Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

News: Crusade for Art Funds Forthcoming Arts Publication Distributed on CTA Red Line

Art Books, Photography, Prints No Comments »
The forthcoming first issue of .LDOC, featuring photographer Meg T. Noe and writer Alex Jaros. Photo by: Joseph Wilcox.

The forthcoming first issue of .LDOC, featuring photographer Meg T. Noe and writer Alex Jaros. Photo by: Joseph Wilcox.

.LDOC, a biweekly one-sheet publication of photography and creative writing, will appear at select Red Line stops this October, offering the public a gateway to the arts. The publication received a $10,000 grant from Crusade for Art, funding the first year of the free print. Volunteers will hand out new issues on the first and third Monday of each month at Loyola Avenue, Belmont Avenue, Lake Street, 69th Street and 95th Street stops on the CTA Red Line. Newcity sat down with .LDOC founders, the wife and husband duo Danielle and Joseph Wilcox, to get the backstory on the new project. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Dan Farnum/Alibi Fine Art

Photography, Ravenswood No Comments »
Dan Farnum. "Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit," 2012 archival pigment print, 15” x 19”

Dan Farnum. “Open Fire Hydrant, Detroit,” 2012
archival pigment print, 15” x 19”


It’s all about social class in Dan Farnum’s color street portraits of mainly youth in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan and the outskirts of Detroit. Farnum is middle class and in his thirties, an early Millennial on the cusp between X and Y; and his subjects, white and black, come from the lower rungs of the economic ladder, though not abjectly poor. When he was young, Farnum heard and saw all the stories about tough and gritty Saginaw, a victim of deindustrialization, but he didn’t experience it directly. Now he is drawn to that site to come closer to the life that had been mediated to him so that he can connect with it more intimately and to test the sensibility of “prestige from below.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: David Hartt: Interval/Art Institute of Chicago

Installation, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Photography, Video No Comments »
David Hartt. "Interval V," 2014

David Hartt. “Interval V,” 2014


David Hartt’s “Interval” is a visually stunning multimedia installation of photography, video, sculpture and sound that approximates distances—physical, temporal, historical and sonic—to examine uneven development among geographic and economic peripheries and the global forces that centralize capital accumulation. Set to a haunting score and evocatively documented in high-definition video and large-format photographs, Hartt’s camera records everyday moments in Sakhalin Island—a historically contested territory between mainland Russia and Japan—and the city of Whitehorse, the frontier capital of the Yukon Territory in Canada. With an ambivalent stillness that is neither voyeuristic nor detached, the videos and photographs portray these places as simultaneously restless and static as they are caught between an unhappy present and an uncertain future. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jillian Mayer/Aspect/Ratio

Digital Art, Multimedia, Photography, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Jillian mayer. Still from "Touchers," 2015  single channel video, 5:39 minutes, unique installation, dimensions variable

Jillian Mayer. Still from “Touchers,” 2015
single channel video, 5:39 minutes, unique installation, dimensions variable


“Touchers” at Aspect/Ratio and Jillian Mayer’s first solo exhibition in Chicago, highlights the loneliness of seeking affection through a cold screen, the impossibility of human touch across monitors. The artist herself is present in each piece, her hands seen within photosensitive prints on plexiglass and fabric in the front of the gallery, while her image and words exist within the central piece, a video installation in the darkened back room. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Stanislaw Kulawiak/Polish Museum of America

Photography No Comments »
Stanis?aw Kulawiak. "Solidarity rally before the first partially free elections in Poland, Ostrzeszów," 1989

Stanislaw Kulawiak. “Solidarity rally before the first partially free elections in Poland, Ostrzeszów,” 1989


In the mid-1970s, when Stanislaw Kulawiak began—at the age of twenty—to document the life of his time and place in black-and-white photographs, Communism in Poland was beginning to crumble and the shoots of free thinking and creativity were breaking through the spiritless mechanism of an inefficient and corrupt post-totalitarian dictatorship. Kulawiak soon became a founding member of SEM, a photography collective independent of the state, but not, at least overtly, opposed to it. His images reflect precisely his in-between position, which he shared with a generation of Polish artists and intellectuals. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Militant Eroticism: The ART+ Positive Archive/Iceberg Projects

Activist Art, Installation, Photography, Rogers Park No Comments »
Installation view of "Militant Eroticism" at Iceberg Projects

Installation view of “Militant Eroticism” at Iceberg Projects


In 1981, a rare pneumonia identified among five previously healthy gay men began the AIDS crisis. A decade already inundated with political turmoil and dominated by conservative political policy would become marked by great loss, and the gay body politic marked by disease. At the intersection of AIDS and the Bush-era culture wars, there emerged not only a crisis in public health but in representation. Artists and activists responded.

