Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4-7

Andersonville, Bronzeville, Collage, Drawings, Edgewater, Evanston, Fall Preview, Garfield Park, Installation, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Sculpture, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Video, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »

Thursday, September 4


LOOP

Dan Ramirez, painting
Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson
Opening reception: 5:30pm-7pm, through September 30
(Members only opening, viewing by appointment only) Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: Nance Klehm Dug a Hole

Edgewater 1 Comment »
Photo: Melinda Fries

Photo: Melinda Fries

With a pair of powerful arms, Nance Klehm forced a shovel into the ground, scooped out the earth, and placed it in a neat mound. As an environmental artist, ecologist and landscaper, digging holes comes naturally to Klehm.

“We don’t have a sense of how deep our earth is,” says Klehm. “We have this way of horizontally gridding off our landscape as if it was flat and non-dimensional,” she says about urban construction. Klehm’s projects are inspired by her frustration with the current conditions of environment destruction and the wasteful systems of city life. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Home: Public or Private?/6018NORTH

Edgewater, Installation, Performance No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

“Home: Public or Private?” at 6018NORTH is an exhibition built on a foundation of familiar dichotomies—public versus private, interior versus exterior, domestic versus social, sterility versus decrepitude, vacancy versus occupation, and bareness versus accumulation. Organized by Tricia Van Eck, the exhibition integrates installation and performance work by twenty-seven artists within an unkempt turn-of-the-century historic Edgewater mansion. Each artist has claimed territory on the property to occupy and respond, broadly, to their own dispositions regarding the home as a space at once private and public. While the prompt yielded divergent projects addressing domesticity, democracy, voyeurism and the history of the site itself, the momentum of this exhibition is found in Van Eck’s unostentatious framing of installations and performances within the remaining architectural idiosyncrasies of the mansion’s interior spaces, and in fleshing out the disrepaired skeletal structure of the mansion. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of a Gallery: Good News Only

Edgewater, Galleries & Museums No Comments »

It’s never too early to teach kids how to curate contemporary art exhibitions. Good News Only, a new organization on the North Side, is dedicated to teaching high-school students the skills of becoming a curator. This includes exposure to Chicago’s cultural events, selecting an exhibition theme and artworks, visiting artists’ studios, installing the gallery, writing educational materials about the show, maintaining the gallery, learning the business of keeping the gallery running, and attracting an audience to the show. The gallery’s founder, Elizabeth Shank, is hopeful that these skills will translate into real-world skills for the kids. Her after-school program intends to bolster the confidence of its youth participants to visit and engage the cultural offerings of the city. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Stephanie Nadeau/Experimental Sound Studio

Drawings, Edgewater, Photography No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

There’s nothing like a good word play to pique my interest in…well…just about anything. Stephanie Nadeau’s exhibition, “Is it Farther or Further?” is no exception. Add in the promise of a “data-powered music box driven by the winds of Antarctica” and I am sold. I mean, who can resist that?

The show’s stated exploration—the human need for solidarity amidst shrinking topography—relies heavily on landscapes drawn, photographed and digitally monitored. Drugstore-quality prints of autumn debris ranging from single sticks to heaps of dead foliage depict isolation losing out to unity. The tension between part and whole underlies a number of Nadeau’s works; sovereignty is met with skepticism.

Travel as a means of isolation is compromised by technology, as exemplified by a centrally placed iPhone on a pedestal. Rotating downloaded images of groups and teams in moments of camaraderie, the device underscores the lost possibility of solitude in mobility. Hence the show’s questioning and ultimate dismissal of “farther,” or distance, in favor of “further,” or degree. Physical distance has been irrevocably diminished, leaving only metaphoric separation in its wake.

The technical skill of the show’s few drawings elevates them to anchor status. Negative space unites the drawings and showcases the artist’s personal confrontation with vastness. In one piece, two open mouths—one a bear and the other human—are isolated against an expanse of white paper. Without environmental context, the metaphoric separation between man and beast seemingly dissipates.

