Have you ever just nonchalantly walked by or scrolled past a picture of a baby? Of course you haven't--you can't! But if you'd actually admit to being able to resist the urge to belt out an "Oooh!" or "Awww!" at the sight of a little one, report to 'The Wizard' immediately, Tin Man!
Photographs of babies are indeed automatic attention-grabbers; it is nearly impossible to see one and not gush or gasp out of pure excitement, no matter whose baby it is. For Chicago-based newborn photographer Naja Lerus, gushing and gasping are more than welcome; as a mom of three, she understands the emotions of new parenthood. "I know how important those first pictures are of your new baby. There is no love in the world like the love one feels for their new baby," said Lerus.
Lerus grew up in France and has now laid down roots in the Windy City. With a professional photography career that is just over three years old, she has photographed dozens of Chicagoland newborns and boasts a clientele that includes Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. Here, Lerus discusses her passion for newborns, challenges on "the set," and photographing the babies of two major Chicago sports figures.
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.
Miles Davis Tribute 2012; Photo by John Broughton.
On its own, jazz music naturally evokes poetic, visual imagery; from sultry saxophones to tuneful trumpets, for many, this musical genre is an integral part of the arts, and perhaps holds an even more special place in the world of photography.
Through its new exhibit, "The Power of Music," iRock Jazz recognizes the photographers who have helped shape and advance its mission of honoring past and present legendary jazz musicians and their contributions to the art form. The exhibit features the work of Chicago-based photographers including John Broughton, Foster Garvin, Farrad Ali, and more.
"The Power of Music" opens Thursday, March 21 at eta Square, 7558 S. Cottage Grove; photographers featured in the exhibit will greet jazz fans from 6pm-8pm. The exhibit runs through May 12; for more information, call 773-752-3955.
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.
A photo from The Malaria Consortium's Malaria: Blood, Sweat, and Tears currently on exhibit at the Field Museum. Photo credit: Adam Nadel.
The Malaria Consortium's exhibit Malaria: Blood, Sweat, and Tears is currently on display at the Field Museum, having been previously displayed in New York, Atlanta, Geneva, Switzerland, Paris, and Ghana. Photographer Adam Nadel spent five weeks in Cambodia, Uganda, and Nigeria documenting the lives of people affected by malaria, a disease who's prevalence was estimated at 216 million cases in 2010 by the World Health Organization.
There are reasonable ways to combat malaria, principal among them sleeping under mosquito nets that have been impregnated with insecticide. The nets cost $5 each, but due to a number of factors are not always easy to come by. The Malaria Consortium's goal is to control malaria and other communicable diseases in Africa and Southeast Asia, and is hoping to raise awareness with this exhibit. They have an impressive list of donors, including the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, the Global Fund, WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the President's Malaria Initiative.
What is startling about the photographs is that they are beautiful in their depictions; I can't think of another time I've seen photographs of a disease has been documented so artistically. The exhibit has 36 images in all, and is on display at the Field Museum through September 16. More information on malaria is available online at the Malaria Consortium website, on Facebook, and on Twitter @FightingMalaria.
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.
With the WNBA, along with athletes like Mia Hamm, Michelle Wie and Venus and Serena Williams, women's sports have a global presence and impact on young girls; in Elizabeth Stanton's Through Her Eyes Project, that impact is featured via a multimedia exhibit of film shorts and over 50 photographs, designed to showcase girls and women from developing countries and the physical, social and other beneficial aspects of participating in sports and sports-related activities.
In one of my favorite Black Star tracks, "Thieves In The Night", rapper Mos Def challenges listeners to "separate the real from the lie." Maneuvering comfortably in the classic techniques and processes of analog photography, New York-based artist Mike Schreiber works to achieve exactly that by creating images which resonate globally with music lovers and photography aficionados alike. Whether it is of musicians who regularly occupy the headphones and speakers of millions of music fans, or the people on the streets of Cuba and Jamaica, Mike's portraits place emphasis on the humanity of his subjects. His photographs remind us that these people are just that-people. He does not attempt to make them into caricatures of themselves or play into a larger-than-life persona. Mike pushes in the antithetical direction with the goal of making a photograph that brings out, as he puts it, a version of themselves that "their mother would recognize."
Fittingly titled True Hip Hop, Mike's recent book reflects the results, experiences and anecdotes of a career that has brought him and his camera in front of everyone from B.B. King to Voletta Wallace, the mother of the late Notorious B.I.G. In light of his upcoming debut exhibition in Chicago and book signing at The Silver Room, I spoke with Mike about his signature style, starstruck moments and what it means to be a photographer's photographer.
