Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

News: Threewalls in Transition

News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Brandon Alvendia's exhibition "The Great Good Place" at Threewalls, November 11 - December 12, 2015.

Installation view of Brandon Alvendia’s exhibition “The Great Good Place” at Threewalls, November 7 – December 12, 2015.

Days after Jeffreen Hayes, newly appointed executive director of Threewalls, announced that the nonprofit arts organization would vacate its longtime West Loop space and lay off its operating staff, questions still remain about the fate of Chicago’s beloved alternative arts space. In an email addressed to the Chicago art community, Hayes cited financial challenges, including rising rents in the West Loop neighborhood, as the reason for these drastic measures. While shocking, the announcement is a chilling reminder that the well-being of even the strongest and most successful nonprofit arts organizations are not guaranteed in the current political and economic environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2015: Art

Top 5 Lists 2 Comments »

Top 5 Art Anniversaries
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (150th)
The Renaissance Society (100th)
Arts Club of Chicago (99th)
Smart Museum (40th)
Loyola University Art Museum (10th)
–Elliot Reichert

Top 5 Visiting Artist Talks 
Hito Steyerl
Agnès Varda
Joan Jonas
Jeff Koons
Thomas Hirschhorn
–Elliot Reichert Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Gift Guide: The Art Edition

Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Logan Square, West Loop No Comments »
Ceramics by Noah Signer. Threewalls Seasonal Shop Showcase.

Ceramics by Noah Singer. Threewalls Seasonal Shop Showcase.

If the “buy local” consumer ethos has improved the environment and kickstarted local economies, Chicago’s art collectors would do better to build their collections the same way they fill their fridges. For aspiring and seasoned connoisseurs alike, Chicago is rife with opportunities to purchase affordable, beautiful work by emerging and established local artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking News: Threewalls Appoints Executive Director, Artistic Director to Depart

Galleries & Museums, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Jeffreen M. Hayes

Jeffreen M. Hayes

After a nationwide search, Jeffreen M. Hayes has been appointed the executive director of Threewalls, a Chicago non-profit arts organization based in the West Loop, the executive board announced today. Hayes replaces former director Shannon Stratton, who resigned from her position in April to become chief curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. At the same time, Threewalls has indicated that Abigail Satinsky, current artistic director and interim executive director after the departure of Stratton, will be leaving in December for other unspecified pursuits in Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Laura Davis/Threewalls

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, West Loop No Comments »
Laura Davis. Installation shot of "Wall Gems," 2015.

Laura Davis. Installation shot of “Wall Gems,” 2015.


A page from the artist’s sixth-grade diary. Wood. Wire. Fur from a ladies vintage hat. A twenty-milligram Prozac tablet. These are some of the materials Davis uses in “Legacy of Loneliness,” and they are a good starting point for understanding how the show responds to the historical treatment of female artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Anthony Baab/Threewalls

Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Anthony Baab. "Cover the Earth 2," 2015. Marker, cardboard, glue. Dimensions vary. / Image: Clare Britt, courtesy of Threewalls.

Anthony Baab. “Cover the Earth 2,” 2015.
Marker, cardboard, glue. Dimensions vary./Image: Clare Britt, courtesy of Threewalls.


An exhibition filled with cardboard boxes naturally speaks to today’s consumer culture. Rather than displaying tangible goods, the materials used to protect and transport commodities are on show here. The exhibition makes an apt critique of commodity culture, illustrating the constant re-branding efforts of corporations, as well as the vast spread of consumerism and its attendant waste. Read the rest of this entry »

Breakout Artists 2015: Chicago’s Next Generation of Image Makers

Artist Profiles, Breakout Artists 1 Comment »
Cover by Matthew Hoffman, Breakout Artist 2006. Photo: Cheryl Hinman

Cover by Matthew Hoffman, Breakout Artist 2006. Photo: Cheryl Hinman

Breakout Artists is our annual showcase of Chicago artists we think you should know. This is our twelfth edition.

Lists like these always risk reduction, betray biases and can say more about the limits of their host publication’s scope than about the worthiness of artists—those mentioned or not. They persist as conversation starters: their value isn’t solely in what is printed here, but in the excited discussions and debates that proceed from them. Our circulation spikes around these featured lists, and so does the mail we receive. Understanding those contexts is an important part of appreciating what a list like our annual Breakout Artists can and can’t do.

