the event, while the chefs' creations are eaten. Sorry, chefs.
Tickets aren't cheap -- $100 for CAC members, $125 for the rest of us, $150 at the door -- but it should be a great opportunity for hobnobbing and stuffing your face with some of the best food Chicago has to offer. For more information, click here.
There's a lot going on this weekend but if you haven't cemented your Saturday plans yet, consider going to Comfort Station's kegger. Perhaps the best (and most obvious) abandoned-building-turned-art space ever, Comfort Station took over the little building in the heart/crotch of Logan Square that was vacant for so long, it became invisible to most of us.
Their party this Saturday will feature music, food by Homage Street food truck, face-painting, croquet, ping-pong, quirky film and slide show screenings, and, of course, good-ole' outdoor boozing. A suggested $10 donation gets you a cup for a night of Revolution beer. All proceeds from your donation benefit Comfort Station -- they're raising funds for storm windows to extend their active year into the cooler months and track lighting to keep spotlights on the artwork.
The party is this Saturday, August 20 from 6pm to midnight-ish at Comfort Station: The Keel/Coulson Sideyard @ 3016 W. Logan Blvd. For details, click here.
Pranks and comic relief have always been a part of the arts... well, maybe not always but at least for a while. Let's just say no one alive today can say there was a time, in their lives, when it wasn't. This brings me to Meg Duguid's performance last night in Wicker Park as Part of the Out of Site performance series done in conjunction with Walkabout Theater Company and Defibrillator. It is hard to really know what to say about any public performance, and this is no exception, so I will begin by just telling you what I experienced.
ONE NIGHT ONLY was developed by the cast and director using "found" text and music. Sources include Priscilla Ahn, Howard Barker (The Castle and Death and the One), Battles, Blue Valentine, Charles Bukowski, Ian Paul Custer, Hall & Oates, Matt Hooks, The Notebook, Kasey O'Brien, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers, and Scott Walker.
Featuring: Ian Paul Custer, Matt Hooks, Kasey O'Brien and live painting by Sierra Dufault ONE NIGHT ONLY will be performed in tandem with opening acts by:
Times Three Theatre - http://timesthreechicago.c om/
The Arc Theatre - http://arctheatrechicago.o rg/
and KJ Bessen-Johnson - http://www.kjbessenjohnson .com/
August 12-21 at 9:30pm and 25-28 at 8:30pm at Den Theatre
This is a surely good time to be had; tickets here!
This event in Bridgeport Chicago will highlight paintings by Janice Trecker.
"Most of my paintings reflect people and things I have seen. Although they are rarely painted from life, they are almost always collected from life, via the sketchbooks that I carry, especially to sporting events with my husband, Jerry, a sportswriter.
As a result, I produce a wide range of images, from portraits to fans at sports venues to museum puppets, that all have one thing in common: each emerged out of the daily flux of images to form a picture that suggested some of the radiance, energy and mystery of everyday life. To capture those things is my sole ambition.
My work is representational but very far from photographic, and the paintings are often exaggerated in both form and color in an attempt to capture the rhythms of the subject. I am especially fond of festive occasions and people in costume, especially children who see the wonderful weirdness of life, as well as musicians and theater people at work."
Opening reception Friday, August 12, 7-9pm
Complementary beverages and snacks served.
Although the more underground, independent, and emerging Chicago art scenes and artists might be overshadowed by larger fairs and urban coasts, alternative events still foster and support local practitioners. BUILT Festival, a two-day event founded by Chicago artists Tristan J.M. Hummel and co-produced by David Dvorak, allows contemporary artists and curators the space to transform unusual, transportable, and seemingly temporary environments - shipping containers - into alternative and guerrilla venues in an empty lot on Milwaukee avenue.
The theme for this initial festival is "urban culture" and audiences will get the chance to witness more than 100 projects, exhibitions, and performances inside and surrounding these containers from local spaces and institutions such as the Chicago Urban Art Society, Spudnik Press, and the Chicago Artists Coalition. In addition to the array of visual and performative art projects, visitors can listen to music by musicians and DJ's such as White Mystery, Raj Mahal, and Tim Zawada.
Tickets for BUILT Festival can be purchased online or at the door for $10. All-weekend BUILT VIP passes are also available online today and include $6 worth of drink tickets. BUILT Festival takes place in the empty lot at 1767 N. Milwaukee this Friday from 5:00pm-10:30pm and Saturday from 12:00pm-10:30pm.
You've seen the downtown advertising for the Art Institute's new exhibit, "Windows on the War," which focuses on the Soviet TASS News Agency's World War II posters, a call to arms for the Soviet citizenry against Nazi Germany. Thrilled by the prospect of such an exhibit, marrying the allure of popular culture, modern art, and propoganda, I went to the museum and headed eagerly for the exhibition hall. But I didn't make it to World War II.
"Belligerent Encounters" is an ingenious complement to "Windows on the War," higlighting the general onus of war through art, and showcasing the dynamic war posters of an earlier era in a different part of the world than the TASS posters represent. While the smaller exhibit doesn't have the elaborate display or deep focus of the main-event TASS presentation in the larger Regenstein Hall, it's definitely worth a visit next time you're at the Art Institute.
Fans of unconventional theater take note: Chicago's got a new shadow puppet show.
Experimental multimedia puppetry group Manual Cinema presents ADA/AVA, its ﬁrst evening-length original shadow puppetry work, at the Charnel House (3421 W. Fullerton) this Thursday, July 28 through Sunday the 31st. Manual Cinema combines overhead projector shadow puppetry, actors in silhouette, and live music performance to create handmade, cinematic stories exploring new frontiers of immersive storytelling.
Although the Object Design League's one-week residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Balloon Factory, ended at the beginning of this month, balloons constructed during the project are now available for purchase at their new online store, ODLCO. During their week at the museum as part of "We Are Here: Art and Design Out of Context," curated by MCA Design Director James Goggin with MCA designer Alfredo Ruiz, product designers Caroline Linder, Lisa Smith, Michael Savona, Thomas Moran, and Steven Haulenbeek demonstrated each step of the creation of balloons on a small scale. As a whole, their project demystified and brought the typically unknown creation and manufacturing process of a balloon to the public. Each handmade balloon costs $5.00, was hand-dipped and hand-painted in the gallery, and are inflatable by mouth or with a pump.
Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, affected the artistry of both Adrienne Pierluissi and Ken Vandermark. Vandermark, a photographer, captured life in that city, which in turn Pierluissi would paint. Through their work they created a dialogue between the two mediums and their practice.
Terrie Hessels of The Ex will be present during the opening reception the proceeds of art work sold will go toward helping support Terrie's ongoing music programs in Ethiopia-- for the last few years he's been bringing musicians to schools for workshops and a repairman from Amsterdam to help fix damaged saxophones and clarinets. He will also be performing with Ken Vandermark.
This Friday HungryMan Gallery presents the group show Keepin' it Real, featuring the work of Petra Cortright, Thomson Dryjanski, Derek Frech and Bob Myaing, Aaron Graham, and Mac Katter.
The relevancy of internet context within a physical exhibition is a new challenge for our generation of art makers and curators. Keepin' it Real examines the possibilities and difficulties presented by work that exists in dual realms, the physical and the digital, as well as the opportunities and limitations of a curatorial process entirely reliant on e-mail, chat and internet surfing.
Opening Reception 7 - 11pm, this Friday July 15
Closing Reception 4 - 7pm, Sunday August 21
Open Sundays 12 - 5pm
Artist Conrad Freiburg opened a show of new work at Linda Warren July 8, only a week after closing his long stint at the Hyde Park Art Center that yielded It Is What It Isn't. Conrad's focus for the show at the Cultural Center was loss that he often explained as nothingness. His new show at Linda Warren, The Blind Light, the Pyre of Night, deals more with crisscrossing ideas about science, mathematics, art and anything else that exists wholly or partially within nothingness.
The Smart Museum in Hyde Park has a really great-looking exhibition up right now, illustrating pivotal moments in figurative art of the last sixty years through the work of nine exceptional (mostly local!) artists: Nick Cave, Leon Golub, Yun-Fei Ji, Kerry James Marshall, Christina Ramberg, Martín Ramírez, Ravinder Reddy, Clare Rojas and Sylvia Sleigh.
In case you haven't heard, the illustrious Garfield Park Conservatory was severely damaged by the hailstorm last Thursday, and The Hideout is hosting a special Soup and Bread benefit program tonight to help fund the cleanup and repairs. If you've been to the conservatory, you love it. If you've been to The Hideout, you probably love it, too. Why not stop by tonight (5:30 - 8pm) and stuff your face for a good cause? Details here.
Music mural at Prescott Elementary School. All photos by Alan Lake unless otherwise noted.
Chicago is well known for dynamic architecture, but many of our public spaces are also transformed by expressive works of art -- some rock for our solid. "Cloud Gate" and interactive video fountains hold court at Millennium Park. Just across Randolph Street, a sound sculpture resides. As the wind blows, so hum long metal wheat-like reeds that sway in a faux field as if an aeolian harp.
Chagall's "Four Seasons" mosaic mural dominates a plaza nearby. Picasso and Miro face off at Daley Plaza while Dubuffet watches from the Thompson Center as Claes Oldenburg bats clean up. The list is long and impressive. Frank Gehry, Sir Henry Moore, Richard Serra, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Stella to name a few.
Marching Toward Justice: The History of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is on display now at John Marshall Law School, is about much more than the milestone amendment, passed in 1868, which granted automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States. The colorful, maze-like panels and giant black-and-white photographs cover more than 350 years of African-American history, from the arrival of slaves in the Americas in 1619 through the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that ended legal segregation.
Let X is a hysterical 90 minute struggle with reality and the understanding that sometimes the only way to get back on track is to completely lose control. David, a train conductor and sometime playwright, is trapped in a loveless marriage to Christine. He'd love nothing more than to seduce his wife's best friend Lily, a mathematician - he's even written a play about it - but her obnoxious husband Max constantly humiliates him into inaction. It's hopeless... Or is it? David - who is, after all, a playwright - decides to revise the script of the very play in which he is appearing. With the help of a cantankerous (and strangely omniscient) Stagehand, he goes after his girl, abruptly changing the story, confusing his fellow characters, and bringing an angry Playwright storming on stage to retaliate and try to win her back.
Let X performs Mondays through Wednesdays at Strawdog Theatre (3829 N Broadway St.) now through July 20 at 8pm (no show July 4). Tickets are $15.
Tomorrow afternoon the Hyde Park Art Center hosts part four in their series of neighborhood-centric gallery tours -- Artist-Run Spaces in Garfield Park. Hop on your bike and explore the warehouse artist studios and artist run spaces on the west side. Starting at noon at my favorite coffee shop, The Star Lounge (2521 W. Chicago), the tour will visit some of the city's newest exhibition venues and see the work of emerging artists, followed by a barbecue (at my house!). Visit hydeparkart.org for details (the site says the tour is over at 3 but a little bird (and a bunch of fliers) told me it goes 'till 6pm).
It is easy to forget what led to the power and passion that unfolded onstage in HOPERA: Unleashed. Composer and vocalist Adrian Dunn's fusion of hip-hop and opera was the perfect blend, so much so that the merging of two genres that come from separate worlds becomes lost and forgotten.
The performance marks the return of the company's 2009 performance, Hopera: A Fallen Hero and features a series of numbers from the first studio album of hip-hop opera company, HOPERAWorld, released earlier this month.
A month ago I found myself in Bloomington Normal for the One State Together in the Arts, the only conference for Illinois' entire creative community. While I was down there, I met a number of people, one of which was Ife Williams who told me about her project "See Me Better", bringing together ten community organizations to create murals on boards that will be secured over windows of vacant properties in North Lawndale, South Lawndale and East Garfield.
Since late January, students and community members have been meeting weekly, brainstorming ideas for their mural concepts and designs, developing fundamentals in art, as well as participating in neighborhood field trips and history lessons. Classes were led by art students from a number of colleges around Chicago.
This Saturday, June 25 the public will get their first look at the results of this project, from 10am to 1:30pm at 1528 S. Christina. You will have the opportunity to meet the artists and talk with the organizations involved in the project, as well as partake in a community barbeque lunch.
Tonight at 7pm, Art In These Times, the community gallery at In These Times' office (2040 N. Milwaukee Ave.), presents a new exhibition of posters and photographs from ongoing labor demonstrations in Wisconsin that began on February 14, 2011. The exhibition is a collaboration with Nicolas Lampert and will feature prints and placards he has collected as an active participant in the labor and community rallies in Madison. The Hard Times Trio, a jazz group which performs classic labor songs, will perform. The artwork will be on display through the summer and fall.
The exhibition features screenprints and off-set posters from rallies in Madison and Milwaukee and features prints by Nicolas Lampert, Colin Matthes, Eric Drooker, Jesus Barraza, Josh MacPhee, Jesse Graves and others. The photography of Lauren Cumbia (who co-organizes the gallery space with Daniel Tucker), Brandon Pittser and the Public Collectors archive will also be exhibited.
