Moving to Chicago, for this New York native, was confusing at times. How come the trains stop running at 1am? Why is the pizza so thick? Should we call them “speed humps”? But when the warm weather finally arrived, these haunting questions quickly disappeared. I would say that Chicago is the best American city during the summer. A cool dip in the lake is never far away and people dump their rubbish in alleyways rather than piling it up on steamy sidewalks. Best of all, the galleries stay open throughout August, and the museums and nonprofit art spaces put on some of their best showings of the year. You do not believe me? Take a look at the galvanizing programs below.
Lucas Simões: luscofusco
He squints into the twilight and the world begins to change shape. Solid slabs of concrete metamorphose into languid folds of flesh. Or maybe that’s what happens in the latest show by Lucas Simões, who must practice a kind of alchemical seduction to make steel and concrete bend into exuberant folds reminiscent of body parts, petals and waves. The show, titled “Twilight” in Portuguese, would be dazzling at any time of the year, but the sensuality of these works is best suited to hot days and long summer nights.
Patron Gallery (patrongallery.com)
1612 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago
Until August 19
Don’t be fooled by the brightness and daytime palette of the works on display, this show is peppered with the sterner stuff. The eight artists on display, members of Rupture, a Chicago-based database of artists of color founded by the exhibition’s curator, Roland Santana, shape experiences of loss and joy. “If I ground my teeth every night for 22 years, how much longer will I have them? How many things can I explain to you before they disappear? read the text in a work with beads by Sophia Karina English. The silhouette of a hanging human body made up of shredded CDs appears on the doorstep of a house in a sculpture by Derek Holland. A yearning to communicate, as well as the transcendent pleasures of true connection, pervade the motley works.
public works (publicworksgallery.com)
2141 West North Avenue, Chicago
Until August 19
Terra Recognita: a history of ceramics
Like the perfect summer picnic, this exposure will make you feel more energized and lighter than before. The five potters featured here expertly combine touches of humor with more serious thought-provoking elements. Nadira Husain paints intricate orgies and lush gardens on vessels that bend like perky bodies with arms and breasts. Irreverent details, like the strands of acrylic hair in Leena Similu’s tiny abstract works, inform the more sober reflections on identity that permeate the show. Zizipho Poswa draws on her Xhosa heritage and her experiences in the Eastern Cape Town province of South Africa to create works alluding to Bantu knots and the bundles rural women carry on their heads. The works vary in style, but all of these artists understand the power of being thoughtful without being serious. Even weirder, they know how to be funny without being frivolous.
Mariane Ibrahim (marianeibrahim.com)
437 North Pauline Street, Chicago
Until August 26
Van Gogh and the avant-garde: the modern landscape
For Georges Seurat, painting was a scientific endeavor, and from 1882 to 1890, the northwestern suburbs of Paris became his laboratory. There, Seurat experimented with placing splashes of complementary colors next to each other to create an optical dazzle in the eyes of viewers, a technique known as Pointillism. These semi-industrial towns on the banks of the Seine also attracted Vincent van Gogh, Paul Signac, Émile Bernard and Charles Angrand, who produced luminous views of factories and gas containers, as well as more bucolic subjects such as fields in bloom and sailboats gliding down the river. After soaking in the show, take a sun-soaked walk along the harbor behind the museum for a seamless transition between art and life.
Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Until September 4
Makes Me Want To Holla: Art, Death, And Incarceration
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted structural injustices in countless contexts across the country, but the experiences of those incarcerated have provided some of the most devastating evidence that our system does not value all lives equally. Social distancing was impossible in overcrowded facilities and personal protective equipment was rarely available, resulting in rampant infection. Michelle Daniel Jones, a prison scholar, activist, and artist who campaigned in Indiana for the emergency release of sick and elderly inmates, as well as those serving short sentences, has assembled 61 works by 50 artists currently incarcerated or facing prison. the past that created art on or during the pandemic. From the ceiling hang attractive quilted portraits of incarcerated survivors of police violence by artist and “quiltivist” Dorothy Burge, as well as textile memorials to Albert Woodfox, who endured more than four decades of solitary confinement and torture, and two murdered Black trans women. . in Chicago last year.
