Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Don’t Call Us An Art Museum: Pitchfork at the MCA

Galleries & Museums, News etc., Streeterville No Comments »
Jessica Hopper and Carrie Brownstein. /Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Jessica Hopper and Carrie Brownstein/Photo: Nathan Keay

Have you been to the Museum of Contemporary Art lately? It’s like the Experience Music Project in there! Read the rest of this entry »

News: MCA Benefit Auction Returns with Big Names, New Works

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Hugh Scott-Douglas. "Untitled," 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Hugh Scott-Douglas. “Untitled,” 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

After several years hiatus, the Museum of Contemporary Art will host a benefit auction on Friday, October 23. The event will feature more than 100 works of art by well-known and emerging artists, many of whom have worked with the MCA throughout its history or whose work has been exhibited at the museum in recent years, including Olafur Eliasson, Takashi Murakami, James Welling, Isa Genzken, Doris Salcedo and Sanford Biggers. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking News: Threewalls Appoints Executive Director, Artistic Director to Depart

Galleries & Museums, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Jeffreen M. Hayes

Jeffreen M. Hayes

After a nationwide search, Jeffreen M. Hayes has been appointed the executive director of Threewalls, a Chicago non-profit arts organization based in the West Loop, the executive board announced today. Hayes replaces former director Shannon Stratton, who resigned from her position in April to become chief curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. At the same time, Threewalls has indicated that Abigail Satinsky, current artistic director and interim executive director after the departure of Stratton, will be leaving in December for other unspecified pursuits in Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking News: Douglas Druick, Art Institute of Chicago President and Director, to Retire

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Douglas Druick, 2011.

Douglas Druick, 2011.

Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, announced his intention to retire late Tuesday evening. Druick has been at the helm of the Art Institute since 2011 and has served for a total of thirty years at Chicago’s mainstay art museum. In nearly five years, Druick oversaw the Art Institute through major growth and change, including the acquisition of the largest gift of art in the museum’s history, given by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson earlier this year, record high attendance and recognition as being among the best museums in the world. For these specific achievements and his overall leadership of the institution, Druick topped Newcity’s list of Chicago’s 50 most powerful art figures in 2015.

“It has been my honor to serve as the Art Institute’s president and director,” said Druick. “I have been deeply proud to lead one of the finest museums in the world, and to work for three decades with an exceptional cadre of remarkably talented museum colleagues.” Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Weinstein, RIP

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Photo: Brian Ulrich

Photo: Brian Ulrich

By Brian Hieggelke

I once asked Michael Weinstein—who passed away suddenly after an aortic aneurysm at home last week at the age of seventy-three—why he recommended every photography show he reviewed for us, in nearly every single issue of Newcity beginning in 1990 and up to and including the edition you’re reading right now. He said, in much more eloquent words than my memory offers, that while he enjoyed some shows more than others, he tried to study the work with the intent of understanding it from the artists’ point of view. If he could see it that way, he’d be able to write about it and recommend it.

It’s no surprise then that Michael’s death has affected so many beneficiaries of his gracious intellect so deeply. He mentored on so many levels, and in so many spheres. Our sphere connected most regularly in the arena of photography criticism. When he walked through the door of this then-very-young publication back in 1990, with a freshly written review of an exhibition, he had no way of knowing how much we were waiting for him. Jan and I have an interest in photography as an art form that pre-dates Newcity by several years, and so nothing made me happier than to have Michael find us and establish such a body of work as he would, both remarkable for its longevity and its insight, in the realm of photography.  Read the rest of this entry »

News: African Festival of the Arts Begins Today

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African Festival of the Arts. Photo: Isadore Howard.

African Festival of the Arts/Photo: Isadore Howard

Chicago’s twenty-sixth annual African Festival of the Arts (AFA) is taking place this Labor Day weekend in Washington Park. The AFA, one of the oldest and largest diaspora festivals in America, will convert the park into a “simulated African village” featuring art, music, food and entertainment. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Performance at Daley Plaza to Raise Awareness of Maternal Mortality and Negligent Care

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The sewing machine that Hartney used to sew the gowns was originally owned by Hartney's grandmother. It was passed down through Hartney's mother, who also learned how to sew on this machine.

