Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: glitChicago/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Digital Art, Multimedia, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Alfredo Salazar-Caro. “I Don’t Need Power at the Cost of Spilled Blood (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité),” 2014

Alfredo Salazar-Caro. “I Don’t Need Power at the Cost of Spilled Blood (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité),” 2014

RECOMMENDED

A booming drone engulfs you as you enter the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, a vicious vibrating to the chest and inner ear. This omnipresent noise is the first sensation in GlitChicago, an exhibition of Chicago glitch art—work surrounding the errors seen in digital systems—and showcases the work of twenty-two artists. Many of the works are interactive, expressing core tenants of Glitch Art, including “0P3NR3P0,” 2014, a project that allows anyone to submit their own Glitch work to the open-source database, put on by Nick Briz and Joseph YOlk Chiocchi. Jon Cates’ piece “?4\/\/?(?)H?!\/?,” 2014, displays a bricked sculpture holding a USB drive that contains a compressed archive of Glitch Art for free download—data in which Cates has collected and archived for the last fifteen years and contains more than 113.13 GBs. The data has never been shared publicly before this exhibition, and contains media such as photos, videos and emails, adding a further digital layer to the hyper-focused new media-centered exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: David Rappeneau/Queer Thoughts

Drawings, Pilsen No Comments »
David Rappeneau. "Untitled," acrylic ballpoint pen, pencil, charcoal pencil, and fluorescent marker, 2014

David Rappeneau. “Untitled,” acrylic ballpoint pen, pencil, charcoal pencil, and fluorescent marker, 2014

The works in David Rappeneau’s exhibition “$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$” depict apathetic millennials looking bored and despondent. His drowsy partiers appear to have everything they could desire in a series of twenty-first-century vignettes where passing whims are instantly gratified by drug-induced daydreams and glowing smart phones. On the surface, the action is simple: figures shown in various states of excess, their bodies rounded and stark. These are works that ponder the pleasure and escapism promised by leisure, a classed enterprise made exclusive through wealth and position. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Norman Zammitt/Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Norman Zammitt. "Red to Green I," acrylic on canvas board, 1979

Norman Zammitt. “Red to Green I,” acrylic on canvas board, 1979

RECOMMENDED

Why does the evocation of light from painting pervade the medium’s extensive history? It seems like a nonstarter to grind up and smear colored mud across a substrate in the attempt to produce luminosity. While peers in the loosely delineated movement of Light and Space in California from the 1960s onward abandoned painting in favor of more immaterial installation strategies, Norman Zammitt made a career of reasoned, deliberate canvases informed by floaty sensorial aspirations. His small paintings at Andrew Rafacz are rewarding to viewers precisely because of the tension between their physicality and the optical trickery that their composed horizontal bands of nuanced color excite in the eyes of viewers. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Women in Focus/Chicago Photography Center

Lakeview, Photography No Comments »
Kimbua Chema's "Windows to the Soul"

Kambua Chema’s “Windows to the Soul”

RECOMMENDED

In this inaugural exhibit mounted by Women in Focus, a new collective of female photographers ranging from beginners to professionals who practice the gamut of straight modernist genres from the architectural detail through street photography to the portrait, the intimate close-up images steal the show. Among the sixteen artists—each contributing two images here—the strongest and most penetrating impression is Kambua Chema’s close-up color study of a Muslim woman’s lustrous eyes appearing through the slit in a deep black veil that covers the rest of the frame, which was in Kenya’s eastern coastal region. Look closely into those eyes and see reflected exquisitely the street scene to which the woman’s vision is directed. Chema has titled the image, ironically, “Windows to the Soul.” Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of a Gallery: Comfort Station

Gallerist profile, Logan Square, Photography, Public Art No Comments »
The Comfort Station in Logan Square

The Comfort Station in Logan Square

My first exposure to Comfort Station coincided with Matthew Hoffman’s 2013 exhibition “Independence.” A mysterious placard was erected in the shadow of the Illinois Centennial Monument. Like most of Hoffman’s work, it was aggressively present on social networks. In the background of some of the photos was a puzzling Tudor-style building that looked comically out of place in trendy Logan Square. The text read: “A motivational sign in a grassy field is nice and all, but it’s not going to do the hard work for you. That’s up to you.”

