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: 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 »

News: 96ACRES Seeks Art Proposals for Cook County Jail

Activist Art, Multimedia, News etc., Public Art No Comments »

TransformingSpace

The Cook County Department of Corrections, sitting on ninety-six acres on the West Side, is one of the nation’s largest single site pre-detention facilities. The independent, grassroots, social justice organization 96ACRES is seeking artistic projects to generate what they call “alternative narratives reflecting on power and responsibility by presenting insightful and informed collective responses for the transformation of a space that occupied 96 acres, but has a much larger social footprint.” Projects may include visual art, audio pieces, performance, new media works, writing, photography, design, prints and installation with particular interest to works at the site of the jail in an allocated space along its north exterior wall. Proposals are due July 28, and approved projects would be realized this fall. Base grants of $2,500 or up to $5,000 are available, funded by the Chicago Community Trust, Special Service Area #25, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Field Foundation of Illinois.

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News: Video Game Art Gallery Opens in Chicago

Logan Square, Multimedia, News etc., Prints No Comments »
"Battleship Bay" from Irrational Games, digital art print, 39" x 70"

“Battleship Bay” from Irrational Games, digital art print, 39″ x 70″

When Chaz Evans and Jonathan Kinkley met while studying art history at UIC a few years ago, they embarked on a dream to start a gallery project that celebrated the work of artists who create the spectacular visual experiences in video games. On August 8, they will launch the new Video Game Art Gallery, with their first exhibition hosted by Galerie F in Logan Square. This initial foray into a physical show of fine art prints is part of VGA’s work across their online platform as well as through exhibition programming. In an email, Evans explains, “We are working with this hybrid model as it fits well with the media we are showing: it exists both as live software but also as framed images.” The gallery’s website is set up so that collectors can purchase prints that range in price from $75 to $400. Some of the games from which the inkjet prints have been drawn are widely popular, such as “BioShock: Infinite.” But Evans and Kinkley also hope to introduce audiences to visually stunning hidden gems like “MirrorMoon EP,” a first-person puzzler by Santa Ragione with concept art by Gabriele Brombin. Playable demos of these and other games will complement the prints on view at Galerie F in August. Other future pop-up exhibitions are currently in the works.

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Review: Simon Starling/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture No Comments »
Simon Starling. "Bird in Space," imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

Simon Starling. “Bird in Space,” imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

RECOMMENDED

In “Metamorphology,” British artist Simon Starling’s survey of photographs, installations and film, you do not mind having to read the accompanying wall texts—you actually look forward to it. This is a testament to the intrinsic inveiglement of Starling’s explorations of the titular phenomena; rarely does work so heavily dependent upon exposition avoid coming off as pedagogic so finely as Starling does here. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Encounters at the Edge of the Forest/Gallery 400

Multimedia, Photography, Video No Comments »
Ariane Littman. "The Olive Tree," video (still), 2012

Ariane Littman. “The Olive Tree,” video (still), 2012

This group exhibition of contemporary artworks from around the globe focuses on the way humans have engaged with the potent longevity of trees to establish borders and identity. The forests in many of the works are both witness and collaborator to mass violent acts; the trees become sinister national monuments.

Andreas Rutkauskas’ “Cutline” photo series shows a straight path through the wilderness between Canada and Vermont. The clear swath cut through the forest evokes an interminable road to nowhere, remote and isolated, yet manicured to perfection. Steven Rowell’s photographs of the Brandenburg forest reveal ruins of Nazi and Soviet camps, mining operations, and nuclear waste storage facilities. Many of the documentary images in “Encounters” expose how the use of trees as natural barriers manufactures the natural and conceals power. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Graham Foundation 2014 Grantees Include Nine Chicago Projects

Digital Art, Gold Coast/Old Town, Multimedia, News etc. No Comments »
Adam Schreiber. "Untitled," chromogenic print, 2013

Adam Schreiber. “Untitled,” chromogenic print, 2013

Earlier this month the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts announced its 2014 grant cycle, awarding over $520,000 to sixty-eight projects that further the Graham’s mission of supporting work that expands and reconsiders ideas in architecture through exhibitions, films, publications and research projects across a range of media. Of the many international grantees, nine are based in Chicago, at close range to the Graham, which is housed in the historic Madlener House in our city’s Gold Coast. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo/Museum of Contemporary Art

Galleries & Museums, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Sculpture No Comments »
Frida Kahlo. "Arbol de la Esperanza (Tree of Hope)," 1946

Frida Kahlo. “Arbol de la Esperanza (Tree of Hope),” 1946

RECOMMENDED

Reprising two of the paintings that appeared in Frida Kahlo’s solo exhibition at the MCA in 1978 (her first in the United States), “Unbound” presents Kahlo as a political activist and art world transgressor who laid the foundation for many discourses that continue in the practices of more than thirty contemporary artists in the exhibition. Curators Julie Rodrigues Widholm and Abigail Winograd look beyond Kahlo’s celebrity status and tumultuous personal life to illuminate her artistic output as indicative of a preemptive concern for cultural issues including globalization, feminism and civil rights. Themed around treatments of bodies as both political entities and affective forces, Kahlo is here contextualized by artists of color, women and LGBTQ perspectives who boldly comment on the performance of gender as well as oppressions and injustices such as homophobia, violence against women and the AIDS epidemic. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: SpotLight/Elmhurst Art Museum

Installation, Multimedia No Comments »
Jeroen Nelemans, "Mondrian 2," 2011

Jeroen Nelemans, “Mondrian 2,” 2011

RECOMMENDED

“SpotLight” casts a wide net to emphasize how light plays a varied role in several contemporary artists’ practices. This exhibition presents light as its subject while employing it as its medium to comment on art history, memory, the artistic process and transformation. At a time when technology and materials are overabundant, the goal of “SpotLight” is to use one of the simplest tools to speak to our contemporary moment. Light is a critical tool to any art form, whether it is used as a tool to examine a subject or as a means to produce an image.

Jeroen Nelemans’ laser light interpretations of two well-known Piet Mondrian paintings are perhaps the most striking examples of the ephemeral nature of light, even if in this case the light is completely artificial. Employing a small army of laser levels, Nelemans recreates the paintings’ angles using nothing more than the red beam of light. The pieces hover above the surface of the gallery wall, giving the works a false sense of dimension and depth. As the batteries wear down in each laser level, the lines connecting the work together slowly dissipate, and the relationship to the original painting dissolves as well.
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Review: Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North/Newberry Library

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Empty_Sleeve

RECOMMENDED

There was a time when America’s sectional differences were settled with guns, not merely squabbles in Congress. The Newberry Library’s current exhibition, “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North” highlights an oft-forgotten aspect of this country’s greatest crisis. The dim lighting and genteel surfaces of the Newberry resemble a Civil War-era parlor. But this is where the northern home front was waged—in homes and in the fevered minds of soldiers’ families.  Read the rest of this entry »