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

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

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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) 

Office Romance: threewalls Spring Fundraiser and Art Auction

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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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Angelo Musco's Tehom @ Carrie Secrist Gallery

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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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The Art Fairs Are Here!

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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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