This wording resonates with the ethos and initiative of Comfort Station. It is a unique architectural landmark that places equal emphasis on both programming and exhibitions. In a recent conversation I had with both of the directors, Jordan Martins characterized their vision as such: “We identify as an ‘art space’ not just due to the exhibitions, but through all of our programs as a totality. The most important thing for us is the plurality, multiplicity and simultaneity of these events and programs and how they activate the space.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Art Institute Begins Publishing Online Digital Catalogues

Galleries & Museums, News etc., Painting No Comments »
views of hidden labels, reverse sides and photomicrograph cross sections are included in the Monet and Renoir catalogues

Views of hidden labels, reverse sides and photomicrograph cross sections are included in the Monet and Renoir catalogues

Last week, the Art Institute of Chicago published the first two of their online scholarly catalogues. Monet: Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago and Renoir: Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago are densely informative, interactive, close studies of the works of the two Impressionists held in the Institute’s permanent collection. Over the past couple of days, I’ve explored the catalogues; certainly the powerfully detailed zoom options allow viewers to observe details at a closeness that would not be available standing before the paintings in the museum, as well as details of how canvases are stretched, views of their reverse sides and photomicrographs that cross section the paintings’ grounds to see exactly how gesso and paint sit on the surface of the weave of the canvas. Entries on each of the two painters’ work in the collection are accompanied by in-depth curatorial essays, as well as technical reports (very compelling stuff not only for conservationists but artists and others interested in exacting accounts of how an artwork was made) as well as exhaustive accounts of provenance and exhibition history. That such detailed information about even one work is now freely available to the public is astonishing, but collected in the two books are forty-seven works by Monet and twenty-five by Renoir—a massive amount of information about some of the most precious holdings in the Institute’s collection.

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News: Caroline Older Appointed Executive Director of Chicago Artists Coalition

News etc. No Comments »
The Chicago Artists Coalition's newly appointed executive director Caroline Older

The Chicago Artists Coalition’s newly appointed executive director Caroline Older

The Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) announced last Thursday that Caroline Older has been appointed as its new executive director, and will begin this new position on September 8. Older was selected from an intensive national search conducted by board members Nancy Herring, Katharine Schutta, Carmelita Tiu and CAC board chair Tony Karman. Karman is quoted in the CAC’s press release saying, “CAC is playing a critical role in shaping Chicago’s cultural community by building a creative marketplace through its arts programming, artist residencies, grants and overall service to the arts. Under Older’s leadership, I am confident that CAC will continue to innovate and produce new initiatives that will further the organization’s mission.”

In an email exchange, Older writes, “Chicago is an important arts hub and with the CAC’s staff and board, I look forward to fulfilling the organization’s mission to build a creative marketplace for artists of all disciplines. I think the focus on community is critical. Building strong communities of artists, collectors and art appreciators is important to the ongoing success and continued growth of Chicago’s dynamic arts and cultural sector.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Funky Turns 40/DuSable Museum

Prints No Comments »
Josie And The Pussy Cats original production cel, 1970-71, Hanna-Barbera Productions, CBS

Josie And The Pussy Cats original production cel, 1970-71, Hanna-Barbera Productions, CBS

RECOMMENDED

“Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution” focuses on the Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970s that feature the first ever positive portrayals of African Americans in animation. Presenting original production cels and drawings of cartoons such as the popular “Jackson Five” animation and even “Josie and the Pussy Cats” (Valerie being the positive black character), the exhibition evokes nostalgia in anyone that has watched these shows while celebrating a significant moment in black history.

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Review: Summer Home/Schneider Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Jon Horvath. "Portrait of My Mother, " inkjet print, 2013

Jon Horvath. “Portrait of My Mother, ” inkjet print, 2013

RECOMMENDED

We stare at the image of a perfectly flat tile wall—an obdurate barrier—with red, yellow, brown and mainly blue and blue-gray components. Some of the tiles are chipped, and the upper-center of the mosaic is smeared and discolored. That is one of Jon Horvath’s renditions of home—distressed and implacable, yet attracting. Then we turn to the opposite gallery wall and see a portrait of an older woman standing on snow-covered ground, with a distant line of denuded trees behind her. She is wrapped from head to toe in a white winter coat and she glares at the camera with tight, downturned lips; this “Portrait of My Mother” is another view of home for Horvath. The power of those two images, facing each other in the gallery, creates a force field that threatens to crush the images of the five other gifted artists in this group show reflecting on domesticity. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Free Month of Comic Illustration Classes in September

Comics, News etc. No Comments »
montage of artists' works from the International School of Comics

Montage of artists’ works from the International School of Comics

The International School of Comics (ISC) announced this week that, during the month of September, it will offer a series of workshops that are free and open to the public. Dubbed Freetember, the school will host classes in concept art, digital coloring, comic book cover design and watercolor, as well as introductions to techniques in building narratives, working methods and independent publishing. Many of the teachers of these free classes are also faculty in the ISC’s degree program, such as Robin McKay, who will be coaching participants through an After Effects Crash Course and Emma Rand, one of ISC’s adjunct professors, who has also organized the Freetember project. Guest artists are also on the Freetember roster, including Jenny Frison, who currently works as a Marvel cover artist and for Hasbro. For a full list of the classes offered visit ISC’s website, or see below. Read the rest of this entry »