The alarms rings once at 7:30am, disrupting the morning quiet. Fifteen minutes and three alarms later, I turn it off. Then to shower, then to brush my teeth, to deodorize, to dress and pack up my knapsack for the day, and then to breakfast with the same two—sometimes four—people. Such is my morning routine.
The back room of Envision Unlimited’s Rose Center, in Back of the Yards, is piled to the proverbial ceiling with arts and crafts materials: boxes of old lace, a package of sequined hats, a children’s doll whose head had, at some point in its transport, become decapitated from its body. Sorting through it all is Monika Neuland, a social practice artist, educator, and consultant who works with agencies that provide services for those with physical and developmental disabilities. Envision Unlimited, the organization which owns the Rose Center, is one of these. The arts supplies are a donation that will help sustain the various arts programs that Neuland leads around the Chicago area, including the mask-making workshop taking place here in the Rose Center.
As the audience first walked into Xavier Cha’s event for The Renaissance Society’s “Intermissions” series, what they saw was less important than what they didn’t see: the space was completely empty, awaiting a live performance, and invited curiosity with its high ceilings, bright white walls, and overall expansiveness. The Renaissance Society, housed on the fourth floor of Cobb Hall at the University of Chicago, is no stranger to the international art scene. It has hosted contemporary art exhibitions since 1915, but starting this year its curators decided to try something different: the “Intermissions” series, which held its inaugural performance on January 28, attempts to celebrate live performance works in a space that artist Xavier Cha and “Intermissions” curator Karsten Lund agree looks “like a sci-fi cathedral.”
A fourteen-story red brick building stands firm, looming above the rows of residential houses that form the Homan Square community of North Lawndale. The words “Sears Roebuck and Co,” written in white, crown the top of the building, and two white columns guard its base.
The fifth annual round of festivities for EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, drew to a close on September 25. This year, the art festival hosted work from 145 galleries from around the world, with participants from twenty-two countries and fifty-five cities, and presented the creations of more than 3000 artists. According to the organizers, approximately 38,000 visitors came to Navy Pier to celebrate this yearly art week.
To enter means to cross a threshold, something that is at once a barrier to what we seek and yet, simultaneously, that which allows us to gain access to it.
As part of a long-running tradition, seven artists came from all over Mexico to the National Museum of Mexican Art to exhibit their art and tell the story of their heritage, each with their own personal style and perspective.
On October 17, Yoko Ono unveiled her permanent public sculpture “Sky Landing” in Jackson Park. The installation, composed of twelve twelve-foot-tall steel lotus flower petals rising from the ground, is one of the many ventures of Project 120, a nonprofit working with the Chicago Parks District and community members to “revitalize the South Parks” and initiate a “South Side cultural renaissance and resurgence,” according to its website. Park-goers can walk through the installation and around each of the towering lotus petals, while simultaneously admiring the surrounding garden in the Wooded Island section of Jackson Park.
In the middle of an empty room was a Plexiglas cube—and at the bottom of the cube, a fine sheet of black powder. An imaginary moonscape? An abandoned terrarium? Perhaps anticipating these questions, Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann, the Chicago-based artists behind the installation Prevailing Winds and Relative Distances, pasted several pages of text around the room.
I grew up in Chicago; in my earliest years I grew up around Humboldt Park. It’s really funny, people ask me how did I come to work wherever it was—West Side, South Side. I was one of two Anglo kids in my school, so when people ask me about why I choose to work with diverse populations or whatever bizarre verbiage or politically correct verbiage du jour that there is floating around, I’m never sure how to really put that forward. The reality is I work with people that I grew up with, that are really to me the primary comfortable real everyday people. I guess as a white woman I’ve noticed people put this frame on me of, “Well, you’re this person working here, this is not the same.”