Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Julie Green/Block Museum of Art

Activist Art, Ceramics, Evanston, Installation No Comments »
Julie Green. "The Last Supper," 2000-ongoing. Installation view of 357 plates in the 2009 exhibition "Counter Intelligence," California State University, Los Angeles.

Julie Green. “The Last Supper,” 2000-ongoing. Installation view of 357 plates in the 2009 exhibition “Counter Intelligence,” California State University, Los Angeles.


From a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, to the sentencing of Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death, our flawed criminal justice system is ever present in our lives. Julie Green’s set of 600 plates illustrating the final meals of U.S. death row inmates helps us remember the human lives behind the news. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Timothy J. Clark/Loyola University Museum of Art

Drawings, Michigan Avenue, Painting No Comments »
Timothy J. Clark. "Vernazza, 1994," 1994 watercolor on paper

Timothy J. Clark. “Vernazza, 1994,” 1994
watercolor on paper


Exemplified by Brunelleschi’s demonstration of one-point perspective in depicting the Baptistery in Florence 500 years ago, Renaissance pictorial space was built to encompass ecclesiastic architecture, and it’s been the standard for European painters to either meet or disrupt ever since. Watercolorist Timothy J. Clark has joined that tradition in his depictions of Baroque churches. Following Monet’s renditions of Rouen Cathedral, he has emphasized the qualities of light and shadow rather than space and volume. But the gravitas, once thought appropriate for such revered subjects, just isn’t there. Nor is the vibrant excitement that an Impressionist like John Singer Sargent could give to the effects of strong Mediterranean light falling on Italian buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Richard Renaldi

Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Richard Renaldi. "Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna."

Richard Renaldi. “Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna.”

Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been casting, staging and capturing ephemeral connections between complete strangers. “I’m looking for people that look as if they have a story to tell… Someone that makes you want to know more, want to look more, want to continue looking at them because they have something about them that is beautiful,” Richard tells me. It’s early afternoon, and he’s phoned me from inside his vehicle parked on a New York City side street. “And I don’t mean the traditional classical sense of beauty, but instead something that is an attractive quality—strong features, individuality, a visible hardship or softness in their face.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Julie Rodrigues Widholm Named New Director of DePaul Art Museum

Lincoln Park, Michigan Avenue, News etc. No Comments »
Julie Rodrigues Widholm. Photo by Nathan Keay.

Julie Rodrigues Widholm. Photo by Nathan Keay.

DePaul University announced Wednesday its selection of Julie Rodrigues Widholm as the next director of the DePaul Art Museum. Widholm, a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, has been with the MCA since 1999, starting as a research assistant and rising through the ranks. She holds a master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, Widholm curates three to seven exhibitions a year, amassing a portfolio of more than fifty exhibitions at the MCA. She starts at DePaul August 31. Read the rest of this entry »

Point of Origin: Mapping the Arts in Detroit

Architecture, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Performance, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Olayami Dabls, N'Kisi House, 2007, wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Charlene Uresy

Olayami Dabls, N’Kisi House, 2007,
wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit/Photo: Charlene Uresy

By Allison Glenn

The twenty-first century has brought with it the re-emergence of contemporary conceptual artists engaged with penumbral zones. These artists are interested in site, positing new ideas for usage of once-inhabited homes and urban spaces. Whether the middle of the desert or the center of a blighted neighborhood, these sites exist on the theoretical—albeit times physical—margins of society. Artistic engagement with these interstitial spaces is on a material level, with art and architecture converging to create radical and experimental approaches to living. Positing ideas for architecture, technology, space and the body’s relation to it, artists are projecting utopic ideals for the future of the quotidian urban environment. What emerges from this are hybrid works of art and cultural production. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Abstraction: A Visual Language/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Linnea Gabriella Spransy. "Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been," 2015 acrylic on canvas, 78" x 72"

Linnea Gabriella Spransy. “Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been,” 2015
acrylic on canvas, 78″ x 72″


Aside from the obvious aesthetic concerns of making objects of lasting beauty, the central problem of abstraction has always been one of style and technique. More specifically, it has been the search for a technique that yields and animates an autographic or signature style as unique as the painter’s vision. It’s a lot harder than it sounds: as evidence, witness the cliché-ridden failures of abstract painting’s supposed “comeback” visible at any given art fair.

All the more reason then to celebrate the seven artists whose works comprise the concentrated, diverse and yet seamlessly integrated “Abstraction: A Visual Language” at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. That these artists are also women is a fact worth highlighting in its own right, but let’s be clear: these are damn good painters first and foremost who make singular works that defy easy categorization. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Claire Sherman/Kavi Gupta

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Claire Sherman. "Rock Wall," 2015 oil on canvas, 84" x 72"

Claire Sherman. “Rock Wall,” 2015
oil on canvas, 84″ x 72″


Paint purists, oil enthusiasts and lovers of all things gooey can get their fix at Kavi Gupta right now. Claire Sherman’s current show, “Funeral Mountain” blends Romantic-era geological drama with mid-century action painting, modernizing it by default in the process. The show is comprised of six large paintings of rock walls and three of caves, each one simple and sophisticated but strikingly generous with its labor and beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Art Paul/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Design, Drawings, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Art Paul. "Cheers," 1987, colored pencil on paper, "8 x 11.5"

Art Paul. “Cheers,” 1987, colored pencil on paper, “8 x 11.5″


Whether or not you ever found the intellectual content of Playboy magazine as thrilling as its cheesecake, you had to be impressed by the way it incorporated image and text to create excitement on every page. As art director for its first thirty years, Art Paul (born 1925) was responsible for that graphic design as well as the Playboy Bunny logo, so it’s no surprise that soon after retirement in 1982, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Dan Farnum/Alibi Fine Art

Photography, Ravenswood No Comments »
Dan Farnum. "Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit," 2012 archival pigment print, 15” x 19”

Dan Farnum. “Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit,” 2012
archival pigment print, 15” x 19”


It’s all about social class in Dan Farnum’s color street portraits of mainly youth in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan and the outskirts of Detroit. Farnum is middle class and in his thirties, an early Millennial on the cusp between X and Y; and his subjects, white and black, come from the lower rungs of the economic ladder, though not abjectly poor. When he was young, Farnum heard and saw all the stories about tough and gritty Saginaw, a victim of deindustrialization, but he didn’t experience it directly. Now he is drawn to that site to come closer to the life that had been mediated to him so that he can connect with it more intimately and to test the sensibility of “prestige from below.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Albert Oehlen/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Albert Oehlen. "Untitled (cow 4)," 2011 paper on canvas, 59" x 72 3/4"

Albert Oehlen. “Untitled (cow 4),” 2011
paper on canvas, 59″ x 72 3/4″


Cutting and collaging advertisements to fill the gallery with a herd of cattle—bright, cacophonous and just on the edge of perception—Oehlen’s new show at Corbett vs. Dempsey is called “Rawhide.” The cows-on-canvas (which seem intimidatingly large, though they’re almost all just shy of five feet by six) are rounded up for market, but Oehlen has confused the juxtaposed advertisements to the point of mere decoration, so they can’t sell us anything beyond themselves. True to “Rawhide,” the 1959-1966 TV series that saw cowboys lead a cattle drive to market, Oehlen is giving us cows neither here nor there: the bovines shimmer in and out of view, competing with the flashiness of billboards. The theme song incites us, like the collagist headed to market, to “Cut ’em out/ Ride ’em in.” Read the rest of this entry »