Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

News: Call for $20,000 Public Art Commission at Chinatown Public Library

News etc., Public Art No Comments »
Concept rendering of the planned Chinatown Public Library

Concept rendering of the planned Chinatown Public Library

Two weeks remain before the deadline to submit interest in being considered for a new public artwork commission to be installed in the new Chinatown Branch Library that will be built at the intersection of Archer and Wentworth Avenues. The total project budget is $20,000 to be awarded to an artist or team of artists to realize a work in any media sited anywhere within the building. All applications are due on November 6, 2014. Semi-finalists will be selected by mid-November 2014 who will be paid honoraria to develop proposals by mid-January 2015, with the targeted completion of the artwork in July 2015. Call details available here.
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Expo Dispatches: Time To Go Home

Art Fairs, Oak Park, Photography, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Karen Kilimnik. "the summer house," 2011, water soluble oil color on canvas (Barbara Mathes Gallery, Booth #312)

Karen Kilimnik. “the summer house,” 2011, water soluble oil color on canvas (Barbara Mathes Gallery, Booth #312)

I won’t be going out to the fair today. I imagine, though, that some of the Expo population will find their way out to Oak Park for an opening at the Suburban, for brats, beer, backyard chatter that just might be more about the Packers than an art fair packed to its rafters with haute consumption. From 2pm-4pm, the Chicago area’s favorite run-from-home alt gallery will present Pat Collier, Dennis Kowalski and Drew Heitzler’s work. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to those proportions, that scale, this town.

By late morning on Wednesday, after the unveiling of Judy Ledgerwood’s Florida-inspired billboards, I was enjoying asking “So are you from Chicago?” much more than “Where are you traveling from?” Asked the former, many a gallerina or vaguely multi-ethnic fellow in a flamboyantly patterned shirt would scoff, grunt, answer quickly, “No, I live in New York/LA/not here.” Zachary Cahill told me Friday night that a favorite part of Expo, a quintessential Chicago aspect, is that hike through the mini-mall ruckus that comprises a typical day at Navy Pier. And definitely that stretch before reaching the exhibition hall is a great way to check yourself on how seriously you take any of this. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: Manifesta 10 and Russia’s Neo-conservatism

Activist Art, Galleries & Museums, News etc., Painting, Public Art No Comments »
Maria Lassnig. "Der Weltzertrümmerer (The World Destroyer)," 2001, oil on canvas 100 × 125 cm Defares Collection, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Maria Lassnig. “Der Weltzertrümmerer (The World Destroyer),” 2001, oil on canvas
100 × 125 cm
Defares Collection, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In 1703 Peter the Great built a new capital for his Eurocentric government in Saint Petersburg, nicknamed Russia’s “window to the West.” More recently the shutters flung open after the Soviet Union collapsed, and today the blinds oscillate under Putin’s regime. Manifesta’s presence in the city this year revealed rifts in Russia’s politics and public, with views divided on more than just contemporary art.

The iconic State Hermitage Museum celebrated its 250th anniversary this year by inviting a European biennale, an example of director Mikhail Piotrovsky’s leadership in rejoining the international arts community. In its nascent five-year existence, the museum’s contemporary art department opened new galleries, started collecting, and held thirty-two exhibitions—bringing Louise Bourgeois, Chuck Close and Cy Twombly to Saint Petersburg while officially recognizing Russia’s own Ilya Kabakov and Timur Novikov. The public has been less welcoming to contemporary art after a hiatus of more than seventy years under the Soviet Union. Putin’s government seems to capitalize on public hesitation to promote its neo-conservative agenda, stamping age sixteen-plus ratings on Manifesta when “protect our children” ads hang on Saint Petersburg’s boulevards.
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Expo Dispatches: Your Fair Survival Guide and Must-See Itinerary

Activist Art, Art Fairs, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art, West Loop No Comments »
Ai Weiwei. "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

Ai Weiwei. “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

The third year of The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art (EXPO) is upon us. There is much to be seen this weekend both on and off the Pier, but no one can do it all. (I had a hard time even getting through the encyclopedic press materials in a timely manner.) So strap on your sensible shoes, paint your face like Ziggy Stardust, and keep your eyes peeled for Shaq; here are my recommendations, must-sees and predictions for what’s most likely to elicit schadenfreude.

Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass or $30 for the weekend. The fair is open 11am-7pm Friday and Saturday and 11am-6pm Sunday. Unless otherwise noted, all events are taking place at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 East Grand). Read the rest of this entry »

Social Justice at an Art Fair? Site-specific and Nonprofit Artworks at Expo Chicago [UPDATED]

Activist Art, Art Fairs, Installation, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Alfredo Jaar. "Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness," 1995, neon, 65.75 x 216 inches

Alfredo Jaar. “Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness,” 1995, neon, 65.75 x 216 inches

By Alyssa Moxley

Visitors to this year’s Expo Chicago can expect to see an abundance of works outside commercial gallery booths that speak to ecological threats, the consequences of international conflict and similar socially motivated creative concerns. Human Rights Watch presents a large-scale neon installation by Alfredo Jaar, “Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness,” working with text dealing with generational learning from Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe. The Laumeier Sculpture Park opens their World’s Fair archives to New-Delhi based RAQS Media Collective, who will invite visitors to participate in a project elucidating colonial ideologies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Cargo Space/A+D Gallery

Loop, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art, Video No Comments »
Exterior view, Cargo Space bus, 2014 Parked in the Papermaker's Garden, Columbia College Chicago, Wabash Ave. at 8th St. Photo credit: April Alonso

Exterior view, Cargo Space bus, 2014
Parked in the Papermaker’s Garden, Columbia College Chicago, Wabash at 8th/Photo: April Alonso

RECOMMENDED

Cargo Space: Chicago/Milwaukee,” an exhibition running simultaneously at A + D Gallery in Chicago and INOVA in Milwaukee, is built around a mobile residency housed on a twenty-seven-foot diesel bus, a conceptual project formed by collaborators Christopher Sperandio and Simon Grennan, sponsored by Rice University in Houston, and propelled by a desire to physically connect artists and audiences that are geographically distant through a mobile platform. Among the included artists (a sprawling group of Chicago and Milwaukee based makers) is Erik L. Peterson who has staged the work “Stretch Limo (94),” 2014, a site-specific installation at INOVA, a building that originally housed an automobile factory. 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: Judy Ledgerwood Paintings to Appear on Billboards and Shuttles During Expo

Gold Coast/Old Town, Loop, News etc., Public Art, River North No Comments »
Judy Ledgerwood. "Captiva #2"

Judy Ledgerwood. “Captiva #2″

In conjunction with Expo Chicago, the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, a southwest Florida destination, has worked with Chicago-based painter Judy Ledgerwood to create a monumental set of public artworks that will appear on billboards in downtown Chicago, River North, Gold Coast and along major expressways. These works will debut on September 13, and will remain on view around town for four weeks. In addition, components of this project will be featured on the official Expo Chicago shuttles that will transport visitors along routes from Navy Pier to other cultural and shopping destinations around the city. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Mural in Logan Square Seeks Community Participation

Logan Square, News etc., Public Art, Street Art No Comments »
Rachel Slotnick's Logan Square mural in progress

Rachel Slotnick’s Logan Square mural in progress

There are three “Paint With Us” painting days scheduled this weekend when the community is invited to get involved in the completion of Rachel Slotnick’s mural in progress at Milwaukee and Kedzie in Logan Square. Adjoining the Logan Square Blue Line stop, this is the latest mural project to adopt two-year terms for the prominent wall space in the square. Lindsey Meyers, the director of the neighborhood’s Beauty & Brawn Gallery and longtime Logan Square resident, has coordinated the project with Slotnick after considering the wall’s potential over years. Meyers explains by email, “I pass that wall multiple times a day and it always spoke to me. I continued to see its size and scope and only saw beauty and potential.”

Painting days are scheduled for today, August 29, from 4pm-7pm; Sunday, August 31, from 1pm-3pm; and Monday, September 1, from 1pm-3pm. Interested participants need only show up; the gallery will provide all painting materials. 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 »