Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Point of Origin: Mapping the Arts in Detroit

Architecture, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Performance, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Olayami Dabls, N'Kisi House, 2007, wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Charlene Uresy

Olayami Dabls, N’Kisi House, 2007,
wood, glass, tile, bricks, paint, MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit/Photo: Charlene Uresy

By Allison Glenn

The twenty-first century has brought with it the re-emergence of contemporary conceptual artists engaged with penumbral zones. These artists are interested in site, positing new ideas for usage of once-inhabited homes and urban spaces. Whether the middle of the desert or the center of a blighted neighborhood, these sites exist on the theoretical—albeit times physical—margins of society. Artistic engagement with these interstitial spaces is on a material level, with art and architecture converging to create radical and experimental approaches to living. Positing ideas for architecture, technology, space and the body’s relation to it, artists are projecting utopic ideals for the future of the quotidian urban environment. What emerges from this are hybrid works of art and cultural production. Read the rest of this entry »

Blocks of Art and Stuff: Taking in the Heidelberg Project, East Detroit’s Spectacle of Transformation and Perseverance

Installation, Outsider Art, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Views from Amy Danzer's visit to the Heidelberg Project

Photo: Amy Danzer

When you first pull up to the open-air art installation on Heidelberg Street in East Detroit, you’re struck by the remnants of houses that have recently been set afire by arsonists. Twelve blazes have gutted six installations in the last two years. The devastation and loss are felt at once, never absent throughout the exhibit, and serve as commentary on the plight of Detroit’s inner city. But Tyree Guyton and his volunteers continue to clear the ash and debris, create new works, and transform the space into one that persists in provoking thought, inciting imagination, and drawing in people from all over the country and world. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Charles Ray: Sculpture 1997-2014/Art Institute of Chicago

Loop, Michigan Avenue, Sculpture No Comments »
Charles Ray. "Huck and Jim," 2014.  Installation view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Charles Ray. “Huck and Jim,” 2014.
Installation view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

RECOMMENDED

Charles Ray’s figurative sculptures sparsely populate the second floor of the Modern Wing in this major midcareer retrospective. Walls were removed to give the nineteen works plenty of breathing room. The pieces, cast in white and silver materials, create a cool, calming effect. Combined with the hushed atmosphere, examining the work feels like sneaking up on someone, as in “Sleeping Woman,” where a stainless-steel rendering of a homeless woman naps on a public bench. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Remembering Ruth and Her Revolutionary Art Worlds

Collage, Drawings, Loop, Painting, River North, Sculpture No Comments »
Don Baum. "Untitled Silhouette/Cut Out Portrait of Ruth Horwich," ca. 1980, paint by number painting and other mixed media, 18" x 14.5" x 11" On view at Carl Hammer Gallery

Don Baum. “Untitled Silhouette/Cut Out Portrait of Ruth Horwich,” ca. 1980,
paint by number painting and other mixed media,
18″ x 14.5″ x 11″
On view at Carl Hammer Gallery

By Michael Weinstein

There is a tinge and twinge of sadness attending the viewing of the three concurrent exhibits showcasing the fabled collection of artworks amassed by Ruth Horwich and her husband Leonard over the last half century.

One cannot escape the sense that an era has ended. The Horwich collection is being broken up and cast to the four winds in the aftermath of Ruth Horwich’s death in July, 2014 at the age of ninety-four, preceded by Leonard’s passing in 1983. Her estate seeks to monetize the art. The choice pieces, from the viewpoint of marketability, by Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol, for example, have already been handled by Christie’s. Now we have an opportunity to see the rest of the collection, the non-Western indigenous artifacts at Douglas Dawson Gallery, and the works of the Chicago artists from the second half of the twentieth century—the backbone of the collection—at Carl Hammer Gallery and Russell Bowman Art Advisory. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Nancy Lu Rosenheim

Hyde Park, Installation, Painting, Rogers Park, Sculpture No Comments »
Nancy Lu Rosenheim in her installation "Swallow City" at the Hyde Park Art Center. Photo by Paul R. Solomon

Nancy Lu Rosenheim in her installation “Swallow City” at the Hyde Park Art Center/Photo: Paul R. Solomon

After welcoming me into her spacious Rogers Park apartment with a warm handshake and shot of espresso, Nancy Lu Rosenheim guides me through a long hallway into her sunny front room studio and toward two stools at a high-topped table. A tall and fully stocked shelving unit rises behind us, brimming with well-worn brushes, tools and paint jars of all sizes. In the corner of the room, a large sculpture sways gently from a hook in the ceiling—made from Polystyrene and splattered boldly with vivid colors, it’s obvious the piece was created in conjunction with “Swallow City,” Rosenheim’s current exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Liz Larner/Art Institute of Chicago

