Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Phases of Faces/Jean Albano Gallery

Digital Art, Drawings, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Video No Comments »
Joe Tallarico. "Marold and Haude," 2014. Watercolor, ink and colored pencil, 11 x 15 inches.

Joe Tallarico. “Marold and Haude,” 2014. Watercolor and ink, 11 x 15 inches.

Five decades of the Chicago Imagists tradition are alive and well in “Faces,” the first exhibit of the new year at Jean Albano Gallery. Whether the human face is directly engaging the viewer or part of an entire figure, these faces are far removed from a Rembrandt self-portrait. They evince no naturalism, no idealism, no profound drama, no soul. These are not the faces of people on life’s journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Spirit in the Land/Addington Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Michael Dubina. "Untitled Matchbook," 3.75 x 1.5 inches.

Michael Dubina. “Fall,” n.d. Painted matchbook, 3.75 x 1.5 inches.

An uplifting Romanticism inspired the spacious, heroic American landscape painting of the early nineteenth century. Then came truth-to-nature, followed by truth-to-place and, eventually, truth-to-painting. But now, with no widely shared expectations, landscape painting is not so much a genre as an occasional mode of self-expression with a few identifiable natural features, illuminated by an inner rather than a solar light. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Erin Washington/Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

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Erin Washington. "Ruin and cosmic dust," 2015. 35 x 30 inches.

Erin Washington. “Ruin and cosmic dust,” 2015. 34.5 x 30 inches.


Composed primarily with white chalk—a material not renowned for its durability—the eight drawings in Erin Washington’s arresting new show “Useful Knowledge” arouse searching questions about why some images and ideas last, while others are erased by time. These modestly sized, almost achromatic works are complex in spite of their relative formal simplicity, and contemplative despite a single off-pitch nod to spectacle.

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News: New Leadership at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary

Galleries & Museums, News etc., River North No Comments »
Arica Hilton and Sven Asmus, partners of Hilton Asmus Contemporary.

Arica Hilton and Sven Asmus, partners of Hilton-Asmus Contemporary.

Arica Hilton announced she is stepping down from her role as curator and president at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary to concentrate full-time on her work as a writer and artist.

This news comes on the heels of a few notable successes for Hilton: a recent solo exhibition in Belgium, an upcoming show in China and a forthcoming book. As Hilton focuses on her personal career, her partner, Sven Asmus, will take the lead at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary and Hilton-Asmus Foto, their affiliate online store devoted to photography.

These personal and professional changes come at a good time for Hilton and for the gallery, which focuses on modern and contemporary artwork of all media. Hilton’s international exhibition prospects are growing. The gallery Qu Art, Hilton’s international representative in Brussels, plans to show her work in the Middle East and Europe, among other regions, she says. And since, according to Hilton, the gallery has “a solid and supportive collector base,” Hilton will devote more time to her art practice and a forthcoming book, “Spirit of Ecstasy—The True Meaning of Wealth!,” expected to debut this spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Keysook Geum/Andrew Bae Gallery

Craft Work, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, River North, Sculpture No Comments »
Keysook Geum. “Red Jangot,” 2015. Black wire with red beads, 65 x 53 x 10 inches.

Keysook Geum. “Red Jangot,” 2015. Black wire with red beads, 65 x 53 x 10 inches.


Keysook Geum’s exhibition, “Dream Weaver,” at Andrew Bae Gallery is exquisite. Even before entering the gallery, elegant wire structures in the shape of women’s dresses are visible from outside, luring me in with only a sample of what was to come.   Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Joseph E. Yoakum/Carl Hammer Gallery

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, River North No Comments »

Joseph E. Yoakum. "Paradice [sic] Range near Damascus Syria South East Asia 4/23-69," 1969. Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, 11 3/4 x 19 inches.

Joseph E. Yoakum. “Paradice [sic] Range near Damascus Syria South East Asia 4/23-69,” 1969.
Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, 11 3/4 x 19 inches.


Yoakum began making art at the age of seventy-six, when God told him to pick up a pen and begin drawing. Living on Chicago’s South Side, he made some two-thousand works before his death in 1972. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Marguerite Hohenberg and Medard Klein/Richard Norton Gallery

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Painting, Prints, River North No Comments »
Marguerite Hohenberg. "Chronological #255," ca. 1945. Gouache on paper 21 x 21 inches.

Marguerite Hohenberg. “Chronological #255,” ca. 1945.
Gouache on paper, 21 x 21 inches.


