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Zhou Brothers: TIME - A Portrait of History opens April 22

I visited the Zhou Brothers, DaHuang and Shan Zuo in their massive studio on a Friday morning right after the new year.  The place was buzzing, and people were going to and fro for a reason I did not yet know.  Quietly off on the sidelines were Shan Zuo's son Michael and his wife and new baby daughter, all watching the artist duo calmly while apologizing for the chaos.  I was only too happy to watch the action: photographers were trying manage the mid-morning light while trying out a variety of poses and angles, and the two brothers were trying to put the final touches on a very important commission.  Michael Zhou was about to tell me just who ordered the painting and for whom, but I had to keep the news under wraps until after January 18.  A very special figure had requested a painting from the Zhou Brothers to present to a visiting international leader. President Barack Obama planned to give the art work to the President of China, Hu Jintao, for his upcoming visit to Washington.  The date of my visit was January 7, barely 10 days before the painting was to be presented, and the artists had just received a green light and managed to wrap up a major painting that would be a part of history.

The painting, "Eight U.S. Presidents and the Great Wall" is an original, multi-textural oil painting on canvas, measuring 86" wide x 68" high. On January 18, 2011 the artists unveiled at the White House their most historical painting to President Obama, as a national gift to His Excellency Hu Jintao, the President of China, on the occasion of the state visit to the White House. This painting was the first time in their artistic career where recognizable figures appeared in their art. These figures are a stylistic representation of the eight American presidents who have governed since the opening of China's relationship with the U.S. by President Nixon in 1972. This rare honor instigated a refocusing of creative interest in their own personal history which triggered the shift in direction in their latest series. The Zhou Brothers were on hand on January 18, 2011 for the gift exchange between the two Presidents. With White House & State Department staff huddled around, the Zhou brothers explained the significance of the painting, what the gift symbolizes, & their passion for & love of America.

These two brothers have worked together for decades, collaborating on monumental works so large they needed a warehouse space to house them.  Their collaborative process is unique, and their artistic range is broad: they create sculptures, paintings, prints, even performances.  They've even created the mega art center at 1029 W. 35th street that we've all been getting to know as Chicago's newest art destination.  The Zhou Brothers have carried both the United States and their native China with them in their work, and the latest show takes cues from the Presidential commission and continues to expand on history.

TIME: Portrait of History

April 22, 2011, opening reception from 6-10 PM
Through June 12, 2011

Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St, Chicago

Gallery sneak peek (1 image):

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2nd Friday in Pilsen East April 8 - WOW is the word

2nd Fridays has been a fun outing to Pilsen East for many years now, but I just got an email from director Cynthia West this week that made me take more notice than usual - I guess she got me with  "Wow!"  And she means it. This is not just a monthly event where you're invited to wander - dozens of spaces and galleries are hosting special exhibitions and events just because it's Friday, it's April, and the temperature is above 40°! These artists and creatives are really bringing a lot to the table for you, and this is pretty much a one-night only gig. 


2nd Friday in the Chicago Arts District
Friday April 8th, 2011 6p-10p
Information Center at South Halsted and 18th Streets in Chicago

To summarize all that's happening, we've got capes and self-realization, the organic symbolism of Flora, and a metalsmith who's also a confectioner...

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The BODY @ kasia kay art projects October 29

The BODY at kasia kay art projects

Opening on October 29 at kasia kay art projects is The BODY, an exhibition of new sculptures by Claudia Hart and paintings by Rim LeeNothing in the exhbition is quite what it seems: Hart and Lee both explore feminism, the human body and identity from unique perspectives, with Hart's sculptures seeming half like video-games, and half like real life.  Lee's paintings look almost like photographs - the wet, messy clay on the figures depicted looks fresh enough to make a mess. Technology plays a role in each body of work, and the show is certainly new and fresh.


On Friday, November 5 Joseph Ravens performs Kattywampus at the gallery, in conjunction with the 21st annual edition of the Chicago Humanities Festival 2010.  Performances are a lively way for gallery-goers to revisit a gallery once the opening has taken place.  Kattywampus will offer a chance for visitors to meet and interact with the artist and to have mutliple experiences in the gallery, as gallery owner Kasia Kay is always one to experiment with various endeavors and projects with her artists.  November 5 will be the start to a busy art weekend because of SOFA Chicago, and it's a great occasion to visit this West Loop space.

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Chicago Gallery News Blog

Our posts here are fewer and fewer because we've been working over at

Come have a look at our blog there, and the art news and features won't stop! 

We will continue to post here on ChicagoNow from time to time as well. 

See you in the galleries!

From Bakelite to Diamonds at the Merchandise Mart Antiques Fair

The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair returns this weekend as the premier destination for antiques in the Midwest. If your taste is less antique and more vintage, break into collecting with the debut of Emporium, a new pavilion at the Fair. Eclectic and affordable, dealers specializing in 18th and 19th century finds, like Mid-century Modern furniture, vintage clothing, jewelry, found items and folk art will ensure you walk away with something old...but new to you.

Antiques don't always seem like an obvious taste choice to people in the contemporary art world, but each time this fair comes around, I encourage people to go because there is such a wide range of things to discover at a show like this - there is SUCH a range of prices, but a total guarantee of quality.  Many people have poked around antique shops during a long weekend somewhere in the country, or tried to squeeze through the narrow aisles in a bustling flea market or junk shop, hoping to find some fabulous find amidst the clutter, but going to a highly-reputable fair where each piece has been vetted for authenticity is the perfect place to start, and something not-to-miss. Plus, the show is really trying to win over younger visitors and future collectors more than ever before, trying especially hard to prop up the industry's aging collector base.  Part of the problem lies in the name 'antiques' itself - what else can it convey other than age?  But really, something that's old can certainly be new again.  Antiques and vintage finds can be surprisingly affordable, and they have things going for them that the latest coffee table designs in Crate and Barrell do not: history.  Age is actually proof that something has stood the test of time and appealed to a wide arrange of tastes in a variety of homes.  if you find the right piece for your needs, you'll be able to enjoy it for years to come, while appreciating something very unique. 

If you'd like to attend the fair this weekend and get a free pass, email to ask for a free pass and a special code (limited number available.) If you have any great stories of discovery, feel free to leave a comment here on this blog. And one more thing - did I mention the jewelry at the fair??  From bakelite to diamonds, you'll find something to enjoy all season long...

The fair runs October 1-4. For a dealer list and more information, go to

Nula Thanhauser

Beverley R. Fine Antique & Period Jewelry

Gold Figures - Arts220

Richard Norton Inc

Groundbreaking Buddhist Cave Temple Exhibition at The Smart Museum of Art

Groundbreaking Buddhist Cave Temple Exhibition at The Smart Museum of Art

Deep in the mountains of northern China, the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtang-shan existed as a major cultural achievement of the 6th century Northern Qi dynasty until the early 19th century, when the site was stripped of its sculptures for sale on the international art market. Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago examines the religious and artistic significance of these caves through their ancient objects; it also imagines the site as it once was, using innovative digital reconstructions.

A monumental bodhisattva begins the exhibit on a traditional note; style, iconography, religious context, and the removal of the sculptures from the caves is desc-ribed. Because Xiangtangshan was damaged so extensively, it has been all but impossible to understand the rich and complex artistic achievement of the caves and visualize their original appearance.

The most unique element to the exhibit, is its basis: a multi-year research project involving scanning and digital simulations. In 2004, the University's Center for the Art of East Asia launched "The Xiangtangshan Caves Project: Reconstruction and Recontextualization," an ongoing project to identify, locate, and document dispersed cave carvings. Using sophisticated 3-D equiptment, the project's imaging team photographed and scanned nearly 100 objects from museums and private collections believed to be from Xiangtangshan.

Organized by the Smart Museum and the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Echoes of the Past is on view September 30-January 16, 2011, before embarking on a tour to Washington DC, Dallas, and San Diego.  Celebrate the exhibition opening Thursday, September 30, with a performance by members of Kansas City's Spoonbender Orchestra. Free, 5:30pm.

Storm Chaser @ Jackson Junge Gallery: One Man's Photos of Danger

Everyone loves storms from a distance - some people even love being caught in the middle of one.  It's one of summer's magical qualities.  Photographer David Mayhew has been a successful storm chaser, racing around to capture lightning in a 2-D bottle.  He shoots storms before, during and after the drama, leaving his dramatic, anticipatory scenes to speak for themselves.

Mayhew has traveled widely, seeking skyward electricity in Colorado, Indiana, Canada and Mexico in pursuit of the perfect storm. His priority is tornadoes and electrical storms, as they create the most intriguing and compelling sky effects. The artist is also a weather geek - something that helps him use the most current array of technology and gadgets to get what he wants in his images. Mayhew frequently participates in spring trips where students and faculty from the Weather Lab at the College of DuPage outside Chicago to embark on storm finding missions to learn more about the science behind extreme weather. Attend the opening reception on Friday, August 27 from 6-9pm to ask the artist about some of his closest calls in pursuit of his art.