Check out this recent report from Wisconsin by curator Nicolas Lampert and Dan S. Wang for more information about the movement to defend collective bargaining rights.
Four youth winners of Graffiti Zone's Next Top Artist Contest will be honored tomorrow night at GZ's Spring Fundraiser. The event will take place at Chicago Urban Arts Society: 2229 S. Halsted from 6 to 9pm. Hosted by Chicago hip hop performer Philip Morris, described as "one of the ultimate word smiths of hip-hop (Skope Magazine)," the evening will feature catering by Green Cuisine, open bar, silent auction and performances by Opera-Matic with sound by Mark Messing. Ample free parking is available behind the building off of Cermak. Tickets are $35 at the door, or online at graffitizone.org. All proceeds to benefit Graffiti Zone, a five-year old non-profit arts organization serving kids from Humboldt Park. More info about the fundraiser can be found here.
When violence goes viral, as happened most notably in some of the raw video footage depicting and sharing with the world the outpouring of protests during the Middle East's Arab Spring earlier this year, it can be difficult to accept the images we see and the sounds we hear as reality. Our mind chooses to resist the Hollywood tendency to place ourselves in the lead "character's" shoes and we distance ourselves from those living another life, speaking a different language and living in a foreign land. We retweet and move on to the next slice of scandal, society or, if we're lucky, substance amongst the digital deluge.
But once one watches the video depicting the violent April 18 attack of 22-year-old trans woman Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore area McDonald's, it's hard to forget the sound of her screams amidst a backdrop of ambivalence, at best, and egging on, at worst. It's difficult to erase the image of Polis' hair being pulled and her body being dragged along the floor by her teenage assailants, who leapt on her in the restaurant's restroom. It's impossible to un-cry the tears that may shed upon watching the attacks coming to an end only after an older woman interjected -- and the restaurant's employees warned the attackers that police were, finally, en route to the scene.
On the seventh floor of the former Carson Pirie Scott building, the graduating students from the School of the Art Institute's Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO), and Fashion, presented works befitting the classic Louis Sullivan-designed building. Aesthetically speaking, their designs and concepts - ranging from mobile food cart projects to illuminated public art works to multi-functional furniture - are a far cry from Sullivan's steel-framed Chicago landmark. But the goals of the students' designs, often touching upon ideas of recycling, conservation of resources, and streamlined communication, were grounded in multi-generational sustainability.
"It was a chance to do something really beautiful, really challenging, and a challenge for myself," said Alysse Filipek (BFA 2013), the Grand Prize winner of the Designers of Tomorrow competition. Filipek's work addresses both her personal history in Southern California and her reaction to the harsh, Seasonal Affective Disorder-creating winters of Chicago.
Other works on view include LOADED: SAIC in Milan, originally presented during the 2011 Milan International Furniture Fair; Industry Partners: Living in a Smart City; a five-year GFRY Design Studio retrospective; and Where is Where, the graduate thesis exhibition.
Furniture geeks and functional art fans, take heed: the 7th Annual Guerrilla Truck Show is tonight, along with a bevy of exhibitions and parties in the area designed to be visited in tandem. These events take place tonight from 5:30 to 9:30 in the West Loop, with the official truck show at Morlen Sinoway Atelier: 1052 W. Fulton Market St. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. For a map of all the locations participating, click here. Also, (not noted on the map) EBERSMOORE (213 N. Morgan, #3C) is hosting a special exhibition of work by the talented group known as the Dock 6 Collective (works pictured above). For photos of past GTS's, check out this Flickr collection.
(left to right) Adam Poss and Amy J. Carle in Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jaclynn Jutting, part of Steppenwolf's NEXT UP 2011 Repertory. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
Steppenwolf's Next Up program -- featuring three productions showcasing Chicago's next generation of artists -- is going strong right now, with just a handful of shows left before it wraps up on June 19. I strongly encourage you to hurry up and get your tickets to see at least one of the shows this week.
Sadly, I haven't been able to see Venus, but the other two plays: Animals out of Paper and Where We're Born had me on the edge of my seat all day yesterday.
In the past year, what has become noticeable in Chicago's emerging and contemporary gallery scene is the ubiquitous and relative importance of Anna Cerniglia's Johalla Projects. The space not only provides ample opportunities for many locally-based artists to exhibit their work. It also provides a unique platform for more experimental and brief artist projects that connect a wider variety of artistic practices than the traditional exhibition.
In Urban Dwellers, artist Andrea Jablonski in collaboration with Vicki Fuller of VLF Development created and installed large-scale and glittered deer in the empty lot of 1827 North Milwaukee. The deer serve as a reminder for of the original natural surroundings of the area prior to urban development. Urban Dwellers closes June 11.
Thomas Roach, 86 plastic chairs uncomfortable to stack but ill, 2011.
Tonight begins a two-part reading series at Alderman Exhibitions featuring selections from William T. Vollman's short story collection, The Atlas. A companion to the gallery's current exhibition, Thomas Roach: New Drawings, tonight's reading will also include a discussion and reception. Vollman's stories, often quick and glinting descriptions of brief moments in passing, are a compliment to Roach's drawings which often evoke an ethereal and visceral quality. Although the event is free, guests are encouraged to RSVP at email@example.com. PDF's of the selected stories are available for each session and copies can be sent to you upon request in the RSVP.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 7pm
William T. Vollmann, The Atlas, PART 1
Selected stories for Part 1:
The Back of My Head
It's Too Difficult to Explain
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 7pm
William T. Vollmann, The Atlas, PART 2
Selected stories for Part 2:
Where Are You Today
Last Day at the Bakery
Alderman Exhibitions is located at 350 North Ogden, 4th floor.
Chekov fans will want to visit the Raven Theatre by July 23 to check out The Cherry Orchard, his last play, directed by Michael Menendian.
In keeping with Chekov's favorite theme of family discord amidst financial woes, The Cherry Orchard tells the story of the Ranevskayas, a Russian family of wealth and history whose estate faces financial ruin unless strong measures are taken to save it.
In a sparsely-furnished office in the Merchandise Mart, five recent graduates of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy are striving to write the next chapter in Chicago's film history. With their independent movie Chicago Rot, currently in pre-production, they're determined to change the perception of their hometown among film-goers and filmmakers alike. And by partially funding the project via the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter, they're inviting Second Citizens who share that vision to chip in.
Chicago Rot is the brainchild of Brant McCrea, Dorian Weinzimmer, Jeremy Vranich, Ryan Berena, and Sam Fell. All five were part of the 2009 inaugural graduating class of Flashpoint, the school for digital arts and media studies, which opened downtown in 2007. Rather than following the film student's stereotypical path straight to Los Angeles or New York, however, they're committed to proving Chicago can rival its coastal competitors as a hub for successful artists. Only fitting, then, that their first feature-length project should be what Weinzimmer calls "a personal love letter to the city - a dark love letter."
A trailer for Sketchbook 9, to give you an idea of what Sketchbook is.
Collaboraction theater company's wildly popular annual Sketchbook festival begins tonight at the Chopin Theater. Sketchbook is a lively multi-media event, combining several art forms including theater, music, visual art, new technologies and bombastic partying, anchored by a show that features several short plays. Selected from hundreds of submissions, Sketchbook brings together the collective talents of more than two hundred pioneering directors, designers, actors, musicians and artists from Chicago and around the country for a jaw-dropping evening of creativity, experimentation, and celebration.
If you've got this evening free, consider heading downtown for the Art Futura Awards Party.
Art Futura is a small yearly exhibition (in its 9th year with attendance growing to 300 last year) connecting artists and art therapy patients -- blending the best of both worlds. It is a great cause that helps the community of emerging artists who submit work and the work of art therapists who help support over 100 patients as they try to rebuild their lives after spinal cord, brain, and stroke injuries.
Jim Nutt is amazing. I finally got over to the MCA and saw Coming into Character. This is a show of portraits over anything else, with a selection of pieces from his "Harry Who" days, overshadowed by his exploration in the imaginary women portraits.
When Jim Nutt was making his wild Plexiglas reverse paintings he used text to indicate and address things within the work, he also used mutations, growths and sales ads renderings. The use of all these devices was necessary to emphasize the work being made. Having painted them on Plexiglas, the nature of these early pieces were to be slick, but in order for that to work with his style they had to be dramatic. This is where there is a huge leap from the early work of Jim Nutt and his Imaginary Women.
Nonprofit arts organization Threewalls is connecting artists and collectors by adapting a model better known for supporting local farmers.
About The Grid
The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies and experiments in form. Ben Kolak and Brian Ashby's directorial debut, Scrappers, won Best Documentary at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's top 10 list of documentary films in 2010. Editor Dave Nagel is a recent University of Chicago graduate.
ArtXposium is upon us once again, in it's fifth year in West Chicago IL, this multidisciplinary arts weekend is being brought to life by People Made Visible. "A non-for-profit organization with a mission to facilitate community while fulfilling the artistic, social, educational and cultural needs of the community through an innovative physical and web based presence."
I had the pleasure to speak with one of the featured artists Stine Marie Jacobsen who has been working with teens of West Chicago for her video project Detention Club. Stine has a history of working with reenactments of all sorts from popular films to urban legends, she enjoys repurposing stories to help get across ideas the story was not originally intended to address.
Jno Cook may very well be the best in the Midwest when it come to conceptual art. A long time photography professor at Columbia College, Jno has been contributing to the arts here for decades. Have you ever heard of Spaces.org? That's him, along with ChicagoArt.net and ChicagoArt.org. Jno is not really organizing the visual arts resources and institutions in the city, but he is documenting and adding them all to a database.
There are many ways to a teenager's heart; you just have to know where to start. Co-op Image Group started with a few video cameras and has kept the kids interests by adding stencils, samplers, molten glass and hot sauce.
It all began in 2002 when Mike Bancroft (who was working for Street Level Youth Media at the time) and his sister, Bridget, were working on a project with the SLYM kids called "Post Our Bills." The idea was to use boarded up buildings as exhibition opportunities -- rather than looking at plywood-covered windows, wouldn't you rather look at paintings? Although they didn't get a lot of cooperation from the city, they attracted a lot of volunteers and positive attention from the neighborhood, and before they knew it they received a donated building and a community garden -- now the Campbell Co-op Garden (1357 N. Campbell St.).
Lovers of both shoes and art will definitely want to check out BucketFeet, a new shoe company based in Chicago. Co-founded by Aaron Firestein and Raaja Nemani, BucketFeet not only boasts artsy kicks, but is also about making a difference in the lives of children in the community.
Photo courtesy of: Michael Fortner
Through the company's motto, "Buy a Shoe, Build a Community," BucketFeet works to build and expand communities that support children and the arts worldwide. The shoes, adorned with artwork and designs by Firestein are sold online, with portions of each sale going to three children-focused non-profit charities: Children Mending Hearts, an organization dedicated to arts programs for homeless children; love.futbol, which helps build safe soccer playing fields and Metropolitan Area Group Igniting Civilization (MAGIC), a youth organization in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood that encourages kids to pursue music through its stringed-instrument program.
For Nemani, the shoes are only part of the bigger picture; for him, being involved with kids in the community is what is most fulfilling. "Selling awesome sneakers for a living is cool," he says, "but being able to use that to try to make a difference in the lives of kids around the world is a dream come true."
To learn more about or become involved with BucketFeet, visit the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julieta Alvarez is a local artists who, like many of us, feel discontented about the state of arts advocacy in Chicago. Although always interested in the arts Julieta didn't find herself working as an artist, or even within the arts, until she parlayed her interest in corporate branding experience into a partnership with RATIOnation, a production and artist management company in Chicago. With this relationship, and her experience as a brand ambassador, Julieta began forging a path that would lead her to helping, housing and mentoring young and emerging musicians, photographers and all manner of other artists.
In an effort to bring more performance-oriented stuff to the already artistic neighborhood of Logan Square, a few of its residents have started a performance collective called Strong Works, and they'll be bringing a series of staged readings, improv shows, panel discussions, traditional "performance pieces" and live music to the neighborhood over the course of this summer.
"The Cannon," a monthly event starting tonight, will feature six Chicago actors
performing short stories chosen by Will Litton, fiction editor of the literary magazine Wag's Revue, and Sam Nyhart, company member of Strong Works. Readings will be "performative, polished and punchy," according to Amanda Rozmiarek, production manager of Strong Works.
Tonight's event will be held at Bonny's (2417 N. Milwaukee Ave.) from 9
to 10. Afterward, the Strong Works jazz band will play, followed by DJs, dancing and drinks. A $5 donation will be gently suggested at the door to keep their otherwise entirely unfunded season going.
It's never a good sign when you spend more time checking out the crowd rather than the art. The scene at this year's Artropolis opening was as festive as ever, and the joining of Art Chicago and NEXT on the same floor provided ample opportunity to move back and forth between more established galleries and emerging spaces. However, much of the appeal of Artropolis lies in the activities, discussions, and other assorted events that will continue to take place throughout the weekend. The opening was only a taste of the culture of this year's event and I highly encourage guests to spend time exploring all that the two events have to offer.
