Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

The Top 5 of Everything 2010: Art

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Lilli Carré: Untitled, 2010, screen print, 8 x 8 inches. Photo by Angee Leonnard.

Top 5 People and Places We’ll Miss
Kathryn Hixson
David Weinberg Gallery
Rowley Kennerk Gallery
Green Lantern Gallery
James Garrett Faulkner
—Jason Foumberg

Top 5 Solo Exhibitions
Edra Soto/Ebersmoore Gallery
Philip Hanson/Corbett vs. Dempsey
Lilli Carré/Spudnik Press
Gladys Nilsson/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
Ian Weaver/Packer Schopf Gallery
—Jason Foumberg

Top 5 Public Art Projects
Ray Noland’s “Run Blago Run”
Pop-Up galleries in the Loop
Nomadic Studio/DePaul University Art Museum
Hui-min Tsen’s tours of the Chicago Pedway
—Jason Foumberg Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Future Shock/Green Lantern Gallery

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Conrad Bakker, "Untitled Project: SELF HELP"


Many stories, such as tales of time travel and apocalyptic visions, center on the dilemma of the self-fulfilling prophecy. In varying shades of reverence, so too does the archive of futurism now on display at Green Lantern Gallery. Curated by Abigail Satinsky, “Future Shock” is a collection of blueprints for utopia (and coping mechanisms for dystopia) that correspond to Alvin Toffler’s 1970 bestseller of the same name. Visitors are immediately greeted by Randall Szott’s stacked copies of “Future Shock,” acquired at sundry thrift stores, color-coded to represent a progressively increasing bar chart and reflected in a floor mirror à la Robert Smithson. In an alcove further back in the gallery, one can watch Orson Welles’ absurd yet chilling documentary based on Toffler’s book—a pulpier inversion of the overlapping flashbacks in Citizen Kane. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: While You Were Out

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By Jason Foumberg

While you were out for the summer, I took a message. Here’s what you may have missed.

Eleanor Coen, 1916-2010

Deaths in the Family
The West Side gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey reported two deaths via email this summer. Eleanor Coen, wife of artist Max Kahn, experimented with and popularized lithography in Chicago with her contemporaries in the 1930s and 1940s. She graduated from SAIC and later taught there, and continued her printmaking career into the 1950s. She had a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946. The gallery also announced the passing of James Garrett Faulkner, an artist, teacher and art collector. Faulkner also taught at SAIC and collected the work of Imagist and self-taught artists. Both Coen and Faulkner are represented by the gallery, which sells work by established (and sometimes forgotten) Chicago-based artists. This fall, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey (of the gallery’s namesake) will curate an exhibition about Ray Yoshida’s art legacy in the Chicago community. Yoshida died in January 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Green Lantern shines again

Art Books, News etc., Ukrainian Village/East Village 1 Comment »

It’s a gallery! It’s a performance space! It’s a bookstore! It’s a café! The revived Green Lantern Gallery, temporarily housed at Chicago and Maplewood in Ukrainian Village, permanent location TBD, is aiming to be Chicago’s answer to Gertrude Stein’s living room. It’s an expanded vision of the original Green Lantern Gallery, which director Caroline Picard once ran out of her apartment. When the city shut it down due to an ordinance against such ventures, it left Picard with a choice: go big or go home (no pun intended). She’s going big. The new dream is a joint collaboration with featherproof books, another independent press interested in books that cross the boundaries between visual art and literature. “It’s like a high-school mega crush,” featherproof’s Zach Dodson says of the relationship between the presses. Picard recounts their fateful meeting at the NEXT art fair as a “marathon… of gossip and story-swapping and big-bang idea speculation.”

Under the umbrella of Lantern Projects, the space will feature a bookstore/café/bar up front, a performance space downstairs, an art gallery upstairs. Four year-long artists-in-residence (but don’t worry, City Hall—they won’t literally reside there!) will double as baristas, while the folks at Green Lantern and featherproof will toil away in their attached shared office space. The goal is interdisciplinary dialogue and artistic community. “We hope to break open current systems in order to supply alternative dynamisms: messy, vibrant and innovative collaborations between artists, audiences, mediums and ideas,” Picard says. The temporary headquarters opens up today, June 1, but “it won’t be the end-all-be-all” space of her vision just yet. For Picard, it’s “one step at a time, I say.” (Rachel Sugar)

Art Break: City Evicts Gallery from Apartment

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An exhibition opening at 65Grand

Bill Gross has been given thirty days to cease and desist gallery operations in his apartment, on the 1300 block of West Grand Avenue. Named 65Grand after the bus that passes below his third story window, the apartment gallery has operated without intervention from the city since October, 2005, until this recent April, when two representatives from the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing visited for a peaceful shakedown. The current show, a solo exhibition by artist David Ingenthron, will be the gallery’s last at this location.

