Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Ask the Oracle/Heaven Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Ann Gaziano, "Pan, Dot and Sofa." Used baking pans, plate hangers, velour fabric, wood.

Ann Gaziano, “Pan, Dot and Sofa.” Used baking pans, plate hangers, velour fabric, wood.

RECOMMENDED

An oracle, similar to a Magic 8 Ball, ascertains and communicates the unknown and introduces an abrupt epiphany, offering a glimpse of the future and providing calm in the face of uncertainty. This group exhibition focuses on supernatural phenomena such as mediums, possession and artificial divination through painting, sculpture and performance.

During the opening, Claire Arctander performed “Magic Act,” in which she challenged the traditional role of the turn-of-the-century male magician. By choosing volunteers in the crowd, Arctander encouraged individuals to “participate in togetherness” and then, calmly but forcibly, tied their shoelaces together as they stood in a congested circle. Arctander’s performance challenged the comfort of intimacy for the handful of participants that were selected and created a meaningful disconnect from the surrounding audience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Kevin Swallow/Firecat Projects

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Kevin Swallow. "Transit Skyline," 2014. Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches.

Kevin Swallow. “Transit Skyline,” 2014.
Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Kevin Swallow likes the rooftop water tanks of Chicago, but he likes them less as an urban historian and more as a child who identifies with their willful isolation. With its bursting-proud tank high up on its tall, spindly legs, isn’t an old fashioned tank just like a wobbly two-year old, setting out to explore the world?

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Review: Look at Me Now!/Monique Meloche Gallery

Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Hassan Hajjaj. "Miriam," 2010. Metallic lambda print on 3mm white dibond, 53 x 36 ¾ inches / Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Hassan Hajjaj. “Miriam,” 2010.
Metallic lambda print on 3mm white dibond, 53 x 36 ¾ inches/Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

RECOMMENDED

Revising the art historical canon to account for a variety of erasures is a commendable curatorial endeavor, but one is perpetually challenged to find new methods to add value to such well-worn conversations. This summer group exhibition takes on tropes related to race, gender and caste by offering fresh alternatives to the history of Western portraiture. Individually, the works of Rashayla Marie Brown, Hassan Hajjaj, Rashid Johnson, Ebony G. Patterson, Amy Sherald, William Villalongo and Nina Chanel Abney are colorful, multifaceted and visually complex; together, they feel oddly muted and restrained. Pronouncements of individual agitation rise up, but the gathering of disparate voices does not make for lively conversation.
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News: Out of Site 2015 Begins this Weekend

Art Fairs, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art, Street Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Michal Samama. "Lament of Plastic," performance. Photo by Guy Kremnitzer.

Michal Samama. “Lament of Plastic,” performance/Photo: Guy Kremnitzer

It’s going to get confrontational in Wicker Park/Bucktown, beginning Saturday, July 25. The mission behind Out of Site is “to create unexpected encounters of public performance,” a take-it-to-the-streets art festival embarking on its fifth year of public performance art programming. Artists create whimsical disruptions for people as they go about their daily routines, choosing sites around the neighborhood that resonate with their practice.

The series launches this weekend with three performances in collaboration with the Wicker Park Fest. Sheryl Oring, an artist from North Carolina, will invite the public to write letters to the President of the United States as part of her piece “I Wish to Say,” previously performed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Berlin Wall Memorial and other locations. To date, over 2,000 letters have been transcribed on a typewriter and submitted to the White House.

While the details surrounding some performances are clear, the vast majority of performances are only yet known by a date, a time, a location, and an artist’s name. Ballenarca, a troupe from Puerto Rico via Austin, Texas, will take place at the intersection of Milwaukee and Evergreen, near the new 606 walking path. Without giving it away, passersby can expect to behold a large, bespectacled mobile sculpture come to life. “The Wisdom Box” by Duff Norris immediately follows. The public can anticipate this work by looking online for records of a previous performance called “Infinity Box,” but if you really want to know more you’ll just have to show up.

Sheryl Oring. "I Wish to Say," performance. Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel.

Sheryl Oring. “I Wish to Say,” performance/Photo: Dhanraj Emanuel

Out of Site was founded by artist Carron Little as she was “thinking about how wonderful it would be if people were to come home from a long week in the office and come across a unique surprise,” Little said in an email conversation with Newcity. She continued, “I was also invited onto the WPB Arts Committee to rethink how we fund art locally [after] having written a piece about how all the local funding had gone to a consulting firm. So it was part of a broader initiative to fund performance artists who seemed to be doing a lot of work for free.”

The vision for Out of Site goes beyond the scope of providing simple entertainment to a consumer public. “Public performance is vital for every city landscape; building moments that are out of the ordinary can bring joy and wonder to people,” Little remarked. “This is imperative in our workaholic culture. We need things that take us out of the monotony.  The New Situationists in Paris talk about the city being a new Babylon. Le Corbusier founded the modern city discussing ideas of productivity and circulation to build economy, but if people aren’t happy they bring that sadness to work.”

In previous iterations, curators didn’t tell people where the performances would take place. There are no tickets to purchase with a start and end time. Be there or be square, or better yet, you might be there anyway.

