All posts filed under: Spaces

The photograph shows the artist at center, standing in front of one of the gallery’s internal, white walls, with performers and guests sitting or standing on either side of her. Black vinyl letters are installed directly onto the walls, in the form of words and phrases in English and Hindi. Text appears in different sizes and spatial orientations (e.g., right-side up, upside-down, diagonal, vertical, and organic shapes), with some words/phrases expanded in space, condensed, or intersecting with other text. English words/phrases shown in this image include “a tender beginning,” “offer,” and “of this winter.” A gestural drawing—also made of black vinyl—is shown on the left-hand side of the image.

Beyond the Page: Udita Upadhyaya’s “nevernotmusic” (the show)

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. This interview is the first of three with interdisciplinary artist Udita Upadhyaya about “nevernotmusic” — a solo exhibition of scores activated by curated, collaborative performances — and her process of developing these scores into a book (read the second interview here and the third here). In early March, on the last day of her show “nevernotmusic” at Roman Susan, I met with Udita to discuss her processes of creating and “gifting” performance scores, transforming the scores into an installation, and learning from performers’ interpretations. Follow @uditau on Twitter and Instagram and check out her book launch at TriTriangle on September 8, 2018, at 7pm. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.   Marya Spont-Lemus: Knowing a bit about your work, and specifically your work with language, I already wanted to talk to you for “Beyond the Page.” And then I was so excited to hear about “nevernotmusic” — the …

The Aesthetics of Displacement at The Strange Fields of This City

It is rare that a show’s theme so closely mirrors the circumstances of the gallery where it is being exhibited as well as The Strange Fields of This City, curated by Greg Ruffing and features the work of  HATCH Projects Residents Alejandro Waskavich, Haerim Lee, and William Camargo,  on view until June 14th. Along with Brent Fogt’s Do Something Else, it is the last show at Chicago Artists Coalition’s space at 217 N. Carpenter before they move to their new location 2130 W. Fulton. Facing the same pressures of space and development that the show tackles, along with expanding needs, CAC is finding itself having to relocate, like many other arts organizations in Chicago. Peering into the gallery’s windows to see William Camargo’s oversized, rasquache-style advertising signs of Cultura a la Renta critiquing displacement, it is difficult to ignore the construction noises of the high rise going up across the street. Gentrification is in part a war of aesthetics. A war of the undifferentiated, the sameness of developers using profit maximizing, corner-cutting tricks to convince people …

Body Passages: Exploring Visual Art with Poets Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken

This is the second article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center (the first is here). This series gives brief looks into a 10-month, interdisciplinary creative process between Body Passages poets and dancers, documenting and reflecting on aspects of that process as it happens. On an afternoon in early May, I showed up to watch an “open rehearsal” at the Chicago Cultural Center’s dance studio only to find myself a participant. This opportunity became even more exciting when the people I was there to see—Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken, two delightful and effervescent poets who were in residence through Body Passages—invited me to join them as they sought inspiration and inputs in the galleries. We spent an hour together exploring the Cultural Center’s first-floor exhibitions, as the pair shared their observations and perspectives about visual artworks, made connections to their own lives and practices, and generated ideas for a joint creative project—an interdisciplinary, in progress work, prompted by their participation in Body Passages. A …

Featured image: This is a photograph of a group of people in a dance studio, sitting in a circle of chairs. Some people have their backs to the camera, and other people are shown straight-on or in profile. The two chairs nearest the camera are unoccupied, creating a window to the speaker, a man holding a microphone. Photograph by Hannah Siegfried.

Body Passages: Poets and Dancers Discuss Collaborative Processes In Progress

This is the first article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center. This series gives brief looks into a 10-month, interdisciplinary creative process between Body Passages poets and dancers, documenting and reflecting on aspects of that process as it happens. Launched in 2017, Body Passages is the brainchild of co-founders Sara Maslanka (Artistic Director of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble) and Natasha Mijares (Reading Series Curator of The Chicago Poetry Center; Natasha also writes for Sixty). This innovative, interdisciplinary partnership brings together artists of various forms—poets and dancers, ostensibly, but many with practices extending beyond those bounds—over the course of 10 months to create original, collaborative work engaging language and movement. The 2018 cohort is comprised of 14 broadly diverse artists at different points in their artistic growth, who are together interrogating this year’s theme—“Activation”—and developing new work in response. Following December auditions, their process formally began in January when selected poets and dancers were assigned into groups and will officially conclude in October with final …

