Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Portrait of the Artist: Jessica Stockholder

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Portrait of Jessica Stockholder by Steven Rosofsky.

Jessica Stockholder/Photo: Steven Rosofsky

Jessica Stockholder’s work greets me before she does. Colorful and vibrant, it illuminates the dark gray exterior of Kavi Gupta Gallery’s Elizabeth Street location. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of a Gallery: Emanuel Aguilar and Julia Fischbach, Patron Gallery

Gallerist profile, River West No Comments »
Julia Fischbach and Emanuel Aguilar. / Photo: Sara Pooley.

Julia Fischbach and Emanuel Aguilar/Photo: Sara Pooley

As I stroll slowly into Patron Gallery, Emanuel Aguilar walks briskly up to greet me. With partially unpacked artworks leaning against the walls and the smell of fresh paint lingering in the air, the storefront gallery reeks of transition and anticipation. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Art’s Anxious Power

Art 50, Galleries & Museums, Michigan Avenue 1 Comment »
Andy Warhol. Mona Lisa Four Times, 1978. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Andy Warhol. “Mona Lisa Four Times,” 1978. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

by Elliot J. Reichert

The hardest part was soon to come, Matt Morris warned me when we met this summer to discuss my transition into the role of Newcity’s Art Editor. Read the rest of this entry »

Art 50 2015: Chicago’s Visual Vanguard

Art 50 1 Comment »


Long heralded as a mecca for alternative practices, collectivity and socially engaged art, Chicago increasingly finds itself among the most visible international art destinations precisely because of its distinct character and openness to change and growth. What makes this city fertile ground for launching new talent and sustaining confirmed genius? A complex and ever-changing network of curators, collectors, administrators, critics, dealers, educators and other enthusiasts cultivate Chicago’s artistic vitality and diversity. The Art 50 is Newcity’s annual snapshot of Chicago’s art ecosystem. This year, we track the power players who shape the terrain in which we thrive.

The Art 50 was written by Elliot J. Reichert, Maria Girgenti, Abraham Ritchie, Kate Sierzputowski and B. David Zarley.

Cover and interior photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux on location at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Read the rest of this entry »

Art Leader of the Moment: Naomi Beckwith, Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art

Art 50, Curator Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Streeterville No Comments »
Photo: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

Photo: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

By Elliot J. Reichert

In this year’s Art 50, we focus on the power players who shape Chicago’s art landscape. Naomi Beckwith, a Hyde Park native, brings an insider’s knowledge of the city to her role as the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In just over four years, she’s crafted some of the museum’s most timely exhibitions, including a major outdoor sculptural commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE and the MCA’s current headliner, “The Freedom Principle,” which she co-curated with Dieter Roelstraete. I spoke with her about the art of research, what it means to be a nerd in the art world and what’s next for this rising Chicago art star.

Being born and raised in Chicago, how has this city influenced your work as a curator?
Many people know that I had initially considered a career in the sciences. For my first twenty years, I was academically focused on those disciplines, but two signifiant things changed all that. One was the ethos of this city and its commitment to public spaces, which always included art: festivals, programs, art fairs and museums. I am a very proud child of Chicago Public Schools, which has an amazing field trip program that includes these destinations. This early access to both the formal art space of museums and also informal spaces, like the Hyde Park [57th Street] Art Fair or the African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park, left deep imprints on me. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Chances Dances

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Logan Square, Noble Square, West Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Chances Dances/Photo: Dan Paz.

Chances Dances/Photo: Dan Paz

The Chances Dances collective has been hosting queer dance parties in Chicago since 2005. What began as an inclusive dance night has since grown into multiple monthly events and an organizing body that runs a grant program for queer artists.

Latham Zearfoss and Bruce Wiest founded Chances Dances because they could not find anything like it in Chicago at the time: a safe place for the queer community to be able to go out and have fun. It was originally hosted in the back of Big Horse Lounge, a now-defunct taqueria in Wicker Park. In support of wanting to have a night for what Zearfoss calls “a lot of different bodies and dispositions,” the two intentionally chose a straight venue so the gathering did not come with preconceived notions.

