Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Old Glory: EXPO Chicago Plans to Return Chicago to the Art Fair Majors

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Tony Karman

It’s been some time since Chicago was a major player on the international art fair scene. First the International Art Exposition and, later, Art Chicago, were standard-setters in the eighties and nineties, though as Art Chicago moved out of its longtime home in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, a gradual decline led to its cancellation, under the name Next Art Chicago, earlier this year. EXPO Chicago, the product of longtime Art Chicago administrator Tony Karman, is now attempting to tap some of Art Chicago’s early prestige with a return to Navy Pier and a set-up that is, as Karman says, “respectful to the work that’s put in it.”

“Festival Hall at Navy Pier was built in large part because the art fair meant so much there was no way they could replace it,” says Karman. “So with that as a foundation there’s a way to tap a bit of nostalgia and to put a new varnish on what an art fair or an art exhibition looks like for 2012 and beyond.” Studio Gang, the architecture and design studio of MacArthur “genius grant”–winner Jeanne Gang, has designed an interior for the festival that is modeled off of the city’s urban grid, with the 120 booths of participating galleries bisected by walkways and a wide diagonal “avenue.” Karman says that capping dealers and galleries at 120 was done to maintain “quality over quantity” and prevent EXPO from turning into a mega-fair. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: Chicago Art News Bites

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By Jason Foumberg

Galleries Open

Gilad Ratman at Aspect Ratio

AdventureLand (1513 North Western) was co-founded by artist Tony Fitzpatrick and his new series of etchings inaugurated the exhibition program, which is managed by Perry Casalino. AdventureLand will open Mariano Chavez’s solo show in October.

Aspect Ratio (119 North Peoria, unit 3D) opened in the former Spoke Gallery space. Co-founders Jefferson Godard and Jenna Feldman will feature a program dedicated to contemporary video art. Work by Gilad Ratman (will represent Israel in the 2013 Venice Biennale) inaugurates the program, and will be followed by Bryan Zanisnik, Xavier Cha, Chelsea Knight, Glen Fogel and Guy Ben-Ner.

Queer Thoughts (1640 West 18th) opened in Pilsen and is dedicated to promoting “a post-identity practice.” Co-founded by Luis Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp, the program includes, so far, work by Drew Olivo, Alexine Haynes and Pia Howell. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend Openings and Events: September 20-24

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Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings as the Fall Season Continues

Thursday, September 20

EXPO Chicago
Navy Pier Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand Ave.
Through September 23

Friday, September 21

Gallery Weekend Chicago
Through September 23

Loop & Michigan Ave.

“Modern and Contemporary Masters”
KM Fine Arts, 875 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 2515
September 19-November 17. Reception: 6pm-8pm

Allen Ruppersberg, “No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R ’n’ R,” installation.
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.
September 21-January 6. Reception: September 28, 7pm-11pm Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Joel Dean/Alderman Exhibitions

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During the mid-1980s, Jean Baudrillard traversed the great American West in a style uncannily Kerouacian, chronicling the excursion as he encountered vast Southwestern deserts, cultural residue of the Westward Expansion, neon motel vacancy signs, interstate freeways, strip malls, Sierras, Vegas and L.A. Baudrillard’s conception of the West—later published in his travelogue America (1986)—is that of an open, empty landscape of hyperreality where images and illusions echo and overlap. Baudrillard’s “desert of the real” is the point of departure for Joel Dean’s solo exhibition “The Real Problem,” a collection of painting and sculpture that reads at once referentially dense and emotionally sparse, analytically stratified and tonally flat. Exemplified by the barren desert landscape present in four large canvases—”Spring,” “Summer,” “Fall,” and “Winter”—Dean’s concern is with vast, disjointed simulations of reality, unanchored and mirage-like, as real as the reality they appear to simulate. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Storm Thorgerson/Public Works Gallery

