Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: This May Have Happened/David Weinberg Photography

Photography, River North No Comments »
Shannon Benine. “The Traitor in Room 14”

Shannon Benine. “The Traitor in Room 14”


Behind a streaked and scratched surface, as though we were looking through a distressed pane of glass, we see a man standing in the woods dressed for winter in a heavy coat, jeans, and thick boots. He is holding a long tree branch and appears to be keeping guard next to a sign posted on a tree, reading “PRIVATE PROPERTY KEEP OUT.” An inverted plastic pail covers his head. Paul Thulin’s black-and-white “Cervantes’ Shadow” is the banner image in “This May Have Happened,” the remarkably coherent juried exhibition that is part of the annual Filter Photo Festival. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sandra Binion/University Club of Chicago

Loop, Photography No Comments »
Sandra Binion. "At Window," 2014,  archival pigment print, 18 x 24 inches

Sandra Binion. “At Window,” 2014,
archival pigment print, 18 x 24 inches


In sixteen muted color photographic studies taken in the French provinces, Sandra Binion’s “Distillé” seeks to evoke the world in which nineteenth-century novelist Gustave Flaubert placed his famous anti-heroine, Madame Bovary. Bathed in fog or shrouded in shadows, indistinct, often distressed, and sometimes illegible, Binion’s images are directed to engendering a mood that might best be characterized as somber. In the most telling piece in the show, in which Binion comes the closest to making a direct connection to Emma Bovary, whose loneliness and consequent delusions fostered by romantic literature led her to a disastrous dalliance, we see, from behind, a silhouetted woman in a darkened room standing before the sliver of a window, the rest of which is obscured by floral-patterned drapes, revealing an unremitting, almost glaring light-gray sky. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Hank Willis Thomas Brings Bench Artworks and Lectures to Chicago

News etc., Photography, Public Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Hank Willis Thomas. "Black Power," Photo credit Jim Prinz, courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Hank Willis Thomas. “Black Power”/Photo: Jim Prinz, courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Hank Willis Thomas, whose punchy conceptual photographs unpack the fraught ways our society is racially charged, is the first artist to be featured in Monique Meloche Gallery’s Off the Wall project, a new public art initiative to engage the streets of Chicago with work by contemporary artists working at the fore of their field. Willis Thomas has created six photographic images that have been installed on public benches throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown. Each image in the series “Bench Marks” situates black bodies into tropes borrowed from advertising, cues pulled from African-American history and reductive myths around black bodies as athletes, performers and objects of a dominant social gaze. These projects will remain on view through the end of November. See below for a map of the locations of the six artworks. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Memorial Celebration Planned After Death of Photographer Fred Burkhart

News etc., Photography No Comments »


Well-loved artist Fred Burkhart died on Saturday, August 30, after a fight with cancer over the past three years. The seventy-two year old photographer spent the last three decades of his life in Chicago, where he’s inspired and influenced generations of community, particularly through the Burkhart Underground, the salons he held in the basement of his North Side home from 1995 to 2009. Last year, Newcity ran a cover feature on Burkhart written by Bill Hillmann. 

As he told Hillmann, “it was also a unique place because I don’t know if my own visions were faltering as an artist or needed to expand so by opening the Burkhart Underground all of a sudden I was the coffee-maker, I facilitated it. Here was a place where kids could come and express themselves and be who they are and do their poetry and hang their artworks. So all the while that in itself was expanding my horizons as an artist.” 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


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)


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 »

Review: Phantoms in the Dirt/Museum of Contemporary Photography

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Richard Mosse. "Sugar Ray," chromogenic development print, 2012

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


“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 »

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”


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


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

Loop, Photography No Comments »
Larry Snider. "Cleaning Mosque, India," 2013

Larry Snider, “Cleaning Mosque, India,” 2013


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 »