Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Eye Exam: What Good is Art?

Activist Art, Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view, "The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now," MCA Chicago. July 11-November 22, 2015. Glenn Ligon. Give us a Poem, 2007. Black PVC and white neon. 75 5/8 x 74 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of the artist. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” MCA Chicago. July 11-November 22, 2015. Glenn Ligon. “Give us a Poem,” 2007. Black PVC and white neon. 75 5/8 x 74 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of the artist. Photo: Nathan Keay,  MCA Chicago.

By Elliot J. Reichert

Each time I venture deeper into the tangled economy of art making and its contingent endeavors, I ask myself: What good is art? I am not an artist, but I work with artists and artworks every day. By all accounts, I should believe deeply in art, and yet I routinely question its value. As such, when I go to look at art, I often search in it for signs of doubt, and I am usually comforted to know that I am not alone in my questioning. For if contemporary art can be united under one banner, it would be doubt itself: doubt about politics, about social relations, about economic and class structures, about the very importance of human life. Ironically, this might be why I gravitate toward art in the first place, despite my ambivalence toward its significance. Art turns my fears into forms; it makes real what I cannot, or do not want, to imagine.  Read the rest of this entry »

News: Logan Center Announces New Exhibitions Curator

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Yesomi Umolu, photo courtesy Trumpie Photography.

Yesomi Umolu/Photo: Trumpie Photography

After a worldwide search, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago has appointed Yesomi Umolu as Exhibitions Curator. Beginning in August, Umolu will oversee exhibitions in the Logan Center Gallery and other spaces throughout the multidisciplinary arts building. Previously, this position was held by Monika Szewczyk, who left the center that she had helped establish to join the curatorial team for documenta, an exhibition of modern and contemporary art held every five years in Kassel, Germany.

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Review: Cosmosis/Hyde Park Art Center

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Installation view of "Cosmosis" at the Hyde Park Art Center. Photo by Tom Van Eynde.

Installation view of “Cosmosis” at the Hyde Park Art Center/Photo: Tom Van Eynde

RECOMMENDED

The works presented in “Cosmosis” celebrate outer space’s contemporary moment while exploring the increasing overlap between popular culture, scientific inquiry and artistic production. The dense but balanced group show features muted 2D works which offset the scale and ambition of sculpture and media counterparts; great emphasis is placed in the ability of these images and objects to act as agents of communication and interpretation. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Nancy Lu Rosenheim

Hyde Park, Installation, Painting, Rogers Park, Sculpture No Comments »
Nancy Lu Rosenheim in her installation "Swallow City" at the Hyde Park Art Center. Photo by Paul R. Solomon

Nancy Lu Rosenheim in her installation “Swallow City” at the Hyde Park Art Center/Photo: Paul R. Solomon

After welcoming me into her spacious Rogers Park apartment with a warm handshake and shot of espresso, Nancy Lu Rosenheim guides me through a long hallway into her sunny front room studio and toward two stools at a high-topped table. A tall and fully stocked shelving unit rises behind us, brimming with well-worn brushes, tools and paint jars of all sizes. In the corner of the room, a large sculpture sways gently from a hook in the ceiling—made from Polystyrene and splattered boldly with vivid colors, it’s obvious the piece was created in conjunction with “Swallow City,” Rosenheim’s current exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Gabriel Sierra/The Renaissance Society

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Gabriel Sierra. Installation view at the Renaissance Society, 2015. Photo: Tom Van Eynde

Gabriel Sierra. Installation view at the Renaissance Society, 2015/Photo: Tom Van Eynde

RECOMMENDED

If you are planning to visit the Renaissance Society’s Gabriel Sierra exhibition, the first solo show in the United States for the Bogotá-based artist, you would be well-served to bring a friend, or better yet, four friends. Make sure that they are all American, unless you are visiting in the afternoon, at which time you should be sure that they are non-American and that you are too. If possible, one person in your party should be over thirty years old and another should be precisely twenty-one. Bring your children. In order to gain the fullest experience, make sure to wear a watch and old shoes. Be ready to take a nap or two. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Objects and Voices/Smart Museum of Art

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Marcel Duchamp. "Boite-en-valise," Ed. of 30, 1935-1941 (1963 edition), mixed media

Marcel Duchamp. “Boite-en-valise,” Ed. of 30, 1935-1941 (1963 edition),
mixed media