Hidden Gems in the Paul V. Galvin Library of the Illinois Institute of Technology

Last summer on a research visit with a colleague, I entered the Special Collections Archive of the Paul V. Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In this space, I was looking through visual materials produced by students in the Design School made from the 1960s to the 1980s. This gallery holds works by many artists who are not seen in the public sphere today. This essay aims to provide crucial biographical information on several of artists and the contexts from which they produce their work. I begin by exploring the works made by Jose Williams who is responding to his experiences as a Black man in Chicago’s Bronzeville context. I then turn to the work of an undernoted woman represented the archive named Valeerat Burapavong. I hope to provide contextual insights and visual analysis on the works produced by these artists. I argue that the works produced in this period (1960s-1980s) challenge notions of race, ethnicity, and gender. Jose Williams: Constructing a Black Chicago in Serigraphy Featured in this archive are works …

This is an image of moderators and panelists talking.

Beyond Alternatives, Toward Refusal

Beyond Alternatives, a two-day symposium organized by Cory Imig and Dulcee Boehm, fostered a dedicated site to share and reflect upon their experiences as artist-organizers working outside of metropolitan centers. The dozens of artists, writers, educators, and curators living in, thinking about, and actively building communities and social networks who came together reflected the need for this event. The symposium converged and slipped around three main themes: sustainability and transparency when directing an artist-led project, social practice and community engagement, and institutional critique. Paddy Johnson, the founding editor of Art F City, a digital platform for critical conversations surrounding contemporary art, a writer and independent art blogger, opened the symposium with a keynote address appropriately titled “Artist-Led Projects.” Johnson opened with a summary of her and collaborator Michael Anthony Farley’s iterative project “We’re SO not getting the security deposit back,” a guide to now defunct artist-run spaces documented in NYC, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. Each guide features commissioned essays, which emphasized the unique history and conditions of each city. Inherent to this project is a …

Boundary Layer at McLean County Arts Center

Just outside the threshold of the Armstrong Gallery, where most of the work in Boundary Layer is contained, two of Nancy Fewke’s photographs are set apart. To the left hangs an image of a jagged formation, its peak barely cresting above a darkened, hazy atmosphere. The lily pads that float in the lower corner are the only cue to scale—reducing an otherwise mountainous form into a submerged, rotting tree trunk. Such a trick of the eye is more mountain range than can be found in much of the Midwest horizon, which is why, for many years, Laura Primozic (whose sculptures serve as counterpoint to Fewkes’s images) set her sights well beyond the Illinois prairies she calls home, modelling her work instead on the changing glacial landscape. Only recently have her more immediate surroundings come back into focus. Fewkes’s vision has followed a similar trajectory. She says of their collaboration, “We were both very interested in ecological integrity…bringing awareness to some of the larger global issues that we might speak to on a microcosmic level—on a …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Interview with Roell Schmidt

This interview took place as part of an initiative occasioned by the first Chicago Archives + Artists Festival, held at the Chicago Cultural Center in May 2017. The festival kicked off a series of in-depth artist interviews, including this one with Roell Schmidt of Links Hall, which will be contributed to the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. This series of interviews was conducted with a group of artists, curators, instigators, and organizers who we believe are essential to the history of Chicago art. The interview with Roell was conducted by Annie Morse, a curator and Senior Lecturer in Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago, and is excerpted below. In addition to this smaller group of Sixty-interviewed artists, a call was put out to ALL the city’s artists: #GetArchived! The core of the free festival was a pop-up archive processing center staffed by Sixty Inches From Center and volunteers. Many partners lent their time, resources, and high-res scanners(!) to this endeavor, including LATITUDE, the Visualist, and Read/Write Library. Sixty Inches From Center is excited to be continuing …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Full Interview with Roell Schmidt

This interview took place as part of an initiative of the Chicago Archives + Artists Project . CA+AP serves as a laboratory and pipeline for the community preservation of artists’ archives. We want to find creative ways to care for an ever more accessible, playful, and diverse compendium of artists voices, process and ephemera. We believe in the power of stories in many voices, on many platforms, past, present and future. This interview of Roell Schmidt, conducted by Annie Morse, a curator and Senior Lecturer in Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago, will be contributed to Links Hall’s file at the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. Annie Morse: Roell, will you please introduce yourself and talk about how you came to the archives project. Roell Schmidt: I currently am the director of Links Hall, an experimental dance group and performance space that’s been in Chicago for 38 years. And how I came to be part of this archive was: Tempestt invited me to be one of the interviewed people, and, although I am not super comfortable being the person …

