Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Portrait of the Artist: Richard Renaldi

Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Richard Renaldi. "Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna."

Richard Renaldi. “Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna.”

Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been casting, staging and capturing ephemeral connections between complete strangers. “I’m looking for people that look as if they have a story to tell… Someone that makes you want to know more, want to look more, want to continue looking at them because they have something about them that is beautiful,” Richard tells me. It’s early afternoon, and he’s phoned me from inside his vehicle parked on a New York City side street. “And I don’t mean the traditional classical sense of beauty, but instead something that is an attractive quality—strong features, individuality, a visible hardship or softness in their face.” Read the rest of this entry »

This City of Turmoil: An Interview with Ingrid LaFleur of AFROTOPIA About Her Detroit

Activist Art, Art Books, Installation, Performance No Comments »
Ingrid LaFleur of Afrotopia

Ingrid LaFleur of Afrotopia

By Allison Glenn

Can you talk a bit more about the Detroit you experienced as an adolescent and young adult, and how this Detroit may or may not have shifted?
I call the years of my youth the “Golden Era” of Detroit. Blackness was a norm. No matter where you went, we were the majority and as a result being black was a beautiful enjoyable experience. It was a sort of paradise that I yearn for now.

My parents were collectors of contemporary art. My life growing up was filled with trips to the DIA [Detroit Institute of Arts] for art classes and mystery walks. My father frequently took me to Cranbrook where they showed all the edgy contemporary work. He loved buying work from local Detroit artists; grad shows at the College for Creative Studies and emerging mid-career artists from the African diaspora. Read the rest of this entry »

Point of Origin: Mapping the Arts in Detroit

Architecture, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Performance, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Olayami Dabls, N'Kisi House, 2007, wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Charlene Uresy

Olayami Dabls, N’Kisi House, 2007,
wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit/Photo: Charlene Uresy

By Allison Glenn

The twenty-first century has brought with it the re-emergence of contemporary conceptual artists engaged with penumbral zones. These artists are interested in site, positing new ideas for usage of once-inhabited homes and urban spaces. Whether the middle of the desert or the center of a blighted neighborhood, these sites exist on the theoretical—albeit times physical—margins of society. Artistic engagement with these interstitial spaces is on a material level, with art and architecture converging to create radical and experimental approaches to living. Positing ideas for architecture, technology, space and the body’s relation to it, artists are projecting utopic ideals for the future of the quotidian urban environment. What emerges from this are hybrid works of art and cultural production. Read the rest of this entry »

Blocks of Art and Stuff: Taking in the Heidelberg Project, East Detroit’s Spectacle of Transformation and Perseverance

Installation, Outsider Art, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Views from Amy Danzer's visit to the Heidelberg Project

Photo: Amy Danzer

When you first pull up to the open-air art installation on Heidelberg Street in East Detroit, you’re struck by the remnants of houses that have recently been set afire by arsonists. Twelve blazes have gutted six installations in the last two years. The devastation and loss are felt at once, never absent throughout the exhibit, and serve as commentary on the plight of Detroit’s inner city. But Tyree Guyton and his volunteers continue to clear the ash and debris, create new works, and transform the space into one that persists in provoking thought, inciting imagination, and drawing in people from all over the country and world. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Abstraction: A Visual Language/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Linnea Gabriella Spransy. "Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been," 2015 acrylic on canvas, 78" x 72"

Linnea Gabriella Spransy. “Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been,” 2015
acrylic on canvas, 78″ x 72″


Aside from the obvious aesthetic concerns of making objects of lasting beauty, the central problem of abstraction has always been one of style and technique. More specifically, it has been the search for a technique that yields and animates an autographic or signature style as unique as the painter’s vision. It’s a lot harder than it sounds: as evidence, witness the cliché-ridden failures of abstract painting’s supposed “comeback” visible at any given art fair.