The sewing machine that Hartney used to sew the gowns was originally owned by Hartney’s grandmother. 2015.

In response to the increasing maternal mortality rate and instances of postpartum PTSD and obstetric abuse in the United States, artist Michelle Hartney has organized a performance entitled “Mother’s Right” to take place on September 7 in Daley Plaza. The performance is a part of a national day of rallies taking place on Labor Day across the nation, organized by the Improving Birth movement to call attention to problems and solutions in maternal health care.

Hartney has sewn 1,200 “hospital gowns,” one for every mother who died in childbirth in America in 2013. Made of fabric that has been silk-screened by artists Erin Chlaghmo, Andrew Reyes, Orr Gidon and Printed Chicago, the design is composed of tiny drawings of plants used to create drugs that have been used on laboring women for the past 150 years.

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News: 2nd Terrain Biennial Sprawls Far Beyond the Suburbs

Architecture, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, News etc., Oak Park, Performance, Public Art, Sculpture 1 Comment »
"Night Terrain" by artist Kate McQuillen and curated by Claudine Ise for the 2nd Terrain Biennial. Located at 817 South Highland Avenue, Oak Park.

“Night Terrain” by artist Kate McQuillen and curated by Claudine Ise for the 2nd Terrain Biennial. Located at 817 South Highland Avenue, Oak Park.

Playfully eschewing stereotypes of pink flamingos and garden gnomes, the 2nd Terrain Biennial is dedicated to featuring interventions into the conventional landscape of front yards by emerging as well as established artists who have been invited to create site-specific works. Founded in 2011 by Chicago artist Sabina Ott, contributing artists are selected for their ability to challenge the space between public and private, function and decoration and figure and ground.

This year’s biennial takes an international scale, but remains centered in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park across from Longfellow Middle School on Highland Avenue. Unlike many alternative exhibitions, these public artworks will be accessible at all times. According to Ott, one of the goals of the exhibition was to engage pedestrians, visitors, teachers, students and neighbors with myriad forms of contemporary art. Another goal with “Terrain 2.0” was to expand the scope beyond Oak Park. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Janet Dees joins the Block Museum of Art

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Janet Dees. Photo: Kate Russell.

Janet Dees/Photo: Kate Russell

After completing an international search, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University has announced that Janet Dees will join the museum’s curatorial team. Dees, who is currently finishing her Ph.D. in 18th-20th century American art at the University of Delaware, brings to her appointment extensive knowledge of global contemporary art and museum practices, as well as museum leadership experience, says Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Block Museum.

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News: Luftwerk to Debut High Tech, Site-Specific Installations at Garfield Park Conservatory

Design, Digital Art, Garfield Park, Installation, Multimedia, News etc., Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Rendering of “Florescence," 2015. Luftwerk Studio.

Luftwerk Studio. Rendering of “Florescence,” 2015.

Five technology-infused and site-specific installations will populate the Garfield Park Conservatory in a year-long exhibition titled “solarise: a sea of all colors” debuting in September. Each immersive installation invites viewers to interact with nature, color and light while exploring the Conservatory grounds. “Garfield Park Conservatory has long been known as a Chicago cultural anchor,” remarked Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “and this interactive art installation will underscore the conservatory’s cultural legacy while engaging residents in new ways.”

Created by Luftwerk, an art practice co-founded by Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, the installations respond to the philosophies of Jens Jensen, the landscape architect who designed the conservatory, who believed in the importance of public access to nature in the city. Each of the five installations—“The Beacon,” “Portal,” “Florescence,” “Seed of Light,” and “Prismatic”—emphasize and supplement the conservatory’s natural spaces. With the installations, Luftwerk aims “to instill in visitors an increased sense of wonder, while they roam the gardens and vegetation rooms. [We hope to] inspire visitors to take a closer look at how nature, art, and technology can interact.” Read the rest of this entry »