Caitlin Arnold: Hailey and Jade, 2008
Caitlin Arnold (represented at Johalla Projects): Arnold's images document adolescent girls at their most curious and questioning stage. Her subjects understand and are fearful of the world they are quickly being thrust into; this much is evident as each subject stares with longing at the camera.
If Chicago is a beer city, then our status is one that is in a state of flux. Although our selection is on par with other cities of similar size, our mass breweries are far outpaced by towns with more-established emerging and DIY breweries. However, the number of smaller breweries continues to grow with each year and home brewing has increasingly expanded as an option for the individual or groups more deeply invested in a hands-on and locally sourced means of food production.
For his latest community-oriented project, artist Christopher Tourre aims to bring the culture of the home brewery to the masses. Entitled PUBLIC BREWERY, Tourre organized a temporary and experimental brewery that includes a series of workshops and gatherings at the Spoke's Residency Project Space that will allow guests to brew their own beer or soda using either their own ingredients or locally produced food items such as cherries, honey, and crabapple blossom syrup.
I was lucky enough to catch Artropolis last night-- what a scene! I've never seen so many plastic faces and big money in one place! ArtChicago and NEXT were on the same level this year (floor 12), which I think is a good idea because it forces the two worlds to mingle. Unfortunately I didn't see anything in ArtChicago that piqued my interest in the least this year. The whole section just looks like an overcrowded hotel lobby. NEXT was great, as usual, though. And the antiques fair on the 8th floor is pretty damn cool, too-- don't forget to check that out.
Here are the artists whose work particularly stood out to me at NEXT. Keep your eyes peeled for them both at the fair and in the future. You'll probably be hearing some of their names again. (Please note: A lot of the artists' sites don't appear to be as updated as the sites of the galleries that represent them, so make sure to search for the artist by name on the gallery's sites if you're interested in an artists' work.)
Whether you're an opera aficionado or an opera virgin, consider exposing yourself to an avant-garde take on it this week with Mexico City's Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes' El Gallo: Opera for Actors-- part of the MCA's Global Stage Series. This piece of experimental theater, opening this Wednesday with a short run (through May 1), features a music director and five singers pushing themselves to their limits, "teetering between insanity and euphoria as they work through their deepest
inhibitions." Sung entirely in a made-up language, El Gallo features a score and libretto by British composer, Paul Barker, who conducts the music-- performed live by Chicago's MAVerick Ensemble.
Well, ready or not, he's here and said he wants to go as loud as he can to tell stories through his work in a non-traditional way.
"You have to have a home base to blow up," said Brantley. "I've been blessed and fortunate enough to build a base here and now I'm ready to conquer the rest of the world."
The Chicago native said this city is the best place to establish that home base. Brantley said his recent solo exhibition, Afro-Futurism: Impossible View, served as a major stepping stone in his young career, as the first African-American under the age of 30 (at the time) to be featured at the Zhou B. Art Center in Bridgeport-- not far from his stomping ground of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. In this exhibit, his illustrations depict stories surrounded by his creation of a superhero named Flyboy and other goggle-eyed creatures--children specifically--and their emotions from today's socioeconomic times and a group of World War II unsung heroes-- The Tuskegee Airmen.
Chicago's largest art fair, Art Chicago, has taken a hit in recent years due to mismanagement and other logistical issues. For the local art community, the fair - now a massive four-day event encompassing multiple floors of the Merchandise Mart - often isolates or ignores the eclectic, diverse, and ever-changing Chicago and Midwest-based art galleries, publications, and institutions.
Three of Chicago's most celebrated art entities-- threewalls, Roots and Culture, and Public Media Institute-- present the MDW Fair, a celebration and gathering of Chicagoland area independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries, publishers, and artist groups, and something of a response to the much larger fair which takes place the following weekend. Running April 23 and 24, the fair aims to "demonstrate the diversity, strength, and vision of the people/places making it happen in the art ecology of our region."
Artists will show their love for the most popular sport in the world on Thursday, April 21 at the Adidas store at 923 N Rush St., from 7 to 9pm.
The collaboration between The Chicago Fire and Arte y Vida Chicago is something I have been looking forward to for months now. With the Champions League down to the Semi-Finals, all the European leagues coming down to the wire and MLS in full swing, this show couldn't come at a better time. A celebration of the strength, power and fanaticism of the worlds most popular sport through art is something to shout about.
Textile Discount Outlet, located at 2121 w. 21st Street, has helped sustain Chicago's creative classes with discounted fabrics and inspiration for over 30 years.
About The Grid
The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies and experiments in form. Ben Kolak and Brian Ashby's directorial debut, Scrappers, won Best Documentary at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's top 10 list of documentary films in 2010. Editor Dave Nagel is a recent University of Chicago graduate.
Michael Darling, the recently appointed James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator of the MCA, announced the appointment of Naomi Beckwith as the museum's newest curator yesterday. For the culturally diverse yet fractured city of Chicago, Beckwith's new appointment could potentially usher in a new wave of eclectic and inclusive programming from the museum. Currently the Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Beckwith's curatorial projects frequently focus on themes of identity and conceptual practices in contemporary art and artists of African descent. A native Chicagoan, Beckwith begins work at the MCA on May 11.
In a press release about the appointment, Beckwith noted the importance of the museum in the development of her education in contemporary art. Recent Studio Museum projects include Zwelethu Mthethwa: Inner Views, the critically acclaimed exhibition of photographs from the South African photographer.
Humboldt Park art and community center Rumble Arts (maybe you remember last year's feature story profiling them?) is in trouble because the family-owned pawnshop that provides its primary source of funding is in danger of being overthrown by a Cash America. It's like a civil war over there. Support the little guys! Support arts programming!
Attend the Town Hall Hearing TONIGHT at 6pm at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, (1400 N. Sacramento Ave.) and/or the Zoning Board of Appeals, April 15 at 2pm at City Hall, (121 N LaSalle St, 3rd Floor). The hearing on April 15 determines if Cash America will receive a business license. If you need a ride, a bus will depart Rumble Arts (3413 W. North Ave.) at 12:45pm to travel downtown. A second bus will load at Fullerton Red Line (943 W. Fullerton Ave.) at 12:45pm.
Are you one of the legions of artists out there lamenting your lack of productivity, chalking it up to not having a proper studio space, or perhaps feeling alien from the artistic community and generally uninspired? Do you need a muse, or an excuse to get out of your living room, away from your kids and your dirty dishes and start making art again? Or maybe you've been working your ass off in your basement but your work never sees the light of day and you would like some serious, critical feedback from someone other than your dog hiking his leg on it. OR maybe you're fresh out of college and you worry that you're going to fall into atrophy without some continued structure.
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, the newly-established Bolt Residency program may be a good option for you. The Bolt Residency is a highly competitive and juried artist program housed in the former FLATFILEgalleries, an 8,000 square foot space in the West Loop. It features a one to two-year artist residency program consisting of nine subsidized studios and professional exhibition space with daily, ongoing professional development and in depth collaborations with prominent Chicago curators, visiting artists, gallery directors, dealers, and collectors-- from Candida Alvarez to Monique Meloche. The idea is to not only provide studio space for artists, but to serve as a support structure and a network for artists to develop their creative practices into viable careers. It is not an easy thing, after all.
Sheila Pepe, Common Sense, Artisterium 3, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, 2010
Brooklyn-based artist Sheila Pepe's ongoing and traveling installation performance, Common Sense, makes its fifth stop in Chicago at Oak Park's he said, she said. Thus far, the performance has traveled to CAHM in Houston; Testsite/Fluent-Colab in Austin, Texas; Artisterium 3, in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia; and Carroll and Sons in Boston.
The participatory exhibition is yet another example of the gallery's ongoing effort to engage audiences in a conversation about art and culture. Incorporating ideas of abstraction and construction, the large-scale crochet "drawing" allows audiences to participate in the work by unraveling the material to be used for their own creations. As well, this is another chance for art lovers to venture to the burgeoning and eclectic art community growing in the diverse suburb of Oak Park.
Common Sense, Chicago opens April 9 at 6pm and runs through May 14. he said, she said is located at 216 North Harvey Avenue, Apt. #1 in Oak Park.
We know that Chicago is full of great art. We've got a bunch of internationally-renown educational institutions, attracting artists from all over the world. On top of that, we've got almost as many exhibition spaces as we've got artists and perhaps even more journalists who are just dying to write thoughtfully and comprehensively about the work being made. So why do artists keep on moving away to New York and LA? Money. Artmaking is not a viable sole source of income for most Chicagoans. Many artists have to work two, three, maybe four jobs at a time to get by. And that doesn't leave much time for sitting in the studio, staring at blank canvases, trying to come up with ideas.
The brainy people over at threewalls have come up with a brilliant idea, however, to start to solve this problem: Community Supported Art-- an art subscription service much like the increasingly popular community supported agriculture programs, in which shareholders invest in a local farm and receive a monthly payout of fruits and vegetables.
Now that it is April we can all look forward to the art fair season kicking off. One of the biggest, and longest running under the same management is Version Fest. This year Version fest will be held from April 22 thru May 2nd with so many different programming platforms that there will literally be something for everyone. Over the next month I will talk a bit about a few of the many groups participating in Version, how you can see them, contact them or get involved yourself.
Last night, former Cabrini-Green residents gathered at the last remaining high-rise building, 1230 N. Burling, to celebrate the community's life while wishing it farewell. A few short speeches were made to the press, but the highlights were mixing with friends, performances by ThaBrigade Stamps Marching Band and the installation in the building itself.
The band performed several numbers for the crowd as the sun set.
A new episode of Fear No Art Chicago is about to hit the airwaves on WTTW11. The third episode of this wildly popular arts program will feature Chicago legend Tony Fitzpatrick, actress Joyce Piven and puppeteer Blair Thomas. I encourage all of you to tune in at least once to help Chicago get WTTW11 to make this program a regular series and finally get Chicago some serious arts programming.
March 31 @ 10pm
April 3 @ Noon
April 6 @ 10:30pm WTTW Prime
April 1 @ 4pm
April 7 @ 4:30pm
April 9 @ 5pm
If you've been craving some serious art talk but don't have the loot to go to art school, stop by threewalls tonight (or across the hallway at Western Exhibitions, rather) for their "Unschooling Arts Education" SALON-- part of their monthly, (free!) super-educational and interactive discussion series.
Starting at 7 tonight, the discussion will start off with questions along the lines of: Do I really need a MFA to be a successful artist? What does the fact that you can get a PhD in visual art say about the baseline criteria that art professionals need to meet before being allowed to do anything in the arts? Is formal education valued over experience, and if so, what does this mean for the democratization of voices in the art world?
Invited guests who will be driving the discussion include Zachary Cahill, Erica Meiners (Northeastern Illinois University), Bert Stabler, Jacqueline Terrassa (MCA) and Rebecca Zorach (University of Chicago). This event is free and open to the public. Details here.
Growing up in Evanston, IL, Jen Bosworth had an upbringing similar to many of today's suburban youth. The daughter of Ines and Chuck Bosworth and sister to Cecily, Jen attended Evanston public schools and eventually made her way to DePaul University where she auditioned and was accepted to the Theater Conservatory. Not exactly sure which career direction she wanted to go in life, theater seemed as good a path as any. After graduation Jen was cast as the lead actor in the Steppenwolf Theater's production of The House on Mango St. Following the success of her public stage debut, Jen continued acting, starring in the television series "ER" and "Early Addition"-- both filmed and produced here in Chicago. Seeking a life of greater fortune and promise, Jen abandoned her local fame and headed west to L.A. where she promptly quit acting.
Dumping her trained skill in the land of the silver screen where actors are born and careers are launched wasn't exactly planned as Jen describes her cross country move.
"I'd come all this way to find what I was looking for and was surprised when acting wasn't it!"
If you haven't made plans for Friday yet, consider buying a ticket for Urban Gateways' 50th Anniversary Gala &/or Gala Undone After Party. Gala starts at 6pm, and tickets are a steep $350, but the after party (Gala Undone) is affordable for normal folks, with tickets going for $40 in advance or $50 at the door. The event will feature veteran Urban Gateways artist James "Casper" Jankowiak, who will create an interactive mural during the event, a performance by Urban Gateways touring artists and resident performing ensemble of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, BAM! and a late-night dance party to the music of DJ Mister Wolf (of Only Children). Also on hand will be plenty of munchies, an open bar and a silent auction.
Gala Undone will take place this Friday, April 1 from 9:30 to midnight at Venue One (1044 W. Randolph). More details here.
Art Club is a concept to bring purpose and support to a community of discouraged artists. Artists are given from March 4th to March 24th to create a (pre-chosen) concept-based piece, one of which can be spent in-gallery working in an open studio.
The word "steep" to be interpreted by the artists and create reactionary work based on their definition.
BYOB Chicago (organized by Nicholas O'Brien and Brian Khek) has invited more than 30 Chicago-based and international artists to create a collaborative happening of moving light, sound and performance. The dynamic structure will no-doubt be enhanced by a series of ad hoc installations, performances and special projects, creating an immerse environment of DIY spontaneity and experimentation.