Logan Center Gallery (uchicago.edu)
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 East 60th Street, Chicago
Until September 10
Mary Watt: sky dance light
A member of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation, Marie Watt interweaves abstract sculptures with indigenous meanings. The musical works in this exhibition, many-lobed pendant forms that hang from the ceiling, are adorned with conical curls of tin called “bells.” These works reference a Seneca creation myth, in which a woman falls from the sky (the artist calls them “clinking clouds”), as well as indigenous medicine traditions, in which healers in ornate gowns With jingles they dance to heal the patients with the silvery, sound of rain. Visitors become participants simply by entering the exhibition: we pass through a cascade of tinkling cones, melodiously bringing the work to life with our movement.
Kavi Gupta Gallery (kavigupta.com)
835 West Washington Boulevard, 1st Floor, Chicago
Until September 30
Mona Hatoum: early work
“I have always had a rather rebellious and contrary attitude”, Mona Hatoum once said. “The more I feel like I’m being pushed into a mold, the more I want to go in the opposite direction.” As a Palestinian woman who found herself stranded in London when the 1975 civil war broke out in Lebanon, where she was born and raised, Hatoum refused to produce the orderly reflections on exile and Arab femininity that were expected of her. Instead, she spent the 1980s crafting the raw and defiantly messy performances and videos in this thought-provoking showcase. Some of her pieces, such as “Roadworks” (1985), in which Hatoum walks barefoot through Brixton dragging boots strapped to her ankles, are cryptic. Others, like “The Negotiating Table” (1983), in which the artist lies tied up, soaked in blood and animal entrails inside a plastic bag while listening to recordings of Western leaders discussing peace in the Middle East. they play overhead, they are more stridently political. For fans more familiar with Hatoum’s recent sculptures—elegant, haunting distortions of everyday objects—these fierce and urgent early works will be a revelation.
Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (macachicago.org)
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago
Until October 22
William Estrada: multiples and multitudes
For more than a decade, Chicago-based printmaker William Estrada has pushed a cart around the city and its suburbs with one simple goal: get strangers to make art out of it. The cart, inspired in part by Mexican ice cream vendors, unfolds into an impressive sidewalk studio where passers-by can join free screen-printing workshops, discuss community issues, and make political posters expressing their concerns. Estrada’s commitment to grassroots organizing, increasing public access to art, and challenging the status quo through creative work fuels his broad practice. This individual exhibition, the first by the artist, brings together engravings, photographs and documentation of public projects, as well as works by students and collaborators.
Hyde Park Art Center (hydeparkart.org)
5020 South Cornell Avenue, Chicago
July 22–October 29
LOVE: Still not minor
The ancient Greeks were right when they assigned different terms to different types of love. How is it that, in English, we only have one word for a force so mercurial and unruly that it changes shape every time it is felt? The photographers gathered here capture some of the many forms of love: Jorian Charlton searches for deep, private moments of everyday tenderness, while Mous Lamrabat stages a theatrical search for love in a desert landscape. Others hint at the inevitable loss that waits in the wings of any relationship. A photo of two candles burning side by side by Jess T. Dugan reminds us that even the longest, happiest flames are necessarily fleeting.
Museum of Contemporary Photography (mocp.org)
600 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
August 17–December 22
Bodies appear in pieces and surreal states of limbo in the five dozen paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, works on paper, and videos that make up this eclectic and enigmatic show. There are an oversized pair of legs made of scented wax by Iris Bernblum that seem to emerge, upside down, from the floor; headless figures parading on an embroidery by Elnaz Javani; and the artificial eye looking at a piece of barbed wire in a photograph by Nathan Lerner. The show, which aims to examine “the processes and materials that structure and sustain life”, offers a haunting cabinet of curiosities in which established artists such as Michael Rakowitz, Laurel Nakadate and Charles Gaines appear alongside lesser-known talents.
DePaul Museum of Art (depaul.edu)
935 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago
September 7–February 11, 2024