Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Burn It Down/Heaven Gallery

Installation, Painting, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Larry Lee's installation in Heaven Gallery's "Burn It Down"

Larry Lee. “Monument for Saul Alinsky as ribbed condominium,” 2014, polystyrene, enamel, acetate and Sharpie

RECOMMENDED

Why do so many of our riots end in flames? Why do we feel drawn to sit around a campfire? We burn, in part, because fire is what birthed civilization. Fire, like man, can destroy what is old, be the life-giver to something new, or consume us all. Curator of “Burn It Down” Paul Hopkin explores fire’s dualities, and our complex relationship to it.

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Expo Dispatches: Stick to the Perimeter

Art Fairs, Installation, Multimedia 1 Comment »
Kate Sierzputowski in the most sought-after seat at EXPO (Steve Atkins "Indifference Cure") (2nd Floor)

Kate Sierzputowski in the most sought-after seat at EXPO (Steve Atkins “Indifference Cure”) (2nd Floor)

In news that will surprise no one, the opening day of Expo Chicago was still reliably the best place to witness outrageous art world social posturing, unintentional relational aesthetics and the cultural phenomenon of taking photos of things with an iPad. Everyone was dressed to buy, judge or party (if you’re unsure which camp they fall in, check the shoes) and many booths practiced outright selfie-baiting, ensuring high exposure on local social networks (file that under brilliant marketing techniques.)

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Expo Dispatches: Blah Blah Blah, Bright Inclusions in Expo and Edition, and Champagne Bubbles

Art Fairs, Collage, Installation, Painting, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, West Loop 1 Comment »
Eric May. "Eat in the Streets," 2011

Eric May. “Eat in the Streets,” 2011 (Booth #740)

Bag of raw almonds for energy boost, false lashes stowed in my handbag for evening-wear eye-drama boost, press badge and a prayer for stamina: Expo Chicago’s press preview yesterday rolled directly into the Vernissage party that dispersed across town to a boat party, a disco dance and dishes of art world gossip: which gallery’s staff is jumping ship? who’s leaving their long-term gallery representation? who’s been exploring her ‘lesbian side’? who’s pregnant? and so on. Thursday’s kickoff to the fair was over-stimulating and today’s shaping up the same. I stopped for lunch and worked out some thoughts about patterns in the artworks exhibited, highlights and rare occasions for profundity for Expo visitors who are art lovers if not big-time collectors. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Your Fair Survival Guide and Must-See Itinerary

Activist Art, Art Fairs, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art, West Loop No Comments »
Ai Weiwei. "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

Ai Weiwei. “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

The third year of The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art (EXPO) is upon us. There is much to be seen this weekend both on and off the Pier, but no one can do it all. (I had a hard time even getting through the encyclopedic press materials in a timely manner.) So strap on your sensible shoes, paint your face like Ziggy Stardust, and keep your eyes peeled for Shaq; here are my recommendations, must-sees and predictions for what’s most likely to elicit schadenfreude.

Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass or $30 for the weekend. The fair is open 11am-7pm Friday and Saturday and 11am-6pm Sunday. Unless otherwise noted, all events are taking place at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 East Grand). Read the rest of this entry »

Social Justice at an Art Fair? Site-specific and Nonprofit Artworks at Expo Chicago [UPDATED]

Activist Art, Art Fairs, Installation, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Alfredo Jaar. "Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness," 1995, neon, 65.75 x 216 inches

Alfredo Jaar. “Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness,” 1995, neon, 65.75 x 216 inches

By Alyssa Moxley

Visitors to this year’s Expo Chicago can expect to see an abundance of works outside commercial gallery booths that speak to ecological threats, the consequences of international conflict and similar socially motivated creative concerns. Human Rights Watch presents a large-scale neon installation by Alfredo Jaar, “Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness,” working with text dealing with generational learning from Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe. The Laumeier Sculpture Park opens their World’s Fair archives to New-Delhi based RAQS Media Collective, who will invite visitors to participate in a project elucidating colonial ideologies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bryan Zanisnik/Aspect/Ratio

