Visual Arts

Beyond the Boundaries

Exploring the power of personal narratives in graffiti

Desi Mundo

At Chicago Zine Fest, which took place this past weekend at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport and the Plumbers Union Hall in West Loop, I shared zines that included photography of graffiti in Minneapolis, a subject I’ve explored in depth here in Chicago.

Arts Issue 2017 | Chinatown | Visual Arts

A House of Memories

The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago reflects the community’s past, present, and future

Di Delgado Pineda

Standing among some quiet residential buildings on 23rd Street and tucked not far from Chinatown’s cluster of restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores on Wentworth is the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (CAMOC). Even with its doors flanked by two stone lions, hand-carved by artisans in China’s Fujian Province and donated to the museum by Chinese officials, CAMOC is pretty inconspicuous, and you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it. CAMOC is about as small as museums get, but contains much more than one might expect.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Art for All Wards

The city undertakes an ambitious public arts commissioning program that aims to reach the whole city

Turtel Onli

A crowd gathered in Daley plaza on August 15, 1967 to witness the unveiling of the “Chicago Picasso.” The installment was an unprecedented one—up until then, Chicago public sculptures had mostly taken the form of commemorative statues. The “Picasso” would signify a new direction for Chicago city art away from the commemorative style. Later installments like “Cloud Gate,” which are now entrenched parts of the downtown landscape, exemplified this artistic shift.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Building Cabinets, Computers, and Community

In community workshops, South Side “makers” get to work with their hands

Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry

The weekly member meeting of the South Side Hackerspace (SSH) begins with a call to those in the room to “gather around the TV.” The TV in question is facedown on a table with its back wide open and its internal hardware exposed. It’s the electronic centerpiece of a table cluttered with wires and circuitry.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

New Space, Same Work

Cultura presses on with art, activism, despite organization’s uncertain future

Vives Q Labs meeting hosted by Cultura at its residency at La Catrina Cafe (Deysi Cuevas)

Cultura in Pilsen, a grassroots gallery and arts organization, is in transition. Displaced from its original space and unsure of where it will end up, the organization is now striving to continue being a gathering place for Pilsen artists and activists.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Art, Politics, and College Scholarships

Chicagoland high schoolers show off their artwork at Zhou B Art Center

Courtesy of Illinois High School Art Exhibition

On Sunday, February 26, the airy interior of the Zhou B Art Center hummed with activity. Student artists mingled with peers, parents, and school staff in a showcase of the state’s best artwork by high school students. This was the general exhibition for the Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE), thrown every year at the Bridgeport gallery by an association of Illinois art teachers to recognize the state’s outstanding student artists.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Gallery Review: Hyde Park Art Center

Community-oriented galleries like those in the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) are founded on the idea that encounters with art can be educational. Now, with a new exhibition called “Public School,” the gallery is exploring the possibility that education itself—meaning pencil sharpeners, cubbies, and swing sets—might be an object of artistic interest.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Curating a New Canon

Artists from each of Chicago’s wards celebrate the city through its small, scattered glories

Process view of installation by Yvette Mayorga. Mark Hackman / City of Chicago

The exhibit is called “50×50 Invitational / The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities.” The words in the title tug on a range of thematic threads, leaving a viewer of the exhibit without a concrete summary of what they’re about to see. Visitors walk into the Chicago Cultural Center with only a vague conception of the works’ source—Chicago—and the unobtrusive guidance of a few posters hanging on the wall near the entrance. They include a colored map of the city divided into its fifty wards, along with the corresponding names of fifty artists or collaborative teams. Beyond that, the viewer is set free; there is little linear progression to the exhibit or organization in terms of theme within the space. Photographs of children on a street hang alongside collage-like paintings. There’s a video of schoolchildren singing “America the Beautiful,” a horn on a chair and a device that plays accompanying sound, and a red and gold rug that cohabitates peacefully with a neighboring series of lake photographs. This is not an exhibition that’s already been pieced together a certain way; its presentation asks us to be open-minded in our viewing and interpretation.