The Renaissance Society is a contemporary art space at the University of Chicago that has a very strong character when it comes to architectural design. Artist David Maljković describes it as a “monumental space that is one dimensional with a really particular condition of light.” The vinyl floors are so present—not concrete or plastic—they are tactile. Known for his collaborative approach to curation and attention to details, Maljković worked with Renaissance Society curator Karsten Lund for the exhibit “Also on View,” to select works that complement the space. The Weekly’s Manisha AR sat down with both artist and curator to go behind the scenes of the exhibit and talk about the ways in which the space inspired the show. You can read the review of the show here.
The South Side, which has a rich history of contributions to the visual arts, has been gaining recognition in recent years for its experimental, emerging, and DIY-style of artists and art making. Often bringing lesser known artists and styles into the fray, these new spaces challenge traditional notions of what a gallery is with their wide-ranging programming, choice of artists, and remarkable use of space. For this piece, the Weekly visited and spoke to a selection of makers and art spaces spread across the South Side.
Recently, I took a Japanese calligraphy class for the first time. As the instructor set up the materials on the table, he showed me a variety of tools, including brushes with thin and fat bristle, handmade fine oil soot Ink Sticks, and my favorite: some of his own collection of calligraphy work. The way the black ink settled into the paper, the strokes thin in some places and bigger in others, the way each symbol resembled his knowledge and control of the brush, struck me as it reminded me of another art form I’ve become interested over the years: graffiti-writing.
This January, the Smart Museum of Art welcomed two new exhibitions which pose important questions about identity and inclusion. The museum’s front gallery houses “Solidary & Solitary” from the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection. It consists of mostly abstract works created by artists of the African diaspora, and serves as a meditation on what it means to be a Black artist moving in solidarity with the race while maintaining a solitary identity. The rear gallery space features “Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self,” which presents provocative ways to contemplate the self-portrait.
Last July, Armani Howard, an artist from Roseland, had his first solo show, exhibiting “Chapter 5: This Kingdom Come” of his work, at Mo Faux Studio on the Northwest Side. The gallery was welcoming, and Appleby’s “Lady Sunshine” played from time to time.
The French writer Émile Zola once said, “One forges one’s style on the terrible anvil of deadlines.” For Chicago painter Andrea Coleman, that rings especially true.
Immediately upon entering the Arts Incubator, an arts initiative and gallery run by the University of Chicago in Washington Park, visitors stopped to look at the dozens of vertical black banners hanging in rows on the hallway walls. Each banner bore a single name in simple white lettering: Gregory Banks, James Lewis, Lee Nora, Unknown 14 Year Old. At the bottom of the banner were the words “Tortured in Chicago.”
Do you ever wonder about the little things that inspire an artist to create a body of work? Everyone has a process. David Maljković’s exhibit “Also on View” offers viewers a chance to explore that process. The exhibition borrows its name from the same term used by museums to promote smaller or ongoing shows—the phrase “Also on View” applies to shows that aren’t the main draw in the museum, while still encouraging visitors to explore them. Except you would think that Maljković’s work is the main attraction, right?
Upon entering Sanctuary Cafe, the social justice–minded coffee shop that opened last year in Hyde Park’s University Church, I immediately noticed the wooden benches, the way the lamps light the space, and how the low chatter of people in the space all reinforce the idea of sanctuary, a safe space. A triptych of murals on the far wall are part of artist-in-residence Katherine Cavanaugh’s collection “Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness.” Initially, the work conveys different ideas of safety to the viewer, whether through a physical space, an object, or even just a moment. But the work, especially its title, can also be seen as a catalyst or a motto for those who seek to find a path through passion and through helping others.
Living in Chicago often means talking about it near-constantly—a grand, if not always consistent, tradition. One layer of the conversation is the trumpeting of glorious public accomplishments: the tallest skyscrapers, epic lakefront public works projects, no little plans being made. By the same token, Chicagoans seem to take some pleasure in public failure—the more grandiose and conspicuous the better—whether watching a gangster, a governor, or a sports franchise take the proverbial L. It’s a sacred local activity: if an outsider (usually a New Yorker) tries to get in on the action, Chicagoans circle the wagons.