All the more reason then to celebrate the seven artists whose works comprise the concentrated, diverse and yet seamlessly integrated “Abstraction: A Visual Language” at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. That these artists are also women is a fact worth highlighting in its own right, but let’s be clear: these are damn good painters first and foremost who make singular works that defy easy categorization. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Crusade for Art Funds Forthcoming Arts Publication Distributed on CTA Red Line

Art Books, Photography, Prints No Comments »
The forthcoming first issue of .LDOC, featuring photographer Meg T. Noe and writer Alex Jaros. Photo by: Joseph Wilcox.

The forthcoming first issue of .LDOC, featuring photographer Meg T. Noe and writer Alex Jaros. Photo by: Joseph Wilcox.

.LDOC, a biweekly one-sheet publication of photography and creative writing, will appear at select Red Line stops this October, offering the public a gateway to the arts. The publication received a $10,000 grant from Crusade for Art, funding the first year of the free print. Volunteers will hand out new issues on the first and third Monday of each month at Loyola Avenue, Belmont Avenue, Lake Street, 69th Street and 95th Street stops on the CTA Red Line. Newcity sat down with .LDOC founders, the wife and husband duo Danielle and Joseph Wilcox, to get the backstory on the new project. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Claire Sherman/Kavi Gupta

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Claire Sherman. "Rock Wall," 2015 oil on canvas, 84" x 72"

Claire Sherman. “Rock Wall,” 2015
oil on canvas, 84″ x 72″


Paint purists, oil enthusiasts and lovers of all things gooey can get their fix at Kavi Gupta right now. Claire Sherman’s current show, “Funeral Mountain” blends Romantic-era geological drama with mid-century action painting, modernizing it by default in the process. The show is comprised of six large paintings of rock walls and three of caves, each one simple and sophisticated but strikingly generous with its labor and beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Art Paul/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Design, Drawings, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Art Paul. "Cheers," 1987, colored pencil on paper, "8 x 11.5"

Art Paul. “Cheers,” 1987, colored pencil on paper, “8 x 11.5″


Whether or not you ever found the intellectual content of Playboy magazine as thrilling as its cheesecake, you had to be impressed by the way it incorporated image and text to create excitement on every page. As art director for its first thirty years, Art Paul (born 1925) was responsible for that graphic design as well as the Playboy Bunny logo, so it’s no surprise that soon after retirement in 1982, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Dan Farnum/Alibi Fine Art

Photography, Ravenswood No Comments »
Dan Farnum. "Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit," 2012 archival pigment print, 15” x 19”

Dan Farnum. “Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit,” 2012
archival pigment print, 15” x 19”


It’s all about social class in Dan Farnum’s color street portraits of mainly youth in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan and the outskirts of Detroit. Farnum is middle class and in his thirties, an early Millennial on the cusp between X and Y; and his subjects, white and black, come from the lower rungs of the economic ladder, though not abjectly poor. When he was young, Farnum heard and saw all the stories about tough and gritty Saginaw, a victim of deindustrialization, but he didn’t experience it directly. Now he is drawn to that site to come closer to the life that had been mediated to him so that he can connect with it more intimately and to test the sensibility of “prestige from below.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Albert Oehlen/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Albert Oehlen. "Untitled (cow 4)," 2011 paper on canvas, 59" x 72 3/4"

Albert Oehlen. “Untitled (cow 4),” 2011
paper on canvas, 59″ x 72 3/4″


Cutting and collaging advertisements to fill the gallery with a herd of cattle—bright, cacophonous and just on the edge of perception—Oehlen’s new show at Corbett vs. Dempsey is called “Rawhide.” The cows-on-canvas (which seem intimidatingly large, though they’re almost all just shy of five feet by six) are rounded up for market, but Oehlen has confused the juxtaposed advertisements to the point of mere decoration, so they can’t sell us anything beyond themselves. True to “Rawhide,” the 1959-1966 TV series that saw cowboys lead a cattle drive to market, Oehlen is giving us cows neither here nor there: the bovines shimmer in and out of view, competing with the flashiness of billboards. The theme song incites us, like the collagist headed to market, to “Cut ’em out/ Ride ’em in.” Read the rest of this entry »