Month: January 2011

Hyde Park Public Art (2 of 5)

“Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” In 1991, Olivia Gude, an avid muralist, stood outside the 56th Street Metra station with a tape recorder asking these questions to people who passed by. As one might think, she came up with a wide variety of answers. “I’m coming from the comfortable middle class and I want to head to the upper class.” “I’m coming from Earth and going to heaven.” “I don’t know where I’m going. I’m lost.” With the responses, she created an oral history-based mural filled with other such quotations and wintry portraits of bundled up Chicagoans. She did so in partnership with the Chicago Public Art Group, with which she has now been working for twenty-five years. Gude recognized that art was “far from being this preserve that was separate from life, [but] intrinsically part of all of these issues about culture, about human possibility, about justice.” Her 56th street mural focuses on the former; namely, the culture of a neighborhood. Reading the quotations of the mural, I was fascinated …

Mental Strikes Again

Mental 312, the artist already responsible for one large piece of street art visible from the Green Line has recently created another. The new piece adorns an abandoned three-flat near the Garfield stop. It is the same geometric style as his other recent piece (near the Green Line Indiana station), except rendered in purple instead of teal. If you find yourself in the Washington Park area, I recommend taking a closer look.

Not So Bad at Sports: {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame by Erik L. Peterson

When Meredith Weber, Chicago artist and one-third of Happy Collaborationists (Happy C), invited us over to check out the installation of their latest exhibition, {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame, a solo project by Erik L. Peterson, we jumped on the chance. In 2010 Happy C had a successful lineup of events and exhibitions, including a collaborative car for Art on Track and solo shows with the work of EJ Hill, Nina Mayer and Isobel Shirley, to name a few. Going into their fourth year, these ladies have stepped it up a notch and are launching two new series, ACRE Exhibitions and Hypothesis, which will take you well beyond the blue. {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame, which opened January 29th, marks a couple of different firsts for them. It is the first public event that they have done since their Live Blude Girls installation at Art on Track in August of 2010. It also marks the first exhibition in a series of exhibitions that they are doing in collaboration with Artists Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions (ACRE). While there are …

In The Studio with Hebru Brantley

On March 18th, Hebru Brantley will have his first solo show at Zhou B Gallery. The show is entitled Afro-Futurism: Impossible View. As Hebru puts his show together, SIFC has been invited into his studio to document his process and explore the origins of his work through a five-part video series.
In this first video we ask Hebru to describe his influences and what he hopes his audiences will take from his show.

Dream Big: Joyce Owens at the Catholic Theological Union

Like most artists, Joyce Owens is a master at juggling many things.  Her most recent exhibition, “Dream Big” at the Catholic Theological Union proves that.  Although the exhibition shows mostly her masks, you also get a glimpse into her canvas and collage work.  The common thread throughout is imagery that asks the viewer to consider a more complex understanding of race using the cultural and symbolic implications of the mask as it applies to African Americans.  During the January 12th opening of the exhibition, curator Janice Pozzi-Johnson spoke about why she chose to exhibit this work at the CTU and Owens gives some insight into her thoughts on work and life as an artist.  The following is an excerpt from their talk. Janis Pozzi-Johnson: As you know, this exhibition is titled Dream Big.  And I think Joyce personifies dreaming big.  It just seems that Joyce is everywhere, [her] work is everywhere.  And [she] is always always making art, always showing art and always supporting other artists.  Joyce is also a curator at Chicago State University, …

Abraham Ritchie: One Piece of the Pie

MEET ABRAHAM RITCHIE, CONTEMPORARY ART CRITIC IN CHICAGO A few weeks ago Abraham Ritchie set an hour aside during his lunch break at the Art Institute (in the Manet room) to sit and talk about his career as a contemporary art critic in Chicago. Abraham elaborated on how he established his career as an art critic and what his role as a contemporary art critic should be. Moreover, he provided an incredibly coherent, sincere and well-informed perspective about the condition of art in Chicago and some solutions that may help remedy some of the shortcomings that art has had in Chicago over the last few years. Abraham Ritchie is unapologetic and speaks eloquently about his critical opinions. Perhaps this is the reason why his writing is well received. Below is the shortened version of a larger transcript from the interview. Because of the depth and breadth of the interview each segment is categorized with a broad heading instead of the original questions. INTRODUCTION My name is Abraham Ritchie I am the senior editor for ArtSlant …

Hyde Park Public Art (1 of 5)

In the earlier decades of the twentieth century, Lorado Taft may have been Chicago’s most famous artist. His was a name I’d never heard before, but after a little research I realized I’d seen his sculptures all over town. I first saw his “Fountain of The Great Lakes” outside the Art Institute in high school and discovered his two Graceland Cemetery sculptures, one a crusader and another titled “Eternal Silence”, back in October. Beyond that, Taft’s pieces can be found in places like the University of Illinois (his alma mater), over in Oregon, Illinois, and at Union Station in Washington DC. Taft also contributed to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 by creating plaster sculptures along the Midway Plaisance between Washington Park and Jackson Park. Taft began work on “Fountain of Time” in 1908 after being inspired by a couplet by Austin Dobsen: Time goes, you say? Ah no, alas, time stays. We go. He considered the sculpture something of a magnum opus and it took him and his team of sculptors 14 years to complete. …

