Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4-7

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 No Comments »

Thursday, September 4


LOOP

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) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Murmurs/Regards

Multimedia, Prints, Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Andrea Longacre-White. "Untitled," 3-D printing, plaster, apple cords, electrical plates, Dimensions vary, 2013

Andrea Longacre-White. “Untitled,” 3-D printing, plaster, apple cords, electrical plates, Dimensions vary, 2013

RECOMMENDED

Regards’ inaugural exhibition “Murmurs” features clean, precise exercises in subtlety by eight different artists. The labored pieces featured speak to silent, meditative hours spent in the studio while the restrained execution of the show provokes consideration of the subtleties of interaction and communication. There is something slightly out of reach about most of the work, a whisper-like inaccessibility that intentionally frustrates the viewer. Christopher Aque obscures disquieting images of TSA pat-downs with thick layers of pigmented Vaseline. Lauren Spencer King’s silver leaf on glass panel “Moonlight” is unpredictable, reflecting the sunlight blindingly or disappearing into the gallery white walls entirely depending on the angle of observation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jaume Plensa/Millennium Park and Richard Gray Gallery

Loop, Michigan Avenue, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
"Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda," polyester resin and marble dust, 2012. Photo by Tom Van Eynde

“Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda,” polyester resin and marble dust, 2012. Photo by Tom Van Eynde

RECOMMENDED

Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa designed his first gigantic head, “Dream,” in 2009 on the site of an abandoned coal mine to help a former mining town, as his website puts it, “fill the void left by the colliery since its closure.” Since then, similar heads have popped up in cities around the world, with four now installed in Millennium Park. All of them are derived from digitally modified 3D photographs of girls on the verge of puberty. All have their eyes closed, as if peacefully looking inward.

The shining white, thirty-nine foot “Looking into my dreams, Awilda” serves well as the Madison Street gateway, inviting the public into what is essentially a contemporary art amusement park. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Fires Will Burn/DePaul Art Museum

Activist Art, Painting, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Negar Ahkami. "As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn," coffee stains, acrylic, modeling paste, gesso, and glitter, 2003

Negar Ahkami. “As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn,” coffee stains, acrylic, modeling paste, gesso and glitter, 2003

RECOMMENDED

The archive is a reminder, a catalogue of documents that help us imagine and encounter the past. DePaul Art Museum’s “Fires Will Burn: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection,” features works that explore social justice issues from the 1930s to the present—an era shaped by Roosevelt-backed New Deal programs and other social activism that has targeted relief, recovery and reform.

For “Fires Will Burn,” the works are grouped loosely by geography, highlighting the overarching complexities—historical, political and emotional—that constitute their conception. Most of the works shown are print media: etching, lithograph and screenprints by many politically motivated artists. Roger Shimomura’s artistic practice was prompted by his experience in the Minidoka internment camp during WWII. His “Yellow No Same” series borrows traditional Japanese costumed actors from wood-block prints who are shown separated by barbed wire from Japanese Americans. Negar Ahkami’s painting “As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn” is an examination of the Iranian-American artist’s overlapping cultures. In the ornamental painting on paper, the role of women is prominent: a burqa-clad figure wearing high heels is contrasted with a nude woman with a football head, surrounded by imagery from both of her cultures. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Cities Built Within Galleries

Installation, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Diane Simpson. "Window Dressing" at Monique Meloche

Diane Simpson. “Window Dressing: Apron 1,” oil stain on MDF, polyester fabric; and “Window Dressing: Bib-doodle,” gatorfoam board, hardboard, wallpaper, enamel, ink

By Matt Morris

It’s often said around town that Chicago has two seasons: winter and construction. The architectural epicenter where we reside explodes into transformation in the warm months, as buildings, roads and public spaces undergo restructuring. A few exhibitions on view right now conspire to reflect this construction condition by taking built environments and our habitation of them as points of departure. The artworks’ proximity to source materials is a useful measurement in distinguishing where a quirky meta-criticality is achieved, and where sometimes the experience at hand is burdened by its references. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Simon Starling/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture No Comments »
Simon Starling. "Bird in Space," imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

Simon Starling. “Bird in Space,” imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

