Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Eye Exam: A Quick History of Chicago’s Art and Tech Boom

Multimedia, Video No Comments »

 

Curt Cloninger, "Twixt The Cup And The Lip #3 (Letting the language speak itself?)," 2011. On view in "glitChicago" at the UIMA.

Curt Cloninger, “Twixt The Cup And The Lip #3 (Letting the language speak itself?),” 2011. On view in “glitChicago” at the UIMA.

By Jason Foumberg

A museum survey of Chicago’s innovative glitch art scene opening this month provides a good moment to revisit the city’s deep legacy of media arts. This is where contemporary art intertwines with emergent communications technologies—video, analog and digital computers, and repurposed commercial imaging technology—whatever artists could get their hands on. The local scene is today propelled by many do-it-yourself makers, but heavy academic support in decades past helped media arts flourish here. Some observers have noted that new media art evolved out of Chicago’s experimental music subculture. Curator of “glitChicago,” Paul Hertz says that glitch art, like hacking, is an artist’s answer to Big Media; the movement revives discarded electronics and advocates for open sharing of tools and content. “glitChicago” shows August 1 through September 28 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 West Chicago.

1936: Nathan Lerner, a student at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, stands in traffic medians to photograph the patterns of traffic lights. Lerner later invents the light box.

1947: “Vision in Motion,” Moholy-Nagy’s manifesto, is published in Chicago one year after his death. The book makes a case for the marriage of art and technology, and would inform art and design curriculums for decades at the School of the Art Institute and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

1968: Artists Bill McCabe and Robert Frontier put their penises on a copy machine, creating some of the first copy-machine art in Chicago. By 1970, these alternative printmaking machines become the basis for the Generative Systems program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, spearheaded by Sonia Landy Sheridan. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ethel Stein/Art Institute of Chicago

Loop, Textiles No Comments »
Ethel Stein. "No to Indian Point," 1997

Ethel Stein. “No to Indian Point,” 1997

RECOMMENDED

With her mastery of craftsmanship and design, Ethel Stein, born 1917, might now be the master weaver at the Bauhaus had it endured as long she has. This retrospective, spanning 1982 through 2008, suggests that her primary concern in those years was the pictorial potential of work produced on an old-fashioned drawloom, photographs of which are prominently displayed beside her work. Responding to personal, community and art world concerns, she did things with a loom that have more often been done with brush, paint and canvas. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Hebru Brantley/Chicago Cultural Center

Comics, Loop, Painting No Comments »
Hebru Brantley. "O.M.G."

Hebru Brantley. “O.M.G.”

RECOMMENDED

The large-scale canvases in Hebru Brantley’s “Parade Day Rain” document the travails and revelries of his iconic character The Fly-Boy and his accompanying crew of poly-cultural homies: all vibrant, active, bruised and soaring. Here is an incredibly fresh assemblage of a makeshift community of young people who traverse emotional territory and urban landscape with hope and heartbreak.

Based off The Tuskegee Airmen, Brantley’s Fly-Boy is a black comic-book superhero in a landscape where heroes are usually white, and criminals too often depicted as black. Often Brantley renders his characters in profile against dense pastiche backdrops filled with Nike symbols, bootleg Bart Simpsons, and Jack Johnson dropping lead fists on the head of white supremacy. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Hebru Brantley Public Sculptures Vandalized

News etc., Public Art No Comments »
clean up after vandalism of Hebru Brantley's "The Watch"

Clean-up after vandalism of Hebru Brantley’s “The Watch”

Last Sunday morning a series of sculptures installed along a sloping lawn near the Field Museum by Pilsen-based artist Hebru Brantley were found vandalized. The artwork titled “The Watch” is a multi-figure homage to the Tuskegee Airmen and features a series of young, black, superheroic characters that Brantley uses in his work. Last weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported that several of the figures had been knocked over, with one beheaded and several others sustaining multiple punctures and elements broken off. In an email, Chicago Park District’s director of communications Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said that the sculptures have been removed to be repaired by the artist. While no definite timeline for the repairs has been determined, the artworks will be returned to the park once they have been repaired. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: texttexttext/Woman Made Gallery

Multimedia, Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Briar Craig. “Gluten-Free Poetry”