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Visit Province Restaurant and Enjoy An Arty Evening in the West Loop

Two of Chicago's oldest arts organizations, the Chicago Artists Coalition and the Lawyers for the Creative Arts, are hosting a special evening of art, food, and cocktails in the West Loop on Wednesday, August 18.  To start, dinner guests can visit Mars Gallery and tour the studio of artist Peter Mars "the leader of Chicago's Pop Movement for the past 20 years."  Celebrities have collected his works, and his works also often feature the world's celebrities. 
From the gallery, you can take a trolley between 5:15 and 6:45 to Province Restaurant - a West Loop restaurant that's been pairing with the the art world for a little while now.  From 6:30-9pm enjoy unlimited wine and 'artist-inspired' hors d'oeuvres created by Province chef Randy Zwieban.  The restaurant is bright and hip, and a great change of pace for a Wednesday night.  Even better?  The tickets are only $30 ($20 if you're a member of CAC.)  Also, 20% of proceeds from the sale of Peter Mars' work will benefit the Chicago Artists Coalition's membership programs (ie: tax deductible!) 

To purchase tickets, please email Alyson Koblas or call the CAC office: 773 772 2385 by August 16.

Gallery sneak peek (2 images):

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Tony Tasset's Lumberjack "Paul" at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park

Everyone's been all atwitter over Tony Tasset's "Eye" in Chicago's Loop at State and Van Buren this summer, but if you'd like to see more, make up an excuse to head to University Park, IL to the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park at Governor's State University.

Tasset's larger-than-life (even Paul Bunyan's life) sculpture of the woodsman to beat all woodsmen, Paul Bunyan, has been in the park since 2006.

"Paul" is one of 26 pieces, many by masters of contemporary sculpture, in NMSP's permanent collection.  And if you like the oversize scale and playfulness of "Eye", you'll enjoy the trip to the sculpture park.

According to NMSP: "Paul" was seen as a breakthrough work for Tasset, who has also explored artistic media such as photography and painting. It was his first monumental, figurative piece.  Both "Paul" and "Eye" are constructed of painted fiberglass over a steel frame. They are the same height - about 30 feet - and were fabricated by F.A.S.T. (Fiberglass Animals Shapes and Trademarks) Corp. of Sparta, WI.

Viewers notice that "Paul" looks like his back hurts after all the years chopping down trees, and he's spent time in the sun.  He's still strong, but starting to wear down.  And maybe he thinks no one will see him in this moment of natural fatigue.  The image is counter to almost all other representations of Bunyan, an icon of the frontier and hard work.  And it's this departure that conjures more emotion than usual from the viewer, and makes us realize Tasset's skill on such a large scale.  Revisitng the "Eye" now will perhaps show things from a new point of view.  

The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park is located at Governors State University's main campus in University Park. The park is free of charge and open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year. For more information about the sculpture park, visit or call (708) 534-4486.

And just because I can't pass up the chance when we're talking Paul Bunyan, take a look at the always fantastic Monty Python "Lumberjack" sketch, featuring Michael Palin.

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival This Weekend in Logan Square

The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival takes place this weekend, featuring nearly 30 curated gallery exhibitions in empty storefronts, performances in theater & dance, presentations of film, video & visual art, & live music along North Milwaukee Avenue on Chicago's north/west side. 

There are a bunch of visual art exhibitions as part of the festival, and the event's website highlights all that's taking place, as well as a handy map.

The festival goes beyond just the visual arts, to give visitors some typical street-fair feel, including local cuisine, 3  music stages, 3 beer gardens, sidewalk sales, outdoor cafés, the Logan Square Farmers Market & more. We know that Chicagoans love free trolleys, and they will help you navigate the Festival too.

July 23-25
in Logan Square, Chicago, IL

Friday, July 23: 4-11pm
Saturday, July 24: noon-11pm
Sunday, July 25: noon-11pm

Gallery sneak peek (1 image):

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So You Think You Can Paint? A Perfect Reality Art Storm at Spoke

Ok, so today's post is basically entirely lifted from a clever email I got from Spoke this morning, but they say what they want to say well, and I just want to get the word out about this sure-to-be entertaining event, So, You Think You Can Paint?  Deadlines are approaching, so if you're interested in participating, get on it!  And let CGN know if you DO participate so we can follow up on the blog...

From Spoke:

So, You Think You Can Paint? is at once a project to take the anthropological pulse of the city of Chicago where artists, hobbyists, enthusiasts, professionals, and naysayers have a leveled playing field to exhibit their work; and second an irreverent look at the competitive framework network television promotes. The entire project is a timely reinterpretation of the reality judging show So You Think You Can Dance (Fox July 20, 2005 - present)  mixed with a dash of Art Star (Gallery HD June 1, 2006 - July 19, 2006)  and a pinch of Work of Art (Bravo 2010 - present).  Just like those unscripted displays of genius, hidden talent, and atrocity on television, what happens next is entirely up to the participants with paintings, the judges, the camera...and only at Spoke can you be involved.


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Eye on Chicago: Tony Tasset's EYE, & Big Plans from the Chicago Loop Alliance

Big Plans for Chicago Art from the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) and the Unveiling of Tony Tasset's EYE & CARDINAL

This post is courtesy of CGN blog guest contributor, Laura Miller.

Despite the heat, many gathered in Pritzker Park Wednesday morning, at the corner of State and Van Buren, for the unveiling of internationally renowned contemporary artist Tony Tasset's  30-foot-tall EYE, and 156 of his CARDINAL State Street banners.  As the crowd approached they were greeted by a large shape covered with a mysterious white tarp bearing the logo for the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), the organization that coordinated Tasset's installation, as a part of the inaugural and hefty Art Loop 2010.  After some opening remarks by organizers and Tasset himself, the tarp was pulled away to reveal a shiny, stunning blue eyeball - red veins and all.  Made of steel reinforced fiberglass, the sculpture will be up through October 31.

CLA's Art Loop 2010 includes Tasset's installations, as well as free public programming at the Art Institute of Chicago, Pritzker Park (home to the EYE), Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center, and other programs and tours.  Pop-Up Art Loop is another component of Art Loop 2010 that has taken advantage of empty storefronts around the Loop and transformed them into makeshift gallery spaces, exhibits and studios.  The best way to tour Pop-Up Art Loop galleries, visit Tasset's EYE, or see many of the city's well known permanent public installations, including those by Calder, Miro, Chagall, Picasso and Anish Kapoor, download a tour map from the CLA website, or visit the ArchiCenter at 224 S. Michigan for an MP3 version.

Another CLA initiative, and something else to look forward to in October, is the launch of Art Loop Open.  The CLA and the Chicago Artists' Coalition will launch this free, interactive, multi-venue art installation in the Loop for two weeks, October 15-29.  Artists will exhibit their work at various venues and spaces in the Loop, and the public will vote on their favorites, awarding cash prizes to the artists with the most votes.

The CLA advocates for many of Chicago's most appealing historic and contemporary spaces in the Loop and focuses on bringing them together to support one another and showcase a more vibrant and flourishing area for Chicagoans and city visitors.

If you have your own photos of the EYE, please feel free to email them to and we'll post with your photo credit on the blog this week! 

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Tom Parish's Venice Paintings at Gruen Galleries

A show of artist Tom Parish's latest work recently opened at Gruen Galleries, and it's a crowd-pleaser.  Parish just completed 15 large-scale scenes of real buildings in Venice, Italy. At the opening on June 4, the gallery itself was stifling from the heat, but just looking into the watery scenes of Parish's paintings helped refresh all the viewers in the gallery.

The paintings are technically beautiful, while also perfectly reminiscent of the feeling most visitors get when they've manage to break through the crazy crowds of tourists and find some peace and quiet in an ancient city. The scale in particular brings the works to life in the large gallery space. Viewers should take their time looking at building details, the age that shows in the peeling paint, the murkiness of the water, and the unique brightness that is so striking in the colors of Venice.  Parish's realist renderings reveal new dark corners as well as highlights of the city.

The 77 year-old Parish has had several shows at Gruen Galleries over the years, and his latest work will be a treat for anyone who's spent time in this city of water.  And if you have not been, this might make you want to book a ticket.

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

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Chicago Artists on Bravo's Newest Reality Show: Work of Art

Art world watchers, insiders and pundits have been collectively buzzing for quite awhile about Bravo's newest endeavor, Work of Art.  And finally, the night has come: tonight, the show premiers (after the Blackhawks game, of course) and the rest of us get to see what the fuss is (hopefully) all about. 

