Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Eye Exam: Hard to See

Digital Art, Drawings, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Performance No Comments »
Salvation Army in South Africa anti-abuse campaign image

Salvation Army in South Africa anti-abuse campaign image

By Matt Morris

Seeing is not a solitary activity, and it’s not simple. Perception is first of all dependent on context, not only because the specificities of an experience are ascertained through contrast, but also due to the ways each of our unique acculturations informs how we see. Comprehending visual information then turns out to be a social activity, evidenced most clearly in the debates that arise when we don’t see things the same way. And of course, these turbulent discourses around what is perceived are at the expense of appreciating just how much goes unseen—through suppression, movement beyond our sensory faculties, or systemically strategic elisions in how the seen social is structured. This then is one of the often tacit but urgent responsibilities of visual culture and art: to pressure and interrogate the boundaries of perception, to render the invisible visible. Changing how we see is first perceptual but actually political work, and it’s being done across viral Internet memes, sharp-witted turns in how organizations understand multicultural diversity, and artistic research into invisibility. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Chicago Collaboration Among 2015 Joyce Awards Recipients

Multimedia, News etc., Performance No Comments »
Sanford Biggers, Sandra Delgado, Nari Ward and Helado Negro, 2015 Joyce Awards Recipients

From left to right; Sanford Biggers (photo credit Alex Freund), Sandra Delgado (photo credit Janna Giacoppo), Nari Ward (courtesy of the artist Lehmann Maupin New York and Hong Kong) and Roberto Carlos Lange (photo credit Molly Donahue).

The Joyce Foundation recently announced the four collaborative teams that are the recipients of the 2015 Joyce Awards, receiving an award in the sum of $50,000 each. The four partnerships are between artists of color and prominent arts and cultural organizations within the Great Lakes region in order to present new work specifically designed to engage with the communities where the projects will take root, while also serving as a model for the rest of the country.

This year’s awardees hail from boisterous art cities and include Helado Negro (moniker for musician and composer Roberto Carlos Lange) pairing with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series from the Twin Cities, Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward and Detroit’s Power House Productions, Colombian-American actress and playwright Sandra Delgado in collaboration with Chicago’s Teatro Vista and interdisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). Read the rest of this entry »

The Bomber’s Life: Steppenwolf’s “This Is Modern Art” Looks at the Graffiti Artist

Lincoln Square, Performance, Street Art No Comments »
This Is Modern Art (based on true events), photo by Saverio Truglia

This Is Modern Art (based on true events)/Photo: Saverio Truglia

In 2010, the anonymous graffiti crew Made U Look (MUL) executed a graffiti bombing of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing. Under cover of snowfall, they painted a vibrant, text-based fifty-foot mural bookended by the phrases “Modern Art… Made You Look.” This unsanctioned act of institution critique challenged accessibility while calling attention to exclusion of graffiti from the canon of contemporary art. Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the revered ensemble’s teen-focused offshoot, has revisited the event that sparked these debates, concluding its revolution-focused season with “This Is Modern Art (based on true events).”

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News: Donelle Woolford comes to Logan Center for the Arts [UPDATED]

Hyde Park, News etc., Performance No Comments »
Joe Scanlan (left) and Jennifer Kidwell (right/ Ian Douglas 2012).

Joe Scanlan (left) and Jennifer Kidwell (right/ Ian Douglas 2012).

The University of Chicago’s (UChicago) department of visual arts (DoVA) will bring Joe Scanlan and his controversial fictional character Donelle Woolford, who will be depicted by Jennifer Kidwell, to the Logan Center for the Arts this Thursday, February 19, at 7pm. Scanlan received a lot of heat during and after the 2014 Whitney Biennial for his Donelle Woolford project for which he, a white male Princeton professor, invented a black female artist character to assume responsibility for a body of work he created. Scanlan’s creation raises a multitude of convoluted questions, with words like “white male privilege,” and “conceptual black face” representing just a few of the issues raised in the uproar. In an email to Newcity, Scanlan writes, “Jennifer Kidwell and I let everyone else have their say about this project last year, from the United States to London to Capetown to Aukland. So now we’ll take a turn responding to our critics.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Ten x Ten 2015 Pairs Improvisations by Musicians and Artists