Out of Site runs daily at different locations throughout Wicker Park & Bucktown from Saturday, July 25, through Sunday, September 6. (Whitney Richardson)

News: Visual Art Projects Now Open Along the 606

Humboldt Park, Logan Square, News etc., Performance, Public Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
A stampede of horses by Opera-Matic charge the 606 path on opening day

A stampede of horses by Opera-Matic charge the 606 path on opening day

“People were very curious, and they wanted to know what it meant…,” said Rob Lentz, executive director of Project Onward and liaison for artist Louis DeMarco, in an interview with Newcity about the public response to the temporary installation of “Cloud Chart” along the newly opened 606 trail, the 2.8-mile elevated parkway connecting four northwestern Chicago neighborhoods. DeMarco’s artworks are among the new installations that will be on view through June 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Eric Ruschman/Circa Modern

Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
CRIBS, 2015 Installation view

CRIBS, 2015
Installation view

RECOMMENDED

Eric Ruschman paints directly onto woodworked panels, his abstractions sloping around softly rounded edges. The visibility of his hand varies; at points brush strokes are visibly staccato while the opacity and quality of craftsmanship precludes human production in others. It’s finish-fetish at its finest. A diptych titled “After Tonight, They Will Never Forget My Name (Chairface Chippendale)” smartly reveals the unfinished MDF surface peeking out between the painted-on wood grain; the pattern wraps generously around the sides of the panel. This painting’s companion, a smooth off-white circle hung high above it, is the only piece in the show that seems extraneous. While some works are playful and polite, others betray conceptual darkness and grit. Something nefarious lurks in “I Want To Believe In Deepthroat,” a Roger Brown-esque diptych the lower left corner of which has a large X slashed out of it. The whimsical title (both a double entendre and meta “X-Files” reference) is an exemplar of the pop-culture current that runs throughout his solo exhibition, “Cribs.” Through titles and imagery, Ruschman harkens to nineties sitcoms perhaps consumed during the production of the paintings (or underneath their place of final repose). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Todd Kelly and Morgan Mandalay/LVL3

Installation, Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Morgan Mandalay. "Still Life of Flowers and Red Curtains," 2015 oil paint and spray paint on b.o.g.o. canvas 12" x 16" each

Morgan Mandalay. “Still Life of Flowers and Red Curtains,” 2015
oil paint and spray paint on b.o.g.o. canvas
12″ x 16″ each

RECOMMENDED

The works by Todd Kelly and Morgan Mandalay in “Happy Little” help bring the concept of the still life into the twenty-first century. Kelly’s pieces are the more straightforward of the two, with influences ranging from Dutch and French masters from seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to a visual representation of the gravitational pull of the planets. The Brooklyn-based artist uses oil and spray paint and collage to layer materials over one another, often creating expertly composed work that almost appears three-dimensional, as in “Theory of Gravity Still Life 13.” These complex pieces contain collaged shapes of abstract and representational elements, such as a Christmas tree or the artist’s initials. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr/Heaven Gallery

Installation, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Dan Rizzo-orr. “Horse Statuette North” and “Horse Statuette Northeast," installation view

Dan Rizzo-orr’s “Horse Statuette North” and “Horse Statuette Northeast,”
with Mika Horibuchi’s “Screen/Screen,” installation view

RECOMMENDED

Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr worked closely to present “View with a Room” as a project specific to the gallery space. The mostly painted work of the two artists interlocks with ease across two rooms despite wildly various subject matter and technical methods. Visual approaches reflect neatly onto three-dimensional objects, the sculptures orienting the space in turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Authority, Affirmations and Other Nomenclature

Ceramics, Drawings, Installation, Multimedia, Oak Park, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Nate Young. Installation view of "Untitled (Pulpit No. 1)," 2014, and "Untitled (Altar No. 1)," 2015

Nate Young. Installation view of “Untitled (Pulpit No. 1),” 2014, and “Untitled (Altar No. 1),” 2015

By Matt Morris

Is art that appears to be “about art” ever only limited to that scope of investigation? I’d say it’s doubtful, mostly because mechanisms of power reproduce themselves throughout social institutions, so to reflect upon the constitutive components of an artistic medium (as well as its historical and contemporary contexts) possesses at least the potential of a transferrable method by which one might fashion new freedoms—not through a rebellion from upheld traditional forms but through critical relationships to them. The monochrome continues to do this. Distilled to an uninterrupted plane, color, texture, scale and the tools for applying material (all usually in some way present in most artworks) are amplified, inviting investigation into the parts that comprise the art. In the best of cases, consideration of the conditions of display is inspired as well. The monochrome as a form also holds up under projections: historically used for such diverse conceptual conceits as Suprematism, color field painting, the “radical painting group,” and most recently one of several working modes bizarrely attributed by Ken Johnson to “soccer mom” aesthetics. A century after Kazimir Malevich painted his canvas “Black Square” in 1915, artists continue figuring out how to take apart the language of art-making so that the parsed vocabulary can speak to the power of the entire system. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Wes Carson/ARC Gallery

Photography, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Wes Carson. "Biscayne  and NE 17th, Omni"

Wes Carson. “Biscayne and NE 17th, Omni”

In a series of “narrative portraits” taken on the streets of a relentlessly sunny Miami, Florida, Wes Carson seeks to capture a “particular moment” in the city’s “cultural history”—the scene of our times. Reflective to a fault about his practice, Carson’s shots are candid, because he is going for “authentic moments,” which means that he has to shoot at middle distance, forsaking intimacy in order to avoid his subjects performing for the camera. That strategy could have been fruitful had Carson looked for telling juxtapositions and ironies as street photographers of the classic tradition do (and he does some of that with the play between subjects and signage); but most of Carson’s fourteen photos catch ordinary people doing ordinary things—sitting outside or idling on the sidewalk, some of them absorbed in cell-phone conversations. Read the rest of this entry »