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.
The invention of the camera gave the world the ability to capture a single moment and preserve it on film. No longer would people have to rely on paintings or their own murky memories to recall the past. In a photograph one could peer into yesterday just as it was then. With photography one could effectively stop time. So how ironic is it that film, this original vehicle of permanence, has been powerless to halt the rise of digital photography? Now anyone with a cellphone, much less a camera, can snap a picture and view it instantly. If one requires a physical copy any Walgreens or computer printer can print one out . Cameras, as they have transitioned from skilled tool to everyman's toy, have transcended the need for film.
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.
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.
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."
Photographer Todd Diederich has been documenting the city's ball scene as part of an ongoing project funded by The Propeller Fund. Earlier this month, he arrived at a South Side karate studio for a ball, and instead found himself at a seminar on "dry humping" for lesbians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To celebrate Black History Month, the Chicago Defender presents "The Journey to Empowerment," a photography exhibit that showcases various images of history-making African-Americans.
This year's exhibit, now in its fifth installment, is comprised of a collection of the newspaper's archived photographs of movers and shakers, who are mostly from Chicago, from the world of business and politics. One of the highlights of the exhibit includes a photograph of Benjamin Lewis, Chicago's first African-American alderman, who was murdered in 1963. Another exhibit highlight is the "Wall of Firsts," which features African-American trailblazers, most notably, Mayor Harold Washington and President Barack Obama.
"The Journey to Empowerment Exhibit" is on display at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., now through March 15. The exhibit is free and open to the public; hours are 9am-9pm daily. Contact 773-256-0149 for more information.
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.
It's all about the details. A great outfit is comprised not only of fashionable, quality clothing, but also the personal touches-- a perfectly folded cuff, a slew of gold buttons-- that distinguish one pretty young thing from the rest. On her popular street style blog, Chicago Looks, Brazilian-native Isa Giallorenzo hunts down the stylistically distinguishable Chicagoans roaming the galleries, music festivals, and vintage fashion sales that litter the neighborhoods. In one photograph, a young Black man's hair is wrapped and tied in a brown turban. He leans against a stone wall, hands stuffed within the pockets of loose army green pants as his chest, covered in a salmon pink t-shirt and thick suspenders, is thrust out proudly. In another snapshot, a twenty-something woman stays warm in a dramatically long blue coat seemingly cut to compliment the white-blonde bangs that nearly cover her eyes. Each photograph is a portrait of Chicago, a moment of time documenting one person in a city of millions.
Giallorenzo works not unlike a documentarian. She takes not only full-body shots but also close-ups of the little details that make an outfit pop. It is no surprise then to learn that the photographer comes from a journalism background. The role of a street style photographer entails investigating a look. The image is a form of storytelling as well as the answer to an abundance of questions: Why does this outfit work when others don't? Does the person make the style, or vice versa? Can anyone really pull off that look?
It's a snowy December night on the South Side and the ballroom has filled up quickly. There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk -- and everyone is young, black and queer.
This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by "walking" -- showing off themed outfits and voguing -- a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become "legendary" -- famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago's had its own ball circuit for as long as New York -- one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.
Tattooing--a practice that is deviant to some; to others, however, it is classified as a form of art that is integral to culture and identity in society. For black men, especially entertainers and athletes of the hip-hop generation, tattooing, or "ink," is almost ritualistic, and is used by many as the ultimate form of self-expression and individuality.
To showcase this ideology, Columbia College Chicago presents Fear into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity Through the Art of Tattooing, a photography exhibit that explores black men and tattoos. Curated by alumna Nicole Harrison and featuring artists including Jabari Zuberi and Shasta Bady, the exhibit centers on "the meanings and connections of the body and the tattoo" and seeks to explain "the body as an alternative space where masculinity and identity formation can occur" as it relates to black men.
Fear into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity Through the Art of Tattooing will be displayed from January 24 through March 2 at Columbia College Chicago's Arcade Gallery, 618 S. Michigan Ave., Second Floor; gallery hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 3. This exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mark Porter, 312-369-6643, or email@example.com.
Maier is not the only one getting famous off her photographs, though, because the story of their discovery is almost as exciting as the photographs themselves. According to legend, a young real estate agent and third-generation flea market seller named John Maloof stumbled across a box of Maier's negatives at an estate auction at the RPN auction house in 2007, put in an absentee bid, and won it for $400 with the hope of using some of the images for a book he was putting together about Portage Park. After a swift run-through of his winnings, he found nothing he could use for the book, so he stashed them away for a few months. Later, when he was able to spend some quality time with the photos, he found himself captivated.