The Chicago iteration of this international project will occur on Saturday, March 26 at the Archer Ballroom from 7 to 10pm.
A Gaia poster bomb on 18th Street; photo courtesy of the artist
Internationally lauded street artist, Gaia, is officially here-- all over the place. A series of projects showcasing Gaia's work around town, collectively titled GAIA: Resplendent Semblance launched a few weeks ago with a bunch of work pasted up all over the city, a collection of work at Pawn Works (which opened last Friday) and a show of new, large scale paintings and collages at Maxwell Colette Gallery, which will open this Friday.
Steve Schapiro: "Jodie on Couch" (1975); photo courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery.
To have Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese secure brilliant, attractive actors as your subjects, to have the perfect movie set as your background, to have the lighting already flawlessly arranged for each shot, then for the two famous directors to invite you in to capture it all on film - that is a photographer's dream. Steve Schapiro is a lucky bastard.
Here is a comprehensive list of artsy options for the weekend. These are mostly all opening receptions, with a few performances, benefits and artist lectures thrown in. Most of the events today start around 5 or 6pm, but some of the Saturday and Sunday events start earlier. Click on the links for details. See you around!
This Saturday night Collaboraction will throw its most revolutionary fundraising party to date with their 9th annual CARNAVAL: Let Them Eat Cake! party at the Double Door. The venue will be transformed into a party battle zone with live musical performances, radical costumes, burlesque, immersive theatrical interludes, two floors of dancing and bottomless drinks.
"With revolution in the air, Collaboraction gathers its diverse and vibrant colony of artists to create an immersive artistic experience that vibrates with bacchanalian insurrection. Part party and part living art installation, our 9th annual CARNAVAL will be a debaucherous deconstruction of the history of revolution in France and throughout the globe," said Anthony Moseley, Artistic and Executive Director of Collaboraction, in the press release.
Meet "Flyboy," the goggle-wearing hero in artist Hebru Brantley's solo exhibition, Afro-Futurism: (Impossible View), who takes children mired in an abyss of socioeconomic obstacles and celebrates their unwavering spirit to survive and succeed despite it all. Brantley, a self-taught painter and illustrator from Chicago's South Side, conceived Flyboy via "attempts to commercialize the idea of an ethnic hero," something not always visible in the general cultural landscape.
Afro-Futurism: (Impossible View) opens Friday, March 18, 7pm-10pm, and runs through April 25 at Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. For more information, contact curator Michael Zhou at email@example.com or 773-523-0200.
There has been alotoftalk (and a little controversy) about nanny-cum-street photographer, Vivian Maier, whose work was discovered in 2007 when storage units containing it were emptied due to late payment and the work was sold to an auction house. Maybe you've even seen her exhibition at the Cultural Center (up through April 3). In a sense, she is our new Henry Darger--a talented Chicago-based outsider artist whose work has earned her posthumous fame. The difference is that her work is genuine documentation of the city and the people in it rather than the zany imaginings of a madman (not that there's anything wrong with that).
But just like the prices for Darger's work rapidly skyrocketed, Maier's are on their way up, and now you have a chance at a piece of the pie.
In his debut one-man show, Tim Paul's Retarded, Annoyance Theatre veteran Tim Paul reveals what happens behind the closed doors of a group home. Supplemented by pop-cult video segments to add context, he recounts true (and horrifying) stories from his years working at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders, exploring society's all-too-comfortable relationship with the r-word. The result is a challenging piece of theater with its fair share of tongue-in-cheek laughs.
Tim Paul's Retarded opened last Sunday and will run every Sunday at 9:30pm through April 3 at The Annoyance Theatre (4830 N. Broadway). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at theannoyance.com or by calling the box office at 773-561-4665.
A heavy bill is set for Mortville tonight; a few of the bands have traveled long distances to grace Chicago with some serious music. Check them out and have some fun while gazing into the installations reminiscent of the Garbage Pale Kids.
If you want to go, you've got to figure out the address for yourself. You can thank the city'sPPAdrama for that. Hint: It's in Little Village.
Criticallyacclaimed comedy troupe Octavarius is premiering a new show series titled "Octavarius: Battle for the Belt," tomorrow night (March 13) at 7pm at Stage 773. Additional performances will take place on March 20 & 27. Colt Cabana, former WWE and current Ring of Honor superstar, is a special guest of the series, making an in-person appearance on night two (the 20th) and video appearances on night one and three. "The Ego" Robert Anthony, CZW Heavyweight Champion, will make a surprise appearance on the final night of the series (the 27th). The stage will be transformed into a wrestling ring, complete with ropes, turnbuckles and a Jumbotron. Tickets are $15 per show, or $25 for a ringside pass to all three nights. Audience members are encouraged to make a sign cheering or jeering their favorite Octavarius superstars, and receive tickets at a discounted rate of $12. For more information, visit Octavarius.com.
Local artist book shop and exhibition space Golden Age continues to present a strong line-up of curated and solo exhibitions. For their latest, New York City-based artist Erik Lindman will be in attendance for the opening of his latest solo exhibition, One Year Edit. Constructed of cast-offs from other paintings, Lindman's four unique abstract works combine varying surfaces with more formal compositions. As Golden Age co-director Marco Kane Braunschweiler noted, "You go out, find your subject in the world, come back, edit out what doesn't work and if you've done what you've intended, you present something resonant. It's a bold and cutting edge way of working because it doesn't present any hint of the artist as a traditional, avant-garde painter."
One Year Edit opens Friday, March 11, from 6 to 9 pm. The exhibition runs through April 17. Golden Age is located at 119 North Peoria, #2D.
Filmmaker Amy Grappell has featured works in Sundance film fest, winning honorable mention. She has also shown work at SXSW, Rotterdam film fest, and among many others. Now, she will be presenting work at University of Chicago's contemporary art gallery The Renaissance Society.
The opening reception will take place this Sunday (March 13) from 4pm to 7pm, and will include a discussion with Grappell from 5pm to 6pm, in room 307 at Cobb Hall.
Yael Bartana is a female video artist who works from Amsterdam and Tel Aviv, whom recently was awarded the prestigious Artes Mundi Prize. Her work explores the complicated implications of social and political discourses revolving around the age of globalization.
This Saturday The Garden is hosting a one night event from 8pm to 1am that will feature too many talented Chicago artists and musicians to wrap your head around. Brett Manning (a girl), is the curator along with the help of others. This isn't an event to miss and then cry about later when you hear all your friends were there. It is a small world after all.
Visit the P&P blog for more information.
This Friday from 6pm to 9pm the Co Prosperity sphere is opening a new show in conjunction with the old Uncle Freddy's Gallery of Northwest Indiana. Uncle Freddy's was a space where artists who didn't fit the mold of the traditional gallery scene would be able to show their most heartfelt and intense work.
If you're looking for a little lively art talk today, look no further than UIC's Gallery 400. Today at 5pm they're hosting an artist's talk with Kalup Linzy-- a multidisciplinary artist whose practice includes videos, performances, and music. I am not familiar with his work but it sounds like a lot of fun, and (potentially) part of the Post Black movement-- one of the most exiting contemporary art movements, albeit underrepresented. (Pulled from the press release:)
His satirical narratives--inspired by soap operas, telenovelas and Hollywood melodramas--deal with race, sexuality, gender, class, and the art world itself. Serving as writer, director, cinematographer, editor, and actor, he performs, often in drag, a series of memorable, defiant characters. Simultaneously salacious and poignant, Linzy's works fuse dramatic intensity with melodramatic irony and gut-busting comedy.
Gallery 400 is located at 400 S. Peoria St. in the West Loop. For more information about Linzy, visit his website.
The recent rainy Friday evening did not detract from the opening of SAIC MFA-alum Chinatsu Ikeda's solo show at the Nicole Villeneuve Gallery being well attended. Indeed, the weather seemed an appropriate fit for Ikeda's paintings, some of which feature falling rain and snow, and are made up of tiny washy marks.
The show, comprised of eight recent works on canvas and paper, ranges from oil to watercolor. A particularly strong example of what can perhaps be described as a contemporary interpretation of impressionistic mark-making can be found in an untitled oil painting featuring a clown-like figure situated between a fork and a spoon. The picture is enveloped in a variety of Ikeda's tiny marks that could be falling rain or snow, but in areas alternate between resembling popcorn or rice (further evidenced by a tiny orange bowl in the lower left corner). Elsewhere these same marks help to form the face and arms of the figure-- notably the figure's broad, bright red lips.
Former Gapers Block contributor, banana enthusiast and (above all) photographer Brian Leli has begun selling prints of his photographs on his website to facilitate the taking of more photographs. Prints are $80 each and come with a hand-written letter from Leli and (apparently) a date (if you live in Chicago). Good deal. Pictured above is the first print for sale on his website.
Local comedian Mo Welch debuts her "one woman show", Weird Girl, at the Lincoln Lodge tonight. For the show she combines her trademark characters from "The Mo Show" with her real life upbringing. Welch also adds her original short films, making the show both multi-media and interactive. Although "The Mo Show" is nascent, it has already received a good amount of press, with appearances by some of Chicago's top comedians. Welch's Weird Girl: One Human Show promises the same wacky abandon.
Weird Girl debuts at 9pm tonight at The Lincoln Lodge, and runs again tomorrow (March 4)-- same place, same time. Tickets are $10. More information can be found at mowelch.com. Buy tickets ahead of time at thelincolnlodge.com.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's re-vamped monthly party, First Fridays, continues to combine music, visual arts, and exclusive events. March's theme is Robots and includes selected tunes by DJ Josh Madden and an appearance by Billy Bot of Slideshow Theatre.
Compared to previous iterations of the event, March's celebration is fantastically heavy on the museum's bread and butter, the arts. Club Nutz return to the museum after a week-long summer residency as part of Here/Not There. In its latest presentation, visitors can view a robot stand-up comedian, a robotic magic show, an open mic, and DJ dance parties. Visitors also get a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of artist Kirsten Leenaars' soap opera based on MCA staff members. As well, Takeshi Moro, the latest artist in the UBS 12 x 12: New Artists/New Work series open his solo exhibition of photographic works and designed objects.
First Fridays: Robots takes place Friday, March 4 from 6 pm to 10 pm. Tickets are $10 for MCA members, $13 in advance, or $18 at the door. All tickets include museum admission, live entertainment, and hors d'oeuvres. For more information, visit mcachicago.org.
Leaving through the back door (first photograph of the trip), silver gelatin print, 2010
ACRE, in conjunction with Johalla Projects, presents TALKING WITH FEAR ABOUT DYING TOMORROW, a solo exhibition of new works by Chicago-based artist and educator Matthew Austin. The latest installment in ACRE's year-long series of solo exhibition by 2010 ACRE summer residents, Austin's new work was born out of a month-long road trip following his summer residency.
In his series of photographs, Austin carves into trees or poses for a tourist photo as a means of exploring and documenting the ways in which an individual interacts with his or her environment. Austin reiterates personal messages and tangible artifacts of an individual experience as a way to highlight the universality of such interactions.
In addition to the photographs, Austin will be releasing an edition of news prints and a monograph of new work. On Saturday at 4 pm, Austin will also exhibition his first contribution to HomeSchool, a traveling institution for experimental pedagogy.
Matthew Austin: TALKING WITH FEAR ABOUT DYING TOMORROW opens Friday, March 4 from 7 - 10 pm. The exhibition closes this Saturday, March 5. Johalla Projects is located at 1561 N Milwaukee and is open Thursday, March 3 from 3 - 7 pm and Saturday, March 5 from 1 - 6 pm.
I am super excited about an upcoming show I want everyone to know about, and it isn't just because I can finally write about soccer in the arts section. My passion for art is immense, I love doing studio visits with fellow artists, and ChicagoArts exists because I can't keep from talking about great work and trying to let people know how awesome art is. So there are only a few things that get my mind off creativity and the arts, one of those things is soccer. Remember that The Onion article "Nation's Soccer Fan Becoming Insufferable"? Well, that was me.
Starting March 18 and running through May, an ongoing discussion series will be staged at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield Ave., on a weekly basis on Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm. To Art & Profit -- performed by panels of artists, scholars and creative advocates -- will address art as knowledge in discussions defining purpose and building solidarity. Tickets are $15, or $10 for students.
The new show at Carl Hammer, although ultimately disappointing, is interesting at first because all of the large format images by artist Eric Daigh are made entirely with colored push pins. Red, blue, yellow, white and black pushpins are used like points in printing or pixels on a computer screen to create portraits.
These portraits couldn't help but reference the impressionists and Chuck Close, but the depth is more in line with what I would expect to come out of a BFA show rather than be in one of the better galleries in Chicago.
Independent curator and arts administrator Karly Wildenhaus' latest solo exhibition, Twice Removed: a Survey of Take Away Work, has already garnered extensive press coverage for its crafty exploration of an object's meaning and place in contemporary art long after its initial exhibition run. Featuring prints, buttons, posters, and other ephemera, Twice Removed is a unique and expertly constructed exhibition based solely on others' work.