There will be cheesy, camera-ready moments and lots of over-the-top themes and TV gimmicks, and there will be well-placed drama-magnets who drive us nuts.  Off the bat, I kind of can't stand the tag-line of 'the next great artist.' Ideally the show will challenge the contestants in productive, stimulating ways, and the audience will be enlightened about art production and inspiration.  However, this is, after all, intended to be commercial, and you're also dealing with artists who have egos large enough (or too big) to fit on TV.  

But the art world always wishes for more attention for its emerging talent, and TV is the world's common stage.  We just have to see what happens this time around.  And if people really hate it after they've seen it, well, that's still a lot to think and talk about...

We all know the reality TV drill by now, and Bravo's the network that's shown everyone else how things should be done.  How the hour-long frenzied competitions will play out in the context of the art world is yet to be seen, but the line-up of judges and contestants is solid-enough that it's worth paying attention for awhile. Jerry Saltz?  Simon de Pury, anyone? But as we all know, as long as there's enough drama and flair and ticking clocks, we'll pay attention - if not during the original run, who doesn't love a marathon? 

But the real tip here for anyone reading this blog is that several artists on the show have strong Chicago ties, and hopefully they'll all be fun to root for.  The clock is ticking!

Watch out for the following contestants (as always, sometimes I miss things, so leave any comments or suggestions for me and I'll update the blog!)

Peregrine Honig (definitely known in Chicago, though Kansas City-based)
Ryan Schultz (Northwestern Grad - exhibited at Flat Iron Building, Zhou B Art Center)
John Parot (check out his show at Western Exhibitions in the West Loop!)
Jaime Lynn Henderson (recent MFA from SAIC; showed at Around the Coyote and CAC) 

Martina Nehrling: Color Overload at Zg Gallery

Several openings are taking place this Friday, June 4, and one of the most colorful features the work of Martina Nehrling at Zg Gallery.  Just in time for the spring turning into summer, longer days and the general cheer that comes along with well-deserved and long-awaited nice weather, a new show of Nehrling's paintings and works on paper, What the Walls Heard, opens in River North. 

Nehrling's signature colors and short brushstrokes make up dizzying, rhythmic spells that engage and capture the viewer.  Martina states, "My paintings are visual rhythms inspired by the cacophony of daily life, at once the weight and the flimsiness of it.  Compelled by the pulsation of the beautiful and horrific relentlessly clashing, I create compositions of accumulation.  Grouped or tangled together, I use multiple distinct brushstrokes for their graphic directness, but highly saturated chroma in order to heighten the effect of color's imprecise language."

Nehrling received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.)  Since she will be present at the opening on June 4, stop by to talk to her in person about color, and more. My office is very, very close to the gallery, and I walk by the gallery windows a few times a day.  I really like Nehrling's work and am looking forward to being so lucky as to see it on a daily basis soon.  And her work is worth remembering for the days (hopefully far away) when Chicago skies are anything but colorful...  And when those days come, if you can't afford to take one of her paintings home, at least there's a book

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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Summer Gallery Openings Friday, June 4

The start to summer for most people kicked off with Memorial Day weekend, but in the art world, our summer starts this Friday, June 4.  Dozens of galleries around the city open their doors to welcome gallery-goers and host new exhibitions during the nice weather. And as we all know, everything is more fun when it's warm outside in Chicago! 

A lot of openings take place in River North, and there is also a big event taking place at the Flat Iron Arts Building, and a few openings take place elsewhere in the city.  Start on the early side Friday evening (come on, it's a short week - make the most of it!) and then take advantage of al fresco dining in the neighborhoods while you can!
Don't miss Jim Waid's solo show at Jean Albano Gallery in River North, go see Tom Parish's paintings of Venice at Gruen Galleries, two artists at work at Roy Boyd Gallery, and stop in to see works by Toots Zynsky at Habatat Galleries.  Running a little later into the evening is the June smARTshow at the Flat Iron Building in Bucktown/Wicker Park. 

And also remember that Saturday is a big art tour day in the galleries. You can start out in River North in the morning, and then head to the West Loop for a tour led by McCormick Gallery in the afternoon! Tours are free and open to the public!

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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Office Romance: threewalls Spring Fundraiser and Art Auction

Tis the season for fundraisers and spring benefits!  And art benefits are particularly great all around since those who buy tickets come to support their favorite cause or institution, hang out with all their art world friends, and get what they really want - ART.  Silent auctions at art benefits are the best because, duh, they offer unique art at often-times reasonable prices while supporting the art organization in need.

And threewalls in particular knows how to throw a great party.  Last year, it was fangs, virgins and the undead partying at the Museum of Surgical Science.  This year the more-relatable, but still potentially randy, theme is Office Romance.  The event will feature live music by soul band Baby Alright, covert theater by Dog & Pony Theater Company, special performances by Naked Girls Reading and Justin Cooper, silent and live auction of over 80 artworks, M.C.'d by Scott Speh, and then shut the party down with a dance party by Chances Dances.

And, the party will be at a place most of you have never been to - The Library at 190 S. LaSalle. On the 40th floor!  If you're not a corporate office person (I've never worked in a cube, used the term 'circle back', flashed a badge to security, or taken an elevator more than 7 floors to get to work) then this is your chance - but way more fun: think Joan Holloway from Mad Men for a night.  According to the savvy event organizers, there is plenty tucked into the towering stacks of books, cubby holes and catwalks, as you over look the Sear's Tower and Lake Michigan...  This is an arty crowd, so get creative!

Artworks on auction include work by:  Andreas Fischer, Carrie Schneider, Jason Lazarus, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Judith Brotman, Karen Reimer, Ken Fandell, Richard Hull, Stacia Yeapanis, Theaster Gates, and more.

If you can't wait, check out the very helpful auction website to start bidding now (a few previews are in the slideshow here.)  Or, if you can't make the event, make sure you enter your bids in advance and support threewalls wherever you are!

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

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8th Annual ArtFutura Benefit Exhibition and Art Sale for Art Therapy at RIC

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is hosting its 8th annual ArtFutura exhibition at Portals Gallery in River North this year, and tonight is the closing party.  If you have not yet attended, tonight is the night to mingle with other party guests, as well as patients from RIC.  Proceeds benefit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Art Therapy program. Art Therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the creation of art is healing and life-enhancing - making a difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities. Patient artwork is also on view as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition features work by 150 emerging and established artists, and James Rondeau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago served as juror. This year's exhibition theme is 'Ability.'

The Closing Night Award Party on Thursday, May 20, will include music, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, artwork for sale, and artists' awards will be announced and granted. Tickets will be available at the door.

For future reference, check the RIC's website in early 2011 for the call for artists for next year's event, or contact Eric Horner at for more information.

Gallery sneak peek (2 images):

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Deborah Butterfield: New Work @ Zolla Lieberman Gallery

Last week I wrote about life-sized photographs of swimming, naked people at Carrie Secrist Gallery, and starting this Friday evening, you can see larger-than-life horses by artist Deborah Butterfield at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in River North.  Butterfield has been captivated by real horses her whole life; her awe-inspiring sculptures, first created out of plaster or ceramics, then lead, copper, and rusted steel, and eventually found wood cast in bronze, are included in major private and public collections around the country. 

The horses Deborah Butterfield creates are in a variety of poses - sometimes lying down, sometimes turning their heads or about to lower their heads for another bite of grass. But the poses may recall human mannerisms more than equine, spurring the viewer to consider horses, and animals, in a new way. 
Deborah Butterfield

Chicagoans are fortunate that a local gallery has represented Butterfield for such a long time, and in fact, Zolla/Lieberman's 3rd show featured Butterfield in 1976.  The late Roberta Lieberman and gallery co-owner Bob Zolla had decided that after holding two exhibitions featuring stars from Leo Castelli's gallery, and then James Rosenquist, they wanted to find a new artist.  And the partnership that began between Butterfield and the gallery, still exists today. 

Butterfield  casts pieces of driftwood in bronze, enhances each piece with just the right patina and then assembles them to create her life-like, dynamic creatures.  The horses look almost brittle, made of dried out wood, but when you reach out to touch the sculpture, you feel cool, solid metal.

It's been a couple of years since Butterfield's last show in Chicago, and now that the time has come again, no one should miss it.  The opening of the exhibition will be a great occasion to see the latest works by the artist and to meet Butterfield herself.  However, if you're swamped Friday, surely you can get to the show by August 25th

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Moms + Mimosas for Mother's Day @ Swimming Pool Project Space

Sick of soggy mother's day brunches and rooms full of screaming children?  Or just want a unique reason for some quality time with your mother this Sunday?  Go to The Pool (The Swimming Pool Project Space, I mean!) and do something a little different with a fun group of women. 

The super fun group at the Pool, including Liz Nielsen and Carolina Wheat, will be serving up mimosas, and also offering hand-sewn corsages (maybe don't tell your mom that part - let it be a sweet surprise, but do mention the mimosa as an enticement) this Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day, from 1-5pm.

