Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Vacancy: Urban Interruption and (Re)generation/Glass Curtain Gallery

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Emmanuel Pratt in collaboration with Sweet Water Foundation. "Ecology of Absence?" Furniture, shelving and American flag made from reclaimed wooden pallets. /Photo: Rob Karlic.

Emmanuel Pratt in collaboration with Sweet Water Foundation. “Ecology of Absence?” Furniture, shelving and American flag made from reclaimed wooden pallets/Photo: Rob Karlic

RECOMMENDED

The Glass Curtain Gallery is a fitting venue for an exhibition about vacancy and regeneration. Its South Loop neighborhood is on the verge of a residential boom, while the nearby West Loop has been transitioning from a meatpacking district to a trendy area to live and dine.

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Review: Agnès Varda/Logan Center Exhibitions

Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Video No Comments »
Installation view of Agnès Varda: Photographs Get Moving (potatoes and shells, too). Artworks pictured: "The Potato Chimney," 2003, digital print; "Walking Pictures," 1956-58, silver photographs, digital print; "Self-Portrait," 1949, photograph, silver print on Baryte paper; "Agnès Varda In Venice in front of a Bellini Painting," 1962, photograph, silver print on Baryte paper; "Fractured Self-Portrait," 2009, photograph, digital print.

Installation view of “Agnès Varda: Photographs Get Moving (potatoes and shells, too),” 2015/Photo: Nabiha Khan

RECOMMENDED

Agnès Varda’s small but mighty exhibition blurs media and spans nearly sixty years of her artistic production, with the humble potato at the root of it all. Read the rest of this entry »

International Dispatch: Disproving Silence at the 2015 Istanbul Biennial

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Theaster Gates. "The Anthem of Mu," 2015. Performance on the Bosphorus for "Saltwater: A Theory of Forms." /Photo: Mehmet Girgin.

Theaster Gates. “The Anthem of Mu,” 2015.
Performance on the Bosphorus for “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”/Photo: Mehmet Girgin

By Mariam Al Askari

“Guglielmo Marconi said every sound we ever make is still out there. Once generated, it fades but never dies away completely.” This idea not only encapsulates the work by Susan Philipsz for which it was written—the work features sounds of dripping water and underwater beacons—but also the 2015 Istanbul Biennial as a whole, which features countless artists and other collaborators, several of which hail from Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Geof Oppenheimer/Block Museum of Art

Architecture, Design, Evanston, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Geoff Oppenheimer. "DRAMA," 2014–15. 9:16 running time. HD video, presentation carts, electronics.

Geof Oppenheimer. “DRAMA,” 2014–15.
9:16 running time. HD video, presentation carts, electronics.

RECOMMENDED

In his first solo museum exhibition, Chicago-based artist Geof Oppenheimer explores the economic and governing forces that regulate the Western world. These forces, which he has dubbed “Big Bosses,” are the foundation of American praxis that manifest in our sociological and physical architecture, inflicting omnipotent pressures. Oppenheimer concludes that these pressures, and our subsequent response to them, ultimately serve as the defining factor of our existence—that ecstasy can only be achieved through internal equilibrium between states of compression and release.

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Review: LUMA at 10: Greatest Hits/Loyola University Museum of Art

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"LUMA At Ten: Greatest Hits, "Installation view, including “Silver Clouds” by Andy Warhol and "Paranirvana (Self Portrait)" by Lewis deSoto. / Photo: Loyola University Chicago.

“LUMA At Ten: Greatest Hits,” Installation view, including “Silver Clouds” by Andy Warhol and “Paranirvana (Self Portrait)” by Lewis deSoto./Photo: Loyola University Chicago

RECOMMENDED

Religion is often the apparent culprit in today’s war-torn world, so an exhibition with a spiritual undertone may seem unnerving. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Chicago is an Exquisite Corpse

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The thing that was sent to me in it's intended but unsettling orientation.

The thing that was sent to me in its intended but unsettling orientation.

By Elliot J. Reichert

The above image was sent to me anonymously in the middle of the night. Shocking as it appears, I was relieved to receive it. You see, weeks ago I had contacted a few artist friends to ask them to reflect on the upcoming fall art season in Chicago and to ask one to “take over” the task of appraising it. To my surprise, they were reluctant to describe it, even those who had exhibitions of their work opening in the coming weeks. Later, I realized that their silence was my doing, having asked a question that could produce no coherent answer.