Local artist book shop Golden Age will launch the publication component of the exhibition today, from 3 to 5 pm. Wildenhaus, who also wrote the publication, will be on hand to discuss both the exhibition and the publication.
Officer #2 (Christopher M. Walsh, left), the Commissioner (Eric Paskey, center front), the Madman (Joseph Sterns, back, red tie), Sporty (Anthony Tournis, right, white shirt), and Officer #1 (Elizabeth Bagby, back right) sing a song together. Photo by Johnny Knight.
There is no apparent anarchy in Signal Ensemble's tidy and well-rehearsed version of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist. That is not to say it is not in the spirit of anarchy, or that it is not an effective play-- because it is, without a doubt. The impeccable craft, attention to detail and obvious investment of countless days memorizing lines only makes a stronger case for this timely (if not timeless), sharp, satirical production.
This clever, faced-paced story pokes fun of police corruption, inspired by the real-life case of anarchist railway worker Giuseppe Pinelli, who fell-- or was thrown-- from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969. The events of the play itself, however, are fictional. The play opens with Inspector Bertozzo (Vincent Lonergan) interrogating "The Madman" (Joseph Stearns). The Madman, a scam artist with a role-playing fetish, constantly outsmarts the dim-witted police staff-- pretending to be a judge, wreaking havoc, getting them to re-enact incriminating events and eventually completely lose it in front of a suspicious reporter (Simone Roos).
Pictured is an image from Dated: A Cautionary Tale for Facebook Users, a tragicomic monologue with multimedia projections, written by Ira Gamerman. Photo by Kirstie Shanley.
If you are one of the many people who have heard about Chicago's vibrant independent theater scene, but haven't made it out to see anything because your perception of theater has been tainted by cheesy musicals, you may want to free up a night this month or next to check out Collaboraction's Sketchbook REVERB.
"Sketchbook has proven to be this place where we've found a way to make theater super tasty and consumable to a young diverse audience," explains Anthony Moseley, director. "The audience is not just made up of people who go to a lot of theater."
In Nicholas Knight's latest solo exhibition, Declaimed, at 65GRAND, the artist subtly re-purposes images or the idea of the image to create one unified whole. The image become something new and complete, even as it breaks down the context of and the relationship between the audience and the image itself. His works are re-purposed both tangibly and symbolically.
We live in a world of "declaimed" images and as Knight reiterates in works such as Double Dramatization (2010) and Screen Images Simulated (Youthful Hercules) (2010), it is a matter of breaking down and rediscovering (perhaps even creating) the truth out of the inauthentic image. The questions of authenticity also play a main role in Knight's images: What is true and not true? Are we as cognizant of the false images and ideas that stem from these images as we imagine?
In other, non-photographic works, Knight breaks down the idea of the image to its most singular of definitions: forms captured. Each new piece in the exhibition becomes more and more difficult to identify as just prints or as manipulated images from Knight's psyche. Knight responds to the idea of the manipulated image, in turn making something that is "untrue" but still tangible.
Declaimed closes this Saturday. 65GRAND is open Friday and Saturday from 12 pm to 5:30 pm, or by appointment. The gallery is located at 1369 West Grand.
This story was submitted by freelance journalist and author, Ted McClelland.
At six o'clock on a Friday night, there are no lights on at the Vivekananda Vedanta Society temple, a Prairie-style building on a dark crossroads in rural Homer Glen. But the door is open, so you go inside, slip off your shoes, and follow the intensifying scent of incense, up the stairs, to the sanctuary, where a little man in an orange robe is sliding blue velvet slipcovers over framed photographs of Hindu mystics, which repose on burnished mahogany thrones.
Swami Varadananda does this every night, at the end of prayers.
The Vivekananda Vedanta Society's temple is only two years old, but its roots in Chicago go back over a century, longer than any non-Judeo-Christian religion. The society traces its origins in the 1893 Parliament of Religions, a sideshow to Chicago's Columbian Exposition. The Raja of Khetri provided a wandering monk named Vivekananda with a first-class steamer ticket from Bombay to Vancouver. When he arrived in Chicago, without an invitation, he knocked on doors in the Gold Coast until a wealthy society matron gave him breakfast and introduced him to the Parliament's president.
Vivekananda's appearance at the Parliament was an important moment for both the United States and India. The Hindu monk introduced yoga and meditation to the Americans, who would adopt both practices, although as self-improvement disciplines, not spiritual undertakings. In Vivekananda's homeland, his journey is remembered as the first time the West seriously acknowledged Indian culture.
Laika, Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough. Photos by Evan Hanover.
Laika Dog in Space is a lot of things. It is more than a play; it is an event. A class, even. A field trip. It is a variety show of sorts, with an art gallery/museum for a lobby and a live band.
Upon arrival to the Neo Futurarium, where Laika Dog in Space is playing, audience members are invited to explore the "state park" (a.k.a. the lobby), where there are a few dioramas on shelves against one wall and framed photos of all the famous dogs from pop culture on another wall, complete with clever descriptions underneath. Snoop Dog is even included.
Chicago Dramatists take on the oldest profession head on with their current performance, Bordello, written by Aline Lathrop.
The entirety of Bordello takes place in the kitchen of Pussy Willow Ranch, located 60 miles outside of Las Vegas in the great state of Nevada.
It isn't easy dissecting this play. First of all, I am a man, and any thoughts I have about what I experienced have to be put into perspective. Having said that, Bordello is not a sexy romp through the lives of some of Nevada's premier sex workers-- not that I thought it would be. It is more like a glimpse into the lives of some people who happen to work in a place that happens to be a bordello.
For the past 100 years Ox-Bow (the SAIC-affiliated artist residency/commune/adult summer camp) has hosted a themed costumed dance party and benefit auction every Friday night while classes are in session. Every year the themes get more creative and the dance parties get more epic.
Friday, February 18 they are bringing the party into the city (lucky us!) and they invite you to come dressed as a famous artist or artwork. Eric May, head chef at Ox-Bow and director of Roots and Culture Contemporary Arts Center, will spin funk, soul, dub and reggae CORRECTION: yacht rock/early rave/Moombahton.
The blizzard that is moving in on us at the moment is causing several cancellations and closures in the art world today and tomorrow. Here's what we have so far:
The Art Institute closed at 2pm today and will be closed tomorrow, so the Peter Fischli artist talk scheduled for tomorrow at 6pm has been canceled.
The MCA closed at 2pm today and will be closed tomorrow.
Steppenwolf has canceled their shows tonight and their matinees tomorrow.
Goodman Theatre's Wednesday, February 2 Performance of the Trinity River Plays has been cancelled.
Tonight's Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance with conductor/pianist Mitsuko Uchida has been rescheduled for Monday, February 7, at 7:30pm. Wednesday's performance by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra will go on. More info at CSO's website.
UIC's Gallery 400 is closed today as of 2pm, and so the Eileen Myles lecture scheduled for 5pm today was postponed. If you plan on viewing Kerstin Honeit: Ambiguity is My Weapon or Bless This Mess in the next two days, call them ahead at 312-996-6114 to find out their open hours.
Please comment on this post with information about other cancellations. The Great Chicago Blizzard of 2011 may have won the battle this week, but art will win the war. Maybe. Or maybe everyone will continue to move to L.A.
Linda Warren's current show, Walking, consists of new paintings by Willie Kohler. Willie's approach to painting is a breath of fresh air from what you're bound to see at many galleries today. It is the ability to experience art that relies mostly on observation, both internal and external, to direct the viewer through an individual painting, as well as the entire body of work, that makes Walking so fresh and exciting. Willie's work breathes with nature that is not influenced by pop culture. Raw and overgrown, these paintings influence us and inspire meditation. They have the ability to transport us to familiar places we have never been and to show us what we only thought we saw.
Jim Nutt made a rare appearance yesterday at the preview of his much anticipated show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Coming into Character, which officially opens today. Though the Chicago artist does not currently reside in our city, his involvement in the off-beat Hairy Who group and the Imagism movement that can be seen as a quintessential milestone in Chicago art history, makes him a local treasure.
Coming into Character is an extensive collection that exemplifies his work's ability to be simultaneously stunning and grotesque. His acrylics on plexiglass are startlingly colorful and the extensive details of the often vulgar subjects pull the viewer in with a bizarre intensity. Severed limbs, skewed facial features, and unforgiving interpretations of genitalia may confuse some and offend others, but Nutt's ability to capture the senses cannot be denied.
Many of Nutt's pieces in Coming into Character are accompanied by the drawings that he experimented with before jumping into the final project. The ghosts of erased lines provide a fascinating glimpse into the experimental nature of Nutt's process.
As awesome as Chicago is, we have our fair share of problems, from homelessness to gun violence. As much as many of us would like to ignore these problems, it is important that we don't. Luckily there are artists and activists who have taken it upon themselves to bring attention to these problems in creative, even playful ways, encouraging communities to take responsibility for them. One of these groups calls themselves Piñata Factory. Piñata Factory is an ongoing collaboration between Mike Bancroft, working with the youth he mentors in his organization Cooperative Image Group in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, and Bert Stabler, with the students he teaches at Bowen High School on the southeast side.
Independent curator and creative administrator Karly Wildenhaus' latest exhibition explores an object's meaning and place in contemporary art long after its initial exhibition. In Twice Removed: A Survey of Take Away Work, artwork initially available as free and in unlimited or large-run exhibitions is displayed in the local artist book shop Golden Age. Featuring work by artists such as local luminaries Aspen Mays and Jason Lazarus, as well as Jeremy Deller, Bruce Nauman, and Rivane Neuenschwander, Twice Removed examines the "post-exhibition" life of take away work when exhibited in a new and conceptually different space.
Twice Removed: A Survey of Take Away Work opens this Friday, January 28 at 6 pm at Golden Age, located at 119 North Peoria #2D.
The current show that is up at Western Exhibitions was created from a simple call to artists by Paul Nudd and Scott Wolniak, who requested "Heads on Poles". What they got is exactly what you might expect them to have gotten, a few politically driven works, a number that had environmental overtones and some just fun, off the wall pieces. Making your way through the gallery presents a pretty interesting problem. As we all know, we are not supposed to touch the art even if we want to, it is hard not to be reminded that if these were actually dismembered heads on poles, that the same rule would most likely apply.
A delightful celebration of subversion is going up at Northwestern University's Block Museum, with a public opening reception tomorrow (Thursday) at 5pm. Two complementary exhibitions are opening: Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, and The Satirical Edge in Contemporary Prints and Graphics.
The former includes 71 drawings, watercolors, prints, and books by Thomas Rowlandson, a popular English satirist who applied his masterful drawing skills and keen sense of humor to colorful, detailed, and sometimes bawdy depictions of everyday life in and around London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These works offer an entryway into the social and political life of Georgian England. Rowlandson specialized in capturing the follies and foibles on display in his native city during a time of remarkable population growth and social change, as members of differing classes clumsily mixed and mingled for the first time. Click here for a slideshow preview. (Flash)
Realize7, (2011), by Heather Hancock, glass, 24k gold smalti, grout, paint on cement board
For her latest solo exhibition, local artist Heather Hancock created three mixed media works addressing the "constructed nature of the cognitive moment." Materials such as glass, paint, and 24 karat gold smalti are used to create unified experiences born out of the sensations of the emotional and physical world.
In many of her works, Hancock incorporates and emphasizes the power of glass as a material to literally reflect and figuratively channel meaning for the viewer. For Imagining Mind, Hancock uses the glass to explore ideas of focused attention, narrative, and the autobiographical self.
Imagining Mind runs through February 10 at the Montgomery Ward Gallery as part of the UIC Student Center East, 750 South Halsted.
Baltimore-based theater group, The Missoula Oblongata, is bringing their newest play, Clamlump, to Ball Hall on Monday, Feb. 14. The description of the play is pretty mindboggling except for the bit about it being set "deep in the hollows of a boarded up stadium," but if you check out TMO's website I think you will be convinced to go whether or not you understand what you're going for. The play will feature a live score performed by Travis Sehorn and an opening act by ventriloquist, April Camlin. BYOP(illow) to sit on. Click here to visit the Facebook event page, or here to visit The Missoula Oblongata's website. Ball Hall's address is secret because the city will try to get their hands into the venue's (empty) pockets if they are given the opportunity. If you wanna go, you've gotta find out where it is for yourself. You can thank the city for that. Admission will most likely require a small donation, but has not yet been specified.
The final exhibition at Chicago's inimitable David Weinberg Gallery opens this Friday, January 7, from 5 - 8 pm. The salon-style exhibition, titled The Collective, features work by the gallery's 21 artists including Weinberg along with other local and national artists such as David Burdeny, Amanda Friedman, and Dylan Vitone. The complete list of participating artists is available at the gallery's website. The gallery also dedicated a significant amount of its time to creating free and educational programs for third through 12th grade students to foster greater discussion and insight into the Chicago arts community.