Without, Within the World: Hume Chicago

Call them DIY, alternative, radical, or safe, Chicago’s independent art spaces create a world without money and borders within a world defined by both. They function as community hubs and communal living spaces, providing free and affordable entertainment, hosting activism workshops and food drives, and building connections among young, emerging, and marginalized artists. “Without, Within the World” is a series of interviews that asks curators and administrators about building utopia while maintaining viable spaces.      For this installment of “Without, Within the World,” we talked to executive director Fontaine Capel of Hume Chicago. Hume is a small gallery and artist studio space run out of a storefront in Humboldt Park. Through an open call process, Hume exhibits work by artists who are underrepresented on the gallery circuit, particularly women, queer, and immigrant artists. In addition to its gallery shows, Hume provides affordable studio spaces for artists and hosts regular events that contribute to its relaxed and friendly environment, such as movie nights and karaoke parties. Hume was established by Capel, Olive Panter, and Gita Jackson, who have …

Body Talk: “Beyond Measure: Daniel Cerrejón and Carolyn Lazard” at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

In the video Crip Time (2017) by Philadelphia-based artist Carolyn Lazard, we watch two hands dole out units of medicine, one by one, into the expectant slots of a weekly dosage organizer. The methodical preparation plays out as a choreography of repetition and accumulation, a rhythmic tapping of pill on plastic. The pills themselves—studies in color and form as well as chemistry—become small ritual objects for marking time in a sick body. Abstracted from the suffering that necessitates them, these are pharmaceutical gemstones made from science we can’t access for purposes we aren’t told. The video marks the beginning of Beyond Measure, curated by Charlotte Ickes and Jared Quinton at Tiger Strikes Asteroid. The show pairs Lazard, whose personal experience with Crohn’s disease has shaped how they make visible the procedures and power dynamics structuring a life with chronic illness, with Daniel Cerrejón, who takes on the ways we try to demystify the condition of having a body among other bodies. At a time when dominant cultural narratives rely on the supposed immateriality of information …

Hold Me: Erin Hayden at UIS Visual Arts Gallery

This review is part of our Sixty Regional initiative which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and  Illinois. Written by Juliet Johnson, a Champaign-Urbana-based artist, writer and curator, this review is cross-published with the growing Central Illinois platform Sight Specific.  A memorial card shows Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in embrace. Erin Hayden’s paintings in Hold Me are based on this card, made for Lincoln’s funeral. He gazes in adoration at Washington, who places a laurel on Lincoln’s head. The caption reads, “Apotheosis,” meaning “the elevation of someone to divine status, deification.” In all of Hayden’s paintings, this image is warped and built upon. In the gallery, one large painting is flanked by sixteen smaller works behind which the large marigold words, “Hold” and “Me” square off. Like previous work by Hayden, Hold Me contains kitsch, pixelated, and found imagery widely sourced and all on equal footing. We see emojis, iron-on patches, thick paint blobs, and other images more reminiscent of the dregs of a Google Image search. These culture …

Image Description: Image of a very dark room, three faint windows can be made out. White text on top of the image says "Black Out Dinners" with a small fork and knife graphic. Photo courtesy of 6018North.]

6018North’s Black Out Dinners with The Chicago Lighthouse

Black Out Dinners are not the dining-in-the-dark, date-night novelty you may have seen offered on Groupon. 6018North, an Edgewater nonprofit for experimental arts and culture, takes the experience far beyond a trendy meal. In partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, Black Out Dinners are presented by fully or partially visually impaired servers who guide guests in the pitch-black setting. The first two courses of the delicious vegetarian meal (Giuseppe Catanzariti of Midnight Kitchen Projects was the chef, with Sonia Yoon, when I attended) are enjoyed at communal tables in the dark, with only minor bumps and air-grasps. Dessert is served back in the light, and includes a discussion with the servers and meeting your fellow table-mates.   As dinner guests, we were placing ourselves in the unknown, trusting someone for whom the dark is not unknown at all. This trust, the ability to lean on one another’s strengths, makes Black Out Dinners about far more than food. I had the chance to speak with Tricia Van Eck, Artistic Director at 6018North, as well as Elbert Ford, Job Placement Counselor …

Collected Histories: “Open 24 Hours” by Edra Soto

Edra Soto has transformed the Commons at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) with her work Open 24 Hours into a beautiful place filled with remnants of histories that gives birth to transcultural discourse and new meaning. Fittingly, Soto’s culturally charged work is the inaugural project for this new “civically engaged space” at the MCA. As I walk in to the Commons to attend Edra Soto’s artist talk, there are installations of intricately designed, custom-made display structures that stand like pillars, shelf after shelf holding up empty bottles of all different shapes and sizes; the translucence of the greens and browns of the bottles providing a striking contrast to the opaque white of the shells that adorn their surfaces. Edra Soto informs the audience that she collected these bottles, and continues to do so, in her neighborhood of East Garfield Park. She picks them up, washes them, removes their labels—she cares about these bottles as objects. She sees something in them. They are not pieces of trash to be discarded and forgotten, they are pieces …

Art at Work: Georgia Schwender at Fermilab Art Gallery

In this series, we explore the idea of art institutions with a primary audience deliberately or functionally outside the field of art. These venues primarily focus on completely unrelated disciplines, but are also invested in art collecting, exhibition, or production. For this installment, we look about an hour west of Chicago to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, known as Fermilab: one of the most advanced particle accelerators in the world. There, government scientists research the frontiers of particle physics, from quarks to dark matter. Wilson Hall, the lab’s central building, is named for founder Robert Rathbun Wilson, a Manhattan Project physicist and the artist of several massive public sculptures that pepper the campus. It also houses the Fermilab Art Gallery, which Wilson established to explore his dual interests in science and aesthetics. Search “art at Fermilab” online today and, in addition to the gallery and artist-in-residence program, you might learn about “art,” the laboratory’s software workflow protocol. “art is an event-processing framework for particle physics experiments,” the website explains. Though the name is a coincidence, …

Dancing in Public: Chicago Park District’s Resident Companies

Urbs in Horto: the official motto of the city of Chicago. This translates from Latin to “City in a Garden,” yet the construction of public green spaces around Chicago has a fraught, often troubled history. From its origins in the late nineteenth century, exhuming as corpses from plots on the North Side, the Chicago Park District emerged as a consolidated entity in 1934 and today proudly announces its status as “the largest municipal park manager in the nation.” As the Chicago Park District expanded, so did the city’s need for comprehensive, accessible arts programming. Though these needs existed prior to such expansion, the process of opening new public spaces threw them into a sharper relief. Landscape architects, like the Olmsted brothers who were commissioned to provide some recreational relief for the city’s overcrowded conditions, envisioned a new set of parks providing social and cultural services in addition to open green space. Parks might not merely be designated areas for fitness and recreation, they could also become an important facet of the Chicago’s cultural landscape. As it …

The Contours of Absence: Marisa Boyd at Transpace Gallery

This review is part of our Sixty Regional project which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and  Illinois.  Beyond the obvious irony of walking into a room titled A Place That Doesn’t Exist, what’s inside possesses a relentless sincerity. Marisa Boyd’s highly abstract work has a presence that is quiet but insistent. Three framed drawings on paper, hung opposite the entryway, orient the exhibition at Transpace Gallery by capturing Boyd’s process in its most direct form. The scribblings and contours are done with a quick and intentional hand, as though drawn from observation. Appropriately titled Closed Eyes #1 and Closed Eyes #2, the drawings are created blindly, with Boyd referencing only the landscapes she sees behind her eyelids. The central drawing is overlaid with sheets of paper, which have been cut through with amorphous shapes. These cloud-like forms float throughout the space, cut from paper, gatorboard, plywood, canvas, carpet, and fabric. Yet to Say Something Important finds two of these forms mounted adjacent and elevated slightly from the wall, …

Walking Through Change with Deep Time Chicago

It’s an unseasonably warm December morning and I’m driving cautiously through a Chicago warehouse district, south on Ashland Avenue past an overpass of the Stevenson expressway. The slice of the interstate makes this patch of the city feel like a peninsula, jutting timidly into a convergence of two stretches of the Chicago River. My directions lead me down a small road innocuously named Marketplace Access, past the slick corporate bulk of the QTS Data Center campus, and I’ve arrived. I join a group of about forty light-jacketed companions at Canal Origins Park for a walk through the city’s history of timber extraction with Deep Time Chicago, a collective of ecology-minded artists who want to retrain our awareness to our surroundings, and the artists Sara Black and Raewyn Martyn, whose joint installation Edward Hines National Forest is on view at the Hyde Park Art Center. The park commemorates the point where the Illinois & Michigan Canal once connected the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River drainage basin. It’s an impressive sounding spot, but if I’ve ever …

