Abraham Ritchie

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The sub-par exhibition from Yvonne Domenge in Millennium Park raises questions about the motivations behind the exhibition itself and the civic body in charge of programming.  In December, 2010, the City of Chicago reorganized the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) laying off a number of workers (and in the process making spot #2 on my “2010 Chicago Art Controversies” list), somehow shifting jobs over to the Chicago Tourism Fund to avoid the Shakman Degrees which forbid politically-motivated... [more]
Quel Dommage   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Yvonne Domenge at Boeing Galleries: Millennium Park April 6th, 2011 - October 31st, 2012
Posted 4/11/11
Without a doubt, Millennium Park with its location in the heart of downtown Chicago is the best place in the city to show sculpture.  The park itself has been widely praised by critics and is beloved by Chicagoans. Within the park are now-iconic works by Jaume Plensa (Crown Fountain) and Anish Kapoor (Cloud Gate). The site is surrounded by a virtual who’s-who of 20th century sculpture: to the south in the Art Institute of Chicago’s free sculpture gardens are works by David Smith (Cubi VII),... [more]
Art/Life   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 3/27/11
It is a question that we’ll never fully finish with: what’s the relationship between art and life? Can art change life? Should life be lived as art?  Is art separate from life?  These are the questions raised by Philippe Durand’s Rust and Flowers (wall #1), 2010. On view in the entrance foyer of the Hyde Park Art Center, Durand presents a realistic, life-size photograph of a neglected, overgrown city sidewalk, seamlessly adhered directly to the wall.  The work does have illusionistic aspects... [more]
What are we afraid of?   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Gusmano Cesaretti, Meg Cranston, LAPD, Amitis Motevalli, Ray Noland, Ben Stone, Arnoldo Vargas at Hyde Park Art Center March 27th, 2011 - March 27th, 2011
Posted 3/27/11
Taking its name from The Clash’s song, “Police and Thieves” at the Hyde Park Art Center is a charged exhibition that examines the reality of minorities, crime and law enforcement.  Curators Mario Ybarra, Jr. and Karla Diaz, both based in Los Angeles, present artists from both the West Coast and Chicago.  The result is a tightly curated exhibition where works speak to each other no matter where their creators live.  Unfortunately, this is also to say that the problems of violence are not limited... [more]
Art that takes Risks   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Gao Brothers at Walsh Gallery March 4th, 2011 - May 7th, 2011
Posted 3/14/11
        In the United States, you can make a sculpture of former President George W. Bush’s head atop a phallus without fear of governmental reprisal, as was demonstrated recently at Western Exhibitions.  In the recent Westboro Baptist Church judgment, the United States Supreme Court has ensured that even the most disgusting and worthless acts of free speech are protected.  And if as an artist your freedom of speech and expression is stifled, the art world will not be silent about it, as... [more]
Minimalism's Chokehold   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Gerard Byrne at Renaissance Society January 9th, 2011 - February 27th, 2011
Posted 2/21/11
Gerard Byrne’s name has been coming up regularly in the wider art world: in 2007 he represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale and in the summer of that year he received extended essay on his work in Artforum; then the March 2009 review in Artforum of his U.S. solo debut at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and last October’s Art in America review of his exhibition at Lismore Castle Arts (yes, it is an actual castle).  The centerpiece of the Lismore Castle exhibit was Byrne’s A... [more]
While you are in the West Loop area checking out our recommendations for Western Exhibitions this week, be sure to go a block north of the gallery on Peoria, across Randolph, and check out British street artist Banksy's work in Chicago.  Oh and if you're mad at me for mentioning where these pieces are (that's typically bad form when writing about street art) they've been outted for months now since the Chicagoist reported on them in May last year.  Blame the city, not the writer, if they get... [more]