The Smart Museum joins other national museums' decision to screen late artist David Wojnarowicz' 1986-1987 video, A Fire in My Belly. An unfinished and contemplative tribute to the artist's friend Peter Hujar (who died of AIDS), the video was recently removed from the National Portrait Gallery's latest exhibition, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Despite the exhibition's aim to explore such themes as, "the role of sexual difference in depicting modern America," and how art reflects "society's evolving and changing attitudes toward sexuality, desire, and romantic attachment," museum officials pulled the work following protests from conservative politicians and a vocal religious group.
As part of its exhibition, the Smart Museum will screen the original 13-minute version of the film first edited by Wojnarowicz from 1986-1987, as well as an additional seven-minute chapter found in Wojnarowicz's collection. A Fire In My Belly opens tomorrow and runs through February 6. The Smart Museum is located at 5550 S. Greenwood.
The Chicago Journal features a very inspirational piece on Project Onward, an vehicle for special needs artists. Founded in 2004 and housed in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, the organization provides artists with full support via working space, supplies, teaching, promotion, etc., to help them develop and hone their craft.
Cloud Gate by Project Onward artist Andrew Hall
To learn more about the Project Onward and its artists, visit the website or call 312-742-1445.
On Chicago's Southwest side stands a community enriched with Mexican influences from its restaurants, businesses and well-known art district. Through efforts from its community, Pilsen showcases its cultural pride and works to assist neighbors and new residents from Chicago and the surrounding areas. Casa Aztlan, a community center and nonprofit organization in the heart of the neighborhood, at 1831 S. Racine Ave., offers those services to help residents in the area and people who relocated to the United States from another country.
Carlos Arango, executive director of Casa Aztlan, said although the center focuses on the Pilsen community and the Southwest side of the city, some residents travel from all over the state of Illinois and as far as Indiana for services. The organization helps about 12,000 people year in various capacities, said Arango.
Casa Aztlan is an established figure in the Pilsen community that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is one of the oldest organizations that fights for social justice. Its roots stem from 1970 when Mexican immigrants migrated in large numbers and settled in Chicago. Originally, Casa Aztlan served as a Bohemian settlement house in the late 1800s. From the Howell Neighborhood House to the Neighborhood Service Organization, the community organization made a shift and changed its name to Casa Aztlan, reflecting a part of the community's Mexican and Aztec heritage.
Cauleen Smith, a San-Diego-based artist who has been picked up by Threewallsresidency program, is in the process of trying to fund her experimental film and LP project, The Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band. Basically, this is a marching band flash mob made up of musicians of all ages that appears in different locations around Chicago, gingerly plays a Sun Ra song and then scatters. What's better than that? According to Smith's mission statement, "The Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band brings many Chicago communities together to interrupt ordinary life in the city with fleeting ecstatic moments of visual and aural incongruence."
Alberto Aguilar made 1000 friends on Facebook and invited them to participate in his Personal Dinner Invitation project where he simply had people over to his home for dinner. Alberto curated the people, music and food to create a memorable moment for him and his Facebook friends. One of the guests, Becky Grajeda, recorded part of her evening and made a soundscape entitled Enacting that can be heard during the credits of this episode.
Last summer a bunch of sculptures appeared (seemingly magically) along the boulevard on Franklin in East Garfield Park, between Sacramento and Central Park. Some are pretty cool, others are downright hideous. Most of the residents of the neighborhood are happy to see them out there, though, because they represent interest in the area-- something Garfield Park has been suffering from lack of since the housing bubble burst. But now that the mystery of who put the sculptures up and who the artists are is solved, the controversy has shifted from whether or not the sculptures are eyesores to what a bunch of sculptures by white guys are doing in a largely African American neighborhood. Also, why weren't the numerous artists who already live in Garfield Park not invited to participate? Why outsource?
WBEZ, a.k.a. Chicago Public Radio, posted an interesting feature story on their site about it last week. Check it out and share your thoughts.
Theater is one of the best ways to warm up on these oppressively wintery Chicago evenings. Better yet, how about a story about people looking for other people to keep them warm? Bus Stop, William Inge's heartwarming, all-American tale of human connections and social blunders in the face of a brutal Midwestern snowstorm certainly fits the bill, although some may find it brutally old-fashioned.
Bus Stop, a collaborative directorial debut by veteran actors Lia Mortensen and Ryan Martin, is the first show at The Den Theatre-- a promising new venue capable of seating about 100 with a spacious stage and a cavernous lobby. It is a solid first show with an inviting small-town diner set by Caleb McAndrew and Aimee Plant.
Although they originally began as industrial advertising, lithograph posters soon found a hungry audience of collectors who viewed the works as art. The lithograph posters helped define the Belle Epoche period in France. Jules Chéret's print shop printed smaller (yet aesthetically accurate) versions of these posters, known as Les Maîtres de l'Affiche (The Masters of the Poster).
For their latest exhibition, the Zygman Voss Gallery presents Les Maîtres de l'Affiche. The exhibition features 55 original lithographs from the Belle Epoche period by such masters as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and Jules Chéret. Les Maîtres de l'Affiche opens tonight from 5 to 7 pm at Zygman Voss Gallery, 222 W Superior, 1E. This event is free. RSVP here.
I got a chance to visit the all new Harper Gallery in the South Loop today. I have to say it is a lot more interesting now that they have a clearer focus. Working with local jewelry designers, toy makers, and of course visual artists they have made a gallery that can be perused rather than just ran through real quick, which is exactly what it used to be.
Inspired by artists and designers who use available analog and digital tools to communicate complex data from the everyday to the very obscure, the Public Media Institute presents Select Media Festival 9: Infoporn II this weekend as an homage to their love for data visualization. A selection of works from around the world takes form in installations, a publication library, interactive projects, and infographics. The exhibition itself will be viewable at Co-Prosperity Sphere for two days only: Friday, Dec. 10 from 7pm to 1am and Saturday Dec. 11 from 2 to 9pm.
Tonight they open SMF9: Infoporn II with the release of their own contribution to the information overload, Proximity Magazine: Issue 008. Themed "Education as Art," their newest issue is a 230-page opus and represents their latest and greatest effort in publishing. Stop by the release party at Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar to get a copy at a discount ($10), enjoy some beverages and meet the creators/contributors to the issue.
The Chicago Arts District down in East Pilsen has announced a call for entries for its 2011 showPOD season. The seven ShowPODs are temporary exhibition spaces designed to "create an instant art experience in a non-traditional space." Got an idea? Fill out the PDF entry form.
Sometimes the fashion shows take place in abandoned warehouses on the West Side or in third floor fledgling art galleries in Wicker Park. Occasionally, someone will clear out the knick knacks and sketch pads they normally scatter across the battered love seats of their first apartments in the city. The point, it seems, for a new crop of young designers, is to prove that there is some form of community (albeit smaller and certainly less competitive) in Chicago in a similar vein to more established design cities like New York or Los Angeles. If there are designs to be shown, a venue can be found--or created--to showcase a young designers work.
Every fall, the events of Chicago Fashion Focus primarily take place in the Macy's on State Street or in elaborately constructed tents in Millennium Park. The number of shows, usually less than 10, are a far cry from the fashion week events in smaller cities such as Miami or Minneapolis, and in no way compare to the extravaganza known as New York Fashion Week. With the demise of GenArt, the opportunities for local emerging designers to showcase their work during Fashion Focus is even less than during the event's first fledgling years in the early aughts. The results of this post-Gen Art era in the Chicago fashion scene has been ignored, or largely disjointed. For young designers obtaining their degrees from local art colleges such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, and the Illinois Institute of Art, the disconnect between their academic pursuits and the communities or opportunities available has been a wake-up call and the inspiration to pursue more DIY-generated opportunities for exposure and experience.
In the spirit of this DIY-ethos, Carmen McGhee and Aris Sergakis, two fashion design students from the Illinois Institute of Art, came together to produce "UNEARTHED," an evening dedicated to the young emerging fashion designers of the city.
I know Christmas is on the minds of almost everyone these days, and for better or worse we have to accept that fact. So if you are tired of everyone around you talking about TVs, Movies, and the Corporate Crapfest that most holidays have turned into, you might want to turn to local and international artists, crafters, and designers to get your gifts from this year. Through Sunday the 5th you can go talk with creators, attend workshops and get a free years subscription to ReadyMade Magazine.
The Museum of Contemporary Art's monthly exhibit, UBS 12x12 New Artists / New Work, will be featuring it's 100th artist this Friday, December 3. Jessica Labatte, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is the lucky participant in this milestone for the MCA. Her photographs of paper objects toy with the perception of three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional formats. The materials of her work are collaged and photographed in a way that focuses on composition and color. Her subjects often appear deceivingly two-dimensional and Labatte reminds viewers of their three-dimensional nature, only with very subtle shadows.
Ticket's to this week's First Friday event, which will be the opening reception for Labatte's exhibit, are available online for $13 and at the door for $18.
It's the mid-nineteenth century, Normandy, France. Claude Monet is still just a young boy with dreams of being a singer when one day, he happens upon a swirling cluster of water lilies. Maybe he doesn't realize it then, but the moment marks him in an indelible way.
Jump 130 years later. Ben Spencer is an average American kid, growing up on a steady diet of cartoons and action figures. He, too, doesn't realize the impression that will inspire him years down the road, how He-Man, Thundercats, and Go-Bots are shaping his sensibilities.
The point here is that, at times, part of the enigmatic process of creating art is a reflection of the culture one grows up in. Claude Monet grew up to create a series of water lily paintings; Ben Spencer just recently designed his first toy, Galaxxor, a figure that blends Spencer's love of early-80s toys with his own design aesthetics. Yet the gap between the two sensibilities-French Impressionism and toy design--and how they are perceived as art couldn't be wider.
If you've walked through the front doors of the Art Institute recently, you've seen a bright and interesting new temporary exhibit; in fact, there was no way you could have missed it. The entire Grand Staircase is lit up like a giant Lite-Brite, and will remain so until May 1, thanks to an eye-catching and decidedly political installation by Jitish Kallat, entitled Public Notice 3.
The installation, which was unveiled on September 11 of this year, presents the text of a speech given at the Art Institute on that date in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda. The speech, which was presented in conjunction with the World's Fair, is a plea for religious tolerance and respect; Kallat reproduces the words in the colors of the Homeland Security alert system, not-so-subtly alluding to the politics of religious fanaticism that have been so present in world events since September 11, 2001.
In collaboration with Change It Up, a challenge organized by the City of Chicago's Department of Environment that asks property owners and their tenants to improve their environmental impact, two creative and concerned artists take the fore by designing window installations with materials that have been diverted from the waste-stream. Indo is Crystal Grover and Linsey Burritt and you can see their latest creative collaboration in the storefront window of 445 North Wells.
Rebekah Ward-Hays (right, front) and cast. Photo by Timmy Samuel
There are people whose sense of identity is validated by their possessions. Most of us, actually, are defined by them to a certain extent. That's what display cases and bumper stickers are for. In times of uncertainty we can be comforted by our collections. Conversely, it can be very upsetting to lose them.
The play opens with a statuesque redheaded woman (Avery, played by Rebekah Ward-Hays) boisterously auctioning off a man's suit-- hat, shoes and all. "He couldn't have gotten too far without his shoes," she proclaims. Soon thereafter we learn that the suit belongs to Avery's late father, and that she killed him, left town, and left the rest of her family behind to pick up the pieces.
Starting tonight at 8pm, Calisthenics for Shrapnel, by Robbie Q. Telfer and Marty McConnell, creates an opportunity for artists and audiences to "work out" their dis-functions with society by assessing the divisions of colors (race), collars (class) and pants (gender/sexuality).
The show will run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through January at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, Suite 207, on a biweekly basis. Tickets for general admission are $15 and for students are $10. For information please click here or call 773-281-0824.
It's a dream come true for 12-year-olds: take Super Mario Brothers and combine it with nudity. Throw in a locked door and it's a pre-teen wonderland that most greasy-haired guys can only dream of. Boobs and Goombas is (thankfully) not just for sticky-fingered boys, it's a fantastic new show that has been playing to cheering crowds at the Gorilla Tango Theater. Set to run only through October, the show has been such a hit that (lucky for you!) November and December dates have been added.
I wasn't expecting to love Boobs and Goombas as much as I did. I was ready for a standard cabaret style burlesque show made up of rotating performances that have little to do with each other (besides the Nintendo theme) with a host acting as ringleader introducing the lovely ladies- a fun show but also nothing really new either. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Boobs and Goombas is actually an original play with a plot propelling forward amongst the pasties.
Of course you do. Since 1942, the Little Golden Books series has been a part of the lives of millions of American children. A Special Collections exhibit currently running at the Harold Washington Library showcases a favorite element of these famous little books: their artwork.
With 60 works of original illustration stretching from the 1940s to the present, Golden Legacy: Original Artwork from 65 Years of Golden Books offers a smile-inducing combination of nostalgia and creativity. Works from perennial classics like Poky Little Puppy (1942, illustrated by Gustaf Tenngren) steal no spotlight from more modern gems like Dan Yaccarino's Mother Goose (2003), and some early work, like Alice and Martin Proverson's illustrations for The Color Kittens (1949) looks positively modern. Keep your eyes peeled for my personal favorite piece, a triptych from Richard Scarry's I Am a Bunny.