Much like the drawing game made famous by the Surrealists, Chicago’s 2015 fall art season is an exquisite corpse—a thing of grotesque beauty that is the dream of no one, but the creation of many. At first glance, it appears sinister, like the Block Museum’s solo show of newly commissioned works by Chicago artist Geof Oppenheimer. Rumor has it that the sculptor has filled the museum’s ample galleries with austere and foreboding installations resembling the cinderblock constructions of grim institutions, like prison, or perhaps your corporate office. Even more menacing, Irena Haiduk, also Chicago-based and also exhibiting new work, will haunt the eaves of the Renaissance Society’s transformed gallery with the Sirens of Greek mythology, luring visitors unexpectedly into a debate on the revolutionary possibilities of art and social change amidst current political upheaval worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mom & Pops: Family Business in Art and Life/Arts Incubator

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Installation view. "Mom & Pops," at the Arts Incubator. Photo: Sarah Pooley.

Installation view. “Mom & Pops,” at the Arts Incubator. Photo: Sarah Pooley.

RECOMMENDED

Dining at local “mom and pop” restaurants or frequenting family-run businesses is increasingly uncommon in the United States. Corporations, such as Walmart, Panera and McDonald’s, are making it difficult for these businesses to survive. That being so, a longing for a former way of life in the midst of a changing American Dream is one way to see the five artworks that occupy the storefront gallery at the Arts Incubator.

“Mom & Pops” is nostalgic for the past it evokes: a time when immigrants flocked to America, especially during the twentieth century, in pursuit of the American Dream. Some may have opened a family business, like a tailor shop or a restaurant, to achieve this dream. Hyeon Jung Kim’s “Labyrinth,” a circular structure filled with business shirts covered in clear plastic bags, suggests a family-owned dry cleaning store. The business shirts reflect a time when more Americans dressed up for work, unlike today’s casual professional attire.

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News: Comfort Station’s First Annual Vernacular Photography Festival Begins Today

Galleries & Museums, Logan Square, News etc., Outsider Art, Photography, Video No Comments »
An anonymous photograph from the Slattery collection.

An anonymous photograph from the Slattery collection

Comfort Station, the Logan Square multidisciplinary art space, will present an unprecedented twenty-three-day “Vernacular Photography Festival,” a rotating show celebrating the art of everyday and commonplace images throughout the month of August. The festival is curated by Ron Slattery, known as one of the three original collectors of the work of the late Vivian Maier. Maier was a noted street photographer who took more than 150,000 photographs of everyday people and architecture in Chicago and New York. Her work was not widely recognized until after her death in 2009, when Slattery and two other collectors began to circulate images from portions of her archive that they had purchased at auction. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Freedom Principle/Museum of Contemporary Art

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Nick Cave. "Speak Louder," 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

Nick Cave. “Speak Louder,” 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

RECOMMENDED

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the Chicago-born kaleidoscope of experimental musicians, had a motto: “Ancient to Future.” That rallying call pervades the MCA’s “Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.” The show animates the dawn of the black American avant-garde, born out of the Civil Rights era and African anti-colonial movements, and its legacy in contemporary society.

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Portrait of the Artist: Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera

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Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera. "In the Absence of a Body," 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera. “In the Absence of a Body,” 2015.
Performance./Courtesy of the artist

Early this July, internationally known Cuban artist Tania Bruguera received her passport from the Cuban government, which had confiscated it for more than six months. Bruguera’s freedom-to-travel marks a turning point in a long and tumultuous relationship with her home country. At the end of last year, she was detained in Havana for her performance “Tatlin’s Whisper #6,” an open-mic participatory event that encourages free speech, a problematic undertaking in the current political climate of Cuba. In the wake of this news and with a recent shift in official diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, it would appear that the future looks bright for the Cuban art community.

Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, a Cuban-born artist now residing in Chicago, is cautiously optimistic about the changes he has seen. “It’s part of the process and it’s needed…this becomes a symbol for the end of the [Cold War]…but the social and political ways of thinking are the same as they were fifty years ago.”

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