"I thought at first that my interest in her work was just an unusual obsession," he said. "People who were much bigger experts in the field told me that there was nothing unique about this work. Given that I was a real estate agent, I initially took them at their word."
One person Maloof was in contact with, however, shared his passion for the photos. And this is where the legend gets a little weird.
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.
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.
I've been a concert photographer based in Chicago now for about four years and I've seen a startling trend...increasingly more bands think it's "cool" to play in the darkness. It's the opposite of reality, this idea that dark and red lights look great to the audience, and I'm here to set the record straight.
Chicago area visual artists are encouraged to submit work 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.
Last Friday at HungryMan Gallery, (2135 North Rockwell Street,) Aaron Fowler's opening reception of OCEAN debuted. Curated by Jason Lazarus, this show is a conglomeration of Fowler's photography created over an extended period of time. Running until July 11, a commonality extracted from OCEAN is the avenue of mnemonic transition of time which recalls the passage of travel as the measure of memories encapsulated.
Jerry Pritikin, gay rights activist and photographer, has experienced a tumultuous chapter of U.S. history and lived to tell about it. San Francisco in the 1970's is the title of his photography exhibit at Gage Gallery, as well as a simple explanation for the framework of his life as a gay man.
This Friday is the start of the World Cup and what better way to start that off than to grab your copy of "The Globe" by local photographer Chester Alamo & Costello at The Globe and talk international sport with people from around the world. Joined by a myriad of writers, contributors local art and sport buffs Chester will be selling and signing his newest book of photographs at 7pm at the Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd.
Philippe Halsman once said that the act of jumping allowed a person's personality to be freed up in a way that revealed the true self. No doubt he'd find the act and art of becoming a zombie an even greater revelation. Choosing the most high profile spot in the city, zombies met in downtown's Millennium Park and marched from 4-6pm this past Saturday even with gusts of heavy rain coming down unpredictably. They had an energy recalling any of the best marches. (Chants included: "What do we want? BRAINS! When do we want them? NOW). Zombies journeyed from Millennium Park to the Marina Towers made famous by Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album to Daley Plaza to Buckingham Fountain. One thing was clear throughout their trek: no matter what age, gender, or race a little fake blood has the possibility to bring people together for a truly shared experience like none in the alive world. Perhaps it take a little death to make us all appreciate the goodness in life.
Gapers Block is teaming up with Explore Chicago for a photo contest -- and the winner gets to fly a friend here to Chicago for a weekend!
To enter, take a photo and write one or two paragraphs about a "personal landmark" in your neighborhood -- not necessarily something huge and obvious, like the Bean, but something that helps guide you or your friends through your neighborhood -- like the weird Mr. Potatohead sculpture shown here. Send the photo (or a link to it on flickr or other image hosting service) and your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Friday, May 21, with the subject line "landmarks."
All entries will be compiled into a feature posted here in A/C, and two entrants will win a round-trip voucher for a friend to fly into Chicago on Southwest Airlines!
Good luck, and look forward to seeing your neighborhood landmarks!
The fine print: One entry per person. Travel must be completed by July 31. Friend must live in a Southwest market. Not open to Gapers Block or Explore Chicago staff.
"Mandela: Man of the People," Peter Magubane's exhibit that features former South African President Nelson Mandela, will be on display at Primitive, 130 N. Jefferson. Magubane is widely recognized as South Africa's most renowned photojournalist who also served as Mandela's official photographer.
The opening reception for this 104-photo exhibit, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release from prison, is Thursday, May 13 from 5:30pm-8:00pm, and runs through Saturday, May 22. Gallery hours are from Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm.
For more information, contact the gallery at 312-575-9600.
The illustrious Version festival starts this Thursday with Territories, a group exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. Also, starting that night at midnight Version fest presents six episodes of experimental television featuring works submitted to this year's festival. Watch every night of the festival at midnight to view a 30 minute episode on Chicago Cable Access Channel 19 (CANTV).
On Friday the opening party for Version Festival kicks off at 8pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, promising more unabashed creativity and wild rock and roll than any one human being could hope to completely absorb in one night. The meat and potatoes of the show Friday will most likely be the live music by amazing local acts including Mahjongg, Brilliant Pebbles, and Mr666 (among others), but the show will be garnished by art and entertainment by Telefantasy Studios-- a group of artists specializing in Sci-Fi/fantasy film productions who claim that their aim is to "transport people to realms never before imagined and to tell heroic stories with dazzling special effects." For the Version fest opening party they will create a temporary soundstage for performance, and they want everyone to come in costume as a Sci-Fi/fantasy character to be filmed, photographed, interviewed, and auditioned.
