Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

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 »

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.

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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 »

Review: Gordon Hall/Night Club

Installation No Comments »
Gordon Hall. "MIDDLE DOUBLE," installation view

Gordon Hall. “MIDDLE DOUBLE,” installation view

RECOMMENDED

“MIDDLE DOUBLE,” a site-specific exhibition by up-and-coming New York-based artist Gordon Hall, is on display at Night Club, a relatively new apartment gallery in Bucktown. Hall, whose work covers a lot of ground including sculpture, writing and performance, is deeply concerned with platforms and the range of corporeal possibilities that objects and spaces have to offer. Having spent two weeks working on the show in the “gallery space”—a small yet well-lit repurposed bedroom—they present a set of understated sculptures and architectural interventions that function to subtly change our perception of its interiors.

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