Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Identify/Catherine Edelman Gallery

Digital Art, Installation, Photography, River North No Comments »
Garth and Pierre. "HEAD(S)," 2014 photographs mounted to bank pins

Garth and Pierre. “HEAD(S),” 2014
photographs mounted to bank pins

RECOMMENDED

Among the four wildly diverse approaches to representing the human body photographically on display here, Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s is the most inventive, although not the most meaningful. Dewey-Hagborg picks up cigarette butts and discarded chewing gum off the city sidewalks (depicted in her color shots), subjects the detritus to DNA analysis, runs the genetic profiles through a facial algorithm, and produces 3D resin portraits that presumably resemble the people who left the remains of their consumption for the scavenger-artist to appropriate (the droppings also grace her mini-installation). The three particular subjects whose faces look out at us from the gallery wall are all young, attractive and relentlessly clean, with an airbrushed appearance that belies the butts and gum from which they have been reconstructed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Trevor Winkfield/Poetry Foundation

Collage, Drawings, Painting, River North 1 Comment »
Trevor Winkfield. "Sketch for Peter Gizzi," 2012 acrylic and collage on paper, 27.5" x 19.25"

Trevor Winkfield. “Sketch for Peter Gizzi,” 2012
acrylic and collage on paper, 27.5″ x 19.25″

RECOMMENDED

Set in the smart spaces of the Poetry Foundation, this exhibition of the British artist-illustrator Trevor Winkfield (born 1944) highlights his paintings, cover designs and limited-edition books. It’s a small-scale show—five paintings and four vitrines—but the bright, punchy images are themselves like welcome book illustrations against the ashen modernist environment of the still-newish John Ronan building.

Winkfield’s mother read picture books to him as a tot. Afterwards texts always provoked accompanying images from him. Raised in Leeds, he came to America in 1969 and quickly became part of the collaboration-happy New York School. Not “merely a brush for hire,” he said, he had true partnerships with major poets like Ron Padgett and John Ashbery. Collaboration, he reflected, was “one of the quickest ways of allowing me to see myself as others saw me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Erik Weisenburger/Perimeter Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Erik Weisenburger. "Fourteen Point Staghorn Sumac," 2014 oil on panel

Erik Weisenburger. “Fourteen Point Staghorn Sumac,” 2014
oil on panel

RECOMMENDED

These sixteen visions of life in the north woods take us into that cheerfully lonely natural world once celebrated in Thoreau’s “Walden.” But there’s more whimsy than morality here, with no sense of the heroic in either the rustic environment or the souls who inhabit it. Erik Weisenburger’s technique is more about building an imaginative oil painting in the studio than in re-experiencing a view of actual fields and woods. His images glow with the inner light of early Northern European painting, and share that genre’s fanatical attention to detail, as if infinite time had been taken to perfect the design and execution of every square inch. No act of concentrated focus goes unrewarded. As with early German painters like Albrecht Altdorfer, he often offers the delicious effect of black, tangled, sharply drawn branches silhouetted against a glowing blue sky. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: 25th Anniversary/Schneider Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Cornelia Hediger. "05.29.10," C-Print, 30x30"

Cornelia Hediger. “05.29.10,”
C-Print, 30″ x 30″

RECOMMENDED

A look at the fifteen photo-artists whom gallerist Martha Schneider has included in her twenty-fifth anniversary show, which ends her run at Franklin Street before she moves to 770 North Lasalle in 2015, reveals how her space has provided Chicagoans with the singular opportunity to see consistently the most advanced photography from throughout the world. The works here are representative of those of the hundreds of artists whom Schneider has shown: edgy, masterful in technique, and often shot through with existential emotions or depth-psychological import. Schneider has presented the existentialist side over the years particularly through Argentine photographers, whose country’s elite culture was smitten by that movement, which matched the native temperament. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sandro Miller/Catherine Edelman

Photography, River North No Comments »
Sandro Miller. "Annie Leibovitz / John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1980)," 2014

Sandro Miller. “Annie Leibovitz / John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1980),” 2014

Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich. Take a famous sixty-year-old actor and substitute him for the subjects of well-known, mainly celebrity, photographic portraits, duplicating the original scenarios as precisely as possible in the studio; shoot the setup, and you have Sandro Miller’s conceit in his collaboration with John Malkovich. It is somewhat dizzying to contemplate images that are at three removes from real human beings, who have morphed into images crafted by teams of managers that have been further altered by a gifted photographer, and that have finally been subverted by another celebrity who is simulating the original celebrity-images to humorous effect, whether intentional or not.

