I was saddened again last week when I learned that Polly Ullrich, a long-time Chicago art critic, had passed away suddenly after being involved in a car accident in Wisconsin. As our friends at Bad at Sports note, she is already missed.
I first met Polly shortly after an exhibition pairing artists and art critics that she was involved in at the now-shuttered I Space, "Response: Art and the Art of Criticism." According to Polly, at the exhibition, the opening and subsequent events, many critics expressed interest in meeting each other and meeting more critics. Polly took it upon herself to organize a meeting of Chicago's active art critics, with venue help from Kathryn Born, bringing together people of disparate ages, interests, and publishing venues. I'd been talking with Polly about reconvening the group, but as so often happens, things kept coming up.
That's how I knew Polly, as a community builder in a community that is by its nature divided and fractious. As someone who was generous with their time. As a critic who was interested in the work of the emerging generation.
I was lucky to know Polly, even for a short period of time.
If one is inclined, Polly's husband David Ullrich has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Polly’s memory to the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ (Chicago).