Multimedia, News etc., Performance, Prints 1 Comment »
Ten x Ten Preview 2013

Ten x Ten Preview 2013

The 2015 round of Ten x Ten collaborations between musicians and visual artists will start with a kickoff event this Sunday, February 8. Under the curatorial supervision of three diverse Chicago organizations—Elastic Arts, Homeroom and Spudnik Press—this fourth iteration of Ten x Ten has grown into four events over the next eight months hosted at several venues: Spudnik Press Cooperative, Constellation and Elastic Arts. It’s a definite scaling up from past years, which consisted of only one event. With Elastic Arts Foundation as guest curators—which includes saxophonist Dave Rempis and composer Paul Giallorenzo—the 2015 project highlights jazz and probes how artists working across different media interpret improvisation. The series organizers musician and visual artist Jordan Martins with bassoonist and composer Katherine Young will start this cycle’s inaugural event with a free lecture addressing improvisation and the use of visual symbols outside the boundaries of traditional music notation. About the project, Martins writes on his personal website, “I‘m pleased to be participating in this event, which is a partnership with some of my favorite Chicago powerhouses.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: DCASE Hosts REVIVAL over Four Nights Pritzker Pavilion

Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art No Comments »
Documentation from REVIVAL 2013

Documentation from REVIVAL 2013

Tomorrow night is the start of “REVIVAL 2015: Source Evolution,” four evenings of interactive performance experience at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage at Millennium Park, located at 201 East Randolph as part of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ (DCASE) OnEdge performance series. REVIVAL has received a two-week residency at the Pavilion during which collaborators Eric Hoff and Jesse Young present a line of exploration for their artists and attendees to consider: “We can go back home. Can we go forward home?” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Puppies Puppies/Courtney Blades

Installation, Performance, West Loop No Comments »
Puppies Puppies. "Gollum," 2014, performance and installation in sub-level of Courtney Blades

Installation view of Puppies Puppies’ “Gollum” at Courtney Blades

RECOMMENDED

Producing two concurrent shows in one space, Puppies Puppies occupies the top and bottom of the building that houses Courtney Blades—“Bathroom” above and “Gollum” appropriately down below. What might have been a gimmicky, plain exhibition has been realized toward intriguing ends that reconcile stark understatements with excessively idiosyncratic fantasies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Proximity of Consciousness: Art and Social Action/Sullivan Galleries

Activist Art, Art Schools, Installation, Loop, Performance, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view with "Publishing Clearing House" by Temporary Services

Installation view with “Publishing Clearing House” by Temporary Services

RECOMMENDED

“A Proximity of Consciousness” inaugurates SAIC’s season of lectures, book releases and a symposium dedicated to the art of affecting social change. The exhibition is curated by Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller and showcases new works by a powerhouse roster including Michael Rakowitz, Pablo Helguera, James Duignan, J. Morgan Puett, Paul Durica, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Dan Peterman, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Temporary Services, Rirkrit Tiravanija and many more collaborators. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Sarah Beth Woods

Artist Profiles, Logan Square, Performance, Sculpture No Comments »
Sarah Beth Woods at work on nail art related projects

Sarah Beth Woods at work on nail-art-related projects

“I don’t actually care about painting people’s nails,” Sarah Beth Woods confesses. “I love making these little nail tips and adorning them. I love the material and the kind of bricolage aspect of it. But I really love what happens when you put it out in the world for people to interact with. I think so much can happen when there are other people putting them on and sharing their stories.”

Woods’ artistic practice bridges the fine-art world with the beauty shop. She creates elaborate, exaggerated braided headdresses and press-on nail tips, often bringing them into fine-art contexts to adorn visitors. Neon-pink nail tips are decorated with oversized gold dollar signs. Red and blue shower poufs have been deconstructed and then woven into intricate hair weaves. Her ghetto-fabulous aesthetic looks straight out of a Nicki Minaj music video, yet her personal appearance is surprisingly neat and conservative. She keeps her hair and nails short, her friendly smile decorated only with clear lip gloss.

Last month, Woods opened her exhibition “Bricoleur” with an event she described as a “collaborative, interactive fiber installation and hair braiding experience” at Azimuth Projects, an apartment gallery in Logan Square with hair braider Fatimata Traore. Visitors took turns having their hair braided and then “accented” with shiny door-knocker earrings and colorful tassels. Woods’ sculptural works comprised of hairpieces and jewelry remain on display in the space. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Performance Art Venue Defibrillator Loses Lease and Suspends Programming

News etc., Performance 2 Comments »
Ieke Trink performing "The Order of Things" last year at Defibrillator Gallery. Photo by Isabelle McGuire.

Ieke Trinks performing “The Order of Things” last year at Defibrillator Gallery/Photo: Isabelle McGuire

The end of October marks the close of a four-year era when performance art venue Defibrillator Gallery will vacate its current home at 1136 North Milwaukee in Noble Square after losing the lease on their first floor, storefront location. In the gallery’s press release, they explain that this unexpected loss has necessitated suspending programming and scheduled events from the start of November until February 2015, when it hopes to be settled into a new location. Read the rest of this entry »