07 November 2010

Chicago Artists Month

October was Chicago Artists Month here in the Windy City, and I have to say I'm really impressed with some of the work that's being produced and curated around this city. Whether it's public art, Pop Up Galleries in the Loop, or established galleries around the Chicagoland area, I find that I'm falling more and more in love with the community or artists around this midwestern town.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to work a bus tour organized around Chicago Artists in conjunction with AIC and Chicago Artists Month. We visited four different studios, and one gallery - but the breadth and style of work varied so greatly! And each artist we met with was so welcoming, so inviting, and so ready to participate in an open dialogue about their work and our relationship with it as viewers.


GEOFFREY TODD SMITH [Represented by Western Exhibitions]

Inspired by 80's video games, sticker collections of his childhood, insanely detailed Halloween costumes, and Gelly Roll pens used by every teenage girl in the 90's, Geoffrey Todd Smith makes these intricate and dizzying works on paper that require patience, concentration, and a real appreciation of detail and craftsmanship. He spends close to 40 hours on each drawing, and did I mention that they are no bigger than the size of an LP? Oh, and his titles are usually funny play on words about robots and 80's love songs.

DEB SOKOLOW [Represented by Western Exhibitions]

Raised in Washington, DC by a political scientist father in the 80's, Deb Sokolow encounters the world through a slightly paranoid detective mystery birds eye view. At the early age of 9 or 10, she was witness to a mysterious briefcase exchange in the bathroom of a DC McDonald's and has forever looked at the world in a curious manner. She spends lots of time peering out of her window on the west side of Chicago watching the post office, seeing strange cars go by, and observing the "characters" that appear throughout the story of her day-to-day life. Whatever Happened To the Pentagon (restaurant)? (fragment pictured below) is a work dealing with a mysterious restaurant named The Pentagon that "is obviously a front for something". Her work is a mix of book making, storytelling, illustration, painting, and collage. She's funny, sharp as a tack, and totally great. Oh and she has a solo exhibition opening on November 19, and you should go if you are in the Chicagoland area!

CURTIS MANN [Represented by Kavi Gupta Gallery]

An engineer turned photographic artist, Curtis Mann is in to the technical processes of tampering with the chemical reaction that occurs when a color photograph is printed on various papers and with different inks - and then how all this can be altered. His current show at Kavi Gupta in the West Loop is a collection of images of war torn affected areas in the Middle East, which he appropriated from Flickr, then printed and bleach burned different chaotic patterns and colors into, creating a visceral commentary on these regions using a destructive yet beautiful and random method of permanently changing these images. He's also working on a time limit, given that some of the photographic papers and materials he tends to use will no longer be in production in the very near future.

ROBERT DAVIS & MICHAEL LANGLOIS  [Represented by Monique Meloche Gallery]

Two young artists who met at SAIC in the 90's interested in doing very different things in paint came together for a collaboration 13 years ago, and having been working side by side ever since. Having devised a hyper photorealistic large scale salon style unique to the contemporary art scene, these two artists have found something very unique in the way in which they work together to create purely perfect and beautiful paintings. Inspired by classical salon paintings of Gericault, David, and Ingres, as well as colonial bald-eagled furniture, beautiful soft core porn stars, and punk rock manifestos and lyrics, these two artists have something very special going for them. They also have wheelchairs you can roll around on in their studio. And they are part of a group opening at Monique Meloche Gallery this coming Friday.

RICHARD HULL [Represented by Western Exhibitions]

Who knew that a game of Exquisite Corpse dealing with the motif of the Trojan Horse could be so prolific for an artist? Working as a printmaker, painter, and illustrator in Chicago for over 30 years, Richard Hull a student and friend of the Harry Who collective in Chicago in the 70's has been doing works with ink, crayon, wood block and lithographic prints repeating this curving highway like closeup of a horse's ass, but in a way that is both funny and very refined. He also works in a live/work/space. An amazing live-in gallery studio space with some of the best interior decor I have ever seen. I wouldn't expect any less from someone who has so many great artist friends to barter and trade work for. 

So this is just a taste of some of the amazing things I've been doing with myself in the Chicago art scene. I'll have more posts like this soon. Maybe it will be another regular feature? Maybe something about Chicago culture? ALSO IF YOU HAVEN'T COME OUT TO SEE THE CHAGALL WINDOWS AT THE ART INSTITUTE, PLEASE DO SO. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!


  1. thank you for sharing these, sandy! i especially like the 80s inspired art!

  2. Oooh, I love the Geoffrey Todd Smith ones! I lived in Chicago for about a year after college and there is indeed great art to be seen there!