Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

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 »

News: Arts + Public Life Initiative Seeks Furniture Designs and Community Involvement in New Public Space Project

Design, News etc., Public Art No Comments »
Rendering of the Summer Pavilion at the new public space, courtesy of MAS Studio

Rendering of the Summer Pavilion at the new public space, courtesy of MAS Studio

The University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life (APL) initiative’s call for proposals regarding the design and production of an assemblage of outdoor furniture for their new public space will soon be coming to a close on January 18, 2015. Particular that this will be not so much a park as a more open ended, multi-use site for the neighborhood, the new public space will be in the Washington Park neighborhood located at 265 East Garfield Boulevard. The structure, previously known as the Summer Pavilion located in Millennium Park, was secured by the University of Chicago’s (U of C) Office of Civic Engagement in 2014 by donation and according to the press release, is said to be a main feature of the new public space that is to make its debut in May 2015. The pavilion created by MAS Studio was initially envisioned to be used for installation work and was an outpost for the exhibition “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Races, Places and Art’s Useful Violence

Collage, Hyde Park, Installation, Photography, Public Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Kelly Lloyd. "I painted the elevator doors the color of my skin. C1, 21,1—E0,13,0—KX0,22,1—V0,37,0," 2014 acrylic on elevator doors

Kelly Lloyd. “I painted the elevator doors the color of my skin. C1, 21,1—E0,13,0—KX0,22,1—V0,37,0,” 2014, acrylic on elevator doors

by Matt Morris

I had been trying to muster the holiday cheer to write a whimsical column about winter window displays when I read the news that the St. Louis County grand jury tasked with the decision to indict police officer Darren Wilson who shot eighteen-year-old Michael Brown to death in August chose not to pursue justice. Since the announcement, I’ve been in vocal and incredulous discussions over the sadistically intricate ways that political and social suppression, economic disadvantage, the bizarre militarization of police forces and even President Obama’s muted responses to this and other murders of unarmed black people have conspired in a construction of an impossibly powerful systemic racism. I’ve felt the deep urge to run. In my mind I see the text “RUN” Rashid Johnson spray-painted in white across a mirror that was included in “Message to Our Folks,” his survey at the MCA two years ago. This is a run from lynch mobs and paramilitary cops and deplorably violent histories that span centuries of America’s past.

Rashid Johnson. "Run," 2008,  mirror with spray paint

Rashid Johnson. “Run,” 2008,
mirror with spray paint

Our society has been shaped without consideration to the personhood and value of nonwhite lives, therefore their sadness, outrage and even their deaths have not been permitted to have any impact. Confronted with this daunting problem built into the very structure of this country, my conviction that art has the potential to powerfully interject into the thick of restrictive, racist assumptions has been bolstered by several recent projects that investigate how visibility for people of color’s lives is situated into public and institutional spaces. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »