Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Wes Carson/ARC Gallery

Photography, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Wes Carson. "Biscayne  and NE 17th, Omni"

Wes Carson. “Biscayne and NE 17th, Omni”

In a series of “narrative portraits” taken on the streets of a relentlessly sunny Miami, Florida, Wes Carson seeks to capture a “particular moment” in the city’s “cultural history”—the scene of our times. Reflective to a fault about his practice, Carson’s shots are candid, because he is going for “authentic moments,” which means that he has to shoot at middle distance, forsaking intimacy in order to avoid his subjects performing for the camera. That strategy could have been fruitful had Carson looked for telling juxtapositions and ironies as street photographers of the classic tradition do (and he does some of that with the play between subjects and signage); but most of Carson’s fourteen photos catch ordinary people doing ordinary things—sitting outside or idling on the sidewalk, some of them absorbed in cell-phone conversations. Read the rest of this entry »

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4–7 [updated]

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 1 Comment »
Andrew Falkowski. "Pink Monochrome," 2014

Andrew Falkowski. “Pink Monochrome,” 2014

Thursday, September 4


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)


Anthony Iacuzzi and Christopher Schneberger, photography
Perspective Gallery, 1310-1/2B Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Opening reception: 5pm-8pm, through September 28

Amy Vogel, mixed-media survey exhibition
Cleve Carney Art Gallery at College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn
Opening reception: 12pm-2pm, through October 25

Taehoon Kim and Barbara Diener, large scale sculpture and photographic installation
Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 West College, Palos Hills
Opening reception: 3pm–5pm, through September 18 and October 23 respectively Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Duncan Oja/ARC Gallery

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We are always coming upon the world from the wrong side in Duncan Oja’s faded, clouded, black-and-white shots of the ordinary rural American roadside, taken on solitary cross-country car trips. Oja’s subjects are signs seen from behind so that we cannot know what kind of response they are trying to solicit from us. The signs are situated in the often scrubby and never manicured and opulent landscape, so that we encounter them as though we were actually present at the site on one of those all too familiar leaden gray days that when they happen seem to be the most central standard reality for which bright sunny and dark inclement days are bookends. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Pamela Hobbs and Margaret Wright/ARC Gallery

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"And Then..." by Pamela Hobbs

“And Then…” by Pamela Hobbs


An emblematic representative of the most sophisticated contemporary photo-art, Pamela Hobbs combines a multitude of postmodern tactics (use of vintage photographic processes, embedded conceptual import, use of text, coloring her images) with surrealism, sentimentality and a decidedly serious feminist-modernist reflection on mortality. As improbable as the mixture might seem to be, Hobbs’ sepia and toned black-and-white prints of curio cases filled with the leavings of expired life—figurines, pictures, dolls, and Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jonee Cocchia and Amanda Aton/ARC Gallery

Photography, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »


Jonee Cocchia, "Night Blooms"

Jonee Cocchia, “Night Blooms”

A versatile street photographer who stays on the quiet side, but with telling and intense effect, and shoots in black and white, Jonee Cocchia moves effortlessly from portraits, through signage, breathtaking architectural studies, and elegantly composed groups of objects like lines of news boxes, and finally to involved abstracted details. Composition is Cocchia’s high visual card, and he plays it through all his forays without overwhelming his subjects and their emotional evocations in feats of form. Cocchia’s most affecting images are shot at night on lonely Chicago thoroughfares bathed in the glare of streetlights. In “Night Blooms,” we look from the sidewalk across an empty street, cut by a viaduct, at a gleaming white wall festooned with aerosol art and an ad for McDonald’s line of coffee-shop-style drinks. We are drawn into the scene as though we had been making solitary night moves and had been suddenly transported into a postmodern installation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: National Exposure/ARC Gallery

