Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Phantoms in the Dirt/Museum of Contemporary Photography

Loop, Photography No Comments »
Richard Mosse. "Sugar Ray," chromogenic development print, 2012

Richard Mosse. “Sugar Ray,” chromogenic development print, 2012

RECOMMENDED

“Phantoms in the Dirt” at The Museum of Contemporary Photography, guest curated by the MCA’s Karsten Lund, takes a literal approach to the photographic treatment of detritus, while showcasing a number of works with more subtle allusions to dirt, dust, baseness and the essential materiality of the photographic process.

The exhibition is introduced by a number of richly material works. Harold Mendez’s installation “Let the shadows in to play their part” plasters the back wall of the museum’s first floor in eucalyptus bark, fleck’s of black silicone carbide and other pigments. Richard Mosse’s palpable photographs of a surreal cotton-candy landscape are in fact images of the Congolese countryside shot on Kodak Aerochrome, a defunct infrared film which renders vegetation in brilliant pinks and reds. Read the rest of this entry »

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4-7

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 »

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) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Women in Focus/Chicago Photography Center

Lakeview, Photography No Comments »
Kimbua Chema's "Windows to the Soul"

Kambua Chema’s “Windows to the Soul”

RECOMMENDED

In this inaugural exhibit mounted by Women in Focus, a new collective of female photographers ranging from beginners to professionals who practice the gamut of straight modernist genres from the architectural detail through street photography to the portrait, the intimate close-up images steal the show. Among the sixteen artists—each contributing two images here—the strongest and most penetrating impression is Kambua Chema’s close-up color study of a Muslim woman’s lustrous eyes appearing through the slit in a deep black veil that covers the rest of the frame, which was in Kenya’s eastern coastal region. Look closely into those eyes and see reflected exquisitely the street scene to which the woman’s vision is directed. Chema has titled the image, ironically, “Windows to the Soul.” Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of a Gallery: Comfort Station

Gallerist profile, Logan Square, Photography, Public Art No Comments »
The Comfort Station in Logan Square

The Comfort Station in Logan Square

My first exposure to Comfort Station coincided with Matthew Hoffman’s 2013 exhibition “Independence.” A mysterious placard was erected in the shadow of the Illinois Centennial Monument. Like most of Hoffman’s work, it was aggressively present on social networks. In the background of some of the photos was a puzzling Tudor-style building that looked comically out of place in trendy Logan Square. The text read: “A motivational sign in a grassy field is nice and all, but it’s not going to do the hard work for you. That’s up to you.”

This wording resonates with the ethos and initiative of Comfort Station. It is a unique architectural landmark that places equal emphasis on both programming and exhibitions. In a recent conversation I had with both of the directors, Jordan Martins characterized their vision as such: “We identify as an ‘art space’ not just due to the exhibitions, but through all of our programs as a totality. The most important thing for us is the plurality, multiplicity and simultaneity of these events and programs and how they activate the space.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Summer Home/Schneider Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Jon Horvath. "Portrait of My Mother, " inkjet print, 2013

Jon Horvath. “Portrait of My Mother, ” inkjet print, 2013

RECOMMENDED

We stare at the image of a perfectly flat tile wall—an obdurate barrier—with red, yellow, brown and mainly blue and blue-gray components. Some of the tiles are chipped, and the upper-center of the mosaic is smeared and discolored. That is one of Jon Horvath’s renditions of home—distressed and implacable, yet attracting. Then we turn to the opposite gallery wall and see a portrait of an older woman standing on snow-covered ground, with a distant line of denuded trees behind her. She is wrapped from head to toe in a white winter coat and she glares at the camera with tight, downturned lips; this “Portrait of My Mother” is another view of home for Horvath. The power of those two images, facing each other in the gallery, creates a force field that threatens to crush the images of the five other gifted artists in this group show reflecting on domesticity. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Larry Snider/Douglas Dawson Gallery

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Larry Snider. "Cleaning Mosque, India," 2013

Larry Snider, “Cleaning Mosque, India,” 2013

RECOMMENDED

Taking clear and deceptively unassuming straight color images, globetrotting photographer Larry Snider has divided his most recent work between posed portraits of Tibetans in China and mainly depopulated interiors of old public buildings from the USA, Denmark, Cuba and India. The highlights of the show are the interiors, in which Snider has positioned his camera to capture intriguing designs composed of architectural details, displaying up-front a formalist side of his vision that he had previously subsumed under a concern with emotional content that characterizes his humanist portraits. Whereas in the past, it was important to know where Snider had shot his images since they function as documents of the life of a particular place, that is less significant now, because the interest of his interiors resides in the internal arrangement of photographic values (light, texture, line and shape, for example) rather than in their external references. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Susan Aurinko and Tammy Kohl/Takohl Gallery

Photography, West Loop No Comments »
Susan Aurinko. “Je suis cy envoiee de par Dieu, le roi du ciel”

Susan Aurinko. “Je suis cy envoiee de par Dieu, le roi du ciel”

RECOMMENDED

Joan of Arc. Who was Joan of Arc, the teenage Christian visionary who led armies against the English invaders of France in the fifteenth century, and was killed by them at the age of nineteen in 1431? There are no images of her from the time she lived, but there are statues and figurines representing her made over the succeeding centuries. In a photographic quest driven by a sense of connection to the remarkable heroine, Susan Aurinko has sought out those objects and shot them as portraits, each one expressing a different mood, but all of them unified by what Tammy Kohl, who has enriched the exhibit by her jewelry referencing Joan’s time, calls “strength.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Censorship Accusations after Artwork Ousted from Exhibition

Logan Square, News etc., Photography No Comments »
"Milshire SRO Blanket," fleece blanket printed with original photography and memorial statement, 80" x 60". Part of Amie Sell's "Home Sweet Home" project that was removed from MAAF without her consent.

“Milshire SRO Blanket,” fleece blanket printed with original photography and memorial statement, 80″ x 60.” Part of Amie Sell’s “Home Sweet Home” project that was removed from MAAF without her consent.

This year’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival (MAAF) became a site for controversy when Amie Sell’s site-specific installation dealing with affordable housing and displacement through neighborhood development was taken down without the artist’s consent the day the show was meant to open. In a thorough account on Sell’s website, she states that it was Mark Fishman, a real estate developer who owns the building in which her work was to be shown, who was responsible for shutting down the exhibition. Fishman is directly criticized in “Home Sweet Home,” the ongoing project Sell intended to exhibit, and also sits on the I Am Logan Square board, the nonprofit organization that sponsors MAAF along with other cultural events and career development opportunities for artists.

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Review: Andy Karol/Beauty & Brawn

Logan Square, Photography No Comments »
"Alexandra," black-and-white archival inkjet print on metal

“Alexandra,” black-and-white archival inkjet print on metal

RECOMMENDED

On a mission of social enlightenment, Andy Karol’s project “Eden: Expressions in Gender” seeks to create a photographic “human space” by taking small-format black-and-white “fine art nude portraits” in wooded areas around Chicago. The people depicted represent all conceivable variations on gender identity, and there are many more of those than the uninitiated might think. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Paul Clark/Gallery 19

Photography No Comments »
"Barrier #111," archival digital print from a scanned negative

“Barrier #111,” archival digital print from a scanned negative

RECOMMENDED

An exceptional practitioner of modernist straight photography, Paul Clark has relentlessly pursued the project of intensifying the black-and-white abstraction for the last twenty years. At each stage of his journey of exploration, Clark’s abstractions have become more dense and complex, with new elements and more challenging problems resulting in some of the richest and most compact images in contemporary photography. Read the rest of this entry »