Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Art 50 2015: Chicago’s Visual Vanguard

Art 50 1 Comment »


Long heralded as a mecca for alternative practices, collectivity and socially engaged art, Chicago increasingly finds itself among the most visible international art destinations precisely because of its distinct character and openness to change and growth. What makes this city fertile ground for launching new talent and sustaining confirmed genius? A complex and ever-changing network of curators, collectors, administrators, critics, dealers, educators and other enthusiasts cultivate Chicago’s artistic vitality and diversity. The Art 50 is Newcity’s annual snapshot of Chicago’s art ecosystem. This year, we track the power players who shape the terrain in which we thrive.

The Art 50 was written by Elliot J. Reichert, Maria Girgenti, Abraham Ritchie, Kate Sierzputowski and B. David Zarley.

Cover and interior photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux on location at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Chances Dances

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Logan Square, Noble Square, West Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Chances Dances/Photo: Dan Paz.

Chances Dances/Photo: Dan Paz

The Chances Dances collective has been hosting queer dance parties in Chicago since 2005. What began as an inclusive dance night has since grown into multiple monthly events and an organizing body that runs a grant program for queer artists.

Latham Zearfoss and Bruce Wiest founded Chances Dances because they could not find anything like it in Chicago at the time: a safe place for the queer community to be able to go out and have fun. It was originally hosted in the back of Big Horse Lounge, a now-defunct taqueria in Wicker Park. In support of wanting to have a night for what Zearfoss calls “a lot of different bodies and dispositions,” the two intentionally chose a straight venue so the gathering did not come with preconceived notions.

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Review: After Today/Gallery 400

Activist Art, Installation, Multimedia, Photography, Sculpture No Comments »
Jan Tichy. "Chicago Nature (After Nauman)," 2014 neon, 62" x 62" x 10"

Jan Tichy. “Chicago Nature (After Nauman),” 2014
neon, 62″ x 62″ x 10″


“After Today” purports a dichotomous nature in Chicago, a city overcome with struggles, but resilient and bent on improving the well-being of its inhabitants. A continuation of Gallery 400’s ongoing initiative “Standard of Living,” which delves into how we get by in today’s economy, the exhibition is an examination of Chicago’s present and future, the hardships of today and the aspirations for a better tomorrow.

Chicago’s wounds are not concealed. Poverty, violence and systemic injustice are unmistakable. Marianne Fairbanks’ “Patchwork Pall,” is a swing-set draped with a shroud dyed from the foliage encircling the houses of those forced to abandon them. The piece serves as a somber reflection of changing socio-economic and geo-political conditions, the mourning of a deceased community. Read the rest of this entry »

News: ThingStead Press Releases New Publication on February 26

Art Books, Art Schools, News etc., Prints No Comments »
Chris Reeves and Aaron Walker's ThingStead press on view at UIC's Gallery 400 lobby

Chris Reeves and Aaron Walker’s ThingStead press on view at UIC’s Gallery 400 lobby

Next time you’re on or near the UIC campus, stop into Gallery 400 and pick up a copy of ThingStead, PhD art history candidate Chris Reeves and MFA candidate Aaron Walker’s small-press print installation project in the lobby. The two took over the space, which is already bustling with daily foot traffic, and turned it into a checkout lane where patrons can peruse and “take-away” a copy of their latest publication. Each booklet is composed of “reimagined drafts and excerpts” from artists and writers on a specific topic, theme or work to create an amalgamation of ideas or “excursus,” as they like to call it.

“Legend and History,” by Columbus, Ohio-based artist, Ryland Wharton is released today, February 26. Reeves describes the book as “mystical concrete poetry,” as it is a reproduction of passages from M. Caron and S. Hutin’s “The Alchemists.”
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Review: Visibility Machines/Gallery 400

Multimedia, Photography, Video No Comments »

Harun Farocki. “War at a Distance” (still), 2003, video, 54 min.



Balanced between informative, terrifying and hypnotizing, Trevor Paglen’s large format stills and Harun Farocki’s videos expose arcane arenas of knowledge within the realm of armed-forces operations with imagery that emphasizes the marriage of human and machine vision.

Paglen is invested in revealing our current historical condition, the “bureaucratic sublime,” through exposing covert US satellites, drones over the Nevada desert, concealed military bases, and contractual documents from private aeronautical companies that attest to persistent governmental subterfuge. Landscapes and skies of striking beauty point abstractly to military surveillance. A tiny speck of drone shares the light of the sun with the immense moon in “Dead Military Satellite (DMSP 5D-F11) Near the Disk of the Moon,” 2010. Other satellites are indicated by a contrast of orbital direction in time-lapses of celestial stars and stripes. Paglen also turns the telescope earthwards. “Canyon Hangars and Unidentified Vehicle; Tonopah Test Range, NV; Distance Approx. 18 miles; 12:45pm, 2006” is photographed using a telescopic lens from eighteen miles away. Far off in the desert, the light waves captured by the camera are further distorted by heat, creating a painterly image that conveys not only an inability to accurately apprehend, but suggests a location of imagination, a site for projecting impressions of power or fear. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Material Gestures: Cut, Weave, Sew, Knot/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Sheila Hicks. "Dervish," 2011 steel, linen, wool

Sheila Hicks. “Dervish,” 2011
steel, linen, wool


Rhona Hoffman brings together a group exhibition of works from the past thirty years that shows how fabric performs as a palimpsest of industrial and domestic worlds, transplanted from utilitarian to art contexts.

Karen Reimer’s “Endless Set #1399,” was originally developed as a site-specific installation for UIC’s Gallery 400. Digits cut from white cloth are sewn in 1399 patches, stacked in the shape of pillowcases on the corner of a wooden bed-shaped frame. The work privileges an unrelenting systematic approach over conceptual transparency. Beside this sparsely arranged numerical record is a more chaotic and carnal collage. Anne Wilson’s “Mourning Cloth” is a loosely hung shroud, matted with human hair and featuring a small hole lined like a made-up eye with tiny black stitches that diffuse outwards, suggesting a vacant cosmic gaze. Patches of stained and used tablecloth are sewn together to emphasize fissures. The dispersal and patchwork of materials permeated with an undisclosed domestic life suggests another kind of compulsive action, an attempt to mend, without eradicating the compound histories of the material. Read the rest of this entry »

News: New Season of ART21 Airs Tonight

Artist Profiles, Multimedia, News etc., Video No Comments »
Tania Bruguera. "Museum of Arte Útil," featured in Season 7 of Art21

Tania Bruguera. “Museum of Arte Útil,” featured in Season 7 of Art21

The seventh season of the groundbreaking documentary series that interviews contemporary artists working at the forefront of their field will air on public television station WTTW starting tonight, Friday, October 24, at 10pm. This season will include segments about Tania Bruguera, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Leonardo Drew, Omer Fast, Katharina Grosse, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Graciela Iturbide, Joan Jonas, Wolfgang Laib, Trevor Paglen and Arlene Shechet.
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News: Hank Willis Thomas Brings Bench Artworks and Lectures to Chicago

News etc., Photography, Public Art, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Hank Willis Thomas. "Black Power," Photo credit Jim Prinz, courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Hank Willis Thomas. “Black Power”/Photo: Jim Prinz, courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Hank Willis Thomas, whose punchy conceptual photographs unpack the fraught ways our society is racially charged, is the first artist to be featured in Monique Meloche Gallery’s Off the Wall project, a new public art initiative to engage the streets of Chicago with work by contemporary artists working at the fore of their field. Willis Thomas has created six photographic images that have been installed on public benches throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown. Each image in the series “Bench Marks” situates black bodies into tropes borrowed from advertising, cues pulled from African-American history and reductive myths around black bodies as athletes, performers and objects of a dominant social gaze. These projects will remain on view through the end of November. See below for a map of the locations of the six artworks. 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 »

News: Deadline Alert for Propeller Fund Grants

News etc. No Comments »
The Franklin, an alternative gallery space in East Garfield Park, was a 2012 Propeller Fund recipient

The Franklin, an alternative gallery space in East Garfield Park, was a 2012 Propeller Fund recipient

Now in its fifth year, the Propeller Fund is offering two info sessions in advance of the August 1 deadline for 2014 applications. The first one is June 18 at the Hyde Park Art Center at 6 pm (5020 South Cornell). Grant administrator Abigail Satinsky will give a presentation that provides a basic overview of the application, offer discussion about eligibility for the award, and stick around for a Q&A.

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