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Reeders Digest: How Two Brothers Curated the School of the Art Institute’s 150th Anniversary Exhibition

Art Fairs, Art Schools, Artist Profiles, Curator Profiles 1 Comment »
Scott Reeder in his Detroit studio

Scott Reeder in his Detroit studio

Tyson Reeder in his Chicago studio

By Brian Hieggelke

In a year of important anniversaries at major visual art entities in Chicago, none is more surprising, or significant, than the 150th birthday of the School of the Art Institute. Surprising, in that unlike so many of the city’s oldest leading cultural organizations which were founded in the 1890s and are thus a mere 125 years old or so, SAIC was founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866, five years before the Great Chicago Fire. And its significance, already noteworthy in evolving into one of the top art educators in the world, is magnified by the fact that it was the school that later gave birth to the Art Institute of Chicago itself.

Among the various celebrations planned for this milestone, one of its centerpieces is an exhibition called “Civilization and Its Discontents: SAIC Alumni Exhibition, Selections from 1985–2015,” which runs September 1-October 24, and hosts its reception on Friday, September 18, 6pm-9pm, at the Sullivan Galleries, 33 South State, Seventh Floor. The exhibition, which features about three dozen artists who’ve graduated in the last thirty years, is curated by the brothers Scott and Tyson Reeder, both faculty members at the School, and both accomplished visual artists in their own right. I discussed their collaboration in person with Tyson and via telephone from Detroit with Scott.

The SAIC show you’re curating is a centerpiece of the school’s 150th anniversary but covers just the last three decades. How did the whole thing come together?
Scott: We wanted to focus on the last thirty years because that is a story that maybe isn’t told as much about the school. I think people know a lot about the Imagists, but then there’s that time after that is lesser known, especially outside of Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Ben Eine

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Street Art, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Ben Eine at the site of his mural on South Wabash.

Ben Eine at the site of his mural on South Wabash

The sky is clear and the sun is hot. Two figures stand inside a lift that reaches the top of a two-story parking garage in the South Loop. Dipping and stretching their dripping rollers, they carefully paint around a twenty-four-foot-tall letter “A.” As I get closer, I notice a third figure standing below them. Feet pacing and eyes looking up, he squints into the sun and lights a cigarette.

“Ben?” I ask. The artist turns around quickly, smiles and shakes my hand. Beads of sweat glisten on his forehead, and his hands and face are covered in orange paint. Despite my surprise visit, he is welcoming and good-humored. Motioning upwards, he wastes no time in explaining his current project. “So, seven letters. I wanted it to be positive, I wanted it to be happy—” He is interrupted by a parking attendant who’s asking the status of the lift’s next move. As he walks off to instruct, I make note of his attire: the bold décor of his countless tattoos, Hawaiian print shorts and bright blue sneakers complements the colorful 240-foot long mural-in-progress, which spells out “HARMONY” in swirls of neon paint. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera

Activist Art, Artist Profiles, Installation, Performance, Photography, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera. "In the Absence of a Body," 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera. “In the Absence of a Body,” 2015.
Performance./Courtesy of the artist

Early this July, internationally known Cuban artist Tania Bruguera received her passport from the Cuban government, which had confiscated it for more than six months. Bruguera’s freedom-to-travel marks a turning point in a long and tumultuous relationship with her home country. At the end of last year, she was detained in Havana for her performance “Tatlin’s Whisper #6,” an open-mic participatory event that encourages free speech, a problematic undertaking in the current political climate of Cuba. In the wake of this news and with a recent shift in official diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, it would appear that the future looks bright for the Cuban art community.

Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, a Cuban-born artist now residing in Chicago, is cautiously optimistic about the changes he has seen. “It’s part of the process and it’s needed…this becomes a symbol for the end of the [Cold War]…but the social and political ways of thinking are the same as they were fifty years ago.”

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Portrait of the Artist: Nina Chanel Abney

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Painting, Public Art, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney stands in front of a large auditorium full of people. It’s 2011, and she’s just been welcomed to the stage of Washington D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art, where she’s giving a visiting-artist lecture. “I’m a little nervous, but it’s been very humbling to be a part of the ‘30 Americans’ exhibition,” she begins. “Just four years ago, I was in school and I signed up for an artist studio tour and we went to Kehinde Wiley and Wangechi Mutu’s studios—and now I’m in a show with them and it’s a little bit weird.” With a smiling mouth and quivering voice, she continues. “This is my first lecture, so I hope I do a good job for you guys.”

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