Installation, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of Liz Larner,  on the Bluhm Family Terrace, the Art Institute of Chicago

Installation view of Liz Larner, on the Bluhm Family Terrace, the Art Institute of Chicago

RECOMMENDED

In Liz Larner’s current exhibition on the Art Institute’s Bluhm Terrace, two freestanding stainless steel sculptures have been placed at a diagonal to each other. While the generous amount of space between the works engenders but a faint conversation between them, the expansive wooden stage upon which they rest unites the pieces together as a pair. The urban lumber platform, constructed by Larner’s hands and held together by countless golden screws, is made from unflashy materials that would typically appear discreet—however, the large expanse of ash-wood boards fitted tightly together boldly contrast the terrace’s industrialized cityscape with a warm, simplistic rawness. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Gabriel Sierra/The Renaissance Society

Hyde Park, Installation, Sculpture No Comments »
Gabriel Sierra. Installation view at the Renaissance Society, 2015. Photo: Tom Van Eynde

Gabriel Sierra. Installation view at the Renaissance Society, 2015/Photo: Tom Van Eynde

RECOMMENDED

If you are planning to visit the Renaissance Society’s Gabriel Sierra exhibition, the first solo show in the United States for the Bogotá-based artist, you would be well-served to bring a friend, or better yet, four friends. Make sure that they are all American, unless you are visiting in the afternoon, at which time you should be sure that they are non-American and that you are too. If possible, one person in your party should be over thirty years old and another should be precisely twenty-one. Bring your children. In order to gain the fullest experience, make sure to wear a watch and old shoes. Be ready to take a nap or two. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Objects and Voices/Smart Museum of Art

Hyde Park, Painting, Sculpture No Comments »
Marcel Duchamp. "Boite-en-valise," Ed. of 30, 1935-1941 (1963 edition), mixed media

Marcel Duchamp. “Boite-en-valise,” Ed. of 30, 1935-1941 (1963 edition),
mixed media

RECOMMENDED

This show is meant to celebrate the Smart’s fortieth anniversary, but it actually amounts to a fresh rethinking of the collection and museum practices altogether. The spaces have been completely given over to seventeen thematic “micro-exhibitions” conceived by a diverse group of guest curators. These include professors from across University of Chicago’s campus, artists, retirees, interns and staff members. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ian Pedigo/65GRAND

Digital Art, Installation, Photography, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Ian Pedigo, "Lights Have Gone Out," 2015 bone, plastic, metal, wood, paint, carpet, 60" x 65" x 30"

Ian Pedigo, “Lights Have Gone Out,” 2015
bone, plastic, metal, wood, paint, carpet, 60″ x 65″ x 30″

RECOMMENDED

Using found quotidian materials, Ian Pedigo assembles sculptural installations that lyricize banal details of our domestic and built environments. In his exhibition at 65Grand, “The Arrows Like Soft Moon Beams,” the New York-based artist reveals three larger-than-human-size totems which nod to Surrealism and resonate particularly well in Chicago, with its rich culture of spaces (6018North) and makers (Alberto Aguilar, Edra Soto) who turn the domestic into the poetic. In “From the Crown to the Earth” a six-foot-tall panel of black stone grounds the playful figural arrangement of a green plastic bowl lampshade with dangling disco ball earrings. Another grouping converts disembodied chair legs into a wing-like form, hung from a floorboard suspended upside down with a backdrop of blinds. “Lights Have Gone Out” features a candelabra painted matte-black which is simultaneously real, faux, classic and kitsch. Pedigo combines elements from different time periods and vacillates between natural and artificial materials, resulting in both visual stimulation and a sense of suspended timelessness.
Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Aimée Beaubien/Johalla Projects

Installation, Photography, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Aimeé Beaubien's "Twist-flip-tremble-trace" at Johalla Projects

Installation view of Aimeé Beaubien’s “Twist-flip-tremble-trace” at Johalla Projects

RECOMMENDED

There is a video-game term that applies to art making, called “leveling up.” It’s when you make it to the next round, when you discover something game-changing, when you go out on a limb and make such a big step in the right direction that you are suddenly on a higher plane. You leveled up.

Local photographer Aimée Beaubien leveled up with her new body of work, “Twist-flip-tremble-trace.” She took her collages off the wall, weaving strips of photographs together to create the effect of psychedelic cobwebs, held together with dowels and clothespins so that they stand up and command space in the room. These Wonderlandian creatures are precariously perched on cartoonish furniture—an orange painted ironing board, a mirrored pedestal, a low, hot pink table, often incorporating ceramic jugs and glass bottles. Smaller works sit on shelves and hang on the walls, including some new, two-dimensional works, acting as satellites to their larger counterparts. The result is a dizzying installation of optically wiggling, animal-like forms. Read the rest of this entry »