All posts tagged: architecture

Perto de Lá <> Close to There: TANTO and Edra Soto in Conversation

Note: Portuguese sections of this interview are in bold, and the English sections are un-bolded. Daniel Sabóia, Patricia Almeida and Fabio Steque are the members of TANTO Criações Compartilhadas, a collective art and design practice in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The three artists have degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning at the Universidade Federal da Bahia. TANTO’s projects include installations and sculptural objects, designed spaces for creative action, and graphic design, often in collaboration with other artists, publishers and organizers. Edra Soto is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and curator born in Puerto Rico and based in Chicago. She works between social practice, immersive installations and architectural interventions, employing materials and practices from post-colonial visual cultures to address issues of colonization, cultural identity, and relationships between communities. Edra Soto is also co-director of the outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN, in her backyard in Garfield Park. Daniel Sabóia and Patricia Almeida, from TANTO, and Edra Soto are part of “Close to There Perto de Lá”, an artist exchange program between Salvador, Brazil and Chicago organized by Comfort Station …

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 …

Image: Video still from Hương Ngô's, In the Shadow of the Future, 2014-19. Still shows someone dressed up in a cosmonaut outfit standing in the foreground next to a large white geometric structure. In the background is a building with plants dangling out the windows, with architecture in a similar triangular style as the white structure as well as Hương's central installation. It is a sunny day out in the photo. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the Shadow of the Future: Interview with Hương Ngô

The colorful folded paper triangle takeaways prepared by Hương Ngô’s for her current exhibition “In the Shadow of the Future” open up to describe a narrative about Vietnamese fighter pilot Phạm Tuân heading to space under a Soviet program in 1979, the same year that thousands of people fled persecution in Vietnam to resettle in a suburb of Paris. Hương brings these two migration stories together under the same roof, connecting their journeys after 40 years of separation. In the center of the room at 4th Ward Project Space, is a bright architectural installation made of collided triangular forms. Some have windows, and others are closed off in their own corners and have gardens of greenery. Two video screens protrude from the top of the piece, tilted up to the sky, and another is ingrained into the building itself, posited inches from the ground. On the wall of the gallery is a newspaper article cast in concrete from the New York Times regarding Phạm’s mission with the text slightly deteriorated. The environment construed by Hương …

Reflections on Pictures from an Exposition at the Newberry Library

Even 125 years later, we can’t stop thinking about the World’s Columbian Exposition, an extravaganza so large and dense that we continue to unpack its flaws and glorify its vastness. In 1893, Chicago introduced the world to collections of dancers, photographs, paintings, magazines, and yes, even a map made entirely of pickles. The fair influenced how we view and how we curate exhibitions today. It was a spectacle and its history is a labyrinth of stories and mystery, and even a bit of horror. The Newberry Library is looking at the visual aspects of the fair—exhibiting an extensive collection of ephemera and art—in Pictures From the Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair. The exhibition displays the way artwork influenced people from afar to visit Chicago, as well as those who were living the experience, and how these images served as a means of advertising as well as fine art. What’s always been so undeniably interesting to me as a Hyde Parker, living on the edges of where the famous fair was once held, is how …

‘The Artist as a Catalyst of Social Change?’ Part 1: Nicole Marroquin

As many contemporary artists, arts organizations, and other cultural laborers continue a decades-long trajectory of reorienting their practices more deliberately towards and within the social world, forms and approaches have morphed through a collective re-imagining of the production, dissemination, and sociopolitical potential of art. These modes have sought to broaden access and participation in the arts, transform relationships between people, forge practices rooted in ethics as much as in aesthetics, and other similar gestures toward aligning art with notions of social justice and reform. Yet amidst this grappling, a number of unresolved riddles remain regarding art’s place in daily life: who is art’s “community,” and what exactly do we mean by “community”? What is art’s relationship to democracy? Can increased access to the arts also advance civic participation more broadly? What is the role of the artist in society? Can art and artists be catalysts for social change — and should they? Such issues and questions reverberate through the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change, which explores the influence that Addams …

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 …