Jon Fjortoft is a little known and self-taught photographer whose black and white photos are on display now at The Chicago Cultural Center. The show is divided into two bodies of work: street photos of downtown Chicago and warehouses from neighborhoods in the western suburbs of Chicago.
The street photos sometimes capture the rare momentary solace the city can provide: a woman walking down the street, surrounded by no one or a someone waiting for the walk signal. Other times, he exposes the choreography of commuters who dance across the city stage. Sometimes, they line up perfectly along the geometry of a building or skip across the crosswalk.
Fjortoft also has a subtle, ironic sense of humor. There are a couple photos that illustrate this humor while exhibiting the way the city can reflect and interact with its inhabitants. One photo shows an American flag waving over the Michigan Avenue Bridge whose image is mirrored in the design of a (presumably) tourist's windbreaker jacket in the foreground. Another is of a homely, over weight woman who stands, transfixed by an advertisement at her bus stop that depicts a car full of beautiful women. The street photos are delicate and powerful, graceful and graphic. Fjortoft has a talent for seizing fleeting and beautifully understated moments that, had they not been captured on film, may have never caught the city-dweller's eye.
Jon Fjortoft will be speaking at the Cultural Center at 12:15pm on June 3. It is FREE.
Boliva-08/2005 [Tin., CAVC (b. 1950)] Constantino Ayaviri Castro (b.1950), previously a construction worker, is a police officer third class for the municipality of Tinguipaya, Tomás Frías province. The police station does not have a phone, car or typewriter. Monthly salary: 800 bolivianos ($189)
Bureaucratics, an exhibition by Dutch photographer Jan Banning, opens this Friday in the University of Chicago's Harper Commons, 1116 E. 59th Street. The 50 images in the exhibition are the result of years of photographing bureaucrats behind their desks on five continents. Banning's photographs express the relationship between bureaucratic work, identity and the state, all the while maintaining the cultural and institutional differences of each represented bureaucracy.
We all know the feeling. Job-hunting can be the most daunting, soul-sucking, ego-crushing activity that all must at some point endure- these days especially. Mike Nourse and Marta Sasinowska's collaborative project, Looking For: New Works, captures this tumultuous and timely experience through photographs of people looking for work, which have been transferred onto the glass of salvaged windows. Nourse and Sasinowska collected resumes from their subjects and asked one simple question- "what are you looking for in life?" In doing so, they managed to wade through the hopelessness of searching, to find and capture peacefulness in possibilities, and the thrill of eventually finding.
"Does anyone have a cigarette?! Does anyone have a cigarette for William Eggleston?!!," an assistant yelled to the masses of people waiting for Mr. Eggleston to sign their books. People desperately shot their hands up, hoping to give the icon a smoke. Eggleston, pioneer of color photography, was on hand at The Art Institute's Modern Wing on Saturday for the opening of his retrospective, Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008.
William Eggleston. Photo by Whitney Stoepel.
The show is huge, exhibiting his early black and white photos, every image from William Eggleston's Guide, video, and paraphernalia from commercial projects like the album cover for Memphis band, Big Star. Eggleston is a legend. His imprint on art, photography, and American culture is so large, this enormous retrospective still doesn't do it justice. Although I didn't have a cigarette to give him, standing 15 feet from him felt pretty cool. Democratic Photos closes May 23, 2010.
My first visit to Blanc, on S Martin Luther King Dr was for the photography of Bryant Johnson. If it is true that nobody reads artist statements at an art opening, Bryant is lucky to say the least. His show, Farther Where Art Thou: The Depletion of a National Resource was, as you might guess, topical to say the least. He was using the ever-present push to live green as a way to address the treatment of black males in Chicago, possibly the United States. Bryant's statement rambled on about how everyone is working at living green while there is a natural resource that is going untapped, namely the black male. Unfortunately it was unclear in the photographs, close up head shots of middle aged black males, how the connection was being made.
His photographs, which I found out from talking with Bryant, were of homeless men he had encountered in Chicago. These were printed on what I would consider to be cheap paper, then mounted with wheat paste on a shallow metal sheet or a wood backing with black frame. Bryant's approach to displaying his work may have been lacking only in an explanation. His photos were powerful, referencing iconic images of black men like Martin Luther King, Rev. Al Green, and Sonny Stitt. Making images like this and treating them like street posters is absolutely no mistake and as intriguing as the show was, I couldn't help but think the statement and the message of living green confused the point that every man is a son and every father is a hero.
