Welcome to Newcity Art’s annual shortlist of artists you need to know right now. This is not a listicle of the top thirty-under-thirty, nor is it an exhaustive encyclopedia of every maker toiling away in the myriad studios and slashie live-work spaces in this fair and fecund city, blessed be their tired and yearning souls. Before you are eight artists whose work deserves your immediate and undivided attention—at least until that next Trump tweet throws everything off kilter again. And even then, you’ll need some beautiful and acerbic art to get you through the rest of the day, so listen up please.
Miraculously, Chicago’s art community has weathered the post-studio storm of the early aughts with poise and grace. Perhaps because Chicago has always been a city of making—of skyscrapers and steaks, reapers and bluesy raconteurs —it remains a bastion of the artfully made thing. Here is a city of painters, of sculptors, of weavers and sound artists, of photographers and videographers whose commitments to their crafts only enhance the emotional and socio-political resonance of the work that they make every damn day. Indeed, Chicago suffers no dilettantism, a fact that makes it both the envy and the enemy of its coastal art-world rivals.
It is worth noting that at a time when the terms “emerging” and “ascendent” trace the all-too-familiar contours of ageism and market-driven speculation, we humbly and knowingly offer this coven of magic-makers whose practices we know will offer something beneath and beyond the surface of art-as-you-know-it. We hope you will find someone or something new in these pages, and that that discovery will make you feel entreated to ask for more.
On the cusp of another anniversary at the Newcity Art desk, this grateful editor thanks his trusty freelance team, several of whom contributed their wisdom and words to this feature. Breakout Artists 2017 was written by Kerry Cardoza, Frances Dorenbaum, Noah Hanna, Nicole Mauser, Lee Ann Norman, Chris Reeves, Erin Toale and Elliot J. Reichert. (Elliot J. Reichert)
Elliot J. Reichert is a Chicago-based curator, critic, and editor. He is a currently Curator of Contemporary Art at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana Unversity, and Hatch Projects Curatorial Resident at the Chicago Artist Coalition. Formerly, he was Art Editor of Newcity and Assistant Curator at the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. His writing has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Newcity.