On view will be a "Group Show" featuring artists recently seen in the booth at GOFFO's section of the NEXT fair. Swimming Pool director Liz Nielsen was asked to curate this year's Goffo section, which includes artist-run galleries from the Chicagoland area.  Particularly notable at GOFFO was work by the young SAIC artist and Nick Cave protege, Cheryl Pope... Her "Colts" are sure to get you and your mom talking...

Colts, by Cheryl Pope

 "Group Show" presents works in photography, sculpture, painting, and embroidery unified by irreverent attitudes and motifs that challenge the aesthetic line between craft, kitsch, and impeccably manufactured objects.

Take this fun occasion as a chance to take your mom on an arty adventure to one of Chicago's unique project spaces in the city, with a little Champagne and orange juice to sweeten the deal!

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Lynne Drexler: Early Spring @ McCormick Gallery

Chicago has an unfortunate personality disorder when it comes to weather and the change of seasons.  We start looking for signs in March, and then we're still shivering while we wait in late April. Then boom!  It's 85 and humid and we're into summer. 

Spring fever that is lasting a little longer in Chicago's art world may be found in an exhibition of works by Lynne Drexler at McCormick Gallery.  The current exhibition, Early Spring, is wonderfully overwhelming with bright, fresh color - perfect for easing us into summer. 

Some works are large scale, which I prefer to the smaller works just because of the extra space that allows for the dynamic compositions.  All together, the paintings create a vividly peppered space that should cheer any Chicagoan on a gray day.  Her colorful, abstract landscapes are created from crisp brushstrokes that look like large paper squares of confetti. 

Born in 1928, during 1950s Drexler worked alongside Abstract Expressionist greats Hans Hofmann and Robert Motherwell, eventually finding her own distinct style.  Drexler died in 1999 and was lived the last 16 years of her life on Monhegan Island with her painter husband John Hultberg.  Her work will be part of upcoming shows at the Monhegan Museum and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.

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Angelo Musco's Tehom @ Carrie Secrist Gallery

Carrie Secrist just had a big opening on May 1st for an artist relatively new to the gallery, and to the world, and now Chicagoans have a few weeks to see the large-scale solo show in the West Loop gallery.  The young Italian artist, Angelo Musco, showed his photographs at Secrist's Art Chicago booth in 2009, shortly before a late acceptance into the mega-art showcase, the Venice Biennale last summer.  The current exhibition, Tehom, runs through July 10th, but be sure to see this show sooner rather than later. I  mentioned Musco in an earlier post about Art Chicago since I was already excited about the opening of the exhibition.

Musco's work leaves strong impressions of birth, life, nature, and order. When you see this show on the large scale in Secrist's West Loop space, the hundreds of swimming, naked bodies are practically life-size, diving and spinning, and staring out at you from the gallery's main 12' x 48' wall.  While the subjects are moving in tight formations together under the water, light from an implied surface above is clearly shining through.

The story I got over the weekend was that Musco was born in Italy, and he was in the womb for 11 months after a complicated pregnancy. When he was finally born, he weighed 14lbs!  Today, his art is concerned with internal structures, underwater worlds, nature and human life.  To create his magical scenes, Musco takes tens of thousands of photographs of 80 nude models and then creates a Photoshop masterpiece. 

According to Wikipedia, Tehom, the show's title, is the Hebrew word for 'deep' or 'abyss.'
The dark, glossy backgrounds created in the gallery create a new, enveloping, womb-like environment for viewers, as well as possibly a sanctuary.  This is a show you have to see for yourself in person.

Gallery sneak peek (6 images):

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NEXT Art Fair at the Merchandise Mart - Part 1

So there's a lot going on at the Mart, and since I'm now pinched for time, I'll post some pictures from the media preview today and will fill in the blanks Friday (with some fun people watching pictures as well!)

There will be quite the party happening Thursday evening, complete with free Grolsch and people scooting around on little chairs with handlebars - and some good old fashioned art fair cage fighting.  Anyway, there's a lot of fresh art to take in at NEXT as well. Don't miss the Goffo space curated by the Swimming Pool Project Space (including a very cool piece by Nick Cave protege Cheryl Pope) and be sure to keep your eyes out for lots of great prints as well as works on paper, and some stellar sculpture in the project spaces. 

See you at the fair! 

Gallery sneak peek (8 images):

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Social Networking + Art Panel @ Art Chicago

So, if you are familiar with this blog or follow me on Twitter, then you must be at least somewhat interested in art, as well as social networking.  So, lucky you, you will want to attend a very cool panel at Art Chicago this weekend with yours truly!

Along with art critic Alicia Eler, I'm co-moderating the panel as part of Art Chicago Speaks.  The panel, Social Media Strategies in Chicago's Art Community, will be a lively discussion with some very smart social media gurus who like to multi-task and connect to others in our art world.  We're going to ask how arts organizations, institutions and publications are using blogs, Twitter and Facebook to connect with their communities, and we'll also discuss how (or if) social media is changing the nature of art criticism, marketing and writing. 

This panel features Karla Loring, Museum of Contemporary Art;
Carrie Heinonen, Art Institute of Chicago; Crystal Pernell, Hyde Park Art Center; Kathryn Born, Chicago Art Magazine; and Duncan MacKenzie, Bad at Sports.

So, if you're a newbie and want to have your social media questions answered (what is it?) or if you're a pro and you want to hear what some brilliant minds have to say, stop in on Sunday afternoon.  We'll let our panelists slug it out for an hour and then we'll get into audience questions.  And of course, we'll all be tweeting during the panel. So, if you can't be there in person, follow our Twitter hashtag: #artsocialmedia (if you don't know what a hashtag is, come find out!) You can also find out more about the event on Facebook.


The Art Fairs Are Here!

So an art storm is brewing, and the buzz from under the Merchandise Mart's big tent is getting louder by the minute! I was just over at Art Chicago for a couple hours this morning, brushing up and cramming a little since I'm also working as a tour docent this weekend... First up, a group from Spain on Friday morning, though I've been told I don't actually have to speak Spanish.

Anyway, I love going to galleries a day or two before a new show opens, because peeking in during an installation and watching dealers and artists put everything together is so fun.  And when you're wandering around an art fair in the early hours, previewing 150+ galleries, it's even better and even more daunting.  While wandering around as crates are being opened, as bubble wrap is carefully pulled away from art work, and as the sound of hammers and drills makes loud music across the floor, I remember why art fairs are so exciting - everything new and fresh is being unpacked and readied for its moment, and soon, legions of eager art world names and enthusiasts will arrive to try to take it all in at once. 

Yes, things start off on Thursday with some big splashy parties, crazy outfits, lots of networking, and over-sized beers, but when things settle a bit, everyone is there to see the art and to pay attention to what the art world is telling them to notice. 

So today's cram session was just the beginning for me, and a reminder to wear better shoes when leading the tour, but I'm already excited.  And as I get back on the blogging train, I'll continue to post about the fair all weekend, so be sure to visit for updates. 

There are a few show stoppers everyone should see... I can't wait to see Angelo Musco's work fully installed at Carrie Secrist's booth. Musco is Italian, in his early 30s, and participated in the Venice Biennale last year following a showing at Art Chicago.  Musco's work is unmistakeable - he uses dozens of models and takes thousands of photographs for each piece, then using Photoshop to put it all together.  A reason for this technical and creative madness?  Musco was in utero for 11 months. 11.  When he was born he weighed about 14lbs!
Work that focuses on the outside world at Chicago's Perimeter Gallery is by English artist Ben Whitehouse.  Whitehouse has painted a complete series of works from different times of day up around Rogers Park - the series is sold as a whole for $75K.  On the opposite wall is a 24-hour video that Whitehouse shot of Lake Michigan (thanks to a special camera made with software he developed with Apple).

And though I've seen Jacob Hashimoto's shows at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, I can never get enough of his amazingly crafted work... Two of Hashimoto's wood/rice paper/acrylic bath/string constructions are on display this year. Don't miss Rhona's booth in the middle of the Art Chicago floor - featured artists include Fred Sandbeck, Kehinde Wiley, Julia Fish and Lorna Simpson (the wig series is pretty awesome).

There are some new, non-local gallery additions to Art Chicago as well - Haunch of Venison (from NY, London and Berlin) features work by some big names like Tom Wesselmann, as well as pieces you may not have seen before.  Stuart Haygarth's "Spectacle" was one of my early favorites today - it's a shimmery chandelier made out of granny-like coke-bottle thick eye glasses, and the way the glasses refract light is quite surprising...

That's all for now.  I'll be back previewing again at NEXT on Thursday afternoon, and then I'll be around the preview parties in the evening!  More posts and art fair fun to come!  

Gallery sneak peek (3 images):

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Help Me, Help You... "The Art of Self-Improvement" at Concertina Gallery

I stopped into Concertina Gallery recently and got a personal tour of the latest exhibition from co-directors Francesca Wilmot and Katherine Pill.  The apartment gallery's current show features work by seven artists, some working in collaboration, others alone, all exploring the self-help phenomenon in a variety of mediums through some light, but revealing, mockery, reminding us that many people promise to have the answers to life's problems...    

The first piece I encountered was Habby Osk's GREAT, 73 minutes of voyeuristic opportunity to watch someone actually try to smile for over an hour.  And it's tough to watch.  The artist seems to start out doing her own version of a little Stuart Smalley confidence building; you think of all those people out there who start their day by smiling at the face they see in the mirror or putting on happy faces for photographs.  But then her endurance test goes on, and on, and Osk's muscles start to give in.  Her face looks pasty, cheeks puffy, and the smile is starts to slip into a grimace.  And then, there's the drool...  A smile's appeal is often in its spontaneity and brevity, and in GREAT, you see how hard it is to keep up appearances all the time.

On another TV screen artist Jill Pangallo played the character of Natia, a "healer" attending an outdoor, renaissance fair-like gathering for other artists and gurus.  For Natia and the Art Outside, Natia, who looks a little like Alanis Morissette mid-90s, tells the viewer about her experiences on site at the outdoor festival.  And despite her wish to be a calming healer to visitors to her booth, she's easily ticked off. When venting her frustration to the camera, she reminded me of both Parker Posey's spacy character in Waiting for Guffman, as well as Christopher Guest's agitated, dramatic Corky St. Clair from the same movie. She apparently never breaks character, even in interviews, and Natia is certainly memorable.

Other works in the show explore self-help through unique versions of familiar channels: an interactive massage "portal" by Faith La Rocque and Jaimie Henthorn that lets the subject simultaneously inhale scotch fumes; hypnosis by Jacob Hammes for creative types, and of course, tongue-in-cheek takes on ubiquitous self-help books by Gregg Louis

The show is a personal journey for sure.


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Spring Art Sale at SAIC April 9 & 10: Student Art Work for Sale

A couple of times a year, there is a sale of student art work at the School of the Art Institute - there's the Holiday Art Sale in November - perfect for unique, mostly inexpensive gifts, and then there is also the spring art sale, taking place April 9 & 10. At the sales students get the chance to try out pricing their work (what's too cheap, what's a little too optimistic, or what the sweet spot is...), while also figuring out how to effectively interact with interested buyers (oh, the long road towards some day selling your work to collectors!)

This sale/social experiment is also a fabulous way for the public to see what's coming out of the SAIC talent pool while being supportive of students and their creative work. You'll quickly see who has their sales pitch down, and who is scared to death (then it's up to the browser to take a little friendly initiative to start the conversation.) It's a different experience from the white-walled, formal BFA and MFA exhibitions at the school, but the sale is an opportunity to spot new talent in a shop-like setting. It's worth taking advantage of the opportunity to meet and get to know local art students and maybe even buy some art for yourself or as a gift.

A range of work is usually on display, including sculpture, photographs, paintings, prints, drawings, jewelry, hand-made paper, and more. How does it all work? The breakdown goes like this: students do benefit from their hard work since they receive 85% of their sales, but the other 15% goes to the SAIC Student Association to support the Art Sale and to fund future projects. For attendees, it's free to browse!

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) annual Spring Art Sale Friday, April 9 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. MacLean Center Ballroom (112 S. Michigan Avenue).

Paschke, Paschke Everywhere!

Chicagoans should be used to seeing Ed Paschke's vivid works around the city by now, but recently two River North galleries opened a joint exhibition, Ed Paschke's Women, at Russell Bowman Art Advisory and Alan Koppel Gallery.  The exhibition focuses on 20 paintings by Paschke depicting women, and it is one of the largest exhibitions of his work in Chicago. Maya Polsky Gallery, also in River North, worked closely with Paschke for many years and also shows some of his work.

Paschke was known as "Mr. Chicago" - he grew up here and always had a great fondness for the city, and though many of his contemporaries moved to New York to advance their careers, Paschke decided to stay and work in the city that he loved so passionately. Chicagoans love a loyal citizen, and even those outside the art world owe a great deal to Paschke's devotion to this city.  We lost the artist too soon in 2004, but his work continues to draw (overdue) attention to many artists in Chicago and to the strong work ethic that is characteristic of so many Chicagoans.  

In New York Gagosian Gallery is also currently exhibiting Paschke's work in a show curated by his most famous student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), artist Jeff Koons. The show curated by Koons features 40 works created over a twenty-year period. Koons has said of Paschke's work, "Ed Paschke taught me what it meant to be a professional artist. His paintings are like drugs, but in a good way: they are among the strongest physical images that I've ever seen. Their effect is neurological."

We can see Paschke's vivid, pulsating paintings around the city regularly - at Shakespeare Theater (hey, you can buy a poster!), at the Art Institute, and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, but the latest exhibition at Russell Bowman and Alan Koppel is a new chance to see multiple works together in two local gallery spaces. And the focus is unusual, as it's devoted to representations of women.  A range of techniques and mediums are exhibited, and Paschke's frequent historical and classical references are front and center.  When you've seen one unforgettable work, whether you like it or not, you'll recognize Paschke's style anywhere.  

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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"Performance Anxiety" Video Screening: Gallery 400 @ UIC April 7th

This post is a little delayed, but hey, if you're looking for something to do (Wednesday) head to UIC to see a very cool video screening.  I'm still learning a LOT about video art, but when you meet some serious fans of the medium, there is a lot to observe and learn.  If nothing else, the names associated with this screening are ones to remember.

One of those super video fans is Alicia Eler, who wears many hats in our art world - she writes the Collector Conversation series for Chicago Gallery News, she freelances as a writer and an art critic, she's a social media guru, and she's also a curator.  Alicia and video collector / architecture professor / friend Jefferson Godard present Performance Anxiety Wednesday evening, April 7 at 8pm at Gallery 400 at UIC.  Jefferson is an Über video collector, and when he and Alicia discovered their mutual passion for video, Alicia interviewed Jefferson for the first CGN Collector Conversation. To read it, click HERE

Performance Anxiety features 7 short videos by different artists; endurance pieces, alter-egos, and more all explore a variety of complicated human + cultural instincts related to race, sexuality, gender.  Come for Gallery 400's MFA Thesis Exhibition opening 5-8 pm, and stay for the screening.  Performance Anxiety (run time: approximately 50 minutes) features the work of American artists Rochelle Feinstein, Kate Gilmore, James Murray, Jeroen Nelemans, Greg Stimac and Stacia Yeapanis.

While we're getting tech-y here, save the date for Sunday, May 2 at 1pm for a timely panel I've been working on with Alicia: Social Media Strategies in Chicago's Art Community. The panel is part of "Art Chicago Speaks", taking place at the Merchandise Mart during art fair weekend.  We'll talk about all things Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare in relation to the art community we call home!  Hope to see (or Tweet with) you there! (Look for #artsocialmedia on Twitter and follow @chigallerynews and @aliciaeler

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Hung Liu: Memory in Chinese Painting at Andrew Bae Gallery

I like 'firsts' and the chance to see an artist's first show anywhere - in a gallery, studio, major museum or in the city of Chicago, is of course an opportunity that, obviously, will not come around again. For art, this is always potentially an, "I saw it when..." moment. Plus, a reminder of why we see shows in person when we can, rather than just read reviews, is a simple one: scale. Some of the works in this show are surprisingly large. And seeing them in person creates an altogether different impression than online viewing. Canvases are larger, colors are bolder, and impressions are deeper.

So, get over to Andrew Bae Gallery in River North to see Hung Liu's first solo show in Chicago. Liu's paintings are based on Chinese history and photography- multilayer creations that draw on many personal and cultural references, such as everyday human activities, and recognizable Chinese imagery such as birds, flowers, insects and dragons.

Liu's process is also complex - she has stated that she aims to both preserve and destroy her historical inspirations, and her washing and dripping creates dreamy overlays intended to suggest memory and the passage of time. Liu was born in 1948 and came of age during China's "Cultural Revolution" between 1966-1976. It wasn't until Liu moved to the United States that she was able to paint freely. The characters in her work are 'unsung souls'- laborers, courtesans, soldiers and civilians, but when backed by bold colors and strong perspective, they rise above the ordinary to stick in the viewer's own memory.

Gallery sneak peek (13 images):

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Ken Fandell's 14 Minute Video @ Donald Young Gallery

CGN just put out its spring/summer issue, and then we were pretty much cut off from computers and technology for the past week.  

And now we're back and surveying what's going on the rest of this month and looking ahead to the next.  So, to get back to what's important, blogging, we'll start by encouraging everyone to check out a show at Donald Young Gallery.  

