Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

News: Hebru Brantley Public Sculptures Vandalized

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clean up after vandalism of Hebru Brantley's "The Watch"

Clean-up after vandalism of Hebru Brantley’s “The Watch”

Last Sunday morning a series of sculptures installed along a sloping lawn near the Field Museum by Pilsen-based artist Hebru Brantley were found vandalized. The artwork titled “The Watch” is a multi-figure homage to the Tuskegee Airmen and features a series of young, black, superheroic characters that Brantley uses in his work. Last weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported that several of the figures had been knocked over, with one beheaded and several others sustaining multiple punctures and elements broken off. In an email, Chicago Park District’s director of communications Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said that the sculptures have been removed to be repaired by the artist. While no definite timeline for the repairs has been determined, the artworks will be returned to the park once they have been installed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: texttexttext/Woman Made Gallery

Multimedia, Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Briar Craig. “Gluten-Free Poetry”

Briar Craig. “Gluten-Free Poetry”


“Texttexttext” at Woman Made Gallery is a cogent and self-conscious group exhibition that effectively engages notions of language as ever-changing, the battle between public and private social spheres, and the presence of a self-consciousness that is so prevalent in our age of selfies, tweets and Facebook postings. The artists in this show work from these starting points to ponder the transparency of the twenty-first century using a neo-dadaist humor and a deep awareness of our world. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Vincent Tiley

Painting, Performance, Pilsen, Video No Comments »
"Pearl," acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins, and velvet

“Pearl,” acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins and velvet

“I was very little when I went as Glinda for Halloween one year, with very patient parents,” recounts artist Vincent Tiley as we met for coffee in Bushwick, the neighborhood in Brooklyn where he resides. Costumed as the good witch of Oz was one of Tiley’s earliest forays into the effervescent world of drag. “I take a lot from my experience coming out in college in Baltimore surrounded by a queer punk scene, making looks and going to a club and feeling all the feels that you get being weird at a place where people want you to be sexy.” For Tiley, bodies contain these tensions between the desire to be desired and a nearly contradictory one to challenge and affront. His first solo exhibition, “New Skin” at elee.mosynary gallery in Pilsen, is populated with heavily adorned bulbous paintings on digitally printed spandex that are “Blob Portraits” of club kids and drag queens that Tiley has befriended.

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News: Joan Harris to be Awarded National Medal of Arts

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joan harris

Chicago-based arts philanthropist Joan Harris will be among the twenty-one new recipients to receive medals for the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities from President Barack Obama on Monday, July 28. In Harris’ bio released from the White House she is being honored “for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country. Her decades of leadership and generosity have enriched our cultural life and helped countless artists, dancers, singers, and musicians bring their talents to center stage.” Harris and her late husband were major contributors to the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, now celebrating ten years of providing multi-arts performance programming in Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Sociologist Studies Art and Artists Produced by MFA Programs

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Sociologist Gary Fines (centered, with notepad) at a graduate critique in Northwestern University's Art Theory and Practice program

Sociologist Gary Fine (centered, with notepad) at a graduate critique in Northwestern University’s Art Theory and Practice program

Yesterday the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that follows sociologist Gary Alan Fine through his ongoing research into the constitutive components and consequences of artists being trained in academia. Fine, a professor of sociology at Northwestern, has spent the past two years observing and studying the intricacies of MFA programs at his home institution as well as Illinois State University and UIC. These three schools are part of a huge number of MFA programs that have sprung up over the past half-century: the Chronicle reports Fine estimating there are around 300 such programs today. This research will eventually be put into a book about campus-based art worlds. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Zachary Cahill/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Painting No Comments »
Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation "USSA 2012 Wellness Center"

Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation “USSA 2012 Wellness Center”


Zachary Cahill’s current exhibition, “USSA 2012: Wellness Center,” reflects on the contemporary dilemma of wellness in general and the healing potential of art in particular. Staging a physical retreat for therapeutic refuge in the third-floor enclave of the Museum of Contemporary Art that recalls European sanatoriums of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this highly referential exhibition of painting, sculpture and writing finds itself most cogent on the wall. Paintings often dressed in synthetic palettes and textual epigrams act in Cahill’s institution as optically prescriptive pseudo-pharmaceutical compositions with a desired effect on the viewer, a crooked analogue of the canonical canvases of romanticism they uncannily suggest.

