Ditching the usual museum opening wine and cheese platter soirée for food trucks and live music, the Smart Museum of Art hosted a summer cookout earlier this month in conjunction with the opening of its new exhibit with the National Museum of Mexican Art, “Cross Currents / Intercambio Cultural.” Featuring tacos, alcohol, and (((SONORAMA))), a Chicago based DJ collective known to spin classic Latin tunes, it was the perfect summer day to host an outdoor event. The reception, on the lawn outside the Smart building on the University of Chicago campus, drew a large crowd to the opening. Featuring works of twelve artists, six based in Chicago and six in Havana, the east gallery of the museum showcases a range of mediums—from performance to printmaking—all dealing with personal histories, collective memories, and the archive.
Virgil Abloh gained prominence by way of casual namedrops on Kanye West albums and guest appearances at the rapper’s fashion shows. But more recently, as he has climbed in status toward visionary, the thirty-eight-year-old fashion designer’s name stands on its own merit. Abloh’s latest exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, entitled “Figures of Speech,” serves as retrospective recounting of his career, from his time as an architecture student at the Illinois Institute of Technology to the genesis of his Milan-based fashion house Off-White and his 2018 position as Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton.
Chains are coiled on the floor, hungry faces stare out of close-up photographs, and bold posters spelling out D-Y-E-T-T covered the walls of the Uri-Eichen gallery in Pilsen this month. The art exhibit is full of artifacts the Journey for Justice Alliance collected from the 2015 protest to re-open Dyett High School.
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.”