Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: A History of Coal/Corner

Art Books, Avondale, Installation, Multimedia, Video No Comments »
Philip Hartigan. "Diorama,"  paper, cardboard, clay, acrylic, paper-litho transfers, electric motors. Photo by Adam Liam Rose

Philip Hartigan. “Diorama,”
paper, cardboard, clay, acrylic, paper-litho transfers, electric motors.
Photo by Adam Liam Rose


That coal is extracted from veins speaks to its intractable relationship with modern civilization, of which it provided for no small part of the modernization; it is the precious dead resource, requisite for (what we now deem to be) life, and one imagines the jugular running within the rugose hillside, a lacing through tellurian viscera, the ancient refuse of violent nascence and convection-driven tumult, a black line drawn hard through bone and hewed through blood and running right up the sides into the head of Philip Hartigan’s grandfather. Corrugated as his environs, the head crowns a dioramic vignette, in one of Corner’s welcoming windows, which comprises the sculptural component of Hartigan’s installation concerning the coal running through his own veins. Read the rest of this entry »

News: ThingStead Press Releases New Publication on February 26

Art Books, Art Schools, News etc., Prints No Comments »
Chris Reeves and Aaron Walker's ThingStead press on view at UIC's Gallery 400 lobby

Chris Reeves and Aaron Walker’s ThingStead press on view at UIC’s Gallery 400 lobby

Next time you’re on or near the UIC campus, stop into Gallery 400 and pick up a copy of ThingStead, PhD art history candidate Chris Reeves and MFA candidate Aaron Walker’s small-press print installation project in the lobby. The two took over the space, which is already bustling with daily foot traffic, and turned it into a checkout lane where patrons can peruse and “take-away” a copy of their latest publication. Each booklet is composed of “reimagined drafts and excerpts” from artists and writers on a specific topic, theme or work to create an amalgamation of ideas or “excursus,” as they like to call it.

“Legend and History,” by Columbus, Ohio-based artist, Ryland Wharton is released today, February 26. Reeves describes the book as “mystical concrete poetry,” as it is a reproduction of passages from M. Caron and S. Hutin’s “The Alchemists.”
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Review: DOGS CHASE BALLS/Carrie Secrist Gallery

Art Books, Installation, Painting, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Josh Reames. "Infinite Scroll (#1)" and "Infinite Scroll (#2)," both 2014, acrylic on canvas

Josh Reames. “Infinite Scroll (#1)” and “Infinite Scroll (#2),” both 2014, acrylic on canvas


DOGS CHASE BALLS is a show for, (occasionally) by, and about our four-legged companions, with many of the works situated low to the ground for convenience of canine access and interaction (dogs are welcome and frequently present in the gallery throughout the run of the show). NO SPACE, the Mexico-based duo comprised of cool kids Débora Delmar and Andrew Birk, curated this group effort and contributed two pieces. Tennis balls stenciled with their logo are scattered throughout the gallery; evidence of interaction exists in the form of ricochet marks on Secrist’s white walls. A video loop showing happy pups using these props projects onto the floor, harkening to the curatorial impetus for the show (witnessing the unadulterated joy of a dog playing with a ball). The film is a virtual who’s who of Chicago’s art pupperati: breakout stars are Vincent Uribe’s Milo and Wolfie Rawk’s Rudi. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives

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From left to right: Virgie Tovar, Nia King (editor), Magnoliah Black and Ryka Aoki. Photo by Pendarvis Harshaw.

Virgie Tovar, Nia King (editor), Magnoliah Black and Ryka Aoki/Photo: Pendarvis Harshaw.


“Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives” is a collection of sixteen interviews with artists working in the performing, literary and visual arts. In the foreword, writer Toi Scott states, “Gathering and sharing our stories—expressing our voices through art—is and always has been necessary for queer and trans people of color’s survival.” This book is a survival guide for queer and trans artists of color and for all artists, especially those living and working on the margins. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Lilli Carré/Western Exhibitions

Art Books, Drawings, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Lilli Carré. "Solution Drawing (no. 2)," 2014, maze: pencil on paper, solution: colored pencil on paper

Lilli Carré. “Solution Drawing (no. 2),” 2014,
maze: pencil on paper,
solution: colored pencil on paper


Humans make mazes for themselves so they can solve them. Crosswords, sudoku, Rubik’s Cubes: we’re frustrated with the concept of being lost, but we’re also fascinated with the process of unlocking, the discernment involved and the discovery that happens along the way.

Lilli Carré’s “The Pleasure of Getting Lost” explores this mentality through drawings, animations and a book. Carré’s multidisciplinary practice successfully makes visual the array of sensations associated with the concept of being lost. She invites viewers to lose themselves with her, to follow her process and even step into her roles as creator, explorer and solver of the puzzles. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Kavi Gupta Opens Art Bookstore in West Loop

Art Books, Comics, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Kavi Gupta Gallery's new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery’s new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery (KGG) has announced that it will open Editions (not to be confused with Edition, the satellite art fair held in the West Loop during Expo Chicago), a curated art bookstore, next Friday, September 19 with a book launch for “Seen/Unseen” a new artist book project by Tavares Strachan. Editions will feature monographs, zines, theory and criticism, as well as rare artist editions and out-of-print art books by major contemporary artists. The store will carry books that KGG has played some part in producing, as well as work by artists on their roster including blanket, tote bag and plate editions by Mickalene Thomas; a 3D-printed rock produced by Glenn Kaino for the occasion of his exhibition at the gallery’s 219 North Elizabeth Street location; placemats designed by Jessica Stockholder; and artist books by Scott Treleaven. Along with art-theory powerhouses like semiotext(e), Editions will stock books from local publishers including Green Lantern Press, Poor Farm Press and Sara Ranchouse. The store is located in the same building as Kavi Gupta’s space at 835 West Washington, just down the hall from their exhibition space. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Medium Cool Book Fair Returns This Weekend

Art Books, Design, News etc., Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Andrew Holmquist.  Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Andrew Holmquist.
Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Now in its second year, Chicago’s young art book fair has expanded for its latest iteration this weekend, spread across two days, at two sites, with two different focuses. Founded by designer Ria Roberts, Medium Cool is one of the most recent additions to Chicago’s literati culture of fairs, independent presses and book-minded artist projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: The Artist’s Library

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Mindy Rose Schwartz's art studio library

Mindy Rose Schwartz’s art studio library

By Jason Foumberg

To coincide with Newcity’s annual feature, Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago, and the Printers Row Lit Fest (June 7-8), we asked a handful of visual artists for recommendations and anecdotes about books that have had profound influence on their artistic perspectives.

Mindy Rose Schwartz: How to gift a book. My favorite book to gift is one I got as a gift from a dear friend who is a flawless gift giver—”On Ugliness,” by Umberto Eco. The pictures and writing are fascinating and beautiful and, of course, disgusting. You can’t put it down. It’s a great and satisfying combination of creepiness, humor and kind of a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not every gift that can deliver all that. Mindy Rose Schwartz shows through June 29 at Queer Thoughts, 1640 West 18th, #3. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: A Handmade Utopia

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Trailing characters involved in the establishment of an aspirational interdisciplinary research site in a late 1960s pioneering Southern California, we enter the world behind the new book by Robert Kett and Anna Kryczka, “Learning by Doing at the Farm.” Students, researchers and indigenous “informants” coalesce and cohabitate space on an off-site ranch of the University of California, Irvine. Goals of the experiment include simulating native environments and possible realities. Rooted in the research of research, “Learning by Doing at the Farm” elevates the historical narrative of the loosely engineered engagements of the Farm to near sublime status, offering an aerial view that hovers between waxing counter-culture poetic and a just-out-of-reach synthesis of the relevance of events taking place there.

Having approached the book with a budding assumption that the insides reflected motivations of a new farmers movement—a personal projection of dreamed alternative living—I’m left with the word Farm ringing in my ear. Its application stands rooted in an echoed yearning for a pastoral life beyond societal confines. Its use offers cultural insight to an era when intellectualism assumed the foreminds of the dominant class, and actual farming had fallen out of sight and out of mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: New Books by Artists

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Even though we often see artworks by artists, it is also good to hear their voices. Print is alive and well; artists help make it so.


Shifter, issue 20
Edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Matthew Metzger

The special theme of Shifter issue 20 is “What We Can Knot.” (It puts a positive spin on the cliché “he who cannot, teaches,” and offers anecdotal antidotes to James Elkins’ 2001 book, “Why Art Cannot Be Taught.”) What are art instructors thinking about today? What is the current state of art education? More than fifty contributors discuss the roles of professors, mentors, pupils, muses and Top Chef challenges. Many of the statements are formatted as conversations through which a collective understanding is talked out (this is an ideal of the classroom seminar) on timely topics such as de-skilling, re-skilling, friendship versus mentorship, CalArts versus SAIC, and the fate of the adjunct teacher. “Do part-time teachers work craft-services in the edu-tainment business?” asks Andrew Falkowski in his essay. Read the rest of this entry »