The Inadvertent Chicago Biennial of 2011   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Mike Andrews, Ali Bailey, Nick Black, Daniel Bruttig, Andrew Burkholder, Lilli Carré, Joseph Cassan, Mariano Chavez, Ryan Travis Christian, Vincent Como, Bruce Conkle, Jean-Louis Costes, Anne Van der Linden, Vincent Dermody, Mike Diana, Edie Fake, Scott Fife, R.E.H. Gordon, Edith Sloat & Sophie Greenstalk, John Hankiewicz, Keith Herzik, Carol Jackson, Bob Jones (Chicago), Chris Kerr, Jason Robert Bell & Marni Kotak, David Leggett, Mike Lopez, Teena McClelland, Dutes Miller, Joe Miller, Andy Moore, Max Morris, Rachel Niffenegger, Onsmith, William J. O’Brien, David Paleo, JOHN PAROT, Michael Rea, Tyson Reeder, Dan Rhodehamel, Bruno Richard, John Riepenhoff, Kristen Romaniszak, Steve Ruiz, David Sandlin, Mike Schuh, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Miller & Shellabarger, David Shrigley, Edra Soto, Ryan Standfest, William Staples, Ben Stone, Bill Thelen, Jeremy Tinder, Sean Townley, Jim Trainor, Jason Villegas, Sarah Beth Woods, Aaron Wrinkle at Western Exhibitions January 14th, 2011 - February 19th, 2011
Posted 2/7/11
Western Exhibitions’ packed show “Heads on Poles” achieves almost inadvertently what most biennials regularly fail to do: gather together artists and artworks that can be seen as representing common artistic impulses under an interesting theme. Taking the title as the theme for the exhibition, the curators Paul Nudd and Scott Wolniak, Chicago-based artists themselves, gathered together over 60 artists who only received basic submission guidelines and then were free to create and interpret the... [more]
Assessing a Legacy   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Nick Adam, Ruben Aguirre, Billy Craven, Ryan Duggan, Don’t Fret, Peter Kepha, Ray Noland, Abraham Velasquez Tello, Kevin Wilson at Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) December 10th, 2010 - January 8th, 2011
Posted 1/3/11
      As noted in a recent ABC News report, there has been a Mayor Daley for 42 of the past 55 years.  Whether it was Richard J. Daley (Mayor of Chicago, 1955-1976) or Richard M. Daley (Mayor of Chicago, 1989-present), Chicago has long been dominated by the Daley dynasty.  So it took the city by surprise when last September the Mayor called a press conference to announce that he would not be seeking a seventh term. The announcement also came as a surprise to the curators from Johalla... [more]
              1. Galleries that moved on up There comes a time in a young gallery's life when they experience feelings that they may not have felt before.  Suddenly they are attracted to different real estate that they may not have even looked at before.  They are outgrowing their apartment spaces, which now seem small and awkward to them.  They are the galleries who are coming-of-age. This was the case with three well-loved Chicago art galleries who moved into significantly more... [more]
          Next week ArtSlant: Chicago will pick the "Best of 2010" but this week, you get an early present, Chicago's art controversies.  While I would have liked to include the egregious censoring of David Wojnarowicz's video by Smithsonian Secrety G. Wayne Clough at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery's exhibition "Hide/Seek", this article will focus on Chicago's own debacles, though it should be noted that the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago will screen the censored... [more]
Cohesive by Coincidence   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Justin Cooper, Robert Davis / Michael Langlois, Jason Middlebrook, Karen Reimer, Joel Ross, Carrie Schneider at moniquemeloche gallery November 13th, 2010 - January 8th, 2011
Posted 12/6/10
          It’s a good sign when a gallery can put together a group show of new work by the artists they represent and have it be almost entirely cohesive by coincidence.  This is the case with Monique Meloche Gallery’s exhibition “New Work” where Ms. Meloche’s aesthetic preferences become an undercurrent for the work on view, with nearly every artist contributing strong examples. Ideology becomes the subject that these fresh-out-of-the-studio artworks revolve around.  The obvious... [more]
(Do) I Want to Believe (?)   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Deb Sokolow at Western Exhibitions November 19th, 2010 - December 31st, 2010
Posted 11/22/10
      Lately I’ve been wondering if the artistic taste of most people is the result of a vast conspiracy.  The mastermind would of course be modernist formalism’s architect, Clement Greenberg, aided by his inner circle that includes Michael Fried, and abetted by the art academies spread all over the world.  The conspiracy aims to homogenize taste and effectively separate the various fields of artmaking in order to push each to their death. I’ve heard that painting is already dead, though the... [more]
