Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Jeffly Gabriela Molina/Kruger Gallery Chicago

Lakeview, Painting No Comments »
Jeffly Gabriela Molina. "Play with the scented flower. The young trees supple bough.  And leave my human feelings in their own course to flow," 2015,  oil and pencil on linen, 44" x 44"

Jeffly Gabriela Molina. “Play with the scented flower. The young trees supple bough.
And leave my human feelings in their own course to flow,” 2015,
oil and pencil on linen, 44″ x 44″


Emily Dickinson’s 1862 letter to T.W. Higginson serves as a catalyst for the solo exhibition, “[My Business is Circumference]” at Kruger Gallery Chicago. Featuring the works of Venezuelan artist Jeffly Gabriela Molina, the exhibition introduces themes of character and literature, which support Molina’s ongoing exploration of selfhood. Dickinson, both aggressive and mysterious in her correspondence to Higginson, is the core foundation for Molina’s investigation of plural identity and the many manifestations of personality. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Luis Sahagun/Kruger Gallery Chicago

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Luis Sahagun. "Imprints of a Broken Lover" 2015 chain and fabric on concrete

Luis Sahagun. “Imprints of a Broken Lover” 2015
chain and fabric on concrete


Appropriately titled “Escombros” or “rubble,” what Luis Sahagun’s new show at Kruger Gallery lacks in formal elegance, it effectively delivers in expressive force. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, this Chicago-based artist conjures a remarkable variety of sculptural form from the damaged and discarded. Wood, metal, plaster, concrete and copious amounts of cardboard are fused into ungainly objects that suggest their origin as urban detritus while obliquely pointing to Sahagun’s experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Kruger Gallery Chicago Reopens in New Lakeview Location

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Installation view of Heather Green's upcoming exhibition in Kruger Gallery Chicago's new location

Installation view of Heather Green’s upcoming exhibition in Kruger Gallery Chicago’s new location

This Friday, January 16, Kruger Gallery Chicago (KGC) reopens in its new 1,300-square-foot space in Lakeview at 3709 North Southport with a solo exhibition of new work by Chicago-based artist Heather Green. Kruger was previously located in River North where, owner and director Mikelle Kruger explains, it has been dedicated to an avant-garde model that art can be a mediator for political and social change and showcasing emerging artists working with an array of design and media. After an initial six-month run in 2011 as a sort of pop-up gallery in the River North arts district, Kruger took three years off to focus on siting a more permanent home. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Pictures of the Year, International/Chicago Photography Center

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Photograph by National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer, one of the winners in the Chicago Photography Center's "Pictures of the Year International"

John Stanmeyer. “Signal”


In its annual competition for the best photojournalistic images, “Pictures of the Year, International” received 52,000 submissions and selected 240 winners, fifty of which are on view here, for its 2014 traveling show. The exhibit shows that, despite the financial problems of newspapers and magazines, photojournalism is thriving: indeed, the quality of work is at least as good as it has ever been. The judges eschewed depictions of the rich and famous, and staged scenes in favor of hard-hitting, emotion-laden and power-packed shots that pull the viewer up short with searing glimpses of world hot spots like Afghanistan, Iraq-Syria and Ukraine; heat-of-the-action sporting moments; refugees and victims of abuse; natural disasters and touching slices of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Women in Focus/Chicago Photography Center

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Kimbua Chema's "Windows to the Soul"

Kambua Chema’s “Windows to the Soul”


In this inaugural exhibit mounted by Women in Focus, a new collective of female photographers ranging from beginners to professionals who practice the gamut of straight modernist genres from the architectural detail through street photography to the portrait, the intimate close-up images steal the show. Among the sixteen artists—each contributing two images here—the strongest and most penetrating impression is Kambua Chema’s close-up color study of a Muslim woman’s lustrous eyes appearing through the slit in a deep black veil that covers the rest of the frame, which was in Kenya’s eastern coastal region. Look closely into those eyes and see reflected exquisitely the street scene to which the woman’s vision is directed. Chema has titled the image, ironically, “Windows to the Soul.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Chicago Does Holga/Chicago Photography Center

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What happens when sophisticated shutterbugs start fooling around with a decidedly low-tech camera (the plastic Holga) that produces anything but f64 “realism”? Back in the day, the Holga photographers exploited the camera’s supposed defects of producing blurry and murky images, and came up with credible pictorialist-impressionist prints. Jerry Cargill’s studies of lakes and woods are the single bow to the old school in this show of eleven contemporary Holga practitioners. The new school, represented here by ten photographers from around the world, has found ways of making the Holga turn out clear realistic photos, although they are a bit faded and tend toward the dark side. Teru Kuwayama has gone as far as taking the Holga to the front lines of Afghanistan as a photojournalist and carrying back moving deep-toned images of the war. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Colin McRoberts/Chicago Photography Center

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Colin McRoberts, “Daydream”


Before the onset of puberty, some boys become fascinated by the world of insects, especially if they are shy and insecure. They peer into a miniature life-space that they can dominate with their gaze. Colin McRoberts has felt the rush of testosterone, but he goes back to those little ecological niches and takes color macro-photographs of their denizens that are intensely detailed and individualizes, even personalizes, them, as a little boy does. Most telling is McRoberts’ “Self Portrait,” in which we see a Japanese beetle from above, intensely looking into a softly-focused cluster of white flowers: the little boy has metamorphosed into an insect, having become part of their world. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Charles H. Traub/Alibi Fine Art

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Chicagoans know how to get down and dirty, at least they did in the 1970s when Charles Traub shot them in black and white on the sweet city’s beaches. It was summer and it was hot, and we know what that means for lakefront habitués. Our forebears had shed their second skins and more importantly their inhibitions. At the same time, the hardcore Chicagoan doesn’t vogue, so Traub stalked his prey and went in fast capturing priceless scenes like a man standing over a young lady, drawing down his bikini swim suit as she lay in readiness. Who knows what might have happened, but Traub has shown us the spirit of the times and that is enough to slake any curiosity. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Alison Harris/Chicago Photography Center

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Having gained access to the abandoned great theater of Camogli built in the nineteenth century on the Italian Riviera, Alison Harris entered its dark cavernous recesses dotted by ambient light, and fell into deep meditation as she followed details that caught her eye and let them lead her to expand her vision into integral compositions that she photographed in subtly shaded black and white. Although the theater is a derelict structure, Harris is not a ruins photographer; she is, instead, an emotive artist whose remarkably complex yet coherent images express the vibrant peace that she felt in the place. In Harris’ case, the picture is worth far more than a thousand words—so much is in each image and so many photographic values are exquisitely balanced, and so much is simultaneously revealed and concealed by chiaroscuro. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jessica Labatte/Golden Gallery

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In an elaborate multi-stage process that would need a monograph to describe it, Jessica Labatte makes triangular constructions out of the paper used in color theory courses, arranges them in complicated arrays, shoots them in color as slides and as negatives, “cross-processes” the two impressions when she develops them (forget the details), and selects one of the resulting prints to display. What we see are distinctive abstractions that are engaging by virtue of their elegant yet dynamic composition, their juxtaposition of complementary and contrasting colors (she gives her images such titles as “Cross Processed (Magenta to Lime Green)”), the subtle shadows that they cast, and the fine gradations of tonality that painters would give their eye teeth for. Read the rest of this entry »