Artist Ken Fandell has a solo show of new video work at the gallery that lasts just a little bit longer this month. If you're headed over to the Art Institute for the new Matisse show, stop into the Santa Fe building across the street to see Squares and Circles and Sex and Stardust (try saying that five times fast!)

Gallery sneak peek (6 images):

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The Seldoms Perform Marchland with Fraser Taylor at the MCA

This weekend, something a little different is taking place at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The Seldoms perform Marchland with visual artist Fraser Taylor from March 12-14, 2010.

I really don't know much about dance, but the MCA's series is one any one can take advantage of and enjoy, particularly on a dreary March weekend.  The Seldoms have been performing for several years, and their kind of dance has gained a reputation as physically, visually, and intellectually engaging.  Their bold, energetic movements draw on unique, artistic references and create a multi-layered performance for the audience.

Marchland is the result of a collaboration between choreographer Carrie Hanson and video artist Taylor, as well as Chicago fashion designer Lara Miller.  The work combines a dramatic sculptural set and a score by Chicago musician and composer Tim Daisy.

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Cheonae Kim @ Zolla / Lieberman Gallery

Cheonae Kim's work is bright, precise, and unmistakable.  I've lusted after a few of her smaller works for awhile, but I haven't had any luck coming up with one yet...  Kim used to paint in only black and white awhile ago, which can be hard to believe when you see the vivid palate in her work today, but it does make sense when you consider her mastery of line and the graphic nature of her work.  When she did dive into color, she only strengthened her bold compositions. 

Cheonae Kim

Kim's Mediterranean 224 is part of the current exhibition at Zolla / Lieberman Gallery, and while you're looking for bright colors and cheer this month (hello, FOG warnings!) stop in to take a look. You'll also have a chance to see Josh Garber's Sculptures and Libby Wadsworth's paintings (blog posts to come!) The pieces in the Mediterranean 224 series are on acrylic on paper, a departure from Kim's works using flashe paint on panel.

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Joan Winter: Silent Light @ Dubhe Carreno Gallery

The upcoming show at Dubhe Carreno's gallery features work that fits nicely between the seasons this time of year - the work, by artist Joan Winter, is light and pure (like snow is at its best) but also bright, and hinting at things to come (like longer days and spring time.) 

The artist states that she aims to explore the relationship of the visible and the invisible. And she is also clearly influenced by Japanese art and techniques.  Winter is both a sculpture and a printmaker, so there is quite a lot to get to know about her work.

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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Chicago Artists in the 2010 Whitney Biennial

The 75th Whitney Biennial just opened in New York, and though the roster of artists features only 55 artists, a little more than half the size of the list in 2006, several artists with ties to Chicago made the (important) cut.  Also, this year's exhibition is co-curated by Francesco Bonami, formerly the Manilow Senior Curator at large at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), and it paints a different picture of what's happening in contemporary art these days. 

Eight (updated since posting, thanks to a tip/comment from Rob Ray) artists with Chicago ties (by birth or occupation) are among the 55 exhibiting artists.  All artists are worth seeing here at home when you can, but if you are looking for an excuse to travel to New York this spring, book your ticket and go by May 30th to see what these artists have to say to the rest of art world. 

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Graffiti in Chicago: Vandalism or Art at the Art Institute's Modern Wing

Street art or graffiti art really is not my area of expertise - not by a long shot - but I do live in Chicago and I do walk by any number of tags and murals regularly, so I wanted to get the conversation started and hear what others think. The debate over art vs. vandalism has raged for ages, and a little local perspective is a new chance to consider the issues. And I'm not talking about just random spray painted words  - I'm more interested in the stuff that really gets a passerby's attention.
Thumbnail image for Graffiti covers the facade of a multi-million dollar home renovation on north Clark Street Monday.

Chicago Tribune photo by Michael Tercha / February 14, 2010

NBC Chicago News highlighted some elaborate tagging at the Art Institute's Modern Wing, and recently there was a story about some taggers who targeted a home under construction on the near north side right near the Newberry Library.  A lot of super-strength power-washing was in order, and the tagging will most likely be erased at a considerable (tax-payer) expense.

A story in the Tribune on March 12 covered the death of a Chicago man known as a graffiti artist to some. I wanted to share the story with readers of this blog, particularly those who have been engaging in an ongoing discussion about graffiti and its place and reputation in our art, as well as urban, community.  The man who died, Jason Kitchekeg, was only 26. He died after he jumped into the river while trying to escape police who had caught him spray painting with two other men.


A graffiti artist paints a mural in memory of his friend Jason Kitchekeg, who died after jumping into the Chicago River to avoid police. The taggers received permission from the building owner to paint the mural on the wall. (William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune / January 29, 2010)

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SAIC @ DWG - David Weinberg Gallery

David Weinberg Gallery is bringing the school to the gallery for its latest exhibition, SAIC at DWG. The show features work by recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Chicago is proud of one of its most well-known art institutions, and showing work by SAIC grads in Chicago galleries isn't unusual at all - SAIC's own galleries, Sullivan, and Betty Rymer, are always packed for the regular MFA and BFA exhibitions.  But having a show featuring only SAIC grads in a commercial gallery is a new context, so it's worth taking a look at this group of four up on the walls in a polished River North space.
All four featured artists were born between 1978-1980, so it's a young crowd, but these artists didn't graduate yesterday (born in 1980 myself, it's a little weird to admit that!)  The artists share a lot of other things in common, but they each work in a variety of mediums. Noelle Allen teaches sculpture at Dominican University. Helen Maurene Cooper teaches at Roosevelt University. And Noelle Allen and Amy Mayfield were each chosen for individual 12x12 exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA.) 

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Duncan Anderson: New Work at Kasia Kay Art Projects

Duncan R. Anderson opens a show of new work at Kasia Kay Art Projects in the West Loop (now located on Aberdeen between Lake and Fulton Market, just around the corner from her previous location) Friday, February 19.  This is his 2nd show at the gallery, again of course featuring his intricate, small sculptures and scenes made from tiny toys and figures.  Anderson plays around a lot with scale, text, context, you name it, and viewers love the chance to interact, look closely, and explore.  Duncan Anderson

Anderson has a lot of art fans and friends, and this opening should be crowded.  Take the chance to stop by to see the artist himself and enjoy an evening in the area (and don't forget the other openings in the area including Rhona Hoffman and Packer Schopf, as well as Richard Gray Gallery.)

Duncan R. Anderson

New Work
February 19 - March 20
Opening reception: Friday, February 19, 6-8PM

Gallery sneak peek (11 images):

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Chicago Artist David Klamen Paints Paintings - at Richard Gray Gallery

Richard Gray Gallery opens a show of work by Chicago artist David Klamen on Friday, February 19, and it's aptly called Painting Paintings.  The public will recognize the major works in the show - and then wonder for a second why they're attributed to Klamen - then it all starts to come together.

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Michiko Itatani: New Series at Walsh Gallery

Michiko Itatani is a familiar name in Chicago art circles, and she is exhibiting new paintings at Walsh Gallery in the West Loop. She has exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally over the years - including at Printworks in River North, and at the now-closed Flatfile Galleries.  Her works are in many public and private collections including both the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.  She currently teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Itatani has been working for over 30 years, and this latest series  is being called her most personal and autobiographical to-date; the aptly-named show title is Personal Codes.
Michiko Itatani

The paintings are big, and mostly lightly colored, sort-of-dreamy scenarios that reflect the artist's own recent experiences, events, and thoughts on the future.  Itatani is a worldly artist who draws on the many influences of places as diverse as Prague and Japan - covering the globe and exploring the East and the West.  All of her experiences contribute to what interests and inspires her most, and Itatani also takes translates these personal influences in her work.

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Anne Drew Potter: Le Cirque de L'Armée Rouge at Dubhe Carreno Gallery

Walking into Dubhe Carreno's West Loop Gallery, you encounter a circus made up of perfectly still, quiet, very young participants.  Sculptor Anne Drew Potter's latest exhibition at the gallery, Le Cirque de L'Armee Rouge, was inspired by Dave Eggers's novel, What is the What.  I haven't read the book yet, but seeing the exhibition in person and learning about the characters in the novel through the terra cotta figures in the gallery made me add it to my to-read list. 

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Don Pollack: New Paintings at Perimeter Gallery

River North's Perimeter Gallery opens a new show Friday, February 12, featuring the work of painter Don Pollack.  And if your favorite colors are green and blue, these paintings are meant for you.  Though of course, there is a great deal more to these works than "Ginny's Ideal Color Palette..."