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A hardcore surrealist, Storm Thorgerson injected the early twentieth century avant-garde into the rock music of the later part of the past century through his famous album covers for mega-star classic-rock bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. A conceptual photographer who takes his lead from the themes of the albums that he visualizes, Thorgerson meditates on the work at hand until he has intuited an image that satisfies him; at that point he has a piece of art in the making that ends up standing for itself, independent of the album that was its occasion, though with tight reference to it if one wishes to know the back story, which Thorgerson provides in wall text for the thirty-two images here. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Vadim Gushchin/Jennifer Norback Fine Art

Galleries & Museums, Photography, River North No Comments »

“Boxes #6,” 2011


We get a rare glimpse of contemporary Russian photography through one of its masters, Vadim Gushchin, who offers deceptively simple and minimalist color compositions of “treasures,” such as books, art catalogues and portfolios, often sitting on monochromatic tables, against deep black backgrounds. His subjects are relentlessly neat and frequently wrapped, rolled up, or bound up with string, so that we would be reluctant to disturb them if they were actually before us. Yet Gushchin disrupts the isolation and immobility by strategies such as leaving parts of his subjects outside the frame, disposing them at angles, or placing them askew and atop one another. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Candida Alvarez/Riverside Arts Center

Galleries & Museums, Suburban No Comments »

“puerto rico ? 25796”


At first, it was just as painful to see all these ornate, delicately colored 9×12-inch sheets of vellum pinned to the gallery walls like butterflies as it was to see body piercings in sensitive places. But eventually, it all made sense: this was Candida Alvarez’s invitation to a world of personal experience. It was like visiting the artist in her kitchen as she tells you about her various experiences in Puerto Rico, Ireland and Chicago. It’s just you and her—other people and things are not depicted, even in the wall full of photographs where everything dissolves into patterns. The patterns of her drawings are especially intense, wonderful and obviously relate to the places to which they refer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Janice Kerbel/Arts Club of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Michigan Avenue No Comments »


British-educated Canadian Janice Kerbel makes abstract, analytic and philosophical artworks. And it’s not warm and fuzzy philosophy, like Socrates in the agora asking questions; it is rigorous and linear, more akin to Charles Peirce, the early investigator of semiotics. At first there seems to be not a shred of subjectivity, nothing remotely like the mark of a hand or the palest shadow of the drift of an individual consciousness in Kerbel’s works on paper. Neither is the work particularly visual, but it looks very good. The play of the mind, it turns out, is clean and minimal. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Great Refusal: Taking On New Queer Aesthetics/SAIC Sullivan Galleries

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Michel Foucault opined that, in a gay affair, the “best moment is when the lover leaves in the taxi;” this nostalgic melancholia now typifies much queer theory. A preference for the backward view is central to Lee Edelman’s book “No Future,” and an overall gloom permeates Judith Halberstam’s “The Queer Art of Failure.” In the group show now at the Sullivan Galleries, “The Great Refusal: Taking On New Queer Aesthetics,” the negativity embedded in the title makes a thematic demand that much, but not all, of the work is equipped to address.   Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Shane Huffman/65Grand

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Thousands of years of visual and literary attempts to define the human experience are littered with rigid dichotomies: love and hate, Apollonian and Dionysian, form and content. Pairs of apparent contradictions help us organize the world. Shane Huffman’s current exhibition, “Sense and Sensibility,” explores the interplay of chaos and order. On one side are several 16×20-inch silver-gelatin prints of grayscales with precise, mechanical striations. Part of his ongoing “Our Experience is the Accumulation of Exposure” project begun in 2002, Huffman creates the pictures sans camera, as photograms. In contrast to his composed and measured prints is “Statistics and Probability,” a hodge-podge wall installation with objects including a scribbled-over beer advertisement, various photographs, a cut and drawn-on poster of the moon’s phases (the moon figures prominently in Huffman’s work), a mirror painted black, and a balloon containing a single breath of air. Read the rest of this entry »