            Last week, the Chicago art community was stunned and saddened by the  unexpected news that art critic, art historian, professor and curator, Kathryn Hixson had passed away on November 7th at her Evanston home. The cause of her death is still not yet known, but it is believed to be due to natural causes.  Ms. Hixson had battled cancer previously, but had overcome the disease.  By all accounts, she had recently been in good health. Ms. Hixson received her Master of Fine Arts... [more]
          This week on ArtSlant, Joel Kuennen strongly recommends visiting Steve Reinke's video exhibition at Gallery 400, and Robyn Farrell Roulo reviews Shirin Neshat's , which played at the Block Cinema over the weekend. Check out the schedule for the Block Cinema, but also check out these other Chicago movie theaters that focus on art and foreign films and have been previously featured on ArtSlant: Chicago.  In a world dominated by mainstream multiplexs and movies, these businesses... [more]
The End of the Conversation   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Sui Jianguo, Jia Shan Shi, Zhan Wang, Chen Wenling at Boeing Galleries: Millennium Park April 9th, 2009 - November 7th, 2010
Posted 11/1/10
      The sculptures in Millennium Park have been up for over a year and at the end of this week they’ll be leaving, as “A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China” comes to an end. Millennium Park is a world-class venue: loads of foot traffic, free entry, prime real estate location in downtown Chicago neighboring the Art Institute of Chicago, and already iconic works from Anish Kapoor and Jaume Plensa are permanently installed. As an artist you couldn’t ask for a... [more]
              It was an undeniably rocky beginning for the first-ever Art Loop Open, an art competition decided largely by popular vote.  Whispers of conflicts-of-interest and procedural violations were soon overshadowed by all-out scandal as artist Bernard Williams was disqualified from the competition, reinstated, disqualified again, then finally reinstated. I've written all about it on my Chicago Art Blog.  Unfortunately, by the time that Williams was reinstated he had missed nearly... [more]
Graffiti Essay   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 10/25/10
Time keeps passing along and street art continues to battle for wider acceptance in the art community and society in general.  The City of Chicago is one of the most aggressive eradicators of street culture, retaining “Graffiti Blasters,” a privately owned business based within the city government, at a cost of $9 million this year.  As one can see on the Graffiti Blasters’ website, City of Chicago makes no concessions about how they view street art: “Graffiti is vandalism, it scars the... [more]
            Last Friday marked the kick off of Chicago's Art Loop Open, a competition for artists located in downtown Chicago's Loop area.  Bernard Williams, who is featured this week on ArtSlant: Chicago, is a participant with his , seen below, along with 190 other artists from Chicago and the surrounding area. The competition is being described by some as Chicago's answer to ArtPrize, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, based visual art competition that is the most lucrative in the world... [more]
Painting Memory   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Luc Tuymans at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) October 2nd, 2010 - January 9th, 2011
Posted 10/11/10
        Luc Tuymans’ painting of the bespectacled and smiling man could be anyone; he looks like your best friend’s dad from the old photos in the den.  Included in the Luc Tuymans retrospective currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the man seen in The Heritage VI is hopefully not your best friend’s dad.  Like the buried history that Tuymans consistently paints, The Heritage VI is actually a very particular person: Joseph Milteer, KKK member, right-wing extremist, and... [more]
              I'll admit it: I'm one of those people that despairs in an art museum as I constantly compare my age to Picasso's when I look at his paintings.  You can usually catch me murmuring to myself, "He was how old?!" Or, "Still got two years left," or I'm just silently shaking my head in disbelief at paintings by Picasso that tear through style after style with virtuosic abandon.  It's not a healthy habit really, I'll admit that too, but I'm far from the only one that does it, I... [more]
Beyond the Funny   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Joey Fauerso at Western Exhibitions September 10th, 2010 - October 9th, 2010
Posted 10/4/10
  At the risk of ruining a perfectly good joke, I’m going to examine Joey Fauerso’s show at Western Exhibitions further.  It’s the last week to see this excellent show, as well as Ben Stone’s concurrent exhibition, both of which have stuck in my mind since seeing it on the opening weekend three weeks ago. Fauerso’s exhibition consists of three watercolors and two video pieces. The watercolors are delicate renderings of two nude men and one semi-nude man.  The heads of the nude men are... [more]