For those of us looking not only for a good deal this holiday season, but also that perfectly unique gift, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Holiday Art Sale may be just the solution. Affordable gifts (and lots of items to treat yourself with as well) from over 120 artists, will pack the SAIC ballroom, starting on November 18th when the art sale opens with its Preview Party. Each year, SAIC students create and sell original artwork to the public at the annual Holiday Art Sale- students take home 85% of sales made through their work. It's a great opportunity to check out what the up and coming artists of Chicago have to offer- and snag some of their work before it's worth your whole holiday bonus check.
SAIC's Holiday Art Sale is free and open to the public on November 19 and 20. Tickets to the preview party on November 18 can be purchased here.
Nathan Robbel is the artistic director of The Right Brain Project. Halfshut, the final installment of his three-part collaboration with playwright and former Gapers Block A/C writer, Randall Colburn, is being presented now through December 4. I interviewed Robbel via email today about his work.
What inspired you to collaborate with Randall Colburn on this project for a whole season instead of a single play? How did the projects come into fruition?
It was really Hesperia that drew me to Randall. The play really spoke to me and I was inspired by the aesthetic I saw as a possibility to carry his words. We knew we wanted it to go up in the summer, and at the time, we had nothing for our winter 2010 slot. Randall shared Pretty Penny with me, and even though it was in an early draft, I loved elements of it tremendously. When he was hip to workshopping it, we set out to make it happen. Because the themes of the two shows were similar, it just felt natural to turn the season into a trilogy of sorts. Randall and I tossed around a few ideas to take the themes of Pretty Penny and Hesperia to a different level, and we began working on Halfshut in early summer.
One of the cultural institutions I have often overlooked has been the Instituto Cervantes, or the Cervantes Institute. Upon arriving at the opening of Women & Women, a traveling show featuring 5 female photographers, I quickly realized how much I was actually missing. It is odd for me to have not frequented the Instituto Cervantes, as both an artist and a Spaniard, I could have been influenced by a culture I am proud to be connected to, but if I were to be honest, know very little about.
Chicago-based artist Jason Lazarus has started an archive of photographs deemed "too hard to keep," and he's looking for submissions from the public. Submissions may include photos of friends, family, pets, places/objects that are too painful to view again. If you've got photos to send him, be they digital or analog, click here for submission details.
Martin Mull's show entitled Witness opened yesterday at the Carl Hammer Gallery. I would like to start by saying Martin's work isn't the easiest to talk about while trying to be concise, or I just don't have a wide enough vocabulary. Martin Mull has build an entire career examining Americana ideas, ideals, and mistakes. He has regularly challenged and questioned white privilege as well as the American Dream. I think if you were to investigate any part of Mr. Mull's career you would find traces of these challenges and questions. Having said that Witness is no exception.
Martine Syms and Marco Kane Braunchweiler of the West Loop art shop/community space Golden Age once again demonstrate a potent knack for exhibiting up-and-coming artists primed for success. The shop's latest project features Jon Rafman in his first solo exhibition, The Age Demanded. In the exhibition, Rafman mixes a variety of different media (video, photography, and painting) in celebration and critique of technology and the "consciousness" it reflects. The Age Demanded opens tonight and included an "existential tour" through Second Life, the still-popular virtual environment that eerily promotes and masks different facets of contemporary life.
The opening lasts from 6pm to 9pm, and the exhibition runs through December 10. Golden Age is locate at 119 N Peoria, #2D.
Alright, people. If this doesn't sound like fun to you, you're absolutely hopeless: this Saturday Oct. 30, artists Mike Bancroft and Evan Plummer of Garage Spaces team up with The Hyde Park Art Center to bring you S***, Shower, and Shave. Part of HPAC's fabulous-sounding "Mischief Weekend" festival, S***, Shower, and Shave will begin with a tutorial on how to create your own arsenal out of a modified shaving cream can, then visitors will be released into a 60-foot soft sculpture tunnel to engage in shaving cream combat. What's better than that?
S***, Shower, and Shave is only one of several events/exhibitions the HPAC has organized for "Mischief Night," which takes place at the museum this Saturday from 1 to 10pm, and is described by the HPAC as "celebrating the subversive, the weird, the illusive nature of art and artists." I highly recommend checking them all out here.
The work of glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in Holsten Galleries booth at SOFA CHICAGO last year, photo courtesy of SOFA
For those of you who are planning on going to the SOFA/Intuit Outsider Art fairs next weekend (November 5 - 7 at Navy Pier), we have good news: you can get half off your tickets if you use the code "ARTFAIR" when visiting the Tickets & Showtimes link at www.sofaexpo.com.
Better yet, you can register with Intuit here for a FREE ticket, plus they'll get a donation for every complementary ticket that is turned in.
Before the discount, general admission is $15 per ticket-- this admits visitors to both fairs and their related lecture series, special exhibits and events. Both fairs kick-off with a joint Opening Night Preview in Festival Hall on Thursday, Nov. 4. The public is invited to attend from 7 to 9pm for $50.
Everyone knows the story of gentrification. Artists and other progressive people move to low-income neighborhoods looking for a good deal on a big space in the city. This attracts investors and developers, and the next thing you know, the original occupants of the neighborhood — including small businesses, families and even the artists themselves — are priced out of their homes to make room for culturally bankrupt replacements. The charm of the neighborhood is beaten out of it.
Because of the housing market crash, along with foreclosures, the gentrification process has pretty much come to a halt in many parts of the city. A classic case of this in Chicago, for better of worse, is Garfield Park. Real estate in the neighborhood was highly sought after during the real estate boom because of its proximity to downtown and to the CTA and Metra trains, as well as the beloved Garfield Park Conservatory and the sprawling park itself, but has since been given up on by many developers. Now it is home to clusters of vacant lots and buildings, but what a lot of people don't realize is that a surprising number of the buildings that are occupied are occupied by artists. Not just any artists, either. Artists who aren't afraid to take risks, who dance to the beat of their own drums, who make some of the most engaging work and eclectic work around.
The joint effort of Chris Busse, 26, and Paige Bailey, 25, Penguin Foot Pottery wants to bring ceramic arts to Logan Square. Offering a variety of classes appropriate for all ages and skill levels, there's no shortage of experience on either side: Chris is a long-time ceramics artist and teacher, having worked in the Chicago Public Schools and Oak Park Park District. Currently a project manager at a Chicago-based media company, Paige handles the business and marketing end of the operation. Talking to them before their grand opening this Saturday, they explained the personal context behind their mission, plans for classes, and why they believe working with clay, wheel, and tile shouldn't be intimidating, but practical, beautiful, and fun.
Penguin Foot Pottery is located at 2514 W. Armitage (entrance on Bingham St.). You can pre-register for classes through their website.
How did you get into ceramics and pottery?
Chris Busse: I started in high school, and then I went to college for ceramics and art education at the School of the Art Institute. I've been doing ceramics, and teaching in Oak Park, and I did a residency at the Chicago Park District. I've been teaching art for the Chicago Public Schools' on the south side for the last three years.
Paige Bailey: He just got laid off -- one of the many Chicago Public School teachers.
Did getting laid off affect your decision to open the studio?
CB: I wanted to do this for awhile anyways. And they cut half of my position towards the end of last year, and then they cut the rest of it in August.
PB: But we were going to go ahead and do this...
CB: I was still going to go ahead and do this, when I had a half-time position there. But then, that fell through, so that kind of bumped this up.
What do you like about teaching?
CB: I think it's watching people learn things, it's interesting just see them, the a-ha moment, you know, watching them progress -- it encourages your own work. Even when I was teaching at CPS and not doing my own work, because I was busy, it was still encouraging to see kids progressing and learning stuff and affecting how your own work is done.
Gallery 400 recently tweeted that on the last day of Stephanie Syjuco's exhibition, Particulate Matter (Things, Thingys, Thingies), viewers can walk away with one of the sculptures, no strings attached. Syjuco's handmade sculptures were designed by users of Google's SketchUp, a free 3-D modeling program. We can't say for certain whether or not this is true, but it is certainly a good excuse to catch the show before it closes this Saturday.
Gallery 400 is located at 400 South Peoria, and is open this Thursday and Friday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday, from 12pm to 6pm.
On an eclectic strip of North Broadway St. in East Lakeview sits a new(ish) store called Inkling, where Stephanie Keller sells her wares-- from hand-printed wrapping paper and greeting cards made by local artists to wacky porcelain knickknacks she's collected at antique stores and estate sales over the years. It's like Etsy, but you get to touch stuff.
The store oozes cozy creativity and smells really good, too. There are so many interesting objects packed into the space that a fair viewing will probably require a good half hour, at least. Take your time. I would recommend bringing a coffee to aid with digestion and a few bucks, because you're going to want to buy something. Luckily, though, a few bucks are all you'll need because the prices are surprisingly low, especially considering that many of the items are hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces. $5-$10 will get you a quirky, thoughtful little birthday/housewarming/baby shower gift for someone and $20 will get you an original screenprint.
On Friday, October 22 from 3 to 4pm, Jiang Jun, editor-in-chief of Urban China magazine, takes over the MCA Chicago facebook page and will be answering questions. In anticipation of this online open forum, audiences can also post questions to the MCA Chicago facebook page throughout the week. The three most "vocal fans" will be chosen to meet Jun, take a private tour of the the museum's latest exhibition, Urban China: Informal Cities, and get prime seating at the Informal Cities Colloquium, taking place this Sunday.
Urban China: Informal Cities explores the repercussions of urbanism in global cities. The exhibition arrives at a particularly rapt moment, when half of the world's population lives in these continuously evolving environments (either out of necessity or pleasure).
During Sunday's colloquium, audience members are invited to join a discussion about global informal urban development and led by four architecture practitioners or writers. More information about the colloquium is available in Slowdown.
Wendy White can't be contained. Her large scale works - part painting, part sculpture, part literary word play - are so enigmatic that the Andrew Rafacz gallery space, the location of her latest Chicago solo exhibition, seems small, downright tiny in comparison. This is not a reflection of the gallery itself, but rather a testament to White's vision. Even her newest work, recognizably smaller in scale and shown for the first time in gallery two, are constructed and manipulated in the same vein as the showstopping first four works that one encounters upon entering the gallery, take up space and demand a more active participation from the viewer.
FRENCH CUTS is not only an examination into the practice (and purpose) of painting in the contemporary art world. It also serves a more direct purpose, throwing various areas of artistic practice (the literary, the visual) together to formulate a more visceral and tangible experience for the viewer. White's works are immediate.
FRENCH CUTS closes Saturday, October 23 at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery (835 W Washington). The gallery is open Tuesday - Friday, 11am to 6pm, and Saturday, from 11am to 5pm.
This is the weekend of the Bridgeport Art Walk, and a great place to start is at the Bridgeport Art Center, where you will find all sorts of good stuff. I don't spend a lot of time looking at a whole lot of quantity at an art walk, but I did get a chance to spend some time with Fred Camper's photo collages. He combines photos taken from different perspectives, which sometimes works out beautifully. Other times it looks like a real estate ad, which is a pretty huge comment in itself.
Dan Gunn's work is multi-faceted and multi-layered, something that continues to evolve for the viewer. It is not work built on first impressions but rather, idealized with the past in mind. In his first solo exhibition, Multistable Picture Fable, Gunn employs a variety of material to playfully challenge ideas about sculpture and painting. New surprises abound in the tiny crevices or behind the face of each work so that the viewer feels compelled to break down their own viewing experience, and then piece together the parts for a whole.
There is a physicality to Gunn's work. Observing the titular piece as it covers most of the floor space in the gallery requires two things sometimes lacking in contemporary endeavors: time and patience. One must - literally - bend and twist and circle around the work, multiple times, forcing the viewer to more actively engage with it.
Multistable Picture Fable closes October 16 at the Lloyd Dobler Gallery, 1545 W Division, 2nd floor. The gallery is open Thursdays, from 6-9pm, and on Saturdays, from 12-5pm.
Bridgeport is home to a surprisingly bustling artistic community, from Co-Prosperity Sphere, run by the Public Media Institute to the Zhou B. Art Center. In an effort to raise awareness of that fact, the cultural spaces down there have teamed together for a "Bridgeport Art Walk" this weekend. At least seven (but probably more) exhibition/production spaces will open up to the public for us to meander around and gawk at their wares. The CAR website says that the walk will kick off each day (Friday, Oct. 15, Saturday and Sunday) at the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 W 35th Street with the artists of Eastbank studios and then scatter throughout the neighborhood.
It is time you had a say in which artists, art groups or galleries should be getting publicity coverage. ChicagoArts is now accepting suggestions via Google Moderator, and the first suggestions to get 100 votes will get interviewed as part of the ChicagoArts video interview series. The only stipulation is that the artists are located within Chicago or the nearby suburbs.
Bring on your suggestions and be sure to include links and brief descriptions so we can see the work and learn more about the artists.
