Chicago Gallery News

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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Party @ the Zhou B Art Center April 15

Tax day should be your best excuse for going out next Friday night.  The Zhou B Art Center is hosting its usual 3rd Friday celebrations in Bridgeport, and this month they're featuring the new issue of Chicago Gallery News, covering April-August (they're on this issue's cover!)  LOTS of special events and promotions are planned as part of the launch.  Usually 3rd Fridays are packed with young art enthusiasts looking to explore Bridgeport and see dozens of artists and studios without leaving the building or circling for parking.  We at CGN are obviously particularly excited about this party since it's really our first 'launch' - how grown-up is that?  Well, we've actually been a part of and host to dozens of events since our founding in 1983, but a splashy launch party is new and welcome to us - we think it will be to you too.  Get out, celebrate spring, mingle with other art fans, go to a happening neighborhood, have some drinks, and we'll see you there!! 

Rsvp & share on Facebook:

A few things you won't want to miss on April 15:

Afro-Futurism (Impossible View) - Solo show of work by Zhou B Art Center arist Hebru Brantley, a prolific artist whose work could be best described as narrative meets surrealism and together they had a baby called afro-futurism.  The collection of new works presented in Afro-Futurism (Impossible View) touches upon the spirits of children that are not jaded by the social and economical restraints that plague our society. The subjects presented in the works wear the looks of contemplative young adults having to deal with life's complexities prematurely. Rather than to simply deal with it, these subjects choose to escape into a fantastical state where they idealize a young, heroic character aptly known as Flyboy, derived from Brantley's attempts to commercialize the idea of an ethnic hero.
• "ELEVATION": CoLab an inter-disciplinary arts cooperative, welcomes you to an extraordinary evening of experimentation, elegance, excitement, energy and elevation! One night only!  The line up for the next "ELEVATION" represents the broad and diverse breath of Chicago's finest creative artists.  Kahil El' Zabar, the internationally renowned percussionist and composer, along with the sensational installation artist, Lucy Slivinski, and the stellar fashion designer, Agnieszka Kulon, have conceptualized a gathering of collaborative splendor.  "ELEVATION" 2010 video clip, featuring Kahil El Zabar, Lucy Slivinski, Agnieszka Kulon

• Live Painting: Slang, Rahmann Statik, Dorian Sylvain, ChadwickAnderson

• Fashion Performance: Agnieszka Kulon

• Djs: Ron Trent, Madrid Perry, Sadie Woods,  Anika Tené

Where & When:

April 15, 2011
Zhou B Art Center
1029 W. 35th St., Chicago, IL 60609
Suggested donations will be accepted.

Gallery sneak peek (4 images):

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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

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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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.

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

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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.


Gallery sneak peek (8 images):

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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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