Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: David Rappeneau/Queer Thoughts

Drawings, Pilsen No Comments »
David Rappeneau. "Untitled," acrylic ballpoint pen, pencil, charcoal pencil, and fluorescent marker, 2014

David Rappeneau. “Untitled,” acrylic ballpoint pen, pencil, charcoal pencil, and fluorescent marker, 2014

The works in David Rappeneau’s exhibition “$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$” depict apathetic millennials looking bored and despondent. His drowsy partiers appear to have everything they could desire in a series of twenty-first-century vignettes where passing whims are instantly gratified by drug-induced daydreams and glowing smart phones. On the surface, the action is simple: figures shown in various states of excess, their bodies rounded and stark. These are works that ponder the pleasure and escapism promised by leisure, a classed enterprise made exclusive through wealth and position. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Brain Frame Ends After Three Years

Comics, News etc., Performance, Pilsen No Comments »


Jo Dery performing at Brain Frame 17

Jo Dery performing at Brain Frame 17

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 »

Portrait of the Artist: Vincent Tiley

Painting, Performance, Pilsen, Video No Comments »
"Pearl," acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins, and velvet

“Pearl,” acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins and velvet

“I was very little when I went as Glinda for Halloween one year, with very patient parents,” recounts artist Vincent Tiley as we met for coffee in Bushwick, the neighborhood in Brooklyn where he resides. Costumed as the good witch of Oz was one of Tiley’s earliest forays into the effervescent world of drag. “I take a lot from my experience coming out in college in Baltimore surrounded by a queer punk scene, making looks and going to a club and feeling all the feels that you get being weird at a place where people want you to be sexy.” For Tiley, bodies contain these tensions between the desire to be desired and a nearly contradictory one to challenge and affront. His first solo exhibition, “New Skin” at elee.mosynary gallery in Pilsen, is populated with heavily adorned bulbous paintings on digitally printed spandex that are “Blob Portraits” of club kids and drag queens that Tiley has befriended.

Read the rest of this entry »

News: Version Fest and Mana Open House This Weekend

Bridgeport, News etc., Pilsen No Comments »
Chuck Buttons. "Prairie Shores," 1963. Part of Co-Prosperity Sphere's "ArchiGO 50 Years Later" exhibition, part of Version Fest with a reception on Friday, June 27

Chuck Buttons. “Prairie Shores,” 1963. Part of Co-Prosperity Sphere’s “ArchiGO 50 Years Later” exhibition, part of Version Fest with a reception on Friday, June 27

This year’s Version Fest—which runs from Saturday, June 21 through Sunday, June 29—starts with a summit and mini market at the Mana Contemporary building in Pilsen (2233 South Throop). All the weekend’s activities are free and open to the public. This year’s festival is called The Placemakers and will showcase programming that examines how public and private spaces are being transformed, revitalized and animated by a lineup of creative workers, gardeners, pop-up urbanists, artists and activists. The summit will be from 12:30pm to 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday, with presentations on diverse topics such as contested territories, graffiti, tactical urbanism, neofuturist architectural movement, city development and urban farming. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Paul Hopkin/Loo

Ceramics, Painting, Pilsen No Comments »
Paul Hopkin. Makgeolli Cups, 2014

Paul Hopkin. Makgeolli Cups, 2014


In the inaugural exhibition of Loo, Slow’s gallery within a bathroom, Paul Hopkin has his walls turned on his own work. Recently asked by a stranger to rent out Slow’s exhibition space in Pilsen, Hopkin was inspired to calculate how much of his building (in which he also lives) was dedicated to art space. Hopkin’s calculations led to a measurement of cost per square foot, and the silent partner of Slow, Jeffrey Grauel, immediately asked to lease the bathroom for one year—the decided lease at $19.42 a month. Because this is not technically Hopkin’s space, Grauel invited him to display his work for the first exhibition, highlighting the irony of Loo being a competitive gallery held within Slow’s walls, a space where the partners’ roles have been reversed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mindy Rose Schwartz/Queer Thoughts