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Lauren La Rose


In celebration of its fortieth anniversary, ARC Gallery has revived its “National Exposure Show,” a juried exhibition “examining the wide diversity of contemporary photography.” With Chicago photo-journalist Charles Osgood as the juror, the present installment remains true to its purpose, presenting fifty-nine images by forty-eight artists representing a variety of genres too numerous to mention, different approaches (modernist and postmodernist), and a plethora of formats and processes. There is no theme, which befits a survey; there is also nothing strikingly new that stands out as cutting edge, a sign of our times, at least in the USA. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Intimacy/ARC Gallery

Photography, River West No Comments »

Steven Bernas


From Jean-Robert Franco’s black-and-white large-format full–frontal female nudes, standing and staring straight at us impassively; through Elena Elbe’s color studies of overlapping exposures of the same nude woman that illustrate the conceit of “Me, MYSELF, and I,” and Steven Bernas’ crazy-colored, distorted and ghoulish figures—constructed by projecting snippets of pornography and his own handiwork on images of nudes—who inhabit “tactile territory;” to Francoise Anger’s atmospheric, astral color abstractions of volatilized figures, we run a gamut of the wildly contrasting ways in which the human body can be represented to evoke whatever sense of existence with which an artist might like to conjure. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Carleen Clifton Bragg/ARC Gallery

Photography, River West No Comments »


Unframed and tacked unpretentiously on the gallery wall, Carleen Clifton Bragg’s black-and-white street portraits—mostly candid—of down-and-out African Americans and wasted whites who live amongst us forswear indulgence in patronization, humanization or victimization; her subjects are for the most part depressed, as we see them when we venture into their neighborhoods. Sometimes homeless and holding signs, Bragg’s subjects are epitomized by a young man standing slumped under the weight of a backpack and bundled in a hoodie, with his head bowed and eyes closed—asleep on his feet—as he holds an outstretched Styrofoam cup in one hand and an appeal in the other in faded lettering that reads: “Please Help Me I Have Nothing.” An engaging, straightforward and thoughtful individual, Bragg says that she is “elated” when she takes her shots, because she loves “naturalness.” (Michael Weinstein)

Through March 26 at ARC Gallery, 832 West Superiorar

Review: Anat Pollack/ARC Gallery

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Seized with the purpose of revealing the archetypal and impossible longings exploited by television advertising, Anat Pollack photographs moments of commercials from the screen and processes them in the computer so that the original color images no longer bear traces of specific products and communicate only hazy hopes and phantasmic dreams. In one of Pollack’s most effective images, a car reduced to a blur of motion rounds a corner, radiating the sense of speed and control. Other studies are more bucolic and tranquilizing. If Pollack intends her series as a foray into cultural criticism, she fails, because her technique results in photo-works that are suffused with soft impressionism that renders the eye contemplative and absorbed in the aura of the ideal, rather than in questioning it. If Pollack aims at showing us that advertising manipulates deep-seated desires, she is stunning, but only after we have broken the spell that she casts and are aware of her program. (Michael Weinstein)

Through September 25 at ARC Gallery, 832 West Superior #204

Review: Wes Carson/ARC Gallery

Photography, River West No Comments »

Wes Carson, “201004240121”


Ending up somewhere in a liquid world of surreal fantasy tinged with New Age, Wes Carson gets there by putting his willowy model through various paces, shooting her in the act of performing so that the resulting photo will be blurred, and then printing the image digitally in blue tones to make it look like a nineteenth-century cyanotype. Although we can discern her features—and then barely—in only one image, Carson’s subject is clearly a lithe and tough beauty who can stand up to any assignment, such as appearing to take off into the misty sky like a Greek goddess turned angel. What saves Carson from hackneyed sentimentality is the woman, whose strength dominates his images; etherealized as he mightily strives to make her, she will never morph into a water nymph radiating the incredible lightness of being or a foamy sprite. The model rises to her ultimate level of power when she appears emerging from an arch formed by two enormous wrench-like hands sprouting from the earth; her black garment and legs attenuated to shreds, she casts a ghostly overmastering presence. (Michael Weinstein)

Through July 17 at ARC Gallery, 832 W. Superior