All posts tagged: architecture

It’s not you, it’s me. No, it’s definitely you.

This is not a calling out. This is a reckoning. Really for me more than anything else. This is the break up text no one asked for. Disclaimer 1: Before anything, I should apologize to Anne Dessing because this really is not about you, or your work. You’re just a perfect foil. This is really about me. For context, Dessing was the 2018-2019 Garofalo fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A highly competitive, highly-coveted fellowship that comes with a year-long teaching position in the architecture department, an exhibition, and a presentation at the Graham Foundation. The exhibition*, which sits adjacent to UIC’s faculty office, consists of a series of large-format, Ruscha-esque pictures of windows and mirrors, reflecting images of the sky, other buildings, or their own architectures. Summarily and literally, its self-reflective. The title of the exhibition is a Sun Ra quote: “And then when I went to Chicago, that’s when I had these outer space experiences and went to other planets.” The quote/exhibition title, the only text in the entire space, is printed …

Art Against the Flow and a Semantic Ecotone

As I walk into the gallery space, I’m greeted by vibrant and seemingly disparate groups of artworks. On one wall, there are bold, schematic line drawings of Chicago architecture. To my right are totem-like sculptures with intricate embellishments. Across the way is a collection of flat landscapes with skewed perspectives. This is Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow, an exhibition on view at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art as part of Art Design Chicago. Throughout the show, it seems that the curators Kenneth Burkhart and Lisa Stone refrain from hand-holding me through a chronological, step-by-step development of an artist or artistic movement. As I trace my way through the space, pausing at each work, I soon realize that the absence of a consistent, linear narrative may be the point. Intuit’s mission is to celebrate the power of outsider art, which they define on their website as “the works of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions.” With this in …

City Visions: Urban Space, Daily Life, and the Camera

Treated with fumes and mercury vapor, the silver-polished metal plate is exposed to the light of a sunny Parisian day and reveals a latent image on its mirror-like surface: the curve of a cobblestone street leads the eye down rows of various-sized structures, toward a far-off vanishing point in the cityscape. Legible in the foreground, out in front of what appears to be a residential building, we see two figures miniaturized within the sweeping panorama. Captured by Louis Daguerre, inventor of the eponymous daguerreotype technique, this 1838 photograph, titled Boulevard du Temple, is believed to be the first picture ever created of city space and daily urban life. With its elevated perspective looking down and across this vista, Daguerre’s photo situates the viewer as an observer who is simultaneously in the city but also looking at it from some remove, as if through a window. The wide angle and sense of distance allow the viewer to consider the scene aesthetically: the contrast and quality of light, the atmosphere, the architectural forms. At the same time, …

The Thrival Geographies of Shani Crowe, Andres L. Hernandez, and Amanda Williams

Of the 2,240 licensed Black architects working in the United States, only 440 of them identify as Black women. While this number might increase slightly by adding those who have a degree in architecture and aren’t licensed, or who work primarily in teaching, this number becomes even more sobering when you consider the fact that there are about 109,748+ licensed architects in the entire country. My mention of these numbers isn’t simply a commentary on representation. Since architecture is a major influence on how we live and move through our daily lives, be it the spaces of home, work, school, play or otherwise, it’s unsettling to think that an overwhelming amount of spaces are likely conceived of and designed without someone like me in the room, on the team, or even in mind as the possible end user. After learning those numbers, it’s hard for me not to feel the significance of any time spent in conversation with two people who operate within that rare group. Andres L. Hernandez and Amanda Williams are architects and …

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 …

EXPO CHICAGO // An Interview with Tony Karman

This week, the art world’s glitterati will descend upon Chicago for a new contemporary art fair: Expo Chicago, The International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art & Design. Occupying Navy Pier’s colossal Festival Hall, the fair showcases a selection of top tier galleries—capped at 100—from around the globe. Also included are EXPOSURE, a section comprising younger galleries; IN/SITU, a presentation of large-scale installations and site-specific and performative works; the conclusion of /Dialogues, a series of panel discussions and conversations; and a VIP Program. Designed by the architecture studio of luminary Jeanne Gang, the fair’s floor plan mimics Chicago’s grid system, boasting gallery-lined streets that allow visitors to view everything in sequence without losing their way, as well as a diagonal avenue on which visitors can view select exhibits and installations. Hanging from the hall’s high ceilings are mammoth mirrored cones. While many may be curious as to whether Chicago can live up to the challenge of hosting such an event, some involved in the lively local art scene have a separate concern: Can the fair get out-of-town …

All for Art: An Interview with Robin Rios, PART II

Balancing the integrity of an artist with the acumen of a businessperson, distinguishing between Pilsen and Bridgeport, and telling misguided young artists that their work is mediocre at best… no topic is off limits for the owner of 4Art Inc. Gallery. What follows is the second part of my conversation with Robin Rios in anticipation of her gallery opening on Friday, March 18, from 7-10pm. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: As an artist and a gallery owner, you’re able to see both ends of a spectrum. How do you strike a balance between being a businessperson and an artist? Robin Rios: It’s hard. It’s hard not just because of the business aspect of it. It’s hard because I feel like a lot of artists just aren’t as excited as I am about what we do, creating art. Sometimes artists are way too hard on themselves. They’re not enjoying art anymore; in fact, they’re tortured by it. Art is an emotional thing, and I think when people meet me, their first instinct is that I’m …

The Logan Square Comfort Station: In the 'Art' of a Community

Last fall, as the end of sweater weather drew near, three local artists took advantage of the final surge of Logan Square outdoor market goers to breathe new life into a neighborhood landmark.  If you live or work in the area, you’ve probably passed by it a hundred times, that little Tudor-style building across from the Logan monument.  For years the building dubbed the “Comfort Station” sat empty and untouched, slowly deteriorating.  It was not forgotten, however, and this past fall the City of Chicago leased the turn-of-the-century building, newly restored, to Logan Square Preservation, the volunteer organization responsible for the National Historic District and City Landmark District designations of Logan Square and its boulevards.  This change of hands marked a new era for the Comfort Station that once served as a refuge for streetcar commuters along Milwaukee Avenue.  Within two weeks of the acquisition, Logan Square homeowner, preservation member and artist, David Keel, initiated and executed the Comfort Station’s inaugural gallery exhibition in collaboration with Chicago artists Josh Crow and Terry Swafford. “It’s something …