Without, Within the World: The Dojo

Call them DIY, alternative, radical, or safe, Chicago’s independent art spaces create a world without money and borders within a world defined by both. They function as community hubs and communal living spaces, providing free and affordable entertainment, hosting activism workshops and food drives, and building connections among young, emerging, and marginalized artists. “Without, Within the World” is a series of interviews that asks curators and administrators about building utopia while maintaining viable spaces.      The first to be profiled is the Dojo, an underground performance venue and gallery in Pilsen. Though the Dojo has its roots in the DIY music scene, their curation constantly skirts the boundaries between genres and communities. Established in 2015 by Alex Palma, Mykele Deville, and Daniel Kyri (DK), who all lived in Pilsen at the time, the Dojo is now run by Palma and Calie Ramone, who work with a variety of outside curators and “Dojo Homies,” who put together diverse music and art shows two or three times a week. When I meet Palma at his Pilsen apartment (he …

Erica Mei Gamble outside Harold Washington Library

Communal Sound Space

Erica Mei Gamble is a musician, storyteller, and children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. These roles converge in her ongoing project Communal Sound Space, an ever-expanding collection of video footage of DIY music and performance in Chicago. Since the launch of its online presence in August 2017, the archive makes public hundreds of videos documenting nearly a decade of performances in DIY spaces and small galleries around the city. The project amounts to a deeply personal history of Chicago music. Erica has filmed each performance herself, setting up shop at a good angle. Watching her record has become part of the fabric of going to a certain type of show: intimate, experimental, and for the most part, ephemeral. Thanks to Erica, that last bit is changing. Anyone curious about what goes on after hours in the darkened spaces of Chicago can now experience—or pause, rewind, and relive—a slice of it from anywhere in the world. I caught up with Erica about her project—creating safe spaces for expression, the impulse to document, maintaining an archive …

Inside & Outside of the Book: A Look at the Self-Reliance Library and School

In Chicago, as in many cities, a few degrees of separation can make a huge difference.  Ridgeland Avenue, an Oak Park thoroughfare, and Austin Blvd, an entry-way into the Austin neighborhood, are divided by Lake Street, which is lined with shops, Pete’s Fresh Market, and the yellowest building, I would estimate, in a ten-mile radius. I walk towards Compound Yellow, an independent, experimental arts space, and feel like an invited intruder. The mere brightness of the building forces you to engage with it, but as you draw closer, the tenderness of the flags waving above the structure and the suspended cloth circles hanging from the trees indicate a sense of careful living. The three buildings that comprise the compound have been united since 2016, the most noticeable one declaring itself as the Self-Reliance School & Self-Reliance Library, a collaboration between  Compound Yellow and Chicago arts publisher Temporary Services. The Self-Reliance Library is a reading and creating library, an installation consisting of over 80 books, as well as furniture and banners that take influence from ideas …

Stealing Hearts and Making a Mess: Dominus by Maria Lux at DEMO

When I think of raccoons I think of Milk Duds. At a cabin where I was staying in the woods one summer, I inadvertently left a box of Milk Duds outside and later that night was met by a sticky raccoon at my door. I remember giggling as it ran down the stairs with its caramel and chocolate covered paws- sticky tracks that stayed visible for a couple of weeks. This is to say, somehow I find raccoons a bit charming. Maria Lux’s exhibition Dominus at DEMO Project in Springfield this August (2017) brought both this charm and mischief into the gallery. In the exhibition, Lux pairs humor with earnest text about the history of trying to domesticate raccoons as pets. Three hand-made raccoons sit atop Roomba vacuums, all named properly after pet raccoons, including Rebecca the pet of President Calvin Coolidge. The furry robots scoot around the gallery bumping into walls – not actually cleaning  pushing around empty pastel colored bottles and occasionally, each other. Surrounding the raccoons on the walls are suggestions of Memphis …

Blue at the Edges at DEMO Project

In titling her recent showing at DEMO Project Blue at the Edges, Melissa Pokorny draws from the words of author and essayist Rebecca Solnit. In her autobiographical collection, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Solnit writes, “For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go.” Solnit speaks of vastness as something that lies ahead and out of reach, like the promise of a tomorrow that never arrives. Even so, any wistful admiration directed towards horizons or mountain ranges tends to trigger an echo from yesterday. Despite Solnit’s description of an unattainable horizon — a place “you can never go” — her experience is partly one of physical sensation, of a distance that …