Ultimately, the show doesn’t convince whether human solidarity is something to be sought or fought. I’m inclined, however, to consider such unity in terms of the “data-powered music box driven by the winds of Antarctica,” which succeeds in theory alone. (Justin Natale)

Through October 31 at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 North Ravenswood

Review: Alice Hargrave/Experimental Sound Studio

Edgewater, Photography No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

Two decades ago, when Alice Hargrave exhibited her black-and-white photography at the Cultural Center, she was consumed by a deep and unsparing gothic sensibility of ominous distress. Still fascinated by the “sublime decay and disintegration that occurs over time,” Hargrave now shoots in color and has plunged into the unforgiving tunnel of nostalgia, producing medium-format studies of depopulated landscapes depicting places where her family lived, and miniatures of worn images from family albums that she has re-photographed. In both series, Hargrave’s subjects are forbidding and inaccessible—faded and faint in the miniatures, and shadowed in the landscapes of dark woods that we are reluctant to explore. Standing alone as the only larger close-up, Hargrave’s impression of a blackened stack of books lying on a table, backgrounded by a softly focused white fog blanketing the forest beyond a window, encapsulates her sensibility—the past will irrevocably remain opaque to us, we can’t go home again, and it is all so somber. (Michael Weinstein)

Through July 18 at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N. Ravenswood

Kristin Frieman: Profile of the Artist

Artist Profiles, Edgewater, Multimedia No Comments »

Kristin Frieman is above all a dressmaker and designer. Today, though, some of her stylized and theoretical “art dresses” stand in a corner waiting to be looked at, and never worn. “I like to think of fashion as a verb,” she says: the process of handling, feeling, evaluating the raw materials is central to her practice.

Frieman’s point of view is the fruit of many years on both sides of the academia-industry divide. In 1994, upon graduating with honors from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Frieman was awarded the Cornelia Steckl Fashion Fellowship and promptly went to Italy, where she interned at a knitting factory outside of Ancona, associated with the Moschino design house. The experience left its mark, a taste for being close to the site of labor: “For me, that’s where I’m happy, hands-on, in a factory,” like the one near Ancona. Her years in New York working in the mass-market fashion industry confirmed this preference for being near the source of production. At the Limited and other major companies where she worked, Frieman found that “ideas that were genuinely good were not heeded, because design decisions were made by whoever had the best x-ray vision into the next three months” of the seasonal production cycle.

While pursuing her day job as an assistant designer witnessing the ferocious power struggles over the color palette of the upcoming season, she actively collaborated with various artists, constructing garments for Lynn Book’s “Mercuria,” a performance piece that debuted at the MCA in 1997. She also created designs for “Gorgeous Fever” at The Kitchen in New York that same year. Frieman left New York in 2000, and began teaching in the Fashion Design department at the School of the Art Institute. Around the same time she set up her own mark, Red Shift Couture, a design and dressmaking concern that elevates the unique and the unrepeatable, and openly acknowledges a connection to the material world of production and consumption.

For some of her pieces, Frieman makes the rounds of thrift stores, selecting and salvaging grey wool sweaters. She takes them apart and puts the wool through a many-stage process of washing, and the result is a dense, felt-like fabric that she then uses in garments that are aesthetically charged and functional. The focus on salvage is not accidental. Each random piece of salvaged cloth is unique, with its own body and sizing, and moreover is the product of someone’s handiwork, somewhere in the world. This guarantees that each piece she produces will be unique and unrepeatable, and also will acknowledge that her work, in the end, is not “recycling” in the sense of repurposing refuse, but silent collaboration with whoever came before, and made the fabric she has rescued. (David Mark Wise)

 

Kristin Frieman, “Thread Tracings: A Dressmaker’s Still Life,” shows at the Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 North Ravenswood, (773)769-1069, through June 15.