Seeing The Invisible

How can time be made visible? “Seeing The Invisible”, the current exhibit at Marwen’s Untitled gallery seeks to answer this question. The show includes series of photographs and video installations by Marta Shumylo, a Marwen alumna and student at the Milwaukee School of Art and Design, along with her professor Sonja Thomsen, whose work can also be found in the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Marwen’s mission is to educate and inspire under-served middle and high school youth through the visual arts. However, it continues to supports students after they graduate through efforts like Untitled, its alumni gallery. Through Untitled, former students can exhibit their work or curate the work of others. Marta, who attended Marwen during her last two years of high school, saw the exhibit as a way to both show her appreciation and inspire its current students. “Seeing The Invisible” contains three series of photography. The first is a collaboration between Marta and Sonja entitled “Home/Away” and comprised of fourteen diptychs. To create the pieces, they spent the summer taking …

Craft Up Chicago

On Friday January 14th, eight people made it over to Inkling, an arts and crafts gift shop in Lakeview, for the first Craft Up Chicago of 2011. Organized by Columbia senior Casey Champion and yours truly, Craft Up Chicago aims to inspire everyday creativity and to create a greater sense of community within the Chicago craft world. From seven to nine pm, participants snacked and chatted while knitting, needlepointing, sewing, and working on paper snowflakes. The latter served as the craft of the night. Though at first everyone marveled at the apparent complexity of the three dimensional snowflakes, after a short tutorial, they soon dove in and began creating their own. The motivations in the room were varied: some worked on gifts for friends, others planned to sell their work, and some just came to socialize. Stephanie Keller (the owner of Inkling), Casey Champion, and I, on the other hand, had similar intentions. Stephanie had previously hosted craft get-togethers in her home, but after opening Inkling in June had not been able to find the …

Take Five: Memorable Art of 2010

As Sixty Inches From Center continues to grow and explore all facets of visual art in Chicago, we asked some of our contributors to reflect back on this past year and discuss the most memorable encounters of 2010. Atomic Sketch Author: Meggie Hankel My Best Of 2010 choice is something I didn’t discover until late in the year: the live art- making event known as Atomic Sketch. What exactly is Atomic Sketch? Once a month, local artists gather at the evilOlive in Wicker Park and produce series of original work throughout the night. This work is tacked on a display board and then sold at extremely affordable prices (on average, $5-15 per piece). Onlookers can grab a drink at the bar and socialize with fellow art lovers or with the artists themselves. Though a panel of artists is typically selected for each event, anyone is welcome to bring their own supplies and drop in and create work, space permitting. Atomic Sketch does not collect commission, and all proceeds go directly to the artists. More interactive …

Sixty in 60: Episode 3 – Chicago Urban Arts Society

For the Third episode of Sixty Inches From Centers on going web series, Sixty in 60 we visited the Chicago Urban Arts Society to find out about them and their neighborhood. The Chicago Urban Arts Society(C.U.A.S.) at 2229 S. Halsted is more then a gallery, it’s a cultural hub for their community. Founded by Lauren Pacheco, and Peter Kepha in 2009, CUAS is a Not-for-profit exhibition space, residency and community center. Lauren and Peter are brother and sister who having grown up in Brighton Park felt as though many South-side neighborhoods lacked sufficient cultural organizations, so in 2009 they created The Chicago Urban Arts Society to fill that void. Back in October Sixty Inches From Center Visited The C.U.A.S. where not only was great art work on display, but a live band played, clowns performed for children, and adults were thrilled by a haunted house. While preparing for their next exhibit the “Daley Show” Sixty Inches From Center was able to speak with Lauren about The C.U.A.S’s role in the community. One of the biggest …

Drink and Be Merry: Marwen Art Fair 2010

My recent Friday night spent volunteering proved yet again that unpaid work is often more rewarding than compensated labor. On November 5th, Marwen celebrated their 5th annual Art Fair, and I and a friend of mine were there at the coat check to help out. Marwen is an organization that offers art education to Chicago youth whose own elementary, middle, and high school art programs are lacking.  90 percent of Marwen participants attend college, compared to the measly 52 or so percent of Chicago public school students that manage to graduate high school.  Art Fair 2010 celebrated Marwen’s success with the exhibition of around 150 pieces of student, alumni, teacher, and staff work. DJ STV SLV of the Hood Internet kept the patrons moving with his live se

MGLEZ: Art Tribute to the Memory & Life of Martha Gonzalez

Due to a positive response from the Chicago community, the display of “MGLEZ: Art Tribute to the Memory & Life of Martha Gonzalez” will be extended until Jan. 12 at Kristoffer’s Café in Pilsen. It was near this café, at the intersection of 18th and Halsted that a hit-and-run-driver ended Gonzalez’s life on October 13, 2009. This exhibit caps off a year of events organized by her husband, Andrew Kudelka and the Martha Gonzalez Memorial Committee as part of their efforts to bring the driver to justice, and to improve the safety of area pedestrians. Kudelka worries that immigration status might play a role in the reluctance of witnesses to come forward. He laments that many people don’t know that they can’t be detained for helping investigation and stresses that those contacting the committee may remain anonymous. There is also a $10,000 reward being offered for information leading to a conviction. The money was raised with the help of artists and friends who donated art pieces, and other prizes for an art auction and raffle …

On Chicago Street Art: Community

Part I: Chicago street artist Blutt talks about his work and experiences living as a street artist in Chicago. Blutt: The name I use for my artwork is Blutt. I live in Chicago and grew up around the Midwest and just kind of based on the stuff I grew up with like the music and skateboarding and graffiti and comic books. I do mostly nowadays stuff that is studio work paintings and drawings but I also have stickers and posters that I put up on the street. That stuff is mostly prints and reproductions that are pretty cheap and I can put them out there when I am out and about doing whatever. It seems to work pretty well when I can quickly throw stuff up and people see it and recognize it and tend to like it for the most part. Sometimes a few people tear it down but I like that too. When did you decide to start creating street art? Blutt: I kind of made a concerted effort to do that probably …