Blanc is open Weds through Fri 11am-3pm and Sat by appointment only, and is located in Bronzeville at 4445 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Check out this show and let me know what you think.
J.M. Colberg, the author of the contemporary photography blog Conscientious, spent thelastfewweeks exploring issues of similarity and plagiarism in art. In what appears to be Colberg's final post on the matter for now, Chicago-based photographer Brian Ulrich submitted an interesting exploration of his thoughts on the matter as it relates to his artistic practice. [You'll need to scroll down a bit to see Ulrich's material.]
Hamza Walker, Image courtesy of the School of the Art Institute
On February 5, it was announced the $100,000 Ordway Prize would be awarded to Hamza Walker, the Director of Education and Associate Curator at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. In 2001, The New York Times named him one of the most influential American curators. The New Museum describes the prize as, "acknowled[ing] the contributions of a Curator/Arts Writer and an Artist whose work has had significant impact on the field of contemporary art, but who has yet to receive broad public recognition. Nominees for the Ordway Prize are midcareer talents between the ages of forty and sixty-five, with a developed body of work extending over a minimum of fifteen years." Walker curated a solo show of Chicago-based photographer Anna Shteynshleyger which is on view at The Renaissance Society until this Sunday, February 14.
Stephen Daiter Gallery recently moved to 230 W. Superior and the first show in their new space features the amazing Martin Parr. Parr's supersaturated color photos with blazing flash can be slightly grotesque. Photos of food or tourists or fellow Brits, Parr's camera always seems to tease its subjects a bit. Some of Parr's work will also be featured in the Art Institute's In the Vernacular exhibit, up until May 31. Jeriah Hildwine has some good photos on Art Talk Chicago and you can hear the artist speak at Stephen Daiter Gallery on March 12, 5-8pm.
Almost every day I discover a new cellphone artist. It started with the iPhone Therefore iArt show last month, and hasn't stopped since. Remember when people were complaining about how digital photography allows "just anyone" to be an artist? Now, cellphone cameras allow anyone to be an artist, at any time, without even requiring the forethought of bringing a camera with you when you leave the house.
"I'll start with the sixties."
"Fine. You were probably more interesting then. I understand everybody was."
-From Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
Art Shay's footprint on Chicago photography is colossal. Shay's (unbelievably) first color exhibition opened at Thomas Masters Gallery on North Avenue in Old Town last Friday. The homey vintage space with creaky floors made Thomas Masters a perfect host for this show.
Shay shot for Time, Sports Illustrated and was a Chicago-based photojournalist for Life. In the entrance is a list of quotes from celebrities like Roger Ebert, Hugh Hefner, Studs Terkel, and David Mamet who said "I have one of Art Shay's pictures over my desk. It reminds me every morning of my Chicago roots. Art photos, like me, have the Chicago accent, which is to say he's telling you the truth."
The show is packed with recognizable faces like President Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Hoffa, and a few wonderfully moving pictures of and about Martin Luther King, Jr. After the assassination of King, Shay talked his way into the building across from the hotel and snapped a photo of the murderer's handprint on the wall, highlighted by police fingerprint dust. It took my breath away.
It would be easy to spend a good hour in Thomas Masters, wandering from each photo to the next. There is a description or anecdote from Shay under every photo, which heightens that magical feeling of finding dusty boxes of old magazines in your grandma's attic and experiencing nostalgia whether or not you lived through the sixties.
Technology has done wonderful things for art. One of my personal favorite new tools is the cell phone camera, as I have never been in the habit of carrying a camera around, and I used to miss priceless photo opportunities on a daily basis. Now, when I see a car on fire, a porch with 15 tricycles on it, or a girl peeing in the middle of the sidewalk in Wicker Park, I whip out my phone and capture it instantly. When I do, I amuse myself by deeming it art, and apparently I'm not the only one.
The Chicago Art Department has organized an exhibition of new art made with iPhones, most likely because there's so darn much of it. Plus, if you think about it, we are in the midst of an incredible technological revolution and iPhone art is a symptom of this distinct moment in time (whether you like it or not). And that's pretty cool.