But while many lists of this sort are ranked or correspond to particular forms of prestige, our Breakout Artists have always been determined by a more mysterious (and certainly subjective) calculus. I had to begin by wondering out of what these artists were meant to be breaking. This year, we are celebrating and advocating for ten artists’ practices who have seen breakthroughs in their work and are breaking out into higher stakes, wider visibility, a broader range of media, or expansions of what art can accomplish. Their practices subvert racial and gender stereotypes, crisscross into adjacent fields like illustration and design, enmesh studio work with curating and other socially engaged creative moves, run amuck in traditional mediums like painting and sculpture, while also finding ways to work in new places outside galleries or on the web.

The artists we’ve selected are at different stages of their careers; this is not an emerging artist list, although a couple have recently completed BFAs. If there is a common feature, it is one that shows the continued gravitational pull of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the arts cultivated in this town. Despite being one of the most expensive college educations in the country (for art or anything else) and in the face of perpetual wondering about the relevance of higher education, each of this year’s Breakout Artists have brushed through SAIC—whether studying there or, like me, teaching there. These artists’ work happens not only in sanctioned art world temples, but in apartment spaces far out on the Green Line, in the neighborhoods surrounding Cook County Jail, from Rogers Park to Washington Park, and sometimes in Canada. Whether in major arts institutions or in the dispersed expanded field of where creative exploration can happen, these are artists worth knowing about and watching out for the great things they are doing. (Matt Morris)

News: Changes in Threewalls Leadership as Shannon Stratton Leaves for New York

Galleries & Museums, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Threewalls founder Shannon Stratton, photo by Clare Britt

Threewalls founder Shannon Stratton/Photo: Clare Britt

In a heartfelt letter addressed to friends and supporters of Threewalls on March 26, founder and executive director Shannon Stratton announced that she has been appointed the William and Mildred Lasdon chief curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City. Stratton will be leaving after twelve years as executive director at Threewalls and will begin her position at MAD on June 15, 2015.

In an email exchange, Stratton nostalgically reminisces on some of her most prized moments at Threewalls. “It’s hard to really choose just one thing I’m proud of. I am mostly just incredibly happy that the organization will outlive its founder(s)—that is, stand on its own three feet with a staff and board that isn’t drawn from the organization’s original team. My most beloved success is curating Faith Wilding’s retrospective.” At MAD, Stratton will be a senior management team member, responsible for leading museum strategy for collections and exhibitions as well as for setting the artistic vision for the museum in collaboration with MAD director Glenn Adamson, explains Stratton. “There is plenty to look forward to with this move, but very personally, I am excited to be working full time as a curator, join a team I respect and get to refocus on the intersections between contemporary art, craft and design.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Threewalls Announces 2015 Edition of Community Supported Art Chicago

Architecture, News etc., Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Julia Klein, “Stand/Statuette.” Mock-up of the planned editions. Edition of 25 + 6 artist proofs. All thirty-one are unique in terms of exact measurements and color. Cast bronze, steel and paint.

Julia Klein, “Stand/Statuette.” Mock-up of the planned editions. Edition of 25 + 6 artist proofs. All thirty-one are unique in terms of exact measurements and color. Cast bronze, steel and paint.

Threewalls, one of Chicago’s non-profit art leaders in pro-artist programming, is launching the 2015 edition of its Community Supported Art Chicago (CSA) series: “The Tabletop Collection.” Using the theme of a sculpture garden reimagined for a tabletop, the collection will be available as a set with works by five Chicago-based artists: Laura Davis, Assaf Evron, Julia Klein, Sabina Ott and Stephen Reber. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jaime Davidovich/Threewalls

Drawings, Installation, Multimedia, Video, West Loop 1 Comment »
Jaime Davidovich. "The Live! Show," 1980

Jaime Davidovich. “The Live! Show,” 1980


Argentinian artist Jaime Davidovich moved to a New York teeming with ideas, conversations and possibilities during the 1960s and seventies, when it was gritty, dangerous and artists could afford a building in SoHo. Whereas Gordon Matta-Clark, Donald Judd and the Judson Dance Theater give the period its experimental flavor, Davidovich’s pioneering efforts in artist-run public television never received recognition like abstract video artists Stan Brackhage or Paul Sharits. Read the rest of this entry »