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.
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 »
Today the City of Chicago announced the recipients of the inaugural Fifth Star Awards in a press conference at the Chicago Cultural Center. Five Chicago artists, arts advocates and cultural institutions will be honored by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in a free live show at the Pritkzer Pavilion in Millennium Park on Wednesday, September 17 at 7pm. The honorees are as follows: Lou Conte, Richard Hunt, Ramsey Lewis, Lois Weisberg and The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. The event has been scheduled in the same week as EXPO Chicago and the accompanying EXPO Art Week, when the city is a major destination for art lovers, dealers and collectors. A full roster of performers and schedule of events for the September 17 show will be released soon.
Taking clear and deceptively unassuming straight color images, globetrotting photographer Larry Snider has divided his most recent work between posed portraits of Tibetans in China and mainly depopulated interiors of old public buildings from the USA, Denmark, Cuba and India. The highlights of the show are the interiors, in which Snider has positioned his camera to capture intriguing designs composed of architectural details, displaying up-front a formalist side of his vision that he had previously subsumed under a concern with emotional content that characterizes his humanist portraits. Whereas in the past, it was important to know where Snider had shot his images since they function as documents of the life of a particular place, that is less significant now, because the interest of his interiors resides in the internal arrangement of photographic values (light, texture, line and shape, for example) rather than in their external references. Read the rest of this entry »
Though they appear vigorous, the bold gestures and painterly strokes that evoke the heady days of 1950s expressionism in Ari Pelkonen’s paintings, currently on view in Western Exhibitions’ “Helsingistä,” are actually the result of woodblock printing: a slow and methodical technique antithetical to the heroic gestures it emulates. Evoking pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein—who pilloried the dramatic look of the “tenth street touch” in overblown satires such as “Big Painting No. 6”—Pelkonen’s take is refreshingly free of cynicism. Works such as the wine-stained “Hold” offer instead earnest explorations of surface and touch coupled with an interest in figuration versus abstraction and interpretation versus recognition.
Regards’ inaugural exhibition “Murmurs” features clean, precise exercises in subtlety by eight different artists. The labored pieces featured speak to silent, meditative hours spent in the studio while the restrained execution of the show provokes consideration of the subtleties of interaction and communication. There is something slightly out of reach about most of the work, a whisper-like inaccessibility that intentionally frustrates the viewer. Christopher Aque obscures disquieting images of TSA pat-downs with thick layers of pigmented Vaseline. Lauren Spencer King’s silver leaf on glass panel “Moonlight” is unpredictable, reflecting the sunlight blindingly or disappearing into the gallery white walls entirely depending on the angle of observation. Read the rest of this entry »
Now in its second year, Chicago’s young art book fair has expanded for its latest iteration this weekend, spread across two days, at two sites, with two different focuses. Founded by designer Ria Roberts, Medium Cool is one of the most recent additions to Chicago’s literati culture of fairs, independent presses and book-minded artist projects. Read the rest of this entry »
California-based painters Greg Gong and Jon Pestoni have, through unifying abstract forms over a variety of ground materials and techniques, developed complementary methods that result in layered, petrified paint. They do well to show together as the stakes over which they struggle are not only a work’s surface but what physically lies beneath. Read the rest of this entry »
This Saturday, August 9, Thalia Hall in Pilsen will host the nineteenth and final Brain Frame, a bimonthly show self-described as “performative comix readings.” Three years ago, cartoonist and filmmaker Lyra Hill began Brain Frame as an experimental space for comics-based works to be performed for live audiences. Projected slide shows, music, puppetry and other zany forms of theater have been the staples with which comic artists and authors have expanded on their illustrative universes into dynamic live events. In an email to Newcity, Hill writes, “These past three years of Brain Frame have been hugely influential to the underground scene (particularly the alt-comics scene) in Chicago, and an exhausting whirlwind for me. I’m really looking forward to celebrating Brain Frame’s success and calling for the community to sustain itself moving forward.” Read the rest of this entry »
After Amie Sell’s photo installation “Home Sweet Home” was unceremoniously removed from the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival on June 27, she began to meet with other spaces and curators to find somewhere else to present the censored artworks. As Newcity reported at the time of the controversy, Sell’s works criticized gentrification in the Logan Square neighborhood, including real estate developer Mark Fishman, who is the owner of the building in which the works would have been exhibited.
When Traci Fowler and Trevor Schmutz heard about Sell’s work, they invited her to adapt the installation to be shown in Kitchen Space, their apartment gallery in Logan Square. On Sunday, August 3, the new installation of “Home Sweet Home” opened in the two artists’ home, where it will remain on view through August 24. On Sunday, August 17, Kitchen Space will host a lunchtime discussion (tentatively scheduled from 1pm to 3pm) about the issues of gentrification and affordable housing in Logan Square that Sell’s work has researched. Read the rest of this entry »