This weekend, I went gallery hopping to enjoy the new fall breeze and the enormous quantity of quality work coming to the city for the season and EXPO (which I will explain more about).
I spent Friday night in River North for their many, many openings. Sadly I was only able to make it to a hand-full in the couple hour window that is the event. Personally, it was highlighted by the Benjamin Cook show at Zg gallery. Cook has a colorful fun assortment of paintings and some fibers installations, each category exploring materiality, mass produced color and graphic qualities that can be both found in street art and now the mass market- mass produced fashion for the street. To top it off, the gallery had some temporary tattoo reproductions to take, which I am now strongly boasting. Friday, on an entirely different spectrum of the art market/ cannon, I enjoyed the Tetsuya Noda retrospective at Andrew Bae gallery. While looking at beautifully rendered prints from 50 years of Noda's life, there was a little nod to engagement with diary entries posted by each piece that gave additional insight into the artists life and thoughts, and added an extra layer of power and meaning. Diary entries are personal and often kept secret or prized, yet these feelings of change, humor, uncertainty and growth can be understood on a basic human level, bringing the contemporary Chicagoan viewer to Noda's context.
Saturday afternoon, I went over to the west loop to Woman Made gallery for the closing of their internationally juried show. What a gem! I wish I was telling you about an opening rather than a closing because it feels like such a taunt and lost opportunity (It is well documented on their website though). This was a well curated show of a variety of artists in a variety of mediums, so I did not know what to expect form the artists' talks, happening with the closing. I was pleasantly surprised about the multi generational aspect of the artists involved. As they spoke about their work, informally for about ten minutes each I was struck by the artist community that was in the room, rooted in a shared identity and practice. Occasionally an audience member would spout out a feeling or reading that would fill in the gaps of the artist's preceding explanation.
For me there were two highlights of this show that I just want to mention. The first, the ceramic piece by Cathy Schwalbe that she described as a retrospective of sorts because she has gathered images and stories over the years that are referenced in the various tiles. The piece asks the audience to touch and take, to interact with these historic traditions of the Midwest. The fun alliteration title, "sewing, sowing" brings the content and the relationship between the male and female work to the fore front. The second piece, by Angela Swan "listen", is beautiful in its simplicity. Is is a large printed photography of a sculpture project of two phones connected. The audience decided on a variety of symbols: sex, integration, dialogue of past times, race relations, a stand off, marriage, etc. all pointing to the power in a message that can be understood in a variety and on multiple levels.
I can not wait fro Chicago Expo and especially the After Hours event, featuring more alternative spaces and works. If you are in the Chicago area you should mark your calendar!