Showing posts with label art beat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art beat. Show all posts

Saturday, April 8, 2023


Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

Wrightwood 659 presents Trio of Exhibitions, 

April 14 – July 15, 2023:

Kongkee: Warring States cyberpunk / Shahidul alam: singed but not burnt /

Patric McCoy: Take My Picture

London-based artist and animation director kongkee leads tour of electronic arts exhibition, warring states cyberpunk, with curator abby chen, saturday, April 15th, acclaimed bangladeshi photographer/activist Shahidul Alam shares his vocabularies of resistance, plus Burnt but not singed book signing, at south asia institute, tuesday, April 18th, an artful evening offers exhibition tour with chicago photographer Patric McCoy at wrightwood 659, plus festive reception at casati’s modern italian, thursday, May 4th.

In support of its upcoming trio of Spring/Summer exhibitions opening April 14 –Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk, Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt, and Patric McCoy: Take My Picture – Wrightwood 659 is proud offer a series of rare and insightful meet-the-artist opportunities:  


Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk exhibition tour with artist and curator

Saturday, April 15, 12:30-1:30pm.

Through multi-screen videos, wall projections, neon installations, vibrant graphic works, narrative texts, and ancient Chinese objects, Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk tells the story of legendary poet Qu Yuan, who lived during the Warring States Period (c. 481-221 BCE), as his soul journeys from the ancient Chu Kingdom to a retro-futuristic Asia where he is reborn as an android in a psychedelic cyberpunk landscape. Originally conceived by Kongkee as a comic series in 2013, the exhibition transports viewers into an imaginary world where past and future collide. Join artist Kong Khong-chang, known as Kongkee, and Abby Chen, Senior Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, which organized the exhibition, for a unique and intimate tour of this illuminating work.

Tour included with standard $15 exhibition tickets; online reservations required by visiting


Shahidul Alam on Vocabularies of Resistance

Tuesday, April 18, 6-7:30pm.

South Asia Institute, 1925 S. Michigan Avenue

Direct from Bangladesh, Shahidul Alam, a humanitarian activist, institution builder, and prominent South Asian photographer will introduce Vocabularies of Resistance. Following the War of Independence in his home country of Bangladesh, Alam witnessed the effects of political upheaval, from the rise of an autocratic general to the displacement of indigenous groups and the burgeoning Rohingya refugee crises. Alam makes visible the resilience of those living in the world’s densest regions while empowering people to use photography to reveal their own stories. Following the lecture, Alam will sign copies of his new photo book, also titled Singed But Not Burnt, available for purchase on-site.  

The South Asia Institute, under the direction of founders Shireen and Afzal Ahmad, aims to cultivate the art and culture of South Asia and its diaspora through local and global collaborations, curated exhibitions, innovative programs, and educational initiatives that aim to engage diverse communities.

Tickets are $10, and available by reservation at or at the door.  Ticket price includes the lecture and a reception with the artist.  


An Artful Evening with Patric McCoy

Thursday, May 4, 5:30-8:30pm.

This sophisticated evening of art and apps starts off at Wrightwood 659 (659 W. Wrightwood Ave.), for viewing the galleries of three newly opened exhibitions including Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk, Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt, and Patric McCoy: Take My Picture. At 6pm, Chicago photographer Patric McCoy will lead a tour of his exhibition and share behind-the-scenes stories of the 1980s Black gay scene he captured in photographs.  Starting at 7pm, guests are invited to enjoy a festive champagne reception at nearby Casati’s Modern Italian (444 Fullerton Pkwy.)  Note: last entry to Wrightwood 659 will be 6:45pm.

Tickets are $40 (all-inclusive for gallery entry and reception), and are available by advance reservation only


More about Spring/Summer Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659, 

April 14-July 15, 2023:

Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk 

Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk features the work of London-based Chinese artist and animation director Kong Khong-chang, known as Kongkee. Through multi-screen videos, wall projections, neon installations, vibrant graphic works, narrative texts, and ancient Chinese objects, the exhibition tells the story of legendary poet Qu Yuan, who lived during the Warring States Period (c. 481-221 BCE), as his soul journeys from the ancient Chu Kingdom to a retro-futuristic Asia where he is reborn as an android in a psychedelic cyberpunk landscape. Originally conceived by Kongkee as a comic series in 2013, the exhibition transports viewers into an imaginary world where past and future collide.

Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, where it debuted in November 2022, and curated by its head of contemporary art, Abby Chen.


Patric McCoy: Take My Picture

In the 1980s, Patric McCoy traveled around Chicago on his bike, always with his camera. From the lakefront to the Loop, McCoy found no shortage of Black men who wanted their picture taken. Over a ten-year period, he shot thousands of images at his subjects’ request.  Patric McCoy: Take My Picture is a selection of some 50 black and white and color photographs from this rich document of 1980s Black gay Chicago. McCoy’s subjects are neither posed nor directed; each has agency over how he is seen, elevating the subject’s humanity, inverting and subverting the gaze.  HIV/AIDS hit Black men especially hard. Thousands would die before the end of the decade, including many of McCoy’s friends, lovers—and subjects. Take My Picture can be seen as a marker of place, time, and memory. It is an altar to those lost. 

The exhibition is curated by Juarez Hawkins, artist, educator, and curator, who noted, “McCoy and his camera fulfilled an unspoken need for Black men to be seen. Seen by someone who did not objectify them as ‘Other’, but an insider who allowed them, to paraphrase Langston Hughes, to be their ‘beautiful black selves’.”

Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt

“As journalists, we need to feel the heat, stand close to the fire, and risk being burnt. Take one step back, you become ineffective. The trick, therefore, is to get singed but not burnt.” – Shahidul Alam

Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt surveys the four-decade career of the renowned Bangladeshi photographer, writer, activist, and former Time magazine Person of the Year, as he documents the consequences of catastrophic weather, repressive regimes, and political upheaval in his home country. Through select projects and more than 80 searing photographs, Singed But Not Burnt showcases art, education, and institution building as forms of resistance. Using the photographic image, Alam illuminates discrepancies in everyday life, from early attempts to oppose military rule to autocratic rulers. At a time of rising autocracy, and with freedom of expression under threat worldwide, this exhibition sheds light on the resilience of those who continue to resist. 

Singed But Not Burnt draws on an exhibition currently touring in India which was first organized by curator and art writer Ina Puri. As an award-winning documentarian, she has chronicled the lives of India’s most distinguished art practitioners.

These exhibitions are presented by Alphawood Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659.

New Hours of Operation

Thursdays 1-8 pm; Fridays 12 noon-7 pm; Saturdays 10 am-5 pm



Admission for all three exhibitions is $15 and available online only at Please note, admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.

COVID NOTE: All guests are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. By entering Wrightwood 659, you warrant to us that you are fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. We reserve the right to ask guests to produce evidence of their vaccination. Masks are required throughout the gallery.

About Alphawood Exhibitions

Alphawood Exhibitions is an affiliate of Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based, grant-making private foundation working for an equitable, just, and humane society. 

About Wrightwood 659

Founded in 2018, Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution devoted to socially engaged art and architecture. Wrightwood 659 was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed a 1920s residential building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and acclaimed as “a hidden treasure,” Wrightwood 659’s expansive and light-filled galleries offer both intimate and monumental experiences as visitors engage with the pressing issues of our time. Exhibitions are presented by Alphawood Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659. For additional information:

Kongkee – London-based artist & Abby Chen, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, of Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk, an immersive futurist fantasy combining ancient poetry and modern anime.

Shahidul Alam – Bangladesh-based photographer, writer, a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2018, and artist of Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt, a retrospective of the renowned photojournalist and human-rights activist.

Patric McCoy – Artist and Chicago resident & Juarez Hawkins, Curator, artist, and educator, for Patric McCoy: Take My Picture, an exhibition of poignant images of 1980s Black gay Chicago.

INFO: This trio of Spring/Summer exhibitions is presented by Alphawood Exhibitions and are on view from April 14 through July 15, 2023. Read more:

Image credits:

Installation view of Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk, 2022 © Asian Art Museum

Kongkee headshot photo credit: Art Director: Kongkee@penguinlab/Fashion Director: Mayao & Yoyo Kwan @Fameglory/

Photographer: Jason@chanaphotostudio/Venue Sponsor: Seyami Studio/Sponsors: First Initiative, Leo & Xaviour@Number 2 Ltd

Alam headshot photo credit: Rahnuma Ahmed

McCoy headshot photo credit: Isadore Howard


Thursday, September 8, 2022

ART BEAT: The National Hellenic Museum announces two new exhibitions

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Gather Together: Chicago Street Photography

by Diane Alexander White

September 16, 2022 – April 30, 2023


Storytelling in Cloth and Light

Open run beginning September 16, 2022


Museum’s grand reopening celebration in September also includes

world premiere of Resilience by HRH Prince Nikolaos

Greek Independence Day Parade in Chicago (1980), photo by Diane Alexander White


The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood—a premier museum dedicated to sharing Greek history, art, culture and the Greek American story—announced today two additional exhibitions as part of its grand reopening celebration this September. These exhibitions join the previously announced world premiere photography exhibition Resilience by HRH Prince Nikolaos.

In Gather Together: Chicago Street Photography by Diane Alexander White (September 16, 2022–April 30, 2023), the Chicago-based Greek American photographer presents 80 historic works showcasing Chicago’s Greek American celebrations alongside other ethnic and cultural festivals and parades, primarily from the 1970s and 1980s. Depicted events include the Greek Independence Day Parade, Greek Festival, Bud Billiken Day Parade, Japanese Festival, Chinese New Year Parade, Puerto Rican Festival, Mexican Civic Society Parade, Mexican Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Jewish Festival, German Von Steuben Day Parade, Polish Festival, Festa Italiana and the Indo-Pak Parade.

“Our mission at the National Hellenic Museum is to share Greek history, art and culture, and the Greek American experience. Diane’s works vividly capture how Chicago’s Greek American community gathers in the public space to show pride in its identity and share its culture. Through her images of other ethnic and cultural celebrations, Diane also explores the universality of how Chicagoans gather together to show pride in their diverse communities,” says NHM Executive Director Marianne Kountoures.

Storytelling in Cloth and Light (open run beginning September 16, 2022) presents a series of textiles and photographs side by side. The textiles, part of NHM’s expansive collection of more than 10,000 Greek American artifacts, were meticulously woven in Greece, largely by women, and brought across the ocean to the United States. The photographs are additional images from Diane Alexander White, which capture the people and landscapes of Greece in 1977, including her father’s village of Poulithra. Together, these artifacts tell stories connecting audiences with the people, places and events of the past—and encouraging viewers to remember their own stories.

These new exhibitions join the previously announced world premiere photography exhibition Resilience by HRH Prince Nikolaos (September 16–December 30, 2022). Prince Nikolaos’ North American debut includes 19 new works exploring Greece’s strong relationship with nature and environmental preservation. The exhibition also features the North American premiere of Together, an immersive scene of life-size illuminated, embracing olive trees accompanied by sounds of Greek nature, which first premiered at the London Design Biennale in 2021.

The National Hellenic Museum (333 S. Halsted Street, Chicago) presents three new exhibitions as part of its grand reopening celebration: the world premiere of Resilience by HRH Prince Nikolaos (September 16–December 30, 2022), Gather Together: Chicago Street Photography by Diane Alexander White (September 16, 2022–April 30, 2023) and Storytelling in Cloth and Light (open run beginning September 16, 2022). Beginning Friday, September 16, museum hours are Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets to the museum are $10 and include admission to all exhibits. Discounts are available for seniors, students and children. For more information, visit or call 312-655-1234.

 The Resilience exhibition is sponsored by NHM Trustee John S. Koudounis.


Artist Bio

Photographs from film begin as negative images which are developed in the darkroom where a positive print is created. As a lifelong Chicago photographer, Diane Alexander White has explored the negative and positive effects of photography since 1972. Her father Angelo D. Alexander, who emigrated from Greece in 1920, became an avid photographer and shared his knowledge of the camera with his daughter, Diane. While attending the University of Illinois Chicago she took her knowledge of photography one step further by learning the ways of the darkroom. Photography instructor Robert Steigler opened her eyes to the art of capturing the street image as he was influenced by Harry Callahan, Arthur Siegel, Aaron Siskind and others at the Institute of Design (IIT). Upon graduating in 1976, she began working in studios and darkrooms and continued with her street photography. In 1983 Diane was hired by Field Museum head photographer Ron Testa to photograph natural history collections and she continues to work there to this day. For more information, visit

About the National Hellenic Museum

The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) is a premier museum dedicated to sharing Greek history, art and culture, from ancient times to the present day, including the modern Greek American experience. NHM preserves the Hellenic legacy and makes this rich heritage relevant today through its collection of thousands of physical artifacts, oral histories, exhibits, educational programs and special events. Originally founded in 1983 and located in Chicago’s historic Greektown neighborhood since 2011, the NHM provides lifelong learning for the community and sparks inquiry and discussion about the broader issues in our lives and society. Museum hours are Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit or call 312-655-1234.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

ART BEAT: The Art of BANKSY Opening in Chicago's River North August 14, 2021


The Art of Banksy will feature more than 80 works by the elusive street artist including many of his most recognizable images such as “Flower Thrower,” “Rude Copper” and “Girl with Balloon.” 

Here at ChiIL Mama we dig Banksy's stealth street art. Although it's an unauthorized exhibition, in true BANKSY fashion, this exhibit has gone through date and location changes, but we're excited to say, this illusive art opening is now slated for the second week of August. I'll be out for the press opening August 13th so check back soon for my full review.

The Art of Banksy, the largest touring exhibition of authentic Banksy artworks in the world, has announced the Chicago exhibition will be held on the 4th floor of 360 N. State St: a 45,000-square-foot space that was the home of other public exhibits. The public opening will be Saturday, Aug. 14.

Situated in the heart of River North adjacent to the Marina Towers, 360 N. State St. is quickly developing a reputation as an exhibition space. The modern venue’s tall, overarching ceilings provide ample room to showcase Banksy’s work in all its glory. Guests also have the opportunity to enjoy the space’s outdoor balcony and a VIP/Private reception room on the 3rd floor. The venue stands in a bustling, energetic region of River North, amongst esteemed restaurants, hotels, music venues and more, just steps away from the Chicago Riverwalk. With on-site parking available, 360 N. State St. is easily accessible via numerous L and bus lines, including the nearby Grand Avenue CTA Red Line stop. 

Banksy’s works are seen on city walls, bridges and streets throughout the world, but The Art of Banksy offers a rare chance to see a multitude of works in one location.

In true Banksy style, The Art of Banksy is not authorized or curated in collaboration with the artist, but rather sourced from private collections allowing the public to see works that would otherwise stay hidden in private homes or warehouses. Banksy, whose identity is the art world’s biggest secret, is an enigmatic artist and world-recognized activist. His graffiti-influenced stencil technique, often combined with anti-establishment slogans, is immediately recognizable and never fails to generate immediate attention.

Seen by 750,000 people worldwide, The Art of Banksy has already generated excitement in Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Auckland and Toronto with rave reviews from critics all around the world. Harper’s Bazaar advised “This isn’t one to miss,” Marie Claire proclaimed it “A must see!” while TimeOut Toronto described The Art of Banksy as “a welcome reminder of the explosive impact of the artist’s works, and of the powerful potential of street art.” 

Ticket prices start at $39.99 ($29.99 for children 16 or younger), with timed, flexible and VIP ticket options available. Tickets are on sale for viewings from Aug. 14 through Oct. 31, 2021. Ticket buyers will be contacted to be notified of the venue change. Individuals who have purchased tickets for a date before Aug. 14, will also be contacted to reschedule their tickets.  For more information about The Art of Banksy, visit Follow the exhibition on social media at @BanksyExhibit on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Please consult the website for updated information on COVID- 19 protocols.

 About Starvox Exhibits

 Starvox Exhibits is a new division of Starvox Entertainment. Starvox Entertainment, founded in 2005 by Corey Ross, has ranked on Profit Magazine’s list of Canada’s top growth companies for four years running - the only live Entertainment Company ever to be on the list. Starvox produces unique live theatre properties, including: the hugely successful “Wow Variety Spectacular,” currently in residence at Caesars Entertainment’s Rio Casino, the record-breaking “Evil Dead: The Musical,” successful touring West-End hit Harry Potter parody “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience,” “Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical” and  many others. Starvox Exhibits is also one of the founding producers of Immersive Van Gogh, the original immersive experience now on view in cities across North America. 

About [ collectiv presents ] 

[ collectiv presents ] is a full-service event promotion and production company focused on bringing unique and memorable concert experiences to fans and artist camps alike.

Founded by Chris Den Uijl, Lucas King, and Michael Berg, [ collectiv presents ] has decades of experience in talent buying and event promotion and production across multiple genres, and in multiple cities and states throughout North America.

Monday, January 27, 2020

ART BEAT: South Shore Arts will host an Artist’s Reception for “It’s Surreal Thing” Friday, February 21 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. At The Towle Theater in Hammond

Openings On Our Radar:

“It’s Surreal Thing”
 An Exhibit of Inked Imagery by Artist Jim Siergey

South Shore Arts in Northwest Indiana will host an Artist’s Reception for “It’s Surreal Thing”, an exhibit featuring the inked imagery of Jim Siergey, on Friday, February 21 from 6–8 p.m. at the Towle Theater in Hammond.   An Opening Night performance of Towle Theater’s production of “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” follows at 8:00 p.m. to kick off the theater’s 2020 season. Both “It’s Surreal Thing” and “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” continue through March 8.

Jim Siergey is an artist well-known in the underground art scene for over two decades.   It was on a grade school field trip to The Art Institute of Chicago where Siergey was introduced to Messrs. Magritte and Dali as well as Mssrs. Tanguy, Ernst, DuChamp and Man Ray.   According to Siergey, “These Surrealists became another perverse influence on my young life as I had already been tainted by TV viewings of the anti-establishment antics of The Marx Brothers and Bugs Bunny.   How could I be expected to look at anything logically or take anything seriously ever again?”

Before moving to Munster, IN a year and a half ago, he spent his previous lifetime in Chicago working as an illustrator, character animator and cartoonist.   His permanent record includes gigs for Time magazine, USA Weekend, The Field Museum, TV commercials, educational films and an animated Take Me Out to the Ballgame 7th inning stretch video for the White Sox’ Jumbo-Tron.   His comic strip “Cultural Jet Lag” ran for 20 years in many alternative press publications.   Paperback books, bubble gum cards, greeting cards and art gallery exhibits are other places where his work can be found.   Since moving to “The Region”, he has exhibited his work at the Promise You Art House in Highland and the Paul Henry Studios in Hammond as well as in group shows in Griffith and Crown Point.

The Towle Theater is located at 416 Sibley Street in downtown Hammond, IN 46320.   For information about the gallery to view the exhibit by appointment, call 219.937.8780.

Photo Credits: Jim Siergey

Saturday, February 9, 2019

ART BEAT: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Presents Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera February 23 to May 5, 2019

Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera
a major survey of the work of Laurie Simmons

Image credit: Laurie Simmons, Big Camera, Little Camera, 1976. Collection of the artist. Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, © Laurie Simmons.

I'll be out for the press opening, February 22nd, so check back soon for my recap. As a photographer, feminist, and daily creator of social media content, this exhibit particularly fascinates me. I'm also intrigued by families full of artists and creatives. Laurie Simmons' husband is painter Carroll Dunham and her children are actress/writer Lena Dunham and writer/activist Cyrus Dunham.

This spring, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, a major survey of the work of Laurie Simmons. This comprehensive exhibition showcases Simmons's career-long exploration of how image culture creates and perpetuates the myths of our society, and upends traditional ideas about photography as a medium. More than four decades of work by Simmons are on display, with her iconic photographs, sculptures, and films highlighting her importance both historically and as an active contemporary artist. Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is on view from February 23 to May 5, 2019 and is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and curated by Senior Curator Andrea Karnes. The Chicago presentation is coordinated by MCA Senior Curator Naomi Beckwith.

Simmons's exploration of archetypal female gender roles, for example, women in domestic settings, is the primary subject of this exhibition and is a topic as poignant today as it was in the late 1970s, when she began to develop her mature style using props and dolls as stand-ins for people and places.
The namesake work for this exhibition, Big Camera, Little Camera (1976), shows an actual camera juxtaposed with a miniature one, exemplifying Simmons's technique of manipulating scale. The actual camera in the image was given to Simmons by her father, a dentist who took up photography in his free time. Simmons explains, "I put the two cameras together for scale, and as a metaphor - real life versus fiction. It was also a statement about what I intended to do with the camera." Far from documenting the world as it is, her photographs represent the effects of fiction on reality.

Often isolating the dolls and photographing them situated in tiny, austere settings, in series such as Early Black and White (1976-78), Simmons uses fictional scenes that mirror and unsettle the American dream of prosperity and feminine domesticity. The resulting works turn a critical eye on tropes that dominated the era of her upbringing, including the 1950s housewife and the Wild West cowboy.

After graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1971, then living in upstate New York and subsequently traveling through Europe while living out of her car, Simmons moved to a loft in the then-low-rent Bowery section of Manhattan. To make a living, she briefly worked as a freelance photographer for a dollhouse miniature company, and in her off hours she pursued her main ambition of becoming an artist. Influenced by her day job, as well as a cache of old toys she discovered at a toy store in the Catskills, Simmons began to photograph dolls and small plastic objects, particularly those from the 1950s, the era of her childhood.

Carefully chosen props, preserved by the artist over the years, are on display, including those used to create the early doll house imagery. This ephemera offers new insight into Simmons's process, revealing her continuing fascination with models and fleshing out her use of color-coding to organize vignettes into cohesive and precise imagery.

Monumental photographs from the series Walking and Lying Objects (1987-91), are on view in the exhibition. This iconic body of work features a variety of legs - from human scale to tiny metal Japanese fetish models - showing beneath familiar domestic objects. The poses create personified objects and objectified people, demonstrating how our culture defines, fetishizes, and flattens bodies - especially the female body - and material things.

The exhibition also presents Simmons's more recent series, such as The Love Doll (2009-11), which features high-end, life-size Japanese dolls in day-to-day scenarios. Just as Walking Objects represents a transition to monumental props, The Love Doll moves away from dolls in miniature, but the added element of strangeness is not unlike that evoked by the miniatures. Another recent body of work, How We See (begun in 2014), shows another iteration of the artist's longstanding interest in gender roles.

For these images, Simmons hired makeup artists to paint eyes that look open on her sitters' closed eyelids. Inverting her usual practice by making real people appear uncannily artificial, Simmons says, "Social media allows us to put our most perfect, desirable, funny, and fake selves forward, while naturally raising questions about our longings, yearnings, and vulnerabilities. In How We See, I'd like to direct you how to see while also asking you to make eye contact with ten women who can't see you."

In addition to her photography, there is a small selection of sculpture and three films in the exhibition. The Music of Regret (2006, 45 min) is shown in the gallery space, and is a three-part musical shot in 35mm by the cinematographer Ed Lachman. The Music of Regret grew out of three of Simmons's distinct photographic series: Early Interiors, Walking Objects, and Café of the Inner Mind. The theme of regret is underscored by vintage puppets that interact with actress Meryl Streep, who plays the lead role, and Alvin Ailey dancers dressed as oversized inanimate objects.

The film My Art (2016) was written and directed by Simmons who also stars in the lead role as Ellie Shine, an artist who wishes to reinvigorate her work and address her lack of recognition. In My Art, Ellie embarks on a new project where she reimagines shot-for-shot vignettes from her favorite movies, casting herself as the celluloid stars from the past. Art and life collide in the film as scenes mirror unfolding relationships in her life. The film debuted in September 2016 at the Venice Film Festival and premiered in North America at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received high accolades.

A major scholarly catalogue, co-published by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and DelMonico Books-Prestel, accompanies the exhibition.

Laurie Simmons, born in 1949 in Queens, New York, began photographing at age six when her father bought her a Brownie camera. She received a BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia and moved to New York. Simmons is an internationally recognized artist who has had solo exhibitions at P.S. 1, Artists Space, and the Jewish Museum in New York; the Walker Art Center in Minnesota; San Jose Museum of Art in California; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis; the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden; and the Neues Museum in Germany. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997, and a Roy Lichtenstein Residency in Visual Arts from the American Academy in Rome in 2005. She currently lives and works in New York and Cornwall, Connecticut. Her husband is painter Carroll Dunham and her children are actress/writer Lena Dunham and writer/activist Cyrus Dunham.


Talk: Laurie Simmons
Saturday, February 23, 3 pm, MCA Theater
Artist Laurie Simmons leads audiences on a journey through the history of anti-feminist films on the opening day of her exhibition.

Screening: Laurie Simmons
Sunday, February 24, 11 am - 5 pm, MCA Theater
A marathon screening plays a selection of Laurie Simmons's films.

Screenings of My Art 
February 26, March 26 and 31, April 7 and 9, MCA Theater
Screened as part of the exhibition, My Art is ­a feature-length film written, directed by, and starring Laurie Simmons who plays Ellie Shine, a single artist living in New York City. As her decades-old dream of a respectable place in the art world becomes more elusive, her frustration with her lack of recognition feels alarmingly urgent. When she is offered the summer house and studio of a famous friend she seizes the opportunity to hit the reset button on her life and work.

Curator Tour: Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera
Tuesday, March 19, noon, exhibition gallery
MCA Senior Curator Naomi Beckwith leads an in-depth tour of Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera and discusses the artist's practice.

Talk: Laurie Simmons with Genevieve Gaignard
Thursday, April 10, 6 pm, MCA Theater
Laurie Simmons has sometimes been cast as a "reluctant feminist." In this conversation, the artist brings together a panel of next-generation thinkers to consider the tension between personal politics and the making of feminist art in a moment when gender is increasingly deconstructed. They also address how the feminist reading of her work by younger artists has changed her own perspective and her work.

Lead support for Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; Becky and Lester Knight; Zell Family Foundation; Julie and Larry Bernstein; and Cari and Michael J. Sacks. Major support is provided by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Generous support is provided by Robert J. Buford; Anne L. Kaplan; Kovler Family Foundation; Jennifer and Alec Litowitz; Phillips; Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund; Marilyn and Larry Fields; Efroymson Family Fund; Katherine and Judd Malkin; Ellen-Blair Chube; Susie L. Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt; One Bennett Park; Liz and Eric Lefkofsky; Salon 94 New York; Mirja and Ted Haffner; Vicki and Bill Hood; Susan D. Goodman and Rodney Lubeznik; The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York; and Penelope and Robert Steiner.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

ART BEAT: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Presents West by Midwest November 17, 2018 to January 27, 2019

This fall, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents West by Midwest, an exhibition tracing how artists with ties to the Midwest helped shape art and culture on the West Coast where they migrated to find career opportunities, art schools, and warmer weather. 

Image credit: Jerry McMillan Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan (self-portrait), and Ed Ruscha with Ed's 39 Chevy, 1970. Courtesy the artist and Craig Krull Gallery. 

I'll be out for the press preview November 16th, so check back soon for my photo recap at Spanning the early 1960s to 2010s, works by artists such as Billy Al Bengston, Andrea Bowers, Judy Chicago, Anna Halprin, David Hammons, Mike Kelley, Senga Nengudi, Laura Owens, Sterling Ruby, and Ed Ruscha among many others, demonstrate the ways that contemporary art practices spread and developed across social and geographic lines. West by Midwest presents more than 80 artworks drawn primarily from the MCA Collection and is on view from November 17, 2018 to January 27, 2019. The exhibition is organized by MCA Curatorial Fellow Charlotte Ickes with MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling.

Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, against a backdrop of a new national interstate highway system and the lure of Jack Kerouac and Beat culture, the thriving art schools of California were a powerful draw for young artists. Los Angeles' emerging art scene offered the possibility of creative freedom, experimentation, and collaboration, compared to that of New York, often considered the center of art and culture. Communities of artists, many from the Midwest, found a collaborative spirit that developed into social networks across generations and geographies where they attended school, shared studios, exhibited work, engaged in activism, and developed relationships with one another.

Edward Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1969. © Ed Ruscha Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. 

One of the exemplary documents of this migration is Ed Ruscha's iconic artist's book, TWENTYSIX GASOLINE STATIONS (1962). Inspired by Pop Art and the writings of the Beat Generation, Ruscha (from Oklahoma) methodically photographed gas stations along the historic Route 66 from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, a journey he made back-and-forth numerous times after leaving his home town for California. He assembled 26 neutral, documentary images into an artist book with no text entitled TWENTYSIX GASOLINE STATIONS.

Artists Billy Al Bengston (from Kansas) and Judy Chicago (from Illinois) met in in Los Angeles where both were fascinated by the use of new materials, such as spray paints, plastics, and lacquer, and other techniques that became central to the emerging Finish Fetish movement. Blending the aesthetics of Pop Art, Minimalism, and Light and Space, Finish Fetish featured glossy, slick finishes that recalled staples of Southern California culture such as automobiles, motorcycles, and surfboards.

In the early 1970s, Judy Chicago brought the Feminist Art Program she founded at Fresno State College to the newly formed California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) with fellow artist Miriam Schapiro (studied in Iowa) producing an alternative method of consciousness-raising and collaboration. Prior to that, Schapiro had collaborated with a physicist in San Diego on computer-aided drawings that would be used for her hard-edged paintings. In her work Computer Series she combined technology with geometric minimalism where the strict lines of interlocking squares rested against a background of atmospheric color, characteristic of much Southern California art in the 1960s.

David Hammons began making his famous body prints in the late 1960s after moving from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois to study art in Los Angeles. The artist would grease his skin with margarine, press his body onto the paper, and add a coat of powdered pigment to the surface of the print. In this unorthodox self-portrait, Hammons meditates on how stereotypes flatten the self.  

Senga Nengudi, Freeway Fets, 1978. Courtesy of Lévy Gorvy Gallery, New York and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York Photo: Quaku/Roderick Young.

The urban landscape of LA also served as a site of improvisation, performance, and collaboration for artists involved in Studio Z, a loose collective of African-American artists that included Hammons and Senga Nengudi (also from Illinois). Nengudi's Ceremony for Freeway Fets is one example of their collaboration, this one involving a performance under a freeway overpass that was subject to protest by communities of color whose neighborhoods were under threat by the expansion of the city's freeway system.

Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley started the band and collective Destroy All Monsters while attending the University of Michigan, and later moved to the West Coast as graduate students at CalArts. The exhibition features Kelley's large-scale installation, Craft Morphology Flow Chart, which consists of crocheted dolls and sock monkeys arranged on tables, recalling the display of specimens in a natural history museum as commentary on the museum's role in collection and preservation. Kelley went on to teach another generation of artists with Midwestern affiliations, such as Jorge Pardo (born in Chicago), Sterling Ruby (from Michigan), and Aaron Curry (studied in Chicago), who once shared studio space in East LA with friend and former Chicago artist Amanda Ross-Ho (born in Chicago).

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive microsite that expands on the themes of exhibition at:


Talk: Al Ruppersberg with Amanda Ross-Ho
Saturday, November 17, 3 pm, Tickets: $15
On the opening weekend of West by Midwest, groundbreaking conceptual artist Al Ruppersburg and contemporary artist Amanda Ross-Ho use their collaborative artwork, The Meaning of Plus and Minus as a launch point to a larger conversation on their individual practices and careers spanning the Midwest to the West Coast.

Talk: Barbara Kasten Walkthrough of West by Midwest
Sunday, December 9, 2 pm, Free with museum admission
Barbara Kasten, known for her conceptual photography using mirrors, lights, and props, leads an illuminating walkthrough of the exhibition with exhibition curator Charlotte Ickes, discussing her artistic practice and pointing out some of her favorite works by fellow artists.

This exhibition is organized by Charlotte Ickes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, with Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator. Lead support for West by Midwest is provided by Cari and Michael J. Sacks, Karyn and Bill Silverstein, and the Nancy Lauter McDougal and Alfred L. McDougal Exhibition Fund. Major support is provided by Jennifer and Alec Litowitz.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ART BEAT: MCA Chicago Opens Interactive Summer Commons Artist Project, Joan Giroux, Eco Monopolies

May 1 - October 7, 2018

Image credit: Joan Giroux, eco monopolies in the Commons (working models), 2018. 
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announces the summer Commons Artist Project, Joan Giroux: eco monopolies, an interactive installation that explores the impacts of development on different Chicago neighborhoods and how it connects with larger global movements. Using map-making and games, the artist invites visitors to consider their role in shaping the future of open, green spaces in cities and preserving natural resources. Giroux's project for the Commons is inspired by recent local and national land rights activism, with a focus on the ways Chicago's residents and government define and maintain public land that is threatened by political decisions and commercial development in the city's diverse neighborhoods. Joan Giroux: eco monopolies takes place in the Commons May 1 to October 7, 2018 and is organized by January Parkos Arnall, MCA Curator of Public Programs.

Giroux's practice considers the nature, identity, and ownership of public green space in her work. Early conversations about climate change, especially during the presidential debates between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, were central to Giroux's first work on public land ownership. Titled Eco Monopoly, the piece was part of a symposium of artists, educators, and environmentalists advocating to save a public park in Yokohama, Japan. The site-specific project took the form of an interactive sculptural board game that visually layered public green space above city maps showing densely populated areas with these open areas removed.

Similarly, Giroux's installation in the Commons comprises a set of interactive stations for the public to play games, using mapping as a conceptual framework to understand place and notions of home and ownership. Through the recognition that citizens have rights to and agency in public spaces, Giroux asks participants to consider their role in the conservation of precious green spaces that have been integral to Chicago's identity and community building.

The installation includes books, games, and iPad content that is provided through partnerships with other local institutions and organizations, including the Chicago Park District.

The Commons is both a physical space and an ongoing program, bringing together artists, thinkers, and audiences in a constellation of art projects, conversations, performances, interactions, workshops, presentations, and readings that explore culture and contemporary life. It is a place to experience socially-engaged and audience-focused practices, and an invitation for visitors to participate in projects led by Chicago artists. The launch of the Commons in 2017 also signaled the start of a new engagement and partnership program. Civic and cultural organizations who make up the rich and diverse cultural communities throughout Chicago will be offered opportunities to be short and long-term participants in the work of the museum.

Joan Giroux lives and works in Chicago, New York, and Santa Barbara. In her practice, Giroux provides context for community and personal reflections on loss and absence through active play and participation. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago (2017); University of Buffalo, New York (2017); Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, Michigan (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Ace Gallery, New York, (2002); and Artist's Space, New York (1991); among others. She has performed at Queer, Ill, and Okay, The Storefront Theater, Chicago (2015); Terrain, Oak Park (2012); Darmstädter Kunstbiennale, Darmstadt, Germany (2007); Yatoo Biennale, Gongju, South Korea (2001); Volksbühne Roter Salon, Berlin, Germany (1993); BACA Downtown, Brooklyn (1991); and other venues. She is an Associate Professor in Columbia College Chicago's Art and Art History Department.

Opening Brunch and Letterbox Workshop
Saturday, May 5, 11 am
Joan Giroux celebrates the opening of her Commons Artist Project with a conversation about letterboxing and the kickoff to a challenge that asks visitors to extend their experience beyond the Commons to 15 other cultural centers throughout Chicago.

Screening, Fieldwork Collaborative's Public Park
Friday, June 8, 6 pm
In tandem with eco monopolies, the MCA presents a preview of "Public Park," a mini-documentary focusing on the Field House in Chicago's Humboldt Park, where hurricane Maria evacuees received medical assistance, coats and winter gear, interpretation services, and safe housing while the storm ravaged mainland Puerto Rico. Their experience is captured in this documentary-in-development by Fieldwork Collaborative.

Game Night
Friday, June 15, 6 pm
An open invitation to Chicago's analog gaming community to come and share their latest creations with friends, other creators, and museum visitors, inspired by Joan Giroux's Commons Artist Project.

Screening, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Friday, June 29, 6 pm
Jane Jacobs upended the field of urban planning with her 1960 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities and was a life-long activist in the fight to keep New York City's public spaces sacred. Jacobs' life story provides a timely example of the activism and ethics necessary to keep cities livable and functional for all. This screening of "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City" is followed by an open discussion led by Joan Giroux. 

Edible Garden Workshop
Saturday, July 14, 11 am
Guests are guided in a project on the MCA's Kern Terrace to create their own edible kitchen gardens.

Talk: Food Activism
Friday, July 27, 6 pm
Panelists lead an open discussion to consider various forms of food activism and guerrilla gardening in Chicago and beyond. The panel considers food's power to save the world and gardening as a radical act.

Lead support for the Commons is provided by Rebecca W. Knight and Lester B. Knight and the Thomas Wilson-Jill Garling Foundation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Art Beat


Images curtesy of CUR(8)Chicago: Kiara Lanier.

Southside Chicago Natives Collaborate to Help Fund the Historic Opportunity for Stokes to be the Youngest African-American Student to Attend the Esteemed Florence Academy of Art

CUR(8)Chicago and Silent Funny are proud to present the 22-year-old multidisciplinary, identity based performance artist and Chicago native in collaboration with Kiara Lanier at Silent Funny, 4106 W. Chicago Ave., Saturday, March 24. Stokes is the first African-American student to attend the prestigious Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy with a handpicked class of highly skilled artists. This event is one of two exhibits planned to provide financial support for this historic opportunity to study with master painters and nurture Stokes’ natural gifts as an artist. Doors open at 7 p.m., the seated performance begins at 8 p.m. and event ends at 10 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at

Thelonious Stokes with his work “Captive Girl on Green,” oil on linen in artist’s frame, 36 inches x 36 inches x 10 inches.

In an intimate performance featuring singer/songwriter/actress Kiara Lanier of TV’s “The Chi,” Stokes juxtaposes family safety and mass incarceration. “Gates and Fences” elucidates the notion of transformational rehabilitation utilizing art, music and the muses of Stokes and Lanier. Both performers are Southside Chicago natives and utilize the performance medium to provide a platform to inspire others. Presented by CUR(8)Chicago and hosted at Silent Funny on Chicago’s West side, the raw warehouse will be transformed into a landscape of American civilization fighting systematic injustice with the performance depicting a scene from a dining table in an urban home. In the discussion between a mother and son surrounded by symbolic fencing and the presence of lives affected by the criminal justice system, Stokes will unveil this conceptual ground, simultaneously showing the first piece of the Thelonious Stokes “Caged Black Paintings” collection and the “White Fence Paintings” collection. Stokes and Lanier have collaborated to compose an original score that will be sung by Lanier. The Three-part performance will culminate with Stokes’ call to action, urging the audience to support organizations committed to social justice and incarceration reform.

Stokes says he became an artist for no reason other than to thrive. He utilizes art as a vehicle to reform systematic injustice and redefine our contextual beliefs of what it means to be a man. “Being the first African American to attend the school makes me feel grateful,” expressed Stokes. “Grateful yet aware of the relevance of institutional racism. By being exposed to the beauty of oil painting, I am now able to break the barriers of being defined as Black in America. I want to not only impact art itself, I ultimately want to share light with the inconsistencies of ethics and morale.”

“New Lisa; Captive Girl on Green” by Thelonious Stokes. Oil on linen, 36 inches x 36 inches, unframed.

Thelonious Stokes describes himself as a multidisciplinary, identity-based performance artist from Chicago. He uses performance as an objective medium, extracting black expectations as conversation for cultural extremes to re-conceptualize the black experience as foreign stationery, as a displaced individual likening one to being a foreigner. In his first collection, "The Caged Black Paintings," Stokes houses his multi-dimensional, chiaroscuro-style oil paintings in hand-welded metal cages, redefining the frame around art. His work stands out with each piece housed behind metal bars, reminiscent of cages looked at as housing devices to gesticulate a Western reference.

Stokes is the founder of Thelovism, his production company where he serves as director and editor, producing videos for buzzing rap artists Taylor Bennett, Joey Purp and his younger brother Satchel Stokes, a blossoming performer who has been a source of inspiration for his art. He also works with Campaign for Youth Justice as a national spokesperson working to ensure that youth are not tried, sentenced or incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system.

Named after American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, Stokes was born to create. He grew up influenced by his mother, jazz singer Vikki Stokes, his cousin, artist Dale Washington and some of Chicago's most celebrated talents like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mars Williams, DJ Jesse De La Pena, Jazz Singer Bobbi Wilson and the late great composer William Russo.


Chicago native Kiara Lanier is a vocal performance artist, songwriter and model who lives by her grandfather's mantra, "The only purpose of the tongue is to teach and heal." Using mixed media musical installation and sound healing in her performance, Lanier’s spiritual, soulful and sultry work covers themes of identity and ancestry with vocal loops, field samples and experimental choreography. Lanier studied performance art with The Meredith Monk Foundation, collaborated in David Bowie’s Film ‘Station to Station,’ released a two part album “Tongues and Teaspoons” in September 2017 and has starred in television shows “American Idol,” “Empire” and most recently “The Chi.” 

ABOUT CUR(8)Chicago

CUR(8)Chicago, an event production and experience design company, founded by Josephine Lauer Washuk.  Washuk is a creative strategist who meets the needs of a diverse client portfolio. With a mission to discover and develop authentic talent, brands and organizations, her vision is that all individuals and organizations fulfill their highest potential. 


Silent Funny is a 501(c)(3) arts space and community hub in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood. The organization believes that everyone can have life-changing experiences with the arts and strives to create a haven where art, artists and everyday people connect in a contemporary and active space that is inclusive and inspiring.


The Florence Academy of Art was founded in 1991 by Daniel Graves to provide the highest level of instruction in classical drawing, painting and sculpture. Graves' vision of the Academy is its potential to train a select group of highly skilled Realist painters and sculptors. Since 1991, the Academy has grown to nine studio locations in three countries, 25 principle instructors, ten assistant instructors and six administrative staff, giving instruction and service to 150 students from 35 countries. To date, 600 students have attended The Florence Academy of Art for at least one trimester; this number includes 325 students who have completed the full program of study and are considered graduates. In January 2015, the Academy opened its second branch at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. Jordan Sokol is the academic director and Richard Greathouse and Amaya Gurpide are Principal Instructors. Their mission is to provide the highest level of instruction in classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture for students wishing to pursue careers as professional artists in the Realist tradition.

CUR(8)Chicago and Silent Funny are proud to present the 22-year-old multidisciplinary, identity based performance artist and Chicago native Thelonious Stokes and his exhibit “Gates and Fences: The Performance” in collaboration with Kiara Lanier at Silent Funny, 4106 W. Grand Ave., Saturday, March 24. Stokes is the first African-American student to attend the prestigious Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy with a handpicked class of highly skilled artists. This event is one of two exhibits planned to provide financial support for this historic opportunity to study with master painters and nurture Stokes’ natural gifts as an artist. Doors open at 7 p.m., the seated performance begins at 8 p.m. and event ends at 10 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at

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