Social Realism wasn’t the only artistic practice pushed to the curb by the onslaught of Abstract Expressionism in postwar America. The earlier styles of non-objective painting also became less fashionable, focusing more on making a modern world rather than on how dismayed or thrilled they felt to live in it. Marguerite Hohenberg (1883-1972) and Medard Klein (1905-2002) were two Chicago abstract artists who enjoyed national recognition in their heydays but vanished from view soon thereafter. In this show of works on paper, it’s Hohenberg’s transcendent colorism that captures the attention. The wife of an aristocratic Austrian stock broker, she was a late bloomer in the arts. She became an interior designer at age fifty-one, first showed her paintings at age fifty-four, and opened her own art gallery on Oak Street at age sixty-seven. Her level of craftsmanship is high, and the intensity, buoyancy and variety of her work suggests that she was enthusiastically making up for lost time. She left Austria at age six, but recreated the elegant, sensual, dynamic world of the Viennese Secession fifty years later in Chicago. It’s as if she had discovered an exciting new world, and was sharing her sense of wonder.

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Review: Field Study/David Weinberg Photography

Galleries & Museums, Photography, River North No Comments »
William Harper. “Transmigration”

William Harper. “Transmigration”


Organized loosely around the theme of environmental conservation, this juried show including photographs by thirty-seven artists is intended to address the question of what images can “tell us about our connection to nature in an age of rapid mutation and climate change.” Too diverse in subjects and approaches to convey a coherent message, “Field Study” is more accurately a survey of the main contemporary ways in which the natural and cultural objects and scenes in the world around us are represented photographically. Culled from more than 1,000 submissions by more than 300 artists, the works—mostly color, chosen by curators Katherine Ware and Meg Noe—run the gamut from constructivist to realist, beautiful to socially critical photography, funky to serious and experimental to conventional. As they are mixed on the gallery walls, the viewer is impelled to consider each image on its own merits. This compels a primarily photographic evaluation of the works, rather than reading them as components of a broader aesthetic or social milieu. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Chicago is an Exquisite Corpse

Activist Art, Architecture, Art Fairs, Art Schools, Collage, Comics, Design, Digital Art, Drawings, Evanston, Fall Preview, Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Gold Coast/Old Town, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Installation, Little Village, Logan Square, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Museum Campus, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Pilsen, Prints, Public Art, River North, River West, Rogers Park, Sculpture, South Loop, Street Art, Streeterville, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Uptown, Video, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
The thing that was sent to me in it's intended but unsettling orientation.

The thing that was sent to me in its intended but unsettling orientation.

By Elliot J. Reichert

The above image was sent to me anonymously in the middle of the night. Shocking as it appears, I was relieved to receive it. You see, weeks ago I had contacted a few artist friends to ask them to reflect on the upcoming fall art season in Chicago and to ask one to “take over” the task of appraising it. To my surprise, they were reluctant to describe it, even those who had exhibitions of their work opening in the coming weeks. Later, I realized that their silence was my doing, having asked a question that could produce no coherent answer.

Much like the drawing game made famous by the Surrealists, Chicago’s 2015 fall art season is an exquisite corpse—a thing of grotesque beauty that is the dream of no one, but the creation of many. At first glance, it appears sinister, like the Block Museum’s solo show of newly commissioned works by Chicago artist Geof Oppenheimer. Rumor has it that the sculptor has filled the museum’s ample galleries with austere and foreboding installations resembling the cinderblock constructions of grim institutions, like prison, or perhaps your corporate office. Even more menacing, Irena Haiduk, also Chicago-based and also exhibiting new work, will haunt the eaves of the Renaissance Society’s transformed gallery with the Sirens of Greek mythology, luring visitors unexpectedly into a debate on the revolutionary possibilities of art and social change amidst current political upheaval worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Susan Burnstine/Berlanga Fine Art

Galleries & Museums, Photography, River North No Comments »
Susan Burnstine. "Impasse," 2010.

Susan Burnstine. “Impasse,” 2010.


A unique practitioner of straight photography, Susan Burnstine shoots her black-and-white cityscapes and landscapes using hand-made film cameras and lenses that she crafts out of plastic, parts from old cameras, and “random household objects.” The images made from these devices have some resemblance to those produced by the famous plastic Holga camera—imprecise, shadowed and clouded. They lack the fine gradations of gray scale and are slightly distorted, but they exude a great sense of solidity, belong firmly within the legacy of the Pictorialist tradition of the early twentieth century, which attempted to translate the aesthetics of Impressionist painting into photography. Read the rest of this entry »