The works center on health, wellness and care, topics as political and provocative as they come, instinctively relevant on a global scale, yet problematic as if by design. Health transcends the everyday, at once at the forefront of our collective consciousness and buried deep within it, a perennial victim of its own ubiquity. The industries of wellness wrestle with sizable points of contention, from intellectual property to the ethics of access. And the spaces of caregiving continue to provide rich ground to consider a question as genuinely human, ageless and pertinent today as any other, one found here, scribed in acrylic: what does it mean to be healthy? Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artists: Miller & Shellabarger

Artist Profiles, Drawings, Installation, Loop No Comments »
Miller & Shellabarger. "Again Gone," installation view

Miller & Shellabarger. “Again Gone,” installation view

“Western Exhibitions shows all three of us,” say Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger, meaning the Chicago gallery separately represents Dutes, Stan and S&M, their collaborative practice as Miller & Shellabarger. The two met as undergraduates studying ceramics and organically began to work together on artistic projects. Twenty-one years later, the couple shares an Irving Park home and studio where individual art practices continue to grow alongside joint projects. Teaming up as Miller & Shellabarger periodically dominates their individual practices, while at other times independent work demands a hiatus from the collaborative. They have found an effortless ebb-and-flow, and three is not a crowd in this household.

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News: Changes in Chicago’s Arts Leadership [updated]

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Jessica Cochran has left her position as Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Center for Book & Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. She was there four years and curated group exhibitions such as “Social Paper” and “Structures for Reading.” Cochran is now curator of a private contemporary art collection.

Cortney Lederer has resigned as Director of Exhibitions and Residencies at the Chicago Artists Coalition, where she worked from 2011-2014. At the CAC, Lederer designed residency programs for artists and curators (called “Bolt” and “Hatch”). She is pursuing an independent art consulting and curating company, CNL Art Consulting.

Jamilee Polson Lacy has accepted a position as Director and Curator of Providence College Galleries, in Rhode Island. While working as an independent curator in Chicago for many years, Polson Lacy organized the nomadic Twelve Galleries Project (founded in 2008), and was managing editor of the Bad at Sports blog. She says that the Providence College Galleries is a new initiative supported by a capital campaign to exhibit contemporary art at the college, and is modeled on UIC’s Gallery 400. She will return to Chicago periodically with her husband, Stephen Lacy (of Academy Records), to complete forthcoming exhibitions at Western Exhibitions and Columbia College Chicago, among other projects.

Tempestt Hazel is the new Arts Program Manager at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park. She will work to grow their residency, exhibitions and public programs. Hazel was formerly the Professional Development Manager at the Chicago Artists Coalition (from 2012-2014), and continues to curate independently and administer the arts website Sixty Inches from Center. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Two Chicago Artists Confirmed for Crystal Bridges Museum Exhibition

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Alberto Aguilar, still from Sensitive Equipment (video), 2012, to be shown at the Crystal Bridges Museum

Alberto Aguilar, still from Sensitive Equipment (video), 2012, to be shown at the Crystal Bridges Museum

Chicago-based artists Alberto Aguilar and Alison Ruttan have been selected to show in “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” a survey of contemporary art from the U.S. at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the private collection museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, founded by Alice Walton of Walmart. This is the museum’s first such survey, on a scale to rival the Whitney Museum’s biennial, and includes 102 total artists from all regions of the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Johalla Projects Curates Art at Pitchfork Music Festival

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"Geometric Village" being installed earlier this week

“Geometric Village” being installed earlier this week

The West Town gallery Johalla Projects returns to the Pitchfork Music Festival, held in Union Park, this weekend to present “Geometric Village,” an installation by Heather Gabel and Chad Kouri. Two A-frame architectural structures fifteen feet tall and nine feet wide are joined by an additional set of smaller chairs or stools scattered around these forms. The two triangular structures will house smaller works by the two artists that will be available for sale. Gabel will have packs of postcards available for $15 and Kouri will exhibit a set of prints he created with Tan & Loose Press which are available for $15 each. This installation will be accessible to festival attendees; tickets are currently $60 a day, or $110-$130 for a three-day pass. Read the rest of this entry »