Visual Arts

Look, Don’t Touch

"Also on View" at the Renaissance Society

Useful Art Services

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?

Visual Arts

Finding Sanctuary

Three new murals evoke different perceptions of “sanctuary”

Rod Sawyer

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.

Lit | Visual Arts

Losing the Thread

A new book highlights Chicago’s many art movements but fails to tie it all together

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.

History | Visual Arts

Do You Know Margaret Burroughs?

A symposium on art in Chicago and a Margaret Burroughs exhibition explore and celebrate the South Side’s contribution to art

Max Budovitch

Between four horn players, a dancing woman throws up her hands and closes her eyes. The performers are in a crowd in the middle of a street illuminated by streetlights, golden shopfront windows, and the stars overhead. Faces look out from windows. A white police officer casts a shifty glance.  

Visual Arts

Not Forgotten

An exhibition at an East Side gallery remembers the dead through the art they left behind

Untitled, Francisco Mendoza (Wikimedia Commons)

Just in time for Día de los Muertos, a colorful exhibition named “Not Forgotten” has opened at East Side art gallery Under the Bridge, featuring the work both of artists who have passed away, and living artists painting their ofrendas—ritual altars honoring deceased people with objects from their lives. Many of the artists, whose mediums include painting, photography, and printmaking, are Chicagoans, and some died as recently as a few months ago.

Environment | Visual Arts | Woodlawn

Concerning the Environment

A month-long showcase of installations and interactive events in and around Woodlawn provokes questions of our place in nature and its place in our communities

Patric McCoy and Kahari Black discuss environmentalism, art, and Woodlawn's history (Matthew Searle / Experimental Station)

In his art gallery, which inhabits a small brick house at 64th and Dorchester, originally purchased by his grandfather in 1946, artist William Hill, a co-curator of the Experimental Station showcase “Environmental Concerns,” explained the project’s concept.

Visual Arts

Art and Investigation

Shadi Habib Allah’s exhibition at the Renaissance Society keeps you guessing

Courtesy of the Renaissance Society

The installation “70 Days Behind Inventory” is a jigsaw puzzle of brown and beige vinyl tiles arranged on a raised wooden platform to represent the floor from a corner store in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. The floor is stained and the image of what appears to be a beverage can is printed on the tiles. A yellow bulb overhead creates a pool of light in the center of this piece by multidisciplinary artist Shadi Habib Allah. This 750-square-foot installation is part of an exhibit entitled “Put To Rights” at the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society gallery (The Ren, colloquially).

Interviews | Radio | Visual Arts

Creative Control

Ciera Mckissick talks the importance of space, connecting creatives, and how Chicago has unexpectedly become her home

Rene Naltsas

When we last profiled Ciera Mckissick, she was putting on fashion shows as part of her residency at the Chicago Art Department and editing AMFM, her online culture magazine, while harboring ambitions of opening an artist collective space in Pilsen. In the two and three-quarter years since then, she made that dream a reality, opening an AMFM storefront gallery on 21st Street that quickly garnered city-wide acclaim. Shortly after this interview aired on SSW Radio in August, Mckissick announced in a Facebook post that disputes with AMFM’s neighbors and landlords have resulted in the gallery being booted out of its space. True to form, it celebrated its tenure with a closing party, and has continued to put on outside events, like the close of its three-part West Side food and music festival FEAST. It has also raised over $1,400 in a fundraiser to secure a new physical space for the collective. This interview has been edited for length and clarity; listen to the full version of this interview that aired on SSW Radio, the Weekly’s radio show and podcast.

Visual Arts

Art Aquatic

Muralists and the Shedd Aquarium showcase the beauty of underwater animals throughout the city

Sam Kirk and Jenny Q. work on their mural in West Englewood (Rod Sawyer)

On a sunny day in West Englewood, cars zoomed past as a new mural was being laid out on the side of 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez’s office. What started out as a simple blue background took on layers of vibrant blue and purple tones, with dashes of yellow and white for contrast. Every now and then, artists Sam Kirk and Jenny Q. stood back to admire their work and gain perspective on what needed to be added next.

Development | Nature | Visual Arts

A Study in South Works

A summerlong installation explores the anthropocene in artifacts from South Works

Lewis Page

Early in the afternoon on the day of her installation’s opening, Stella Brown is standing by the end of one of the mammoth concrete walls at the site of U.S. Steel’s former South Works plant, on the lakefront at 87th Street. Two local residents approach by bike; they say they’re frustrated that the park district decided to spend money on an artist—from outside of the neighborhood, no less—rather than on other much-needed facilities, like restrooms. Brown acknowledges the problem, says it’s indicative of bureaucracy, and offers that she tried to get a Porta Potty for the opening event. A temporary fix, though, is not what they want.