  When people learn that I am an art critic they usually give me a look like they’ve seen a leprechaun or Bigfoot or some other mythical creature that shouldn’t exist. After they overcome their surprise, one of the first things he or she often asks is, “So who’s your favorite artist?”  I think this may be some kind of game, where I give my answer and they can see if they recognize the name.  They’re usually puzzled and annoyed when I give what has over the years become my standard response: “I... [more]
                "If the psychic energies of the average mass of people watching a football game or a musical comedy could be diverted into the rational channels of a freedom movement, they would be invincible," wrote Wilhelm Reich in his 1933 book .  Whatever you may think about the author's later experiments with orgone generators, it's undeniable that the energy in your average professional sports stadium is palpable. Unless you were watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field this season.... [more]
Wendy White   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Wendy White at Andrew Rafacz Gallery September 10th, 2010 - October 23rd, 2010
Posted 9/20/10
      Opening nights are good for first impressions—of galleries, of art and of course, people—but I wouldn’t finalize an opinion of a show immediately after the opening.  Wendy White’s solo exhibition with Andrew Rafacz Gallery, entitled “FRENCH CUTS,” is an example of why this is true, and why going back to see the same work at a different time, in a different atmosphere, is crucial to forming a complete impression. Friday, September 10th, was the big opening night for all of Chicago’s... [more]
Welcome Back   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 9/13/10
            It always strikes me as ironic that the most popular day for art, the beginning of the art season’s opening night, is also the worst day for actual art viewing.  Throngs of people pack galleries to see old friends, network with new ones, get drunk, get laid, and maybe see some art in there as well.  Opening night is usually about the energy of the crowd, first fuelled by alcohol, then by art.  I live by the rule that the fall season openings are mandatory for Chicago art... [more]
I remember encountering a work by Deb Sokolow that read in her characteristically humorous and self-deprecating manner: "You've been told that people don't like to read art, maybe because it's really just supposed to be about images and fields of color and that sort of thing [. . .]"  I remember strongly disagreeing with her statement after reading it. She had proved it wrong. Sokolow's work combines handwritten text, drawings and portraits with a variety of media, generally in large-scale... [more]
Paths of Abstraction   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Patricia Treib at GOLDEN GALLERY September 3rd, 2010 - October 16th, 2010
Posted 9/6/10
        This weekend, September 10th, is the big weekend for gallery openings in Chicago but Golden Gallery strategically decided to preempt that evening of art overload and started their new season a week early with a show of work by New York-based artist Patricia Treib. Showing both small-scale work and large canvases, Treib’s works link together, creating a conversation across Golden’s intimate rooms in this cohesive show.  In Treib’s abstract artworks, one will first notice a high... [more]
Eye Exam   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Tony Tasset at Pritzker Park July 5th, 2010 - October 31st, 2010
Posted 8/16/10
          Tony Tasset’s giant, 30-foot eyeball has landed in Chicago.  Located in the heart of the downtown area, Tasset’s Eye sculpture resides in Pritzker Park on State Street, across the street from the Harold Washington Library.  Completed on June 28th and unofficially unveiled on July 7th, the sculpture has become a part of the daily grind for the downtown workforce and bears a critical examination at this point.   Chicago’s public art collection is one of the oldest in the country,... [more]
Public Art By the Eye   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 8/16/10
                If Tony Tasset's has put you in the mood to see more of Chicago's public art collection, and assuming the heat from Chicago's very warm summer is bearable, then there are no shortage of examples close by.  For the sake of brevity I am going to just mention a few here, but check out the City of Chicago's website about their public art collection, it is complete with maps and photos. Only steps to the north of Pritzker Park and Eye is Alexander Calder's monumental... [more]
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