I really enjoy Pollack's paintings because I like what I see, but since I never would have come up with the full explanation of his work on my own, I'll just share some info from Pollack's website with you to help you comprehend where this artist is going with these complex images and scenes.  Pollack's own insight is revealing for the viewer, but, I'll try to break it down a little following this paragraph

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Quickie Fundraiser for New Orleans @ Mars Gallery

I blogged about Mars Gallery's Haiti auction a couple weeks ago, and the fundraiser was such a success, they're at it again - this time to benefit the City of New Orleans. Nice of them to keep the good work up for a variety of causes!  An email auction is a little tricky, but maybe if they keep this up they'll use their website a little more... In the meantime, some sample items are in the blog gallery.  If you're in the West Loop Friday, stop in.

Here's the message from Mars:

As many of you are aware Mars Gallery has its roots in New Orleans.  More than four years after Katrina, there is a tremendous amount of work left to do.  More than 1,300 families still live in FEMA trailers and another 9,000+ families live in other temporary housing. So indulge yourself, bid on some artwork and help New Orleans residents rebuild.  100% of money raised will be donated.

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Stephen Daiter Gallery Makes A Move: First Show in New Space Features Martin Parr

Soon gallery visitors to River North will notice that Byron Roche has moved out of his little second floor perch on the west side of Franklin St.  But what they won't see right away, on the other side of the street, because it's 4 floors up, is that Stephen Daiter Gallery has moved into a new space at 230 W. Superior.  The gallery's new home is expansive and flowing and it has storage space that every art dealer in town is already jealously talking about... 

And it has a killer inaugural show up as well, featuring photography by Martin Parr, an observer of quirky Brits and the every day.  I never miss a chance to see Parr's work... And a bonus this season is that Parr is also part of In the Vernacular at the Art Institute.  He'll be in town in March for both shows, and the gallery is hosting a reception for him on Friday, March 12 if you want to meet the man in person...
Martin Parr, Fashion Magazine: Reines de la Nuit

The gallery is an easy favorite for many art fans in Chicago, particularly anyone with a penchant for vintage or contemporary photography.  The gallery is a member of AIPAD, and they also have recently participated in the mother of all art fairs, Art Basel.

The staff at Daiter is always a lot of fun, so make it a point to stop in soon to visit - see the Parr show, enjoy the new space, and congratulate everyone on a great move.

For a report on snacks that were present at the mini-opening on Friday, February 5, check out another ChicagoNow blog

Oh, and I'm working on pictures of the jealousy-inducing storage, so watch for an update! 

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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Art Books: Behind the Scenes of the Art World - Scandal, Criticism, Collecting, and More

This post is really going to just brush the surface of the massive topic of art books, but I wanted to at least get started.  I'm a member of the social networking site for book geeks, Goodreads, and I've found it to be one of the handier things about digital-technology-meets-printed-page.  But what I didn't expect is that since I'm connected to a lot of my art world friends and colleagues on the site, it's also a great way to find out about what art books I'd like to pick-up next. 

To get this topic started, I'm interested in books about collecting, criticism, and gallery world gossip... I think reading about the many parts of the art world -
the good and the bad - can be helpful
and add some perspective to your own experience.  The books by seasoned dealers, critics, and passionate collectors are especially enlightening. Plus, everyone loves a good story, and the art world is full of them.

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Checking Out the Zhou B Art Center

The Zhou Brothers are two very well-known super art personalities in Chicago, as well as around the world, and for the past few years, in addition to their large-scale, dramatic, collaborative works, they've also been the force behind the rapidly expanding art community located down the road from the home of the Chicago White Sox, the Zhou B Art Center.

I recently got a full, top to bottom tour of the center from Michael Zhou, son and nephew of the Zhou Brothers (Shan Zhou and DaHuang Zhou.)  Visiting the center for one of their big 3rd Fridays, or for a splashy private event is one thing, but a behind-the-scenes tour with the people who make it all happen is another.  

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A Bash to Benefit the MCA Celebrates Artists and Their Studios

Celebrate the MCA's highly anticipated winter exhibition, Production Site: The Artist's Studio Inside-Out, with a big, splashy, blowout opening event. The MCA knows how to throw a party - it throws a major bash every month for the packed and popular First Fridays.  I'm sure everyone's experienced First Friday at least once - played the iMac dating bar games or endured the museum as pick-up-joint...
First Fridays. Photo © Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

But to launch the latest exhibition, and taking place on a Thursday, The Artist's Studio As Party is a three-floor fundraiser that honors the artists, the spaces, and the creative spirit of contemporary art. Event includes live music, food, artist guests, and interactive entertainment.

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Baby, is that a new tattoo? Starting young at Carrie Secrist Gallery

Kids are rebelling at a younger and younger age these days, judging by all the ink these little babies are sporting in the photos at Carrie Secrist Gallery on West Washington.  But artist Dietrich Wegner makes the larger point that has more to do with society than just innocent babies, and seeing these photos and sculptures in person can pull at the viewer in strange ways - the babies are adorable, and their big eyes pleadingly stare out at you... 

But they're covered with all these tattoos and logos. Is that an Apple logo from the '80s?  I think that says FedEx, but it's a little hard to read around a baby-fat pudgy thigh.  A Target bullseye?  PBS!  Lego! Tom's of Maine!  These children seem to be branded at birth. 

by Dietrich Wegner

So while we naturally feel sorry for these innocent babies, we also realize maybe we should take a look at ourselves. And then you might think, but "I walk around as human billboard every day too." 

White, Apple headphones come out of our ears.  From head to toe, our jackets, shoes, purses and backpacks, we sport little features or logos that convey signals to others. We want people to know that we shop at Whole Foods, or use organic toothpaste and reusable bags. We listen to NPR. 

You might not have Diet Coke imprinted across your chest, but that silver can you carry around your office all day might as well be a part of you...

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To Market We Go... Scouting for Finds at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

There are the big international names in the auction world (Christie's and Sotheby's) that conjure images of multi-million dollar sales, and then there is the much more approachable local reality.  Christie's and Sotheby's have local offices in Chicago, but more people should take advantage of buying from a fully local auction house like Leslie Hindman for a couple of great reasons:

1. You can find really reasonably priced art and furniture
2. You can find really cool, unique pieces that may even be one-of-a-kind
3. You enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and then the competitive thrill of bidding

Hindman's Marketplace Auctions are really where you have to look and hunt to find that perfect set of dining room chairs at a great price, just looking to be creatively updated. You can find a set of Franciscan monk statues, or a cabinet full of taxidermy art... You never know, but it's always fun to look.  Be sure not to dismiss everything as just a stuffy old antique - learning to love old things is a constant adventure. 
You can pick up the auction catalogue while viewing, or purchase one to keep for $10.

Visiting the (massive) West Loop auction house in person is a fun field trip. It's even pretty easy to park.  But stop in on the preview days and have a look at things in person - check out condition, sit in chairs, ask questions. Previews take place up to four days before an auction, and are free.  Since lots offered by Hindman are sold "as is" it's really important to make sure you check out the goods for yourself. 

There are also several ways you can bid - live in person, by telephone, absentee, via internet, or live online. I recommend starting small, and this can apply to any auction situation - at a charity benefit, or at an auction house - pick an item that's definitely within your comfortable price range, and then stick to a predetermined limit. When the bid price goes over your limit, stop yourself.  Or bring someone with you who will be a voice of reason amidst a bidding frenzy.  Once you get the handle of what it's like to pick an item and then get involved in the bidding, you'll be more comfortable with the auction world in general. And then there's no limit to the fun you'll have and the items you'll welcome into your home.

In future blogs, we'll talk about not only buying at auction, but selling.  And we'll also cover other auctions, like the ever-popular vintage couture and jewelry sales...

And don't forget to check out Leslie's own ChicagoNow blog, What It's Worth.  

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Next Up... Reader Requests!

Over here at Chicago Gallery News we're busy with our print deadlines, as well as some other not-so-fun day-to-day stuff. So this week, Monday and Tuesday have been a little light for blogging.  However, we have plans and topics in the works - have no fear!

And next up we're also considering wading into some discussions about antiques as well as auction houses.  Stay tuned!

And while we're at it and stalling for time, what else would you like to read about on this blog? What questions do you have?  We love comments, and we'd love to correspond with you all, readers.  Remember, we're the friendly art world cheerleaders over here, striving to make the art community accessible, interesting and inspiring... Fire away!

- Ginny

Free Gallery Tours: First Up, Saturdays in River North + West Loop

There are many opportunities to visit galleries, studios and art centers in Chicago - for free.  I'm going to get around to highlighting all the ones I know of (so far) but to start, I'll go with the Saturday Gallery Tours that take place in River North and the West Loop/Fulton Market.  Full disclosure - I am currently the coordinator of the tours, since CGN took them over from the Chicago Art Dealers Association when they went 'virtual' at the start of the year.  But I also know first-hand that they're quality tours purely because of the devoted dealers who lead them each week and the engaging work they share with visitors.