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Review: Christian Vincent/Ann Nathan Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Christian Vincent. "Peninsula," oil on canvas

Christian Vincent. “Peninsula,” oil on canvas

Christian Vincent’s recent figurative paintings are 2,000 miles removed from what has characterized Chicago figure painting for the past fifty years: invitational instead of confrontational, gently thematic instead of intensely personal, conventional instead of weird, cinematic instead of graphic, pleasant instead of disturbing. Painted in Los Angeles, they might even serve as storyboards for a Hollywood teenage romantic comedy. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Carlos Javier Ortiz/David Weinberg Photography

Photography, River North No Comments »
Carlos Javier Ortiz. "Untitled," 2009, archival pigment print, 24" x 36"

Carlos Javier Ortiz. “Untitled,” 2009, archival pigment print, 24″ x 36″

RECOMMENDED

The real protagonists of Carlos Javier Ortiz’s black-and-white photo-documentary of the impact of gun violence in American cities today are the neighborhoods where it happens and is felt most directly. “We All We Got” is comprised of images of funerals, vigils, grieving families, commemorative artifacts, detention lock-ups, crime scenes and much more to create a comprehensive visual grasp of the phenomenon; but the places themselves and the sense of the stark realism of everyday life there overtake all the details. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Roger Brown: Virtual Still Life/Russell Bowman Art Advisory

Painting, River North, Sculpture No Comments »
Roger Brown. "VSL # 8: Vases with a View," 1995, oil on canvas, mixed media

Roger Brown. “VSL # 8: Vases with a View,” 1995,
oil on canvas, mixed media

RECOMMENDED

The eleven examples at Russell Bowman Art Advisory of Chicago artist Roger Brown’s Virtual Still Life series, created before his death in 1997, consist of patterned oil landscapes with attached ledges that mostly hold a myriad of found ceramic containers. As an avid accumulator of artful tchotchkes, Brown was certainly no stranger to placing objects on shelves and these last works gather up parts of his collection to dwell with his paintings in the fine art world. Though Brown’s estate ultimately ended up safe in the hands of caring institutions, it is touching to see these hand-picked artifacts saved by their incorporation into paintings. Like heirlooms conferred to deserving children these objects were promised a continued life of appreciation beyond the loving eyes of their vanished curator. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Luis Gonzalez Palma/Schneider Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Luis Gonzalez Palma. "Mesa Rio," 2009  digital print on transparency, gold leaf on board, red paper

Luis Gonzalez Palma. “Mesa Rio,” 2009
digital print on transparency, gold leaf on board, red paper

RECOMMENDED

As the veteran globalized A-list Guatemalan photographer Luis Gonzalez Palma enters his late fifties, he persists in his lifelong struggle to overcome the sadness in his heart through enduring a long series of unsuccessful attempts to affirm life fully by expressing his agonies and contradictions in his photo-art. His latest body of work, “Mobius,” leaves him where he started, only, as always through each iteration, more intense and more accomplished. Still posing native Guatemalan models for deep gold-toned portraits on which he sometimes strategically and elegantly paints, and setting up telling magical-realist scenarios, Gonzalez Palma has simplified his representations of his subjects by taking head shots of them that accentuate the moods and expressive emotions with which he endows them. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Venerable Roy Boyd Gallery Closes After Forty-two Years

News etc., River North 1 Comment »
A lively social gathering for one of Marco Casentini's exhibitions at Roy Boyd Gallery

A lively social gathering for one of Marco Casentini’s exhibitions at Roy Boyd Gallery

Roy Boyd Gallery will close its doors after forty-two years on October 15. This venerable exhibition space in River North has shown Chicago artists along with a number of artists from the West Coast and around the world. Along with several decades of exhibiting artists in his Chicago gallery, Boyd also ran a second space in Los Angeles from 1981 until 1993. In these last days of the River North location at 739 North Wells, the gallery is presenting a panoply of art objects from its remaining inventory, a salon of works comprised of touchstones from across the space’s lifetime, in particular the Boyds’ devotion to abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »