On this visit to Chicago we looked beyond the amazing public art in Millennium Park to visit gallery exhibits, a corporate collection and the international contemporary art fair EXPO Chicago on the Navy Pier.
Mickalene Thomas: I was Born to do Great Things at Kavi Gupta Gallery
I was born to do great things are the quoted words of Sandra Bush, Mickalene Thomas’s late mother, a statement that speaks for both the dynamic life that she lived as well as her influence and inspiration on Thomas’s artistic practice as her longtime muse. Bush has been prominent as a subject in Thomas’s works over the past 14 years, inspiring her examinations of identity and style through her magnetic personality and undeniable presence. This presentation of new work explores the personal story of the woman behind the inspiration. This is a story in celebration of womanhood, motherhood, and the power of art as a totem for personal memory, a story in celebration of Sandra. ~ Kavi Gupta Gallery
Samantha Bittman: Razzle Dazzle at Andrew Rafacz Gallery. Chicago artist Samantha Bittman created loom-woven textiles with thick acrylic painted surfaces, that are installed on site-specific custom wallpaper. Referencing the dazzle camouflage technique used on World War I naval ships, the exhibition incorporates bold patterns to confuse, not conceal, throwing texture to the viewer as a distraction from the underlying patterns in the woven surface below.
Carol Jackson: High Plains Drifter at Threewalls Gallery In this exhibition Jackson builds a car wreck emerging from the wall, mixed media prints, and archival prints from webcam stills of California Highways all inspired by John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. The artworks explore America’s fascination, romance and dependence on the automobile.
Hank Willis Thomas: Bench Marks presented by Monique Meloche Gallery’s Off the Wall project Bench Marks is installed onto various public bus benches throughout Chicago’s Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood. The installation includes a selection of images from three different bodies of the artist’s work, namely: Branded, Fair Warning and Strange Fruit.
EXPO Chicago Art Fair
Chicago artist Jenny Kendler has been chosen to be the founding participant in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Artist-in-Residence program. Kendler’s works explore the intersections between human culture, perceptions of the natural world, and declining biodiversity. For the NRDC EXPO Chicago booth, exhibit walls are covered in lichen-camouflage wallpaper and adorned with delicate sculptures of birds, which Kendler creates by altering and ‘rewilding’ vintage porcelain figurines. These intimate, yet uncanny sculptural works stand in for real-life bird species, threatened or endangered by environmental hazards like habitat loss, energy projects and climate change.
Private Collection Visit
We try to take advantage of VIP programming at the art fairs we attend and visit private collections. Collectors have such unique ways of engaging and living with art. A visit to Richard Sandor’s collection at his Environmental Financial Products offices was a fascinating experience. Mr. Sandor has been collecting photography for so long that his collection is broad and deep. Sandor is known as the ‘father of carbon trading’ so you might expect that his collection has an environmental focus. Of interest to us was the emerging work he has been buying in China for the last 10 years. Sandor says the first thing he does when he gets off the plane is to go out and look at photography because it connects him to the culture in a more meaningful way than his meetings around economics and trade.