Briar Craig. “Gluten-Free Poetry”

RECOMMENDED

“Texttexttext” at Woman Made Gallery is a cogent and self-conscious group exhibition that effectively engages notions of language as ever-changing, the battle between public and private social spheres, and the presence of a self-consciousness that is so prevalent in our age of selfies, tweets and Facebook postings. The artists in this show work from these starting points to ponder the transparency of the twenty-first century using a neo-dadaist humor and a deep awareness of our world. 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 »

Review: Zachary Cahill/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Painting No Comments »
Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation "USSA 2012 Wellness Center"

Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation “USSA 2012 Wellness Center”

RECOMMENDED

Zachary Cahill’s current exhibition, “USSA 2012: Wellness Center,” reflects on the contemporary dilemma of wellness in general and the healing potential of art in particular. Staging a physical retreat for therapeutic refuge in the third-floor enclave of the Museum of Contemporary Art that recalls European sanatoriums of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this highly referential exhibition of painting, sculpture and writing finds itself most cogent on the wall. Paintings often dressed in synthetic palettes and textual epigrams act in Cahill’s institution as optically prescriptive pseudo-pharmaceutical compositions with a desired effect on the viewer, a crooked analogue of the canonical canvases of romanticism they uncannily suggest.

The works center on health, wellness and care, topics as political and provocative as they come, instinctively relevant on a global scale, yet problematic as if by design. Health transcends the everyday, at once at the forefront of our collective consciousness and buried deep within it, a perennial victim of its own ubiquity. The industries of wellness wrestle with sizable points of contention, from intellectual property to the ethics of access. And the spaces of caregiving continue to provide rich ground to consider a question as genuinely human, ageless and pertinent today as any other, one found here, scribed in acrylic: what does it mean to be healthy? Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artists: Miller & Shellabarger

Artist Profiles, Drawings, Installation, Loop No Comments »
Miller & Shellabarger. "Again Gone," installation view

Miller & Shellabarger. “Again Gone,” installation view

“Western Exhibitions shows all three of us,” say Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger, meaning the Chicago gallery separately represents Dutes, Stan and S&M, their collaborative practice as Miller & Shellabarger. The two met as undergraduates studying ceramics and organically began to work together on artistic projects. Twenty-one years later, the couple shares an Irving Park home and studio where individual art practices continue to grow alongside joint projects. Teaming up as Miller & Shellabarger periodically dominates their individual practices, while at other times independent work demands a hiatus from the collaborative. They have found an effortless ebb-and-flow, and three is not a crowd in this household.

Read the rest of this entry »

News: Johalla Projects Curates Art at Pitchfork Music Festival

News etc., Public Art No Comments »
"Geometric Village" being installed earlier this week

“Geometric Village” being installed earlier this week

The West Town gallery Johalla Projects returns to the Pitchfork Music Festival, held in Union Park, this weekend to present “Geometric Village,” an installation by Heather Gabel and Chad Kouri. Two A-frame architectural structures fifteen feet tall and nine feet wide are joined by an additional set of smaller chairs or stools scattered around these forms. The two triangular structures will house smaller works by the two artists that will be available for sale. Gabel will have packs of postcards available for $15 and Kouri will exhibit a set of prints he created with Tan & Loose Press which are available for $15 each. This installation will be accessible to festival attendees; tickets are currently $60 a day, or $110-$130 for a three-day pass. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Cities Built Within Galleries

Installation, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Diane Simpson. "Window Dressing" at Monique Meloche

Diane Simpson. “Window Dressing: Apron 1,” oil stain on MDF, polyester fabric; and “Window Dressing: Bib-doodle,” gatorfoam board, hardboard, wallpaper, enamel, ink

By Matt Morris

It’s often said around town that Chicago has two seasons: winter and construction. The architectural epicenter where we reside explodes into transformation in the warm months, as buildings, roads and public spaces undergo restructuring. A few exhibitions on view right now conspire to reflect this construction condition by taking built environments and our habitation of them as points of departure. The artworks’ proximity to source materials is a useful measurement in distinguishing where a quirky meta-criticality is achieved, and where sometimes the experience at hand is burdened by its references. Read the rest of this entry »