RECOMMENDED

In “Metamorphology,” British artist Simon Starling’s survey of photographs, installations and film, you do not mind having to read the accompanying wall texts—you actually look forward to it. This is a testament to the intrinsic inveiglement of Starling’s explorations of the titular phenomena; rarely does work so heavily dependent upon exposition avoid coming off as pedagogic so finely as Starling does here. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: We do what we like and we like what we do/Western Exhibitions

Drawings, Installation, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
nicholas frank1

Nicholas Frank. “Nicholas Frank Biography, page 302 (First Edition),” printed book page, 6 ¼ x 4 ½ inches, custom-milled walnut frame, 10 x 8 inches, 2014

RECOMMENDED

This rambling celebration on the occasion of the gallery’s ten-year anniversary as a bricks-and-mortar space is cheekily titled after the eponymous Andrew W.K. anthem, “Party Hard.” The moniker adds both an air of revelry and defiance to the works exhibited, implying that director Scott Speh and the artists on his roster are fueled by passion and vision rather than a pursuit of conventional success.

The show is an exercise in polarity, oscillating between extremes in scale and tone. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is confronted by the first of two sigil paintings by Elijah Burgher. Fresh from the Whitney Biennial, these painted drop cloths are installed back to back, dominating the initial visual field. Situated in the corner of the same room are two bongs, “Uncle Sam/Old Yeller” by Ben Stone. They seem slightly out of place in an area otherwise devoted to minimalist and conceptual works but add levity while reiterating the rebellious tone set by the title. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Susan Giles and Jeroen Nelemans/Aspect Ratio

Sculpture, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Susan Giles. "Untitled (Humayun’s with Cultures)," drawing paper, 2013

Susan Giles. “Untitled (Humayun’s with Cultures),” drawing paper, 2013

RECOMMENDED

In both Susan Giles and Jeroen Nelemans’ practices, video and sculptural works borrow content from tourism and art history as the basis for re-imagining the material representations of place.

Susan Giles’ video “Pulling Out the Words,” 2011, is a series of interviews with five subjects about favorite landscapes in which all of their spoken descriptions have been cut. Landscapes are conveyed only through the speakers’ gestures, stutters and breaths, with Giles’ camera tracking the speakers’ hands, upper body or face.

The perceptual shifts afforded by lacunae continues into the next small room with Nelemans’ Flavin-esque “from the Postcard Series, Untitled #3,” 2012. An enlarged postcard of Dutch tulip fields is sliced vertically and wrapped around slender fluorescent tubes. Colored diagonal lines illuminate the space in between the rows, neatly continuing the image as light spilling onto the wall. Nelemans, Dutch but Chicago-based, is interested in cultural pilfering: tulips originate from Turkey but are a national representation of The Netherlands. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Michael Dinges, Victoria Fuller, Geoffry Smalley and Karen Savage/Packer Schopf Gallery

Collage, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Geoffry Smalley. "Catskill Creek, Citi Field," acrylic on inkjet print, 2012

Geoffry Smalley. “Catskill Creek, Citi Field,” acrylic on inkjet print, 2012

RECOMMENDED

The group of shows at Packer Schopf Gallery ruminates on intrusion. There is technological and environmental encroachment, and the intrusive mythos of masculine and feminine ideals.

Michael Dinges’ “Lifeboat: The Wreck of the Invisible Hand” hangs center stage as a retired boat and a lesson. Made with vinyl siding, the scrimshaw declarations ring around this dramatic piece as if conversing with Victoria Fuller’s work across the room. Her piece, “Deep Down,” meditates on the inherent commingling in nature: a snake, an earthworm, and roots rise from the dirt to touch the air. At the same time, some of her materials, like gas pipe and metal tubing, interrupt the state of the nature she presents. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Deborah Butterfield/Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

Sculpture No Comments »
Deborah Butterfield. "New Sculptures" installation view, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

Deborah Butterfield. “New Sculptures” installation view, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

RECOMMENDED

After fourteen solo exhibitions of the same kind of equine sculpture at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, you might call Deborah Butterfield a traditional artist, even if her technique is one that she herself invented. She works with weathered sticks culled from the hills surrounding her ranch in Montana. Casting a few in bronze, she then builds an armature on which she ties the rest, starting at the center, and then laying them on consecutively, like three-dimensional brush strokes. It doesn’t matter how thin, convoluted, fragile or worm-eaten the wood may be. All of it will eventually be permanently cast in bronze at the foundry. The results are as delicate as they are consistently spectacular. Read the rest of this entry »