The show, amusingly titled iPhone Therefore I Art, is the culmination of a class led by CAD artist Mike Nourse, in which ten local artists met weekly, working towards a completed project in the forms of photo, digital sketching (finger painting), animation, sound, and video--all made with iPhones, of course. For this exhibition, in addition to local artists, Nourse brought in iPhone artists from as far away as Russia, Norway, Spain, France, and Germany. The end-result is a comprehensive investigation and celebration of this fancy new tool. iPhone Therefore I Art addresses issues dealing both the identity of the artists using iPhones and the identity of art itself. Check out the show to see how the ubiquitous iPhone has worked its way into contemporary art, and to imagine where it will go next.
iPhone Therefore I Art opens this Friday, January 8, at Chicago Art Department (1837 S. Halsted). The public reception is from 6-10pm.
Recently, trends like the Renegade Craft Fair and the Slow Food Movement have shown people are recoiling from today's mass produced, dehumanized, and automated way of doing things. On the heels of this trend is the Apostles of Beauty exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Much like today, the Arts and Crafts movement stemmed from an anti-industrialist mentality that placed an importance on thoughtful design and handmade artifacts. The exhibit is vast and varied and what is truly fascinating is every piece of art came from private collections in the Chicago area.
Although most people were huddled around the pictorialist photography portion of the exhibit, the most "wow" inducing segment was the Japanism display. By the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Japanese style and woodblock prints were wildly popular (Frank Lloyd Wright was an avid collector). A Japanist-style Tiffany Lamp brilliantly glowing against the wall is hard to miss. Its dragonfly shade and mosaic base detail is breathtaking.
This is a nicely curated show, especially for those interested in interior design, architecture, and Chicago history. It closes January 31st.
Megan Baker, a Chicago Photographer, has a show opening Friday at the new AJ Kane Gallery at 119 N Peoria. I met with Megan to see her work and talk about her process as well as her relationship to photography; how it has evolved, and her plans for continuing to hone that relationship.
Last night was the opening for Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley's photomicrographs at the Carl Hammer Gallery. Bentley was the person to discover no two snowflakes are alike. The photomicrographs on display are small (only 3"x3.5") so you'll find yourself bent over, face inches away, examining the first photos ever taken of snow crystals. This show makes for a perfect holiday-themed outing without any of the commercial cheesiness so prevalent this time of year.
Bentley, a farmer, captured these images by adapting a microscope to a bellows camera in 1885. He took pictures of over 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime. In 1925, Bentley described the wonder of snowflakes, "Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind." This show is up until January 30th, so stop in while snow still seems beautiful because by February it will have lost its wonder for any Chicagoan.
The book is the first major monograph about Edgar Miller (1899-1993), who was internationally heralded for his organically modern reinterpretations of Victorian-era Chicago buildings beginning in the 1920s. In his transformations, Miller used painting, glasswork, woodwork and other fine art techniques to construct wholly new environments.
Age 81 and still taking pictures every day, Barbara Crane's career retrospective, Challenging Vision, at the Chicago Cultural Center (CCC), hardly scratches the surface of her incredible body of work. She has shown in 170 group exhibitions, 75 solo exhibitions, and her work is included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Crane also taught at the School of the Art Institute for 28 years, making Chicago a central player in her canon of work.
The historical CCC, "The People's Palace," is an excellent home for this show. Nestled among Chicago skyscrapers is the most fulfilling way to view Crane's graphic explorations in her Chicago Loop Series, 1976-78 or her photos of Chicago commuters pummeling the viewer in her Commuter Discourse, 1978. Chicago Beaches and Parks, 1972-78 captures Windy City summers with glossy, bikini-clad bodies that look like stills from a multi-racial version Beach Blanket Bingo.
Crane never stopped exploring images or how to capture them.
The key to viewing this exhibit is time. This is Crane's life's work in which her constant curiosity is deeply evident. Viewers should explore this retrospective the way Crane would--contemplate each photo and allow every to subject reveal its individual narrative.
The show is up until January 10 with gallery talks held November 19th with Crane essayist Abagail Foerstner, December 17th with curator Whitney Bradshaw, and on January 7th with the artist herself.
A collection of Gary Cialdella's photographs of an area that begins in southern Chicago, and ends somewhere in Northwest Indiana, has just been published in a new book. This book of photographs took me a long time to digest, mainly because I know the Calumet region and was not very familiar with this sort of documentary photography. I don't know the area quite as well as Gregg Hertzlieb, editor and contributing essayist for this book, but I have spent enough time in the area to be familiar with the subject matter. It isn't easy to look at photograph after photograph of things you've seen before, all taken in black and white from a six foot eye level. It becomes monotonous and tiring after a while, but I am beginning to understand that there is a lot more here than was originally able to see.
Looking forward to January? No? Maybe this will help-- the new year means new calendars. New calendars means a new Thought You Knew (TyK) calendar. What? You don't know about TyK calendars? Let me tell you.
The TyK calendar project was born last year, as a result of frustrated female cyclists in Chicago. Sick of being pegged as either mechanically savvy but asexual, or cute but inept with their bikes, they sought out a new way to represent themselves.
It's a shame that we're finding out about street photographer Vivian Maier after her death -- no doubt had her talent been known, she would have, if not celebrated alongside Robert Frank, been recognized like Gary Stochl for her keen eye and skill at capturing Chicago. Born in France, she lived in Chicago for more than 50 years, and documented the city with her camera throughout the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
The Chicago Park District's Nature Areas Program has started a photography contest to "illustrate the natural beauty and biological diversity" of Chicago. Winners will participate in a traveling exhibit, among other prizes.
In 1971, when parts of the Chicago Board of Trade building were about to be remodeled, a manager asked me, a young and green photographer, to take some pictures of the construction. The trading pit wasn't slated for renovation and was generally off-limits to visitors, but he got me in and allowed me to take some pictures.
I'd rewrite this, but it's so short as to be silly. The estimable Whet Moser writes in Chicagoland...
My colleague Will Atwood Mitchell tipped me off to a phenomenon called "Manhattanhenge," "a biannual occurrence in which the setting sun aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan's main street grid." Naturally, it works here in Chicago as well: 9/25 at 6:41 AM and 6:42 PM. The screencap is taken from the outstanding program The Photographer's Ephemeris.
I'll let contributer spencewine explain the cool concept behind this photo:
Double Exposure experiment with Robert Botey Beguiristain from Girona, Spain. The experiment was to expose a roll of film twice with scenes from our respective cities. What could be shot was open to interpretation. These photos contain one image of Girona, Spain overlapped with an image of Chicago, IL, USA.
Coudal Partners is requesting photographs for an anti-caption contest. All you need to do is submit a photographic response to the caption "It seemed like a good idea at the time." by Friday, May 1. Submissions should be sent to steve [at] coudal [dot] com with "Whoops" in the subject line. The three funniest entries will get all sorts of Coudal goodies.
Photographer Stephanie Bassos loves her LOMO camera, and shoots some fantastic work with it. The Post Family's new COOP coworking space is showing a collection of Bassos' work, and is celebrating with an opening reception tonight from 6 to 9pm at 845 W. Fulton Market. Drinks are complimentary, there's a DJ and a $5 raffle for a print. More info here.
Christopher Hiltz has been taking candid portraits of unsuspecting visitors to the Court Theatre's production of "The Wild Duck" by Henry Ibsen. The photographs, including the one seen above, are currently on display at the Court Theatre until March 17, when they'll be given away to anyone who wants to claim them. For more on the project and to see the entire set of portraits, visit Hiltz's flickr stream.
Gapers Block and Calumet Photographic invite photographers of all experience levels to participate in a photo swap on Friday, February 6, and an accompanying show that will run from February 3-11.
The photo swap will work like our previous swaps. The event (which will double as the show's opening) will run between between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at the Chicago location of Calumet Photographic, 1111 N. Cherry Ave. Simply arrive at Calumet with five 4"x6" photographs of any subject you like, hang out with other photographers and then leave with five photos from others. We'll have snacks and drinks for all. The actual swapping will begin after 6:30pm, so don't worry if it takes you a little time to get there after work.
If you'd also like to participate in the show, here are the details: the show will be organized around the theme "Intersections," which you may interpret any way you like, provided the images have a Chicago connection. To submit photographs to be considered for the show, add photographs to the GB flickr pool with the tag "Intersections09" no later than January 28. If you have your submissions in earlier than that, send an email to David Schalliol notifying us that your images are in the pool, and we'll review the images ahead of time. If you do not have a flickr account, send low resolution images to David Schalliol by the 28th. Regardless, we'll promptly notify you if your photo has been selected, so you can work on getting the image framed. To expedite the process and make room for as many photographers as possible, accepted photographs should be printed no larger than 8"x12", with frames that are no larger than 11"x14". Additional information will be sent to selected participants.
Any questions about the swap or the show should be directed to David Schalliol.
Pinup icon Bettie Page died on December 11th at the age of 85 from pneumonia after a heart attack eight days earlier.
Best known for the provocative pinup and fetish photos from the late '40s and '50s, Bettie Page was also one of the earlier Playboy centerfolds, posing in the January 1955 issue with nothing but a Santa hat and a suggestive wink. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner called her an American icon and considers her appearance a milestone for the magazine. Page spent time in Chicago after her departure from the pinup world, attending summer classes at Moody Bible College in 1961.