Anyway, these tours first started in 2001 as a way of getting more people into galleries regularly, and as a way of making gallery visits not so scary.  I think that the more gallery "points of entry" that are made available to the public, the better for everyone - a perpetual "open door policy," if you will (but don't forget that galleries do open their doors and their wine boxes to everyone about every 6-8 weeks...) Plus, tours make things easy - someone else does the planning, sets the date, and acts as your on-site expert. Just knowing about the tours makes you look like a genius.  How easy is that?

The tours are great for hosting out-of-towners and showing them another side of the city, for visitors looking to do something off of Michigan Ave., and for life-long Chicagoans who think they know everything. And, even if you attend every opening reception and every artist talk, the tours are a great chance to talk to the people doing the hard work - the gallery owners, staff, and exhibiting artists.  And again, this is for free.

A gallery representative leads a guided tour of 4 galleries. The gallery roster and tour leader change weekly, & conversation centers on the exhibits and artists on view. Gallery exhibitions change approximately every six weeks, so the tours are never the same. And there are some collectors I know who got started on these tours.  And they go nearly every weekend.

Tours are free, and run rain or shine every weekend of the year, except on major holiday weekends. No reservations are required. For private group tours for up to 20 people, please contact 312-649-0064.

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Mars Gallery Online Auction for Haiti - Saturday Only

This is just a quick Saturday post to let you all know about an online auction that Mars Gallery in the West Loop has organized to benefit Friends of the Children of Haiti.

It's sort of more like an 'email' auction than an online one, but if you're interested in bidding on some posters offered by Mars, have a look a the slide show here, and then just email or call Barb at the gallery (312.226.7808) by 6pm sharp Saturday, or stop in in person.  It's always an eclectic place.

Bidding started at $20, and according to the gallery, there are some real deals... No matter what, it's a great effort to be a friend to the Children of Haiti.  Who knows, maybe you've always wanted a vintage Black Crowes poster? Just think of it as a local ebay auction, but faster, and with a charitable spin...

High bid prices from gallery as of 9am Saturday (January 23) listed with slide show images.

Mars Gallery
1139 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel. 312.226.7808

Gallery sneak peek (11 images):

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Chicago Gallery News 2010

I'm thrilled that Chicago Gallery News (CGN) has joined ChicagoNow and will be reaching members of the art world in new ways! 

All this posting and tweeting and Facebooking makes me realize I actually need about 8 more hours in my day to get everything done, but social networking really has become one of the most fun, interactive parts of my job as publisher of CGN, and it makes me enjoy connecting to the art world even more. 

Thumbnail image for JaneCGN09.jpg
I hadn't made a new year's resolution yet, really because I guess I never do. However, the start of this blog does correspond nicely with the start of 2010, and it follows our efforts to give our print magazine a greater online presence. 

Most of what we're trying to do with this blog is in our handy About page, but to really get to know us, follow our posts each week, and leave comments and ask us questions. CGN has long been a cheerleader for the art community, so anything we can do to make people appreciate and engage with our galleries, artists and institutions more, we're happy to start talking!  

Looking at People Looking at Art: January Openings

There are lots of people attending Chicago gallery openings with a camera in hand these days, and lucky you, you can get your fill of gallery-hopper eye candy on ChicagoNow's various art blogs.  Chicago Gallery News is adding to the mix now too, sharing some wish-you-were-there shots from openings and tours each month. See the end of this post about how you can share your own pictures and get photo credit.

Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 W. Superior
Taking pictures of other people looking at art (or talking over plastic cups of wine) is kind of odd, when you think about it, but people love to see the energy of the scene and who was there, and the pictures can be souvenirs from an otherwise blurry evening - blurry because of the number of galleries to visit in a short time, and maybe also blurry thanks to too much wine and not enough food between 5-9pm.

The photos in this slide show are from opening of the winter gallery season on Friday, January 8th.  Lots of galleries in River North & the West Loop held opening receptions for their first exhibitions of the year (West Loop pics to come next week.)  Even though the biggest opening night this month is over there are more openings and events continuing throughout January. 

I'd love to get CGN blog followers in on the action, since we're also always looking for great opening night shots to use in our magazine, on our website and for this blog.  If you have images you'd like to share, send us an email or leave a comment, and we'll try to publish some now and then. For photo credit, please make sure to include your name, the name of the gallery where the photo was taken, the date, and the name of any artists whose work shows up in the photo, if possible.)

Gallery sneak peek (6 images):

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River North's Byron Roche Gallery Closing

It's never welcome news when a gallery closes its doors, so Byron Roche's recent announcement that he's closing his space to become a private dealer at the end of February was a little sad, particularly since Byron's been a long-time, friendly Chicago Gallery News next door neighbor.  After 25 years in the art world, Byron plans to still be an active dealer, artist representative and art advisor; he just won't have a public space.

The gallery has exhibited contemporary art in all media, with a focus on painting and an emphasis on materials and process. Ever the educator, Roche regularly captivated visitors with spontaneous demos.  He'd turn lights up and down on Paul Hunter's gold and aluminum-leafed paintings to show how drastically the light would change the works.  Roche would regularly explain how, taking the idea of process to an extreme, artist Margaret Evangeline had walked all over a painting surface in spike heels to create holes and violent impressions. To create other textures in her art, she fired a gun at aluminum panels to leave multiple bullet holes.    

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Restaurant Art Salon Dinners (updated 1/29!)

A few friends and I batted around the idea of throwing dinner parties focused on art for mutual acquaintances last year. We had grand visions of all of our favorite people meeting one another and discussing art, meeting artists, enjoying great food - but we never got anything off the ground. Now I realize it's because we didn't own a restaurant! 

Diners at The Bluebird's Artist Salon. Photo Credit: Cathy Sunu

So, lucky for us, other people have taken the charge and made these grand ideas actually happen in Chicago. These "Salon Dinners" around the city don't necessarily offer opportunities to see and be seen, if that's your thing, but you can eat delicious food, which is everyone's thing, and you can meet smart people while talking to artists displaying their art in a non-traditional setting.  Foodies + art groupies = a fun crowd!

Often, art dealers host a private dinner for their artists and collectors when a new exhibition opens - the intimate occasions let everyone get to know each other outside of the noisy, cheap-wine gallery opening setting, and they're also by invitation only...  However, a spin on the art dinner idea that also pays some tribute to the old intellectual French Salons is beginning to happen in Chicago, and some of our hippest restaurants are playing host (sort of - you do have to pay for these meals.)

The number of people who can attend is limited, and if you just speak up to your table mates, you'll undoubtedly meet cool people without feeling like you're sitting around a table at Benihana.  The dinners are civilized yet unexpected, and the overall concept is creative at a time when people need to think a little differently about what entertains and stimulates them.  Plus, if intimidation usually keeps you out of art galleries, how scary can the art world be when someone's putting a plate of yummy food in front of you?

Apparently, hosting one of these Salons at a restaurant named after a bird is also helpful, as the two Salon Dinners profiled here are at Blackbird in the West Loop, and at The Bluebird in Bucktown.  For more info and restaurant details, be sure to 'continue reading' below...

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Chicago Artist Tony Fitzpatrick Dons Another Hat on Stage

This blog will cover many pieces and parts that make up Chicago's art world - the ins and outs of the gallery scene, artist studios, tours, museums, art schools, and more.  So, I thought highlighting a well-known artist would be a logical place to start the discussion. 

Someone I know whom I think epitomizes what's great and true about our city and its art community is Chicago's iconic artist Tony Fitzpatrick.  Tony's studio door is always open, and he's always ready to share his thoughts on art, art dealers, bullshit, independence, life, death, hard work, compassion, and sincerity.

Artists often lead many lives and wear many hats - to make a living and also to supply their  creativity.  Tony's art is well known (or should be) to many, and as many successful artists have done on their way towards the top (whatever that may be) he has held many jobs, including bartender, bouncer, and boxer.  Today, he tells stories about his more dangerous days and is most often at work creating his collages in the window of his studio on North Damen, while listening to whatever music suits his mood and chatting with the many friends and curious visitors who come through his door. 

Tony's also a poet, a playwright, and an actor.  He's written a play, in which he currently stars, called This Train.  It's on at The 16th Street Theater in Berwyn January 21-30, and following the Thursday and Friday performances he hosts a post-show dialogue with director Ann Filmer.  If you know Tony, take advantage of the chance to see him in another light.  If you don't know him yet, this is the chance, so be sure not to miss an evening with a Chicago icon.  I'll be there on the 29th...  If you go see the play, let me know what you think.

If you'd like to hear about the play from the man himself, listen to the recent WGN interview.

Oh - and where is Berwyn?  About 15 minutes from downtown, just a little way off of the Eisenhower Expressway.  Piece of cake.

Gallery sneak peek (4 images):

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