RECOMMENDED

This show is meant to celebrate the Smart’s fortieth anniversary, but it actually amounts to a fresh rethinking of the collection and museum practices altogether. The spaces have been completely given over to seventeen thematic “micro-exhibitions” conceived by a diverse group of guest curators. These include professors from across University of Chicago’s campus, artists, retirees, interns and staff members. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Salvage Art Institute/Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

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No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute. Installation view, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, 2015

No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute. Installation view, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, 2015

RECOMMENDED

The claim that any object may be a work of art by way of the subjective declaration of the artist has been fraught with discord since Marcel Duchamp proposed a readymade urinal as his entry to a group exhibition in New York City in 1917. In many ways, the ongoing project of the Salvage Art Institute (SAI), now on view at the Neubauer Collegium, is the logical retort to nearly a century of debate over the question of “What Is Art?” Considering the vast expansion of both artistic production and its attending market, the SAI grapples with a terrain that has shifted drastically since the status of art was radically—and yet merely—defined as anything deemed as such by the artist. Even the question itself has changed: It is now: “What Is No Longer Art?” And the answer comes not from the artist, but the insurance company that determines whether or not a damaged work has fallen into the category of “total loss,” at which point its status as an art object, herein assessed in terms of its monetary value, is beyond repair. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Hyde Park Art Center Breaks Ground on New Wing Sunday April 19

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Hyde Park Art Center - Guida Family Creative Wing Schematic Detail.

Hyde Park Art Center – Guida Family Creative Wing Schematic Detail

The new Guida Family Creative Wing at the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) will open in fall 2015, thanks to a successful 75th Anniversary Campaign in 2014 and $750,000 gift from John, Julie and Angelina Guida. On Sunday, April 19, celebration of their groundbreaking will coincide with a reception with multiple exhibitions on view, including resident artist Susan Giles’ exhibition, “Scenic Overlook” and Nancy Lu Rosenheim’s “Swallow City.” Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting Artist: Alberto Aguilar

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Alberto Aguilar. "Forms of Communication," 2015 desks and display sign lettering, photo by Juliet S. Eldred (UofC class of 2017)

Alberto Aguilar. “Forms of Communication,” 2015
desks and display sign lettering, photo by Juliet S. Eldred (UofC class of 2017)

We’re excited to have Alberto Aguilar’s “Crossing Boundaries” text as the eighth in our Visiting Artist column, a recurring feature in which Newcity invites an artist to produce a text in relation to their current art practice. Here Aguilar adds writing into an exploration that brings all aspects of his life into his residency at University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator.

One-thousand words are what I am allotted to write this so I will not waste one and use all. Words have the ability to get one from the top of the page to the bottom and if arranged just right communicate something clearly to the reader.

I am a Crossing Boundaries Resident Artist through the Arts Incubator and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. This began in January and will last for five months. When given this title I could not fully understand what it meant or what boundaries I should cross. Rather than be overtly political I decided I would simply fold all aspects of my life into this residency. During the five months all shows that I am in, my teaching, the visiting artist program that I coordinate, my travels, my family, my new dog, my interaction with others, my curatorial projects, my other residencies are my Crossing Boundaries residency. I figured that by making everything part of the residency some boundaries would inevitably be crossed. Even upon being given the opportunity to write this a few days ago I decided it too would be part of my residency. That every word I write here would be a product of it, proof that boundaries were crossed. In this case the boundary between you and I is being transgressed through the vehicle of this publication and my 1,000 words. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Varda Caivano/The Renaissance Society

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Varda Caivano. "Untitled," 2015 acrylic, charcoal and oil on canvas 70 7/8" x 47 1/4"

Varda Caivano. “Untitled,” 2015
acrylic, charcoal and oil on canvas
70 7/8″ x 47 1/4″

The seven blue-gray and gray-brown paintings in Varda Caivano’s “The Density of The Actions” rest easily on the Bergman Gallery’s sunlit walls. All untitled, their meandering charcoal lines and fluid, almost watercolor-like passages of acrylic paint seem fraught and indecisive. There’s a captivating immediacy to the manner in which these skeletal (and only tangentially descriptive) marks play tensely against the vertically elongated format of several of the works, but there’s also a thinness to these paintings that’s difficult to shake. Read the rest of this entry »