Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

News: Johalla Projects Curates Art at Pitchfork Music Festival

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"Geometric Village" being installed earlier this week

“Geometric Village” being installed earlier this week

The West Town gallery Johalla Projects returns to the Pitchfork Music Festival, held in Union Park, this weekend to present “Geometric Village,” an installation by Heather Gabel and Chad Kouri. Two A-frame architectural structures fifteen feet tall and nine feet wide are joined by an additional set of smaller chairs or stools scattered around these forms. The two triangular structures will house smaller works by the two artists that will be available for sale. Gabel will have packs of postcards available for $15 and Kouri will exhibit a set of prints he created with Tan & Loose Press which are available for $15 each. This installation will be accessible to festival attendees; tickets are currently $60 a day, or $110-$130 for a three-day pass. Read the rest of this entry »

News: 96ACRES Seeks Art Proposals for Cook County Jail

Activist Art, Multimedia, News etc., Public Art No Comments »

TransformingSpace

The Cook County Department of Corrections, sitting on ninety-six acres on the West Side, is one of the nation’s largest single site pre-detention facilities. The independent, grassroots, social justice organization 96ACRES is seeking artistic projects to generate what they call “alternative narratives reflecting on power and responsibility by presenting insightful and informed collective responses for the transformation of a space that occupied 96 acres, but has a much larger social footprint.” Projects may include visual art, audio pieces, performance, new media works, writing, photography, design, prints and installation with particular interest to works at the site of the jail in an allocated space along its north exterior wall. Proposals are due July 28, and approved projects would be realized this fall. Base grants of $2,500 or up to $5,000 are available, funded by the Chicago Community Trust, Special Service Area #25, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Field Foundation of Illinois.

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News: Intelligentsia Curates Public Art

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Antonia Contro's "Scorza" installed on the corner of the 1611 West Division building. Photo by Luke Grimm.

Antonia Contro’s “Scorza” installed on the corner of the 1611 West Division building. Photo: Luke Grimm

Last night was the official unveiling of Antonia Contro’s artwork “Scorza” on the façade of the 1611 West Division condo building at the corner of Division and Ashland. The ninety-two-foot-tall, twenty-seven-foot-wide digital print is the first “art wall” sponsored by Intelligentsia coffee bar, which will be opening a new location in the building on July 17.

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News: First Looks at Plans for Eight New Public Artworks in Red Line Stations

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On Monday, Chicago Transit Authority president Forrest Claypool joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the DuSable Museum to introduce eight plans for new public artworks to be installed as the finishing touches on the $425 million Red Line South reconstruction project. The Federal Transit Administration will be paying $590,400 for these artworks. Last June, a call for artists attracted more than 300 submissions from which these projects were selected. Most of the artists who received these public art contracts are based in Chicago, with one collaboration based in Chicago and Brooklyn, New York. Here are the station assignments and views of the conceptual renderings by each artist for their planned works:

Cermak-Chinatown: Indira F. Johnson (Evanston)

Cermak-Chinatown: Indira F. Johnson (Evanston)

Sox-35th: Paula Henderson (Chicago)

Sox-35th: Paula Henderson (Chicago)

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News: UIC Hires Laurie Jo Reynolds as Assistant Professor of Public Arts, Social Justice, and Culture

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Laurie Jo Reynolds is the new assistant professor of public arts, social justice and culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Art and Art History. This is a new position within the school that is part of the recently created Social Justice and Human Rights Cluster, an initiative of UIC’s Chancellor. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: 35 Years of Public Art/Chicago Cultural Center

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Nick Cave "Garden Plots" (design proposal) for West Chicago Branch Library, 6140 W. North Ave., 2007.

Nick Cave
“Garden Plots” (design proposal) for West Chicago Branch Library, 6140 West North, 2007.

“What are the first three things you think of when you think of Chicago?” asked artist Zack Wirsum, as part of his public art proposal, of one hundred Chicagoans in 2008. The answers averaged out to hot dogs, pigeons, skyscrapers and Old Style beer. Can public art ever relate to civic identity without being utterly banal?

The exhibition “35 Years of Public Art” offers many attempts to thread that needle subsequent to the 1978 “Percent for Art Ordinance” which earmarked 1.33 percent of municipal construction costs be devoted to original public artwork. Most of the pieces on display are the proposals or scale models that the artists submitted for approval, and often it’s difficult to imagine the final results.

The pencil sketch that Irene Siegel submitted for a 1985 mural in the Sulzer Library looks like it might lead to a fresh, intriguing vision of Virgil’s epic “Aeneid,” but immediate public outcry over it in the Chicago Tribune, of “elements of graffiti and horror,” led to a lawsuit and the complaint that “full and complete description of the work” had not been submitted. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Terraformer Advancement Towards Interspecific Communication

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Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford

Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford

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“If you build it, he will come.” This infamous line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” prophesying the arrival of baseball players to an empty playing field, sums up the exhibition now installed at Terraformer’s outdoor exhibition space in Bridgeport—except, in this instance, “he” refers to feral cats.

“The Terraformer Advancement Towards Interspecific Communication” is the brainchild of Medicine Cabinet and Sofa King galleries founder Christopher Smith. According to the project’s manifesto, the show is “an initiative focused on expanding the audience for art from a specifically human one to an audience that transcends species.” After careful “ethnographic” research, seven artists constructed and installed their architectural solutions for the sheltering and feeding of feral and stray cats. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir/Solti Garden

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garden

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Squeezed into a narrow stretch between Michigan Avenue and a ten-foot embankment, and dominated by the hawk-like gaze of Dame Elisabeth Frink’s monolithic bust of Sir Georg, Solti Garden was never an inviting urban space until filled this month with the life-size figure sculptures modeled by the Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir. Standing, sitting or kneeling throughout the park, the elegant, mysteriously introverted figures transform the lawn, paths and benches into a performance space that offers endless opportunities for interaction, especially with a camera. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: “As You Are: A Decade of You Are Beautiful”/Green Exchange

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State Street

State Street

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Do you remember the enormous mural with orange letters on plywood that spelled out “You are beautiful” on State Street? It ran along Block 37, Randolph to Washington, from 2006 to 2009. The installation, along with new pieces displaying the same, now iconic, slogan has moved inside to the Green Exchange. Throughout the month of February, “As you are: A Decade of You Are Beautiful” will imbue the raw spaces of the West Diversey office building with its optimistic mantra in a retrospective collection of works by numerous artists, including Matthew Hoffman, Nick Adam and Chris Silva.

The movement began in 2002 when Matthew Hoffman shared 100 You Are Beautiful stickers among friends. Requests for more stickers started flowing in, and a decade later half a million stickers have traveled around the globe. The message went from stickers to murals, to public installations and exhibitions here and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Ian J. Whitmore

Artist Profiles, Photography, Public Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »

Artist Ian J. Whitmore knows “nowhere” quite well. Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he also completed his undergraduate degree, and then moving to Bloomington, Indiana for an MFA in photography, the Midwesterner can quickly spot the public, commercial landscape of malls, industrial parks and corporate offices that feel eerily familiar yet completely void of meaning. In his solo exhibition, “Nowhere” at Johalla Projects, he explores the ubiquitous nature of those spaces emptied of meaning. His solo exhibition coincides with the unveiling of his photographs at the Damen Blue Line stop in Chicago’s Wicker Park area, which in and of itself is a “nowhere” space—a portal that people move through on a regular basis, yet forget even exists outside of the utilitarian function it serves. Read the rest of this entry »