Installation, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Bryan Zanisnik. "Aquarium Painting,"  2014, still from 2 channel HD video, 3 minutes 21 seconds

Bryan Zanisnik. “Aquarium Painting,”
2014, still from 2 channel HD video, 3 minutes 21 seconds

RECOMMENDED

Newly opened at Aspect/Ratio, an exhibition by New York artist Bryan Zanisnik considers the relatively compact space of its gallery as it presents viewers with scaled-down versions of the artist’s practice. Zanisnik, known for his large-scale installations of discarded paraphernalia that strongly reference suburban kitsch and are arranged to create chaotic yet aesthetically pleasing sculptures, gives us a taste of his interests in this show—absurdity, humor and family, infused with a nostalgia for the past. Read the rest of this entry »

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4–7 [updated]

Andersonville, Bronzeville, Collage, Drawings, Edgewater, Evanston, Fall Preview, Garfield Park, Installation, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Sculpture, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Video, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Andrew Falkowski. "Pink Monochrome," 2014

Andrew Falkowski. “Pink Monochrome,” 2014

Thursday, September 4


LOOP

Dan Ramirez, painting
Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson
Opening reception: 5:30pm-7pm, through September 30
(Members only opening, viewing by appointment only)

SUBURBS

Anthony Iacuzzi and Christopher Schneberger, photography
Perspective Gallery, 1310-1/2B Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Opening reception: 5pm-8pm, through September 28

Amy Vogel, mixed-media survey exhibition
Cleve Carney Art Gallery at College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn
Opening reception: 12pm-2pm, through October 25

Taehoon Kim and Barbara Diener, large scale sculpture and photographic installation
Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 West College, Palos Hills
Opening reception: 3pm–5pm, through September 18 and October 23 respectively Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Leslie Hewitt

Installation, Video No Comments »
Leslie Hewitt. "Untitled Structures," dual channel video installation, 2012

Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young. “Untitled Structures,” dual channel video installation, 2012

Sifting through the black-and-white photographs from the Menil Collection, Leslie Hewitt was disarmed by the quiet moments of everyday life found amidst the turbulent marches, violent mobs and impassioned speeches of the Civil Rights Movement. Borrowing a glance, a gesture or a pose, the artist transformed the archive of 230 photographs into a cinematic meditation on memory.

“I was often overwhelmed by the flatness of the photographic image, how its limits—the geometry of it—are often so apparent to me,” Hewitt reflects as we talked late into the afternoon. “From the very beginning, I grappled with the border created by the square or the rectangle of a given image.” In a two-channel video projection “Untitled (Structures)” (2012), the artist attempts to expand the two-dimensional space of the photograph. The quivering light of the projector illuminates architectural ghosts and invites the viewer to step into crumbling urban ruins. From Memphis to Chicago, the dilapidated structures of the Universal Life Insurance Company, the Johnson Publishing headquarters (publisher of Ebony and Jet) and the Rosenwald Apartments flicker across the screen, so haunting one can almost smell the amber and mahogany of age. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Valpuri Kylmänen and Ari Pelkonen/Western Exhibitions

Installation, Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of "Helsingistä" at Western Exhibitions

Installation view of “Helsingistä” at Western Exhibitions

RECOMMENDED

Though they appear vigorous, the bold gestures and painterly strokes that evoke the heady days of 1950s expressionism in Ari Pelkonen’s paintings, currently on view in Western Exhibitions’ “Helsingistä,” are actually the result of woodblock printing: a slow and methodical technique antithetical to the heroic gestures it emulates. Evoking pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein—who pilloried the dramatic look of the “tenth street touch” in overblown satires such as “Big Painting No. 6”—Pelkonen’s take is refreshingly free of cynicism. Works such as the wine-stained “Hold” offer instead earnest explorations of surface and touch coupled with an interest in figuration versus abstraction and interpretation versus recognition.

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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 »