After a few months of not particularly focusing on Chicago galleries there are quite a few noticeable changes. More galleries, more hybrids that are a melding of a gallery and something else, and more painting, which was never dead in the first place.
The most moving exhibit I saw was was Bill Traylor at Carl Hammer Gallery. This is a museum quality exhibit where every piece in the show is available. Astounding. Almost as amazing as Traylor's profound, simple, innocent, and direct rendering. Born into slavery, he didn't begin drawing until he was 80 and in a very short time made over a 100 drawings. They, and the exhibit, are special.
Perhaps the painting I would most like to own was by Rebecca Morris at Corbett vs. Dempsey. I recall exhibiting Morris in a group, survey exhibition of abstraction in Chicago some 20 years ago and it's beautiful to see her reap the attention her work deserves.
The most joyous, dynamic growth I saw was in Micheko Itatani's paintings at Linda Warren. I know Itatani from commissioning her to make a permanent work of art for McCormick Place West. This show conveys the sense that the enthusiastic support she gets from this gallery has given her the wings to dig into her childhood experiences in Japan and show us robust, euphoric mark-making, colors, compositions and joy. Memorable.
The South Side Community Art Center has the most timely show on the male response to violence affecting young Black men, with art by about 40 artists including Dawoud Bey, Hebru Brantley, Faheem Majeed, Turtel Onli, Raub Welch and Bernard Williams.
The most enthusiastic support of a young artist by an established gallery must be Zolla/Lieberman's presentation of gorgeous paintings by Sarah Sohn. There's technical mystery and mastery - which means i can't figure out how she does what she does. The work is seductive and holds my attention. I'm impressed.
The show with the most vulnerable work of art is Russell Bowman's System/Repetition, which features Tara Donovan's toothpick cube, which is held together by . . . nothing. No clue, steam or magic. Also on view is Maya Lin's straight pin drawing of the Chicago River. Pretty great show.
Speaking of ballsy - that might be the wrong word - Miguel Cortez's gallery, Antena, is showing How Many Feminists Does it Take to Screw in a Lightbulb? which is a collection of comedic work by feminist video artists who utilize humor as an important part of their work.
The most beautiful show of art difficult to visualize in your living room, except for the exquisite drawings, is Western Exhibitions' robust installation by Rachel Niffenegger.
The show with the artist I'd most like to meet after seeing the art is Jeffrey Beebe's at Packer Schopf. Beeby's mind is just flat out different. Based on memory he misrepresents cities as he concocts fictive maps of seemingly real, but intensely messed up and comic locales, which are reminiscent of early, and wrong, cartographers. Wacky.
The show with the artist who always blows me away with his brilliant use of color, line and composition is Nicholas Sistler's at Printworks. Mastery.
Speaking of mastery, David Schwarz's glass work at Ken Saunders is mystifying in its execution and beautiful. The intricacies of curved, straight lines and grids amaze me.
Three young spaces (all in the same building) are indicative of the synergistic energies I see emerging in Chicago art. Document is a high-end, digital photo printer making photographic prints for the country's finest photographers, with a gallery attached. Scott Fortino is a wonderful photographer who used to be a Chicago cop. While a cop he would photograph and exhibit interior shots of 'private' institutional spaces, the kind most of us haven't, and don't want to, see. And now he no longer has access to those rooms and is making art in his studio and it's flat out gorgeous. Impressive growth.
Volume functions on the design side of the intersection of design and art and opens their first show tonight (with some work left to do on the space, I'm betting it's ready by the time the doors open.) Their sense of style, innovation and bravura promise to make this an exciting venue.
Paris, London, Hong Kong opened earlier in the summer and is a project of Dan Devening, Aron Gent, and Sam Vinz who have their own independent operations. Opening tonight is former Chicago maverick Mike Genovese, whose calm, cut, plated and polished steel looks at the cracks we don't see, or see and don't consider, in a seductive take on our society.
Thank you and see you soon,