Craft Work, Installation, Pilsen 1 Comment »
“You will live each day in Springtime,”  potter's wheel, wood, paper, papier-mâché, nylon, gold thread, linen cord, iridescent paint, song, 2014

“You will live each day in Springtime,” potter’s wheel, wood, paper, papier-mâché, nylon, gold thread, linen cord, iridescent paint, song, 2014


Mindy Rose Schwartz’s recent exhibition of sculptures at Pilsen’s Queer Thoughts walks the messy border between the fine arts and craft. Schwartz, who teaches the Extreme Craft course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has a history of complicating this border, teasing exciting formal, historical and affective possibilities out of parallel craft and fine arts practice. “Windsong stays on my mind,” a dream catcher in which one spies the outlines of birds, faces, evil-eyes and popsicle-stick musings is dotted with costume jewelry, rhinestones and false flowers. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Embroiled Legal Battle Over Chicago Arts District Properties

News etc., Pilsen No Comments »
John Podmajersky III

John Podmajersky III

The more than 100 properties that are owned by the Podmajersky family and comprise the Chicago Arts District are currently being disputed in two court cases. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Macon Reed

Artist Profiles, Installation, Painting, Pilsen, Sculpture No Comments »
Macon Reed and the gymnasts who performed "Team Spirited" in her installation "Physical Education." Photo by Mat Wilson

Macon Reed and the gymnasts who performed “Team Spirited” in her installation “Physical Education”/Photo: Mat Wilson

“I lived outside for a year in my mid-twenties,” says Macon Reed. This was communal full-time camping in Santa Cruz’s redwood forests. We are speaking by phone while she is on a road trip, and she exuberantly tells me that she is calling from another forest along their travel route. A few years after this outdoor social experiment, Reed founded Camp Out in 2012, a summer camp outside Portland, Oregon, for campers aged eighteen to twenty-three who self-identify as female. Their only requirement to participate is that each of them had to teach a workshop on any topic they chose. “People brought what they needed to the camp,” Reed says. “I think of structures that create community as a medium.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sebastian Black and India Donaldson/Queer Thoughts

Pilsen No Comments »
"Living with Potpourri," wood and potpourri, 2014.

“Living with Potpourri,” wood and potpourri, 2014.


Just as Fashion Week wrapped up in Paris, Queer Thoughts in Pilsen opened a new exhibition of collaborative works by Sebastian Black and India Donaldson that simulates the culture of simulated (read: knockoff) fashion and luxury goods. More specifically, Black explains in the press release that they are interested in objects produced in the authentic factory, but outside of official working hours, which are then smuggled into the world. What might have been a heavily burdened ontological premise plays lightly in a blushingly sweet, sparsely hung installation of clothing-like sculpture, a video and a work on paper. Like the artist Sturtevant has done with her conceptual forgeries of modern and contemporary art, Black and Donaldson’s works slink right up to the difference between original and copy, showing off that distinction is more a matter of the mind than any hard ruling. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: Hoofprint Workshop Brings Printmaking to Pilsen

Pilsen, Prints No Comments »
Liz Born and Gabe Hoare. Photo: Michael Herbert.

Liz Born and Gabe Hoare/Photo: Michael Herbert

Pilsen’s growing art community has a new addition. Hoofprint Workshop, a gallery, printmaking press and studio sited in a repurposed funeral home, is the brainchild of local printmakers and teachers Liz Born and Gabe Hoare.

The pair’s first curated installation, on display through November 23, is an explosion of styles, themes and techniques, held together by a mutual commitment to cross-disciplinary collaboration.

“We have worked with four artists this past year as a part of our Collaborative Publishing Project,” says Born, including John Himmelfarb, Polly Yates, Sandra Perlow and Gabriel Villa. “Works from this endeavor are displayed on the south wall of the gallery, alongside non-print works by the same artists. The north wall of the gallery features artists who we’d like to work with more closely in the future. We chose to display their work not only because we think it’s fantastic, but also to give viewers at our opening an idea of what the future holds; something to really sink their teeth into.” Read the rest of this entry »