Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Joseph E. Yoakum/Carl Hammer Gallery

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, River North No Comments »

Joseph E. Yoakum. "Paradice [sic] Range near Damascus Syria South East Asia 4/23-69," 1969. Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, 11 3/4 x 19 inches.

Joseph E. Yoakum. “Paradice [sic] Range near Damascus Syria South East Asia 4/23-69,” 1969.
Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, 11 3/4 x 19 inches.


Yoakum began making art at the age of seventy-six, when God told him to pick up a pen and begin drawing. Living on Chicago’s South Side, he made some two-thousand works before his death in 1972. 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 »

News: Venerable Roy Boyd Gallery Closes After Forty-two Years

News etc., River North 1 Comment »
A lively social gathering for one of Marco Casentini's exhibitions at Roy Boyd Gallery

A lively social gathering for one of Marco Casentini’s exhibitions at Roy Boyd Gallery

Roy Boyd Gallery will close its doors after forty-two years on October 15. This venerable exhibition space in River North has shown Chicago artists along with a number of artists from the West Coast and around the world. Along with several decades of exhibiting artists in his Chicago gallery, Boyd also ran a second space in Los Angeles from 1981 until 1993. In these last days of the River North location at 739 North Wells, the gallery is presenting a panoply of art objects from its remaining inventory, a salon of works comprised of touchstones from across the space’s lifetime, in particular the Boyds’ devotion to abstraction. 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: C.J. Pyle/Carl Hammer Gallery

Drawings No Comments »
"Tete a Tete," pencil, ink, colored pencil, on verso of LP cover, 2014

“Tete a Tete,” pencil, ink, colored pencil, on verso of LP cover, 2014


C.J. Pyle’s exhibition, “Saints and Sinners” is a meditation on detail and texture. To create these complex portraits, he needs only a few simple materials: ballpoint pens, Paper Mate pencils, and LP or book covers. He says no paper compares to that of 1970s and 1980s LP covers and the uniqueness of each pencil in a pack giving him a breadth of possibilities with line.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bill Rauhauser/Carl Hammer Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
"Snake Girl," circa 1960

“Snake Girl,” circa 1960


Back in the day when Detroit was Motown, making Thunderbirds and coating the cosmos with pop soul, Bill Rauhauser was out on the streets with his camera, funky as one can get, shooting freak-show signage, a Shriners parade, teenagers cavorting in the lake, ordinary undignified people and musicians plying their trade, all in black and white, and all with an indulgent tongue-in-cheek smile. Those were the days, it would seem, although the other sixties—the riots and the protests—presaged the post-industrial pit into which the city has fallen, at least in the public mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: David Sharpe/Carl Hammer Gallery

Painting No Comments »



Chicago-trained, NYC-based artist David Sharpe has been painting cosmic spectaculars for many decades—a thrilling example from about thirty years ago recently hung in the Koffler collection at the DePaul Art Museum. Within that magnificence, the artist has often placed crudely rendered human figures that now feel less like the defiant scrawls of a schoolboy and more like the angry frustration of a mid-life crisis set in the sophisticated, pictorial world of early twentieth-century modernism.

His backgrounds resemble the bright, upbeat Arcadian interiors of Matisse, sometimes complete with the serpentine edges of philodendron leaves. They encompass angular female figures—sisters of the big-foot monster-women and angry wives of Picasso. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bill Traylor/Carl Hammer Gallery

Drawings, River North No Comments »

BT 179_small1


Bill Traylor (1854-1949) may be the most accidental of accidental artists. Born into slavery on the Traylor plantation of Alabama, at the age of eighty-five he was homeless in Montgomery, spending his days on the street, making drawings with found materials. Eventually, some artists, dealers and folklorists found him, and posthumously he became an iconic figure in American outsider art. I’m not sure that the pieces now being shown at Carl Hammer Gallery, who first brought his work to Chicago thirty years ago, would have established that reputation. They’re mostly simple, quick sketches of one or two figures, less complex than his multi-figure narratives. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mary Lou Zelazny/Carl Hammer Gallery

Painting, River North 2 Comments »


Parents often show love by giving us too many things, so even after we’ve grown older, nothing can be quite so comforting as the clutter of useless junk. And unlike everything that’s always changing, clutter can be permanent and reliable. Which may explain Mary Lou Zelazny’s pictorial world, where, as the “Cake Lady” herself, she offers up an armful of comfort food. We all know that the manufactured pastry, whose garish advertising images she has cut and pasted, is not very healthy, so one might conclude that she is also offering up a pointed critique of modern American life. But if eating chocolate cake makes you feel good about yourself, why stop? And feeling good about yourself seems to be this artist’s mission, especially in this exhibit of recent paintings that focus so often on the female face and body, not so much how it looks on the outside, but how it feels from within. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: William Wegman/Carl Hammer Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »

"Rubber Boy," 1998


Now that he has devoted his talents for upwards of four decades to taking absurdly humorous color photos of his Weimaraner dogs in various and sundry settings, you would think that William Wegman would have run that shtick into the pound. Think again. In his latest shaggy-dog romp, Wegman borrowed a passel of vintage sideshow posters from gallerist Carl Hammer, placed the pooches in front of them in appropriate dress, and posed them as—yes—the cutest sad-sack freaks this side of P.T. Barnum. Just imagine the bliss that the long-gone scaly-skinned Alligator Girl would have felt had she actually had one of those winsome Weimaraners, complete with an alligator snout, as her faithful consort. Wegman does that for her image posthumously. One can never accuse Wegman of being a one-trick puppy. He went to the dogs when postmodern photography seduced him and he never came back. (Michael Weinstein)

Through August 26 at Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 North Wells