“Militant Eroticism,” curated by John Neff and Dr. Daniel Berger, is focused on the output of one such activist ensemble: ART+ Positive, an ACT-UP affinity group organized in 1989. Assembled from the ART+ Positive archive, “Militant Eroticism” displays a range of content across an implied timeline in the east gallery, including ephemera and signage from the group’s well-attended 1990 demonstration on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum. A work desk and scanner are centered in the space, and the archives are stored in situ. Berger refers to this space as a “lab,” rather than a fixed exhibition scenario, as the archive will be digitized and studied during the run of the exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Charles Swedlund/Stephen Daiter Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Charles Swedlund. "One Cent Antique Candy Bar Vending Machine (Four Figures)," ca. 1970, gelatin silver prints priced for a dime each, dispensed from vending machine

Charles Swedlund. “One Cent Antique Candy Bar Vending Machine (Four Figures),” ca. 1970,
gelatin silver prints priced for a dime each, dispensed from vending machine


In this overdue and welcome retrospective, we get to see a generous sampling of the multifarious bodies of experimental photographic work produced by the neglected master trickster, Charles Swedlund. Based in southern Illinois and schooled at the famed Institute of Design, Swedlund has plied his trades on the back roads. Had he been on the New York scene, he would have been a leading postmodern photo-artist, but obscurity fit better with his provincial temperament. He is ours. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Museum of Contemporary Photography will Receive $20,000 NEA Award

News etc., Photography, South Loop No Comments »
Students from the Picture Me program with museum staff. Photo credit: Jacob Boll.

Students from the Picture Me program with museum staff/Photo: Jacob Boll

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago will receive a $20,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to aid MoCP’s Picture Me after-school photography mentorship program for high-school students. Picture Me develops Chicago teenagers as independent artists by cultivating skills to produce creativity. This aim coincides with NEA’s commitment for “advancing learning, fueling creativity, and celebrating the arts,” as Jane Chu, NEA chairman, puts it in the press release. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Feminism (n.): Plural/Woman Made Gallery

Multimedia, Photography, Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Frances F. Denny. "Friendship,"  archival pigment print, 32" × 21"

Frances F. Denny. “Across the Universe,”
archival pigment print, 32″ × 21″


“We can all be feminists,” is the emerging motto of today’s feminism, and it rings clear in “Feminism (n.): Plural,” curated by recently appointed director Claudine Isé. The exhibition was inspired by Roxane Gay’s 2014 book “Bad Feminist.” She proclaims, “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” The exhibition displays a range of issues pertinent to women today, across borders, race, age and personal experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Rim Lee/Japonais

Painting, Photography, River North No Comments »
Rim Lee. "Beyond Max Ernst No. 1."

Rim Lee. “Beyond Max Ernst No. 1.”

The subterranean “Blue Room Lounge” at Japonais is a dark, sleek, somewhat claustrophobic space, currently host to three photographs by Rim Lee, a project organized by Kasia Kay Gallery that shares in the space’s qualities. Each one centers on a pair of nude and nubile female torsos that sharply defines a sexual, but not a personal, identity. Like celebrants at a masked ball, their faces are not shown, so the various hips and breasts belong to a world of psychosexual fantasy more than to any particular person. In one image, the faces are turned away, staring at the artist’s own painting which depicts a disembodied, non-gendered human face emerging above a flaccid pillar. It’s an obvious reference to the work of Max Ernst, after whom this work, and the entire exhibition, has been named. But it may also represent an awkward self identity that hasn’t yet caught up with the sexual maturity of the figures staring at it. Indeed, there is something girlish about all three photographs that seem to rest between the comfortable, well-ordered world of a happy childhood—and the confusing, sometimes dangerous, world of adults. In the other two images, giant bird masks cover the heads of the two attractive nudes. Covered with fluffy down instead of feathers, the birds are more like oversized chicks than adults who have already flown the nest. Read the rest of this entry »