Gross, himself an artist, started the informal gallery in his living room and kitchen as a way to engage friends and peers in a self-made art community. Soon after, the gallery openings were always crowded, and the shows received attention from critics (with three coveted reviews in Artforum) and collectors, and therein lay the problem. Gross was selling art without a business license, and he could not obtain one in his present location. The restaurant on the first floor is zoned to conduct business, but the apartments above are not. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2009: Art & Museums

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Top 5 Museum Showsolafur_eliasson-one-way_colour_tunnel-2007
Olafur Eliasson, Museum of Contemporary Art
Your Pal, Cliff: Selections from the H.C. Westermann Study Collection, Smart Museum
Paul Chan, Renaissance Society
Mary Lou Zelazny, Hyde Park Art Center
James Castle: A Retrospective, Art Institute of Chicago
—Jason Foumberg

Top 5 Gallery Shows
Rob Carter, Ebersmoore Gallery
Big Youth, Corbett vs. Dempsey
Sarah Krepp, Roy Boyd Gallery
Everybody! Visual resistance in feminist health movements, 1969-2009, I Space
Ali Bailey, Golden Gallery
—Jason Foumberg Read the rest of this entry »

At Zeroes End: Art in Chicago, 2000–2009

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By Jason Foumberg

Jin Lee, "Ice 2," 2008. Courtesy devening projects + editions, Chicago

Jin Lee, "Ice 2," 2008. Courtesy devening projects + editions, Chicago

Art is long, but institutional memory is short. In many ways, Chicago’s art history is written as it occurs, in situ, by the people who produce it. Artists toil in their studios, heads-down. Apartment galleries open and close as briskly as the seasons change. We consume one-night-only events by the half-dozen, like so many bottles of free Grolsch beer. Even as new art blogs proliferate, with more scenes being represented than ever before, the snapshot commentary and weekly content often feels dated by week’s end. And yet, paintings aren’t bubblegum summer jams; they’re codified slabs of culture, philosophy and style. We seek dialogue, inspiration and long-term change. In short, we seek longevity, with lasting importance for our work and our peers’—but who has time to write contemporary history while we’re in the midst of making it?

That said, Chicago loves its art history. Outsiders, Imagists, Modernists and firebrands—memorize their precepts and you’re halfway to an MFA degree (however, please don’t leave Chicago once you earn the other half). Our traditions always feel in danger of becoming tinder for the next great fire, so we hand-cobble our history and share the stories orally like a rite of passage. This is to our strength and our detriment. History is our bind. We don’t trash Paschke or cold-shoulder Mies because we’ve worked so hard to carry their legacies. In many global art centers, successive generations of artists break with the past like rebellious teenagers, but Chicagoans do not. Here, innovation comes from influence and education. Doing otherwise, it would feel as if the whole thing could unravel.

As we approach the end of the century’s first decade, it’s time to take census of our situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jenny Walters/Green Lantern Gallery

Photography, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »


Three plastic liters of off-brand pop sit on a table next to two stacks of plastic cups and a bowl of ice. That black-and-white photo welcomes us to Jenny Walters’ party, where we get to see images of bound flowerless stalks and rolled fabric bundled tourniquet fashion around an upright vacuum cleaner, and color portraits of women of various ages, all of whom exude an air of distance, self-enclosure and alienation. As old-school feminism makes a comeback this season, Walters offers a particularly excruciating variation on the theme, introducing us to all the lonely people, whether they stand before us dolefully with an arm in a sling or hold tightly a “reborn” doll (“lifelike” simulation of a baby) with mildly distressed tenderness. Walters is not issuing a call to action; she is making a plea that we understand and feel what it means to be trapped in life, as we all are, regardless of gender. Open the pop and take a swig; it is Walters’ brand of aqua vita. (Michael Weinstein)

Through June 13 at Green Lantern Gallery, 1511 N. Milwaukee.

Breakout Artists 2009: Chicago’s next generation of image makers

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Layout 1By Jason Foumberg

You’re not going to find an abstract painter in the bunch of this year’s breakout artists. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s getting difficult to define the value of traditional, solo practices in the age of the networked artist. Today’s image makers are less studio artists than opportunists in the expanded field, less gatekeepers of taste than trailblazers in the public sphere—“social entrepreneurs,” as Mike Bancroft calls it. The timing is just right. As this feature is printed, Chicago’s renowned but diminished commercial art fair has opened its doors to include the city’s beloved alternative, artist run and non-profit spaces. The market’s embers are cooling off, and for many that smells like opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Without You I Am Nothing: Cultural Democracy from Providence and Chicago/Green Lantern Gallery

Drawings, Installation, Prints, Wicker Park/Bucktown 2 Comments »


“Without You I am Nothing” features print work from both Chicago and Rhode Island artists. The viewers’ interaction with the artwork and with other visitors is integral to all the interactive pieces on display, so the exhibition is also an exercise in “relational aesthetics,” a fancy term for the radical idea that it’s okay to talk to someone else about art.

The tone of the work on view ranges from playful to serious: there’s an art-inflected game as well as a screen-printed chart for the only Vatican-approved birth control, the complicated and unreliable Natural Rhythm Method. “And We Built a City Together” (2009), by Meg Turner and Andrew Oesch, requires the viewer to participate in constructing the actual work itself. You are presented with a bag of stickers of buildings and other urban accoutrement like trees that you then place onto a gallery wall that has the bare outlines of streets on it. Think “The Sims” or “SimCity.” I found this a little facile at first, but how a citizen constructs their world is vitally important. This was clinched when I noticed that on one of the sticker graveyards someone had penciled in “CPS” which could either indicate the schoolchildren killed this year (another shameful record), or the state of the school system itself.

Those who believe that Art is only oil-on-canvas-and-frames will most likely be disappointed, but as the exhibition text states, “satisfaction need not be guaranteed each viewer.” (Abraham Ritchie)

Through April 25 at Green Lantern Gallery, 1511 N. Milwaukee.