Oh Fridays, the traditional day for a gallery opening or some cultural experience or another. Well of course we can't go out every Friday but if you happen to be calling it an early evening on the 8th make sure you don't miss that art and culture so much of us dedicate to this day. Fear No Art Chicago is airing its second show at 8pm on WTTW. Elysabeth Alfano hosts this interview series, engaging with artists of all sorts in their creative spaces. Watch as she cooks with Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering, and Tangos with Jorge Niedas; the original Chicago Tango instructor.
Fear No ART Chicago airs on WTTW on
October 8 @ 8:30pm
October 18 @ 10:30pm
October 24 @ 5:30pm
October 31 @ 12:30pm
CBS-2's Harry Porterfield's "Someone You Should Know" segments spotlight everyday Chicagoans who do amazing things. The people featured are always fascinating, and this time was no different.
On a recent segment, Porterfield featured Chet Mayes, owner of Finess Ladies Apparel, Boutique and Salon, a salon and art gallery located at 1951 E. 71st St. in the South Shore neighborhood.
Mayes, aka "Finess," does unique sculptures, portraits and other works of art with shards of glass from mirrors. Some of the mirror glass portraits he has created include President Obama, Elvis Presley and Oprah Winfrey. He is a hairstylist and a designer, too, and considers both a form of artistry as well.
To read more about Finess and see some of his artwork, watch the segment here.
What you have here is a surreal, action-packed comedy on speed or mushrooms or something with a healthy dash of politics sprinkled on top. And yes! It's sexy! And there's murder! Above all, this production squeezes every last drop of juice out of an unbelievably talented little troupe of actors-- six, to be exact, playing a whopping 28 roles, running around like lunatics somehow seamlessly performing all the scene changes and costume changes in front of us.
For those of you interested in actively participating in the programming over at ChicagoArts I encourage you to suggest and vote for artists in the Chicagoland area that you feel would be a good fit for a video interview. For the past three years I have been producing these video interviews and now I am using Google Moderator to try and give you more control of the programming that ends up getting produced. This is also a way of me getting to know more about the arts in Chicago. Thanks for your interest.
I went around to a bunch of gallery openings the Friday before last and have been stewing on what I saw since then. The work I keep going back to is Joey Fauerso's installation in Gallery 2 at Western Exhibitions. First of all, the videos are funny. LOL funny. But what made me stick around after the initial giggles was the awkward sexual desperation Fauerso was able to express with this work. There is something very human about it. Or maybe animal. Either way, this work seems to have a heartbeat.
Last Friday we had a whirlwind of galleries open, and if you got to see more than a few, you probably saw less than most. Within the next few weeks I encourage you to get out and see what all the hubbub was about. Galleries across the city are hanging amazing shows and they are free to stop in and have a look, so please do. it is a ton of fun and one stop I hope you will make is to Packer Schopf where they are showing a stellar selection of artists. One in particular that caught my eye was Frank Trankina.
Kauffman, "Untitled" (New Nest), photo courtesy of the artist
Denver folk artist Max Kauffman makes art about things that seem like they deserve to have art made about them. His new solo show, which opens tomorrow night at Pawn Works, is about the things we hold dear-- our beliefs, our idols, our relics and our nostalgic ephemera. He is interested in what these things actually represent and why we, as human beings, become so attached to them. How do inanimate objects garner so much strength and importance? He believes we are actually "pulling on the strength within ourselves, our thoughts and spirits, when we look to these things."
With this collection of his work, titled R'fuah, he poses the question: "Does this renewal, this evolution of this cycle of spirit and material make us more or less human? By putting our faith in objects, are we overpowering or overpowered?"
R'fuah will feature new mixed media paintings on paper and wood, ceramic works and a site-specific installation. The opening for this exhibit will be from tomorrow, Friday September 10 from 6 to 10pm at Pawn Works: 1050 N. Damen Ave. If you miss the opening, the show will be up through October 10 by appointment.
This weekend, September 10-11, the Historic Water Tower Building at Pearson and Michigan Ave. will host art-making demonstrations and original artwork for sale by Illinois artisans. The newly remodeled Water Works Visitor Center will offer visitors the opportunity to purchase one-of-a kind jewelry, fiber, and ceramics pieces during the monthly Meet Illinois Artisans program. Hosted by the Chicago Office of Tourism and the Illinois Artisans Program, this month's event will feature the work of Highland Park's Dan Greene, Lake Villa's Svetlana Kunina, Metamora's Susie Ryan (art pictured), and Chicago's Meg Guttman.
Admission to the event is free. Visitors can view the work of different artists at the Water Works Visitor Center, 163 E. Pearson, on the second weekend of each month. This month's Meet Illinois Artisans runs from 1-5 pm on Friday, September 10, and Saturday, September 11.
Peanut Gallery, the gallery in the Flat Iron building that I recently opened with collaborator Charlie Megna is looking for art to show in October, in a group show devoted to vacation. What did you do this summer?
Submit jpegs to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, September 27. Please only submit work that will be available for exhibition in Chicago in October, that you can deliver to the gallery by Monday, October 4. This is a curated show, but we welcome work of any media by anyone, as long as we can get it through the door. We'll get back to you by September 28 and let you know if we can show your work. Please email us with questions. Thanks!
Over the past few decades, anatomy-- specifically medical illustrations-- has grown in popularity in art and design. You may recall the skull trend that took over the interior design world a couple years ago. Vanessa Ruiz, Art Director for a large pharmaceutical ad agency and author of the popular blog, Street Anatomy, has taken note of this trend and has curated a show devoted to anatomy in art at the Museum Of Surgical Science, opening this Friday.
Ruiz states, "Anatomy has become as pervasive in modern culture as it is in medical textbooks. The subject is used extensively in advertising, designer toys, fashion, interior design, street art, and more. Even the heart at the center of the classic ʻI heart Momʼ tattoo has taken a turn for the anatomically correct, as tattoo artists impart a more real and visceral emotion to the piece--a testament to the validity of the statement."
Had I known that The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard was a play about how the efforts of critique are fruitless and irrelevant, I may not have jumped on the chance to critique it. If you're not familiar with Stoppard's story, written and produced for the first time in 1968, it's a "whodunit" play, within a commentary on the biases of critics. But there I found myself last Thursday, in the Signal Ensemble Theatre's new permanent space in North Center, being sucked into two simultaneous plays and questioning my role as a "critic" in the room.
Don't forget: Chicago area visual artists are encouraged to submit work today to an art exhibition to kick off Chicago Artists Month that will sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Arts District and Gapers Block. A panel of three Gapers Block staffers will curate the show, and selected artists will participate in the exhibition on Friday, October 1 from 6-10pm at 2001 S. Halsted Street.
In less than a month, students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will return to classes under the new leadership of Walter E. Massey, who was named President of the school this summer. The SAIC community was surprised, (and a little peeved) by the resignation of Wellington "Duke" Reiter at the end of this past school year, after he served only two years as president. The sudden announcement of the position already being filled comes equally as shocking.
Mysticism and folklore are really hot right now. Don't believe me? There are two art shows opening in August that flirt with those themes. First, Hey, We're All Beginners Here! opens at Roots and Culture on Friday. The show, organized by The Network of Crowded Art is inspired by a multi-headed hydra in that it utilizes multiple voices and activities to "illuminate our historical moment and paths into the future." Through a series of workshops, field trips, performances and exhibitions, the events at Roots and Culture are designed to make you think about what we're doing here on earth (I think.) Hey, We're All Beginners Here is a trans-temporal, trans-spatial, trans-disciplinary exhibition (a big show!) of mutating, mutable work by a cast of talented marginal characters. Among those contributing are Robin Hustle, Sarah Kavage, Pennie Brinson, Salem Collo-Julin, Sarah Ross, Red76, Sarah Smizz, Courtney Moran, and Park McArthur. The exhibition includes drawings, an open stage and pulpit, a book making work shop, good food, video, wheat grass, and a bike ride to Schaumburg.
If you thought refrigerators were just for storing food or showing off your kindergartner's fingerpainting masterpiece, think again; for the folks at ComEd, this household appliance is truly a work of art.
Starting Monday, August 2, pedestrians strolling along the Magnificent Mile will get to witness "Fine Art Fridges," an art exhibit that showcases refrigerators that have been recycled and made into art.
The exhibit is in conjunction with ComEd's Appliance Recycling Program, in which old refrigerators or deep freezers, usually extra ones, are removed from customers' homes to promote the use of more energy efficient models. Also, many of the pieces in the exhibit will contain well-known Chicago architecture.
Some of the Michigan Avenue locations for the exhibit include The Omni Hotel, Tiffany's and Grand Lux Café.
For more information about the "Fine Art Fridges" exhibit, visit www.comed.com.
If you find yourself in the West Loop at some point over the next month make sure to stop by Thomas Robertello Gallery at 939 W. Randolph and check out the collaborative video by Brooklyn-based artists Jason Robert Bell and Marni Kotak playing continuously in their storefront window today through September 6. The video, titled "Double Face Fantasy" (named after John and Yoko's final record, Double Fantasy) shows the faces of a pair of lovers performing a narcissistic-yet-romantic duet. Presented as a moving diptych, each artist finger paints the other's face, revealing a self-portrait of the painter. Using the application of paint to uncover flesh, the lovers find themselves quite literally emerging through the eyes of their soulmate. Romantic, huh? The press release says the video is best viewed from the sidewalk after dark, so go there after a dinner date at The Publican or Blackbird or somewhere and you may just seal the deal.
Last night I met a wonderfully spirited artist Marilyn Propp, co-founder of Anchor Graphics. We talked all about art, Chicago and painting. I just got a chance to visit her site and I have to say bravo. A lively style that references late Philip Guston, without all the gloom and doom, painted on multiple panels. Some come together in organic circular forms that remind me of cellular clusters. Others are strips, but still organic in nature they have the quality of an amoeba. These references to the building blocks of all life are a great base to make these active and lively works.
It is amazing how many people don't know much about printmaking. I was trained in the ways of printmaking back in 1997 over at UIC. I learned that I had patience and was attracted to the process of creating things, not just the outcome. In printmaking you have to have patience, because every step of creating a print is important to the end product, which you might not get the opportunity to see for a month or more.
In honor of its 35th anniversary, Lillstreet Art Center conducted a small ceremony to unveil its new mural last Saturday. As people arrived, they were greeted with an enormous blue tarp hanging down over the building near the front door that covered the mural. Inside, refreshments were served and everyone was excited to get outside and see the mural for the first time.
Once outside, Some speakers were introduced including Lillstreet's founder and CEO, Bruce Robbins. Unfortunately it was impossible to hear anyone outside but the mural spoke for itself.
Adhered to the exterior brick wall on the west side of the building, the mural is a swirled 40 square foot thing of beauty. It's like a mosiac made from leftover pieces of tile and other objects from the Lillstreet studios. The outer ring is composed of clay hand molds from Lillstreet students. Everyone was applauding and reaching their arms in the air with cameras in hand.
Lillstreet always makes an exemplary effort to bring communities together and this was no exception. The mural itself was the result of a 4-week mural-making class taught by Sonata Kazimieraitiene and it utilized the students' hard work and creativity as well as found objects from the studios that would have otherwise gone to waste. The mural is a great addition to Lillstreet's permanent collection.
[Editor's note: This article was submitted by freelance writer Michael Moreci.]
All photos courtesy of Ag47
Reaching out to children, as a mentor, is never an easy thing. But the difficulty of finding a common ground works both ways. Often, children have trouble communicating fully with adults; they feel that their voices aren't heard, their opinions not appreciated, or they simply aren't comfortable opening up in the first place. The women who run Ag47, a Logan Square arts mentorship program catering to pre-teen and teenage girls, never take these communication gaps for granted.
"All the girls come because they love the idea of being listened to, being heard by an adult," Executive Director Virginia Killian Lund said.
Ag47 is more than a mentorship program. The foundation of reaching out to children on a creative level is what fosters an environment of expression and the idea that everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a unique perspective on the world. Having just wrapped up its first six-week session, the program is off to a quick start. And the result of this inaugural run? An inspiring collection of photographs, paintings, and poems that is currently touring the city.
The women who started Ag47, including Lund, had all worked together before, with a different mentorship program. When that program closed, the big question was, what next?
I've started a gallery-- 345 Gallery-- in the Flat Iron Building (1579 N. Milwaukee) along with local artist and Genesis Art Supply employee, Charlie Megna. You can see pictures of our last show on his blog. The gallery doesn't have a website yet, but it will soon. Our first curated show, opening August 27, will focus on color. If you like color, you should absolutely submit jpegs of your color-conscious artwork to me for consideration in the show. I'm not just talking about colorful work; I'd like to see work about color. I'm very exited about this show, and I have a feeling that it'll be a good one, because a lot of people seem to like color as much as I do.
Submit up to five jpegs of your work (any media-- send a URL if you've got a video) to me at email@example.com by August 9 for consideration. Please include dimensions and only submit work that you'll be able to personally drop off at the gallery if it's accepted.