Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Portrait of a Gallery: Trunk Show

Design, Humboldt Park, Public Art No Comments »
Image from Lilli Carré for Trunk Show opening, photo courtesy Jason Lazarus.

Image from Lilli Carré for Trunk Show opening/Photo: Jason Lazarus

On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, a few dozen people gathered near the boathouse in Humboldt Park for an opening of new work by Lilli Carré. The work was a bumper sticker reading “I’m for clarity” spelled out in Rebus, pictograms that spell words phonetically, for the mobile gallery Trunk Show. The puzzles-and-games theme of Carré’s project extended to the snacks on hand, “signifier” pasta salad, and the activities, lawn games.

Trunk Show, run by Jesse Malmed and Raven Falquez Munsell, unveils a new sticker each month on the couple’s well-worn 1999 Ford Taurus. They started in 2013, motivated by interests in alternative exhibition spaces and in offering the works as a subscription series. The stickers sell a la carte for five dollars, or collectors can subscribe and receive the whole season’s work. Read the rest of this entry »

Art 50 2014: Chicago’s Artists’ Artists

Art 50 3 Comments »


If you’ve spent any amount of time observing or participating in visual art in Chicago, you know it’s more community oriented and inclusive than competitive or exclusive. In Chicago, everybody’s in, and no one is out. That said, Newcity publishes this ranked list of influential artists every other year in order to celebrate the accomplishments of a few people who work hard and smart, and who happen to call Chicago their home. The Art 50 also serves as a primer for newcomers—know these names and their practices and you can start to understand Chicago art pretty quick. This year we rotated out a bunch of artists who made the pick in 2012. This doesn’t mean we don’t care for their artwork anymore; we just wanted to open up the list for more voices to be heard. (Jason Foumberg)

Art 50 was written by Jason Foumberg, Matt Morris, Kate Sierzputowski, Anastasia Karpova Tinari, Maria Girgenti, Erin Toale, Abraham Ritchie, Collin Pressler and B. David Zarley.

All photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux on location at the Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago. Top photo in front of Judy Ledgerwood’s “Chromatic Patterns.” 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: Green Lantern Press to Open Sector 2337 in October

Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Logan Square, News etc., Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Book Release for Green Lantern Press' PQRS in fall 2013

Book Release for Green Lantern Press’ PQRS in fall 2013

Green Lantern Press has announced that in October they will open Sector 2337—a new space in Logan Square that will function as both a storefront gallery and a bookstore. The space will host three exhibitions a year supplemented by a series of public programs. In addition, the Press’ online bookstore will be represented in the space with books specializing in contemporary art, poetry, theory and independent press titles. In their press release, Green Lantern Gallery & Press founder Caroline Picard and New Corpse co-director Devin King said, “By marrying these threads—contemporary exhibitions, readings, performances, poetry, and printed matter—we continue the spirit of The Green Lantern Gallery and Press, making community, culture, and discourse easily accessible to Chicago.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Terraformer Advancement Towards Interspecific Communication

Public Art No Comments »
Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford

Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford


“If you build it, he will come.” This infamous line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” prophesying the arrival of baseball players to an empty playing field, sums up the exhibition now installed at Terraformer’s outdoor exhibition space in Bridgeport—except, in this instance, “he” refers to feral cats.

“The Terraformer Advancement Towards Interspecific Communication” is the brainchild of Medicine Cabinet and Sofa King galleries founder Christopher Smith. According to the project’s manifesto, the show is “an initiative focused on expanding the audience for art from a specifically human one to an audience that transcends species.” After careful “ethnographic” research, seven artists constructed and installed their architectural solutions for the sheltering and feeding of feral and stray cats. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jason Lazarus/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation 6 Comments »

18e8eJasonLazarus_20130318_02A flash of light. You close your eyes. The bright glow lingers for a moment, no longer there, but not yet vanished. The voices of the ninety-nine percent reverberate in the galleries of the Museum of Contemporary Art—an afterimage of the tumultuous demonstrations of 2011. “If you are not angry, you are not paying attention.” “You should be here #OccupytheHood.” “Class war ahead.” “This is a universal revolution.” “Wake up.” The cardboard protest signs hang silently on the wall. A museum plaque announces that, if interested, you may check out a sign for the duration of your visit. Please just notify an attendant.

But few people seem to do so.

The protest-sign archive, titled “Phase I/ Live Archive,” is one part of Jason Lazarus’ multimedia solo show at the MCA. Lazarus began “Phase I/ Live Archive” as an artist-in-residence at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Moved by the revolutionary zeal of Occupy Wall Street, the artist invited students to re-create the handmade protest signs. Collecting images from Facebook and Twitter, the participants traced the activist slogans with black marker and spray paint. Read the rest of this entry »

Art 50: Chicago’s Artists’ Artists

Art 50, Artist Profiles 6 Comments »

Artwork and Photo by Matthew Hoffman ( )
Matthew is a 2006 Newcity Breakout Artist

“A friend recently confessed to me that he secretly ranks the participants in Chicago’s art world according to their importance,” wrote artist Molly Zuckerman-Hartung in this publication. Molly’s friend doesn’t work at Newcity; although we annually rank half-a-hundred scenesters of the stage and page, this is our first line-up of visual artists. But everyone intimately knows Molly’s secret friend—the shuffler of the big rolodex, the line cutter, who maybe crept through a Deb Sokolow conspiracy, who buys all your friends’ artworks but never yours. Guess who? It’s you. You made this list and you ranked it and you live in it. You’re either on this list or you’re a product of this list or you’re on this list’s parallel universe (maybe, the Top Fifty People Who Read Lists list). Congrats!

