Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: So-called Utopias/Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

Activist Art, Architecture, Design, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Melanie Smith. "Fordlandia ," 2014. Video still.

Melanie Smith. “Fordlandia ,” 2014. Video still.

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Utopias have vexed the art world of late. To name but one example: the first Summer Forum residency recently took place in New Harmony, a site of failed utopian living in Indiana. Meanwhile the critical currents of queer pessimism have forcefully militated against utopian longing, exemplified in the anti-futurity espoused by Lee Edelman. Utopias are dangerous and dreamy. Alluring and exclusionary. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Black Sites Matter

Architecture No Comments »
Human Square Police Facility. Google Street View.

Homan Square Police Facility. Google Street View.

By Stephen F. Eisenman

The city of Chicago has at least two black sites, though possibly many more. They have no signs in front, they are not listed in the Illinois Register of Historic Places and their architectural language is reticent to the point of invisibility. The first, now decommissioned, was the Area 2 police headquarters on the corner of 91st Street and Cottage Grove in Chatham. It is squat and rectangular, two stories high, half a block wide, and set on a rusticated brick plinth, with brick quoins, stone string-courses and stone door and window lintels. The long façade on 91st Street has a pair of bays framing a recessed central pavilion. On three sides of the building, excluding the one that backs against an alley, stone shields are set into the middle of brick and stone cornices. They suggest badges, a synecdoche for police officers. This architecture, derived from Federal style courthouses, combines Classicism and the Prairie School to connote honesty, sobriety and civic mindedness, national ideals during the Progressive Era (1890-1930) when the station was built. Its architectural restraint belies the history that put it on the map. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Matt Siber/DePaul Art Museum

Architecture, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Sculpture No Comments »
Matt Sibler. "Lighted Shelter," 2015. Aluminum, plexiglas and florescent lights.

Matt Siber. “Lighted Shelter,” 2015. Aluminum, plexiglas and fluorescent lights.

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The subject of “Idol Structures” is the infrastructure of signs. Not the term in linguistics that defines the marriage of signifier and signified, but actual signs—billboards and roadside advertisements. Siber is interested in the configurations of steel, neon and vinyl that comprise signs but not in the messages they convey: think Mark di Suvero rather than William Eggleston. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Stanley Tigerman/Volume Gallery

Architecture, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, West Loop No Comments »
Stanley Tigerman. "Sketch from Book 9, Beginning 1976, Bourges, France," 1976. Ink on paper, 5 x 8.5 inches.

Stanley Tigerman. “Sketch from Book 9, Beginning 1976, Bourges, France,” 1976. Ink on paper, 5 x 8.5 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Stanley Tigerman practices his art (450 buildings) and preaches it too (with seven books and many publications). His quick sketch on a napkin won the competition for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, so it’s not surprising that he is often cited when architects discuss the educational importance of freehand drawing skills. With 821 drawings taken from twenty sketchbooks made over forty years, this exhibition serves as his visual statement on the issue.

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Review: Grace of Intention/Museum of Contemporary Photography

Architecture, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Photography, Public Art, Sculpture, South Loop No Comments »
Nadav Kander. "Fengine III (Monument to Progress and Prosperity), Chongqing Municipality," 2007.

Nadav Kander. “Fengine III (Monument to Progress and Prosperity), Chongqing Municipality,” 2007.

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Frank Gehry said that “architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Vacancy: Urban Interruption and (Re)generation/Glass Curtain Gallery

Activist Art, Architecture, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Performance, Photography, Public Art, Sculpture, South Loop, Video No Comments »
Emmanuel Pratt in collaboration with Sweet Water Foundation. "Ecology of Absence?" Furniture, shelving and American flag made from reclaimed wooden pallets. /Photo: Rob Karlic.

Emmanuel Pratt in collaboration with Sweet Water Foundation. “Ecology of Absence?” Furniture, shelving and American flag made from reclaimed wooden pallets/Photo: Rob Karlic

RECOMMENDED

The Glass Curtain Gallery is a fitting venue for an exhibition about vacancy and regeneration. Its South Loop neighborhood is on the verge of a residential boom, while the nearby West Loop has been transitioning from a meatpacking district to a trendy area to live and dine.

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International Dispatch: Disproving Silence at the 2015 Istanbul Biennial

Activist Art, Architecture, Art Fairs, Ceramics, Collage, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Public Art, Sculpture, Street Art, Textiles, Video No Comments »
Theaster Gates. "The Anthem of Mu," 2015. Performance on the Bosphorus for "Saltwater: A Theory of Forms." /Photo: Mehmet Girgin.

Theaster Gates. “The Anthem of Mu,” 2015.
Performance on the Bosphorus for “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”/Photo: Mehmet Girgin

By Mariam Al Askari

“Guglielmo Marconi said every sound we ever make is still out there. Once generated, it fades but never dies away completely.” This idea not only encapsulates the work by Susan Philipsz for which it was written—the work features sounds of dripping water and underwater beacons—but also the 2015 Istanbul Biennial as a whole, which features countless artists and other collaborators, several of which hail from Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: INsite ONview/Matthew Rachman Gallery

Architecture, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Photography, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Kate Joyce, “INsite ONsite No.4.”

Kate Joyce, “INsite ONsite No.4.”

RECOMMENDED

“No one knows what it is like to live in a glass house,” claimed Edith Farnsworth, the original occupant and owner of the famous Farnsworth House designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Geof Oppenheimer/Block Museum of Art

Architecture, Design, Evanston, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Geoff Oppenheimer. "DRAMA," 2014–15. 9:16 running time. HD video, presentation carts, electronics.

Geof Oppenheimer. “DRAMA,” 2014–15.
9:16 running time. HD video, presentation carts, electronics.

RECOMMENDED

In his first solo museum exhibition, Chicago-based artist Geof Oppenheimer explores the economic and governing forces that regulate the Western world. These forces, which he has dubbed “Big Bosses,” are the foundation of American praxis that manifest in our sociological and physical architecture, inflicting omnipotent pressures. Oppenheimer concludes that these pressures, and our subsequent response to them, ultimately serve as the defining factor of our existence—that ecstasy can only be achieved through internal equilibrium between states of compression and release.

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Eye Exam: Design Within Reach

Activist Art, Architecture, Art Schools, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Kunlé Adeyemi. "Makoko Floating School, Lagos, Nigeria, " 2012. Image by NLÉ.

Kunlé Adeyemi. “Makoko Floating School, Lagos, Nigeria, ” 2012. Image by NLÉ.

By Elliot J. Reichert

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, I will admit that the whole thing makes me a bit nervous. Read the rest of this entry »