Inspired by Carl's post on the similarities between nineteenth century Chicago and present-day Asian boomtowns, we chose this picture by spudart of a Chicago under construction. Though it looks as if it came from a bygone era, the photo was taken earlier this year when the CTA was repainting portions of the El tracks.
Every week we're going to highlight a photo from the Gapers Block A/C flickr pool. In recognition of Labor Day, this week we're featuring this photo of the Haymarket Riot Memorial uploaded to the flickr pool by swanksalot.
Kids see the world differently -- and while growing up is sort of inevitable, putting on the goggles of youth once in a while can only be a good thing. This week at 826 Chicago (a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in Wicker Park) students unveil the photos that they feel document "their world". Ten middle and high-schoolers spent eight weeks working with National Geographic photographer Mike Hettwer, who sent them out into the city and taught them how to work a digital camera, how to compose a photograph, how to use contrast and layering... and, apparently, how to convince a dentist to let you photograph him. After creating 12,128 photographs (826 Chicago counted!), they selected their favorites and are ready to show them off to the public at a gallery exhibition on Thursday:
Thursday, September 4th
Elegant Mr. Gallery
1355 N. Milwaukee Avenue, #3
(Second showing Sunday, September 14th, 2:00-5:00 p.m.)
A book featuring the photos called The My World Project will be available for sale, too, so you can take a little fresh perspective home with you.
Photography fans, take note: From now through Aug. 8, the Co-Prosperity Sphere hosts Hic et Nunc_(Here and Now) A Survey Of New Guard Photography, a show featuring work by Columbia College graduates. Photogs Nathan Baker, Jon Gitelson, Jason Lazarus and Brian Ulrich are the "veterans" of the bunch, having attended Columbia at the turn of the millennium. The four are friends, and have all gone on to have their works featured in galleries and museums, or sold to buyers. Meanwhile, Claudia Burns, the team of Terttu Uibopuu and Sarah Mckemie, Sean Fader, Aron Gent, Mandukhai Kaylin and Tealia Ellis Ritter have all just recently graduated from art school. The show is supported by the nonprofit Public Media Institute.
3219-21 South Morgan St. Hours by appointment.
Dawoud Bey, Chicago-based photographer and professor, has a new blog, What's Going On," covering photography as well whatever other topics strike him; his most recent post about the city's racial segregation and its effects on the local art scene puts an interesting perspective on a long-simmering issue.
The Art Institute of Chicago announced the retirement of David Travis, chair of the Department of Photography, effective at the end of June.
Travis began his career at the Art Institute as an assistant curator of photography in the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1972 and was a full curator in 1975, when the Department of Photography was officially established. "David Travis has had a long and extraordinarily productive career at the museum, and it is impossible to conceive of the department here without his imprint," said Art Institute President James Cuno.
Travis organized and presented more than 150 exhibitions of photography at the Art Institute, including exhibitions of the work of Walker Evans, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Brassaï, and has also guest curated exhibitions shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For his special contributions to the advancement of awareness and understanding of French culture, he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1987. He has also been a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in 2002 he was named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by Chicago magazine. At the Edge of the Light: Thoughts on Photographers and Photography, on Talent and Genius, a collection of his lectures and essays, was published in 2003.
Through June 29, the Chicago Cultural Center hosts Dean Sharp: Photographs of the Chicago Picasso, a free exhibition of black and white photos on display at its Michigan Avenue Galleries. Curated by Assistant Curator of Exhibitions Sofia Zutautas, and organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the exhibit displays photos that Sharp took in 1967, while he was a student at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee. In wrapping up his final project, Sharp paid a visit to Chicago and was struck by the facial expressions of people who passed by the then brand-spanking new Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza. Camera in tow, he began photographing the faces he saw. His work both documents human nature and serves as a commentary on the role and impact of public art. On Tuesday, April 17, at 12:15 p.m., Sharp will appear at the Center for a free talk. (Viewing hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Center is closed on holidays.)
A/C has its own flickr pool! Join up and post your own photos of art exhibits, plays, dance performances and other arts & culture events -- or images of your own art, such as drawings, paintings and photography. Images from the pool will stream in the second column of A/C.
I found a couple of interesting Flickr groups devoted to the disappearance of Chicago buildings. Chicago - Now Demolished and Vanishing Chicago both document many of the other buildings in Chicago that have met an end. Most of these buildings don't have any historical significance, but are part of Chicago's architectural history nonetheless.