We agree that a linear fifty names is simplistic. Instead, picture this list as a family tree that’s been trimmed into an MC Escher hedge maze. Or see the names as intersecting circles, a cosmic Venn diagram, or raindrops hitting a lake. There could be a list of fifty (or 500) best painters, or a new list for every week we publish this newspaper. For now, here are fifty people who have made an impression on other peoples’ lives.

Who are these people? They are mentors, magnets, peers, alchemists, art mothers, Chicago-ish, artists’ artists, evangelicals, alive today, polarizing, underrated, retired, workhorses and teachers. Lots of teachers. If you’re an artist in Chicago it’s likely that a handful of these artists trained you, or showed you that art was even a possibility. The bonus of local legends is that we can learn from them, face to face. Many lead by example.

About the selection process: Artists only for this list. (Power curators and other hangers-on get their own list, next year). To rank these artists we surveyed hundreds of local living artists, racked our brains, had conversations, wrote emails, canvassed the streets with art critics, cast votes, then recalls, called important curators in London who promptly hung up on us, drank pumpkin latte, checked emails and then finally wrote it all down. And now, we present to you, the Art 50. (Jason Foumberg)

The Art 50 was written by AJ Aronstein, Janina Ciezadlo, Stephanie Cristello, Alicia Eler, Pat Elifritz, Jason Foumberg, Amelia Ishmael, Anastasia Karpova, Harrison Smith, Bert Stabler, Pedro Velez, Katie Waddell and Monica Westin. Read the rest of this entry »

Fan Scene: A Chicago Art Album

News etc. No Comments »

cover art by Carol Jackson

By Jason Foumberg

Imagine this issue of Newcity shaped as a shoebox, like the one stashed in the back of your closet. Every now and then it feels good to finger your way through that time capsule of polished milestones and broken tokens of who you once were and still might be today. More than just a junk drawer, your stash is bound by a secret thread, as strong and fragile as a spider’s web, which only you can spin. Will your offspring be creeped out by your crypt of former selves, or will they dust off and ponder each artifact?

If Chicago’s art scene had a souvenir box it would be as large as a landfill, and just as mixed. What if you plunged an arm into that warm biomass and pulled up some treasures and obsessions and regrets, at random, from art scenes past? What would they look like, jammed in your fist? Could you spread those dried things on a table and divine their significance, drawing lines between them, and to yourself?

I asked dozens of Chicago-based artists and their enthusiasts to shine a flashlight into their personal-history storehouses and retrieve contributions for this fanzine. Part collage, part salad, the combined curiosities peaceably mingle here as if at an art opening. There are several natural affinities and also a few unexpected pairings. In sum, they form a time capsule of a community that is constantly changing. Here are mementos from long-closed shows. Here are faces kept in time. Here are odds and ends we’re still trying to sort. Here we are today, holding on for tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: The Revolution Will Be Pixelated

Digital Art No Comments »

from the 256 project

By Jason Foumberg

It seems like centuries have passed since the term “cyberspace” sparkled with hope for a technological utopia where we could zip along the information super highway direct to the future. That route, if you recall, was plastered with animated GIFs, those cartoonish website animations of such snazzy effects as rainbow text spinning on its axis and dancing emoticons. The Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, was a primitive tool, producing pixelated images in limited color palettes and, like many things that live and die on the Internet, was quietly replaced by more complex codes and software. Yet, as long as there is old technology there will be old-technology enthusiasts, and the animated GIF, like many other bad habits from the 1980s, is making a comeback in a big way.

Visual artists are on the front line of the GIF renaissance, and it’s not a big leap to consider animated GIFs as artworks. They can be entrancing, visually punchy, funny, strange or boring, and many have become iconic. Artists are not only creating new animations in the 8-bit format, but also constructing complicated GIFs using new software, and others are acting in a curatorial way to harvest classic GIFs from the early Internet, archive them, and re-present them in educational contexts. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Community Confessional

Installation, West Loop No Comments »

By Kristine Sherred

A full year past, we reflect on that which once was, that which persists, that which may be. Lilly McElroy’s second solo exhibition at Thomas Robertello Gallery honors 2009, a year that, for many, typifies economic unrest, unemployment and home loss. Even for those of us unscathed, a new year carries new possibilities, new responsibilities, and McElroy urges us to reflect on a year’s worth of hardships with the quips of another. She set up a website ( to solicit others’ images, stories and jokes that epitomize their most painful moment, or in some cases, their triumphant reclamation.

McElroy describes her artistic mission as an interactive attempt to make a connection with her audience, and she is accustomed to participatory art. Her inspiration for soliciting photographs, she says, may have emanated from a past project for which she asked her mother to photograph twenty-four reasons why she loves her, using nothing more than a disposable camera.

User-generated content leaves the end result a bit, well, open-ended: “I was expecting so many more images of home and job loss,” McElroy says, “but I was actually really surprised about [the stories of] heartbreak. For people who weren’t experiencing those economic stresses, [2009] was equally rough but in a very different way. It made the project much more interesting and much more complicated.”

McElroy spread the word of her developing project by posting ads in Craigslist and Coffee News, distributing flyers to cafes, “emailing anybody who had ever emailed me about anything,” she laughs, and even snail-mailing strangers chosen at random from old phone books. “I got a lot of responses asking who I was,” but her breadth of personal connections and that of friends and family catalyzed the project’s dissemination, fashioning a potent spiderweb chronicling a year in the life. Read the rest of this entry »