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March weather in Chicago can be fickle, but whether you see snow on the ground or the first signs of spring, there’s one sight you can always count on: art. Here are 11 fantastic art shows to check out this month.
Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements: Contemporary artists and poets have created new work responding to archival materials related to the history of white people organizing working-class neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Chicago in keeping with the mandate from the Black Power movement to “organize your own” community against racism. (Averill and Bernard Leviton Gallery, 619 S Wabash Ave, Opens March 3. Free)
Rastros de Ser: The first solo exhibition by Amara Betty Martin, a Puerto Rican multidisciplinary artist and organizer born and raised in Chicago, includes photographs, collage, captured sound, poetry, text and pattern-based works and music that document the urban lucha of a second generation Afro-Latina. (Pilsen Outpost, 1958 W 21st St, Opens March 4. Free)
Secular Studies: Each artist in “Secular Studies” considers the ways in which the politics and power of display intersect in popular culture production. The exhibit surveys a range of artistic strategies and interests in 19th and 20th century visual culture and the influence on social behavior trends online and real life. (Chicago Artists Coalition, 217 N Carpenter St, Opens March 4. Free)
Voces de Mujeres 2016: Celebrating Women’s Month: Carlos & Dominguez is honored to present the gallery’s annual exhibit featuring Chicago women artists with unique visions of the world as expressed through their creations. (Carlos & Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery, 1538 W Cullerton St, Opens March 4. Free)
Liar, Liar, River on Fire: Corey Hagelberg displays works that relate to the environmental issues on the South Shore of Lake Michigan. Beginning on Chicago’s South Side, this region is one of the most biodiverse regions in the country, even though it's one of the most industrialized. (Beauty and Brawn Gallery, 3501 W Fullerton Ave, March 5, 6–10pm. Free)
Whatever You Residue Don’t Leave Me: This collection of recent work by E. Aaron Ross confronts the viewer with the repeated visual of decay: moldy loaves of bread encased in blocks of resin; a tabletop covered in shattered glass and festering milk; the mysterious monolith that reveals itself as a semen-soaked blanket. These performance relics rally against the volatility of a constantly changing present.(Comfort Station, 2579 N Milwaukee Ave, Opens March 5. Free)
Open Surreal Exhibition: More than 30 Chicago artists showcase their unique interpretations of surrealism, the 20th-century cultural movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. (Open Center for the Arts, 2214 S Sacramento Ave, Opens March 5, 7–11pm. Free)
This is the place: Jenny Buffington and Jessica Harvey explore mysterious geographies with sculpture, installation and photography. Using artifacts and layers of artifice, these landscapes are deconstructed and re-examined, projecting a human element in environments without people. Both artists implore viewers to question what is “real” in nature with pieces that are the tipping point in the search for something greater. (Heaven Gallery, 1550 N Milwaukee Ave, Fl 2, Opens March 18. Free)
Tony Tasset: Me and My Arrow: Tony Tasset’s new solo exhibit features an overwhelming grid of 66 “Arrow Paintings” alongside “Arrow Sculptures.” This new body of work continues Tasset’s interest in wielding a pop sensibility to tap into shared visual knowledge and coincides with the Chicago appearance of “Artists Monument” in Grant Park near Michigan and 9th. (Kavi Gupta, 219 N Elizabeth St, Opens March 18, 4–7pm. Free)
Northern Triangle: San Antonio-based Borderline Collective created this group exhibit to invite constructive dialogue around the Central American refugee crisis along the U.S./Mexico border and the long, complicated history of U.S. intervention. The installation is composed of more than 50 works, as well as a reading room. (Threewalls, 119 N Peoria St, Opens March 18, 6–9pm. Free)
Context 2016: The pieces by the 30 artists chosen for this photography exhibit seek to reveal the fragile, tenuous and often vulnerable state that accompanies contemporary life. (Filter Photo, 1821 W Hubbard St, Ste 207, Opens March 18, 6–9pm. Free)
An oracle, similar to a Magic 8 Ball, ascertains and communicates the unknown and introduces an abrupt epiphany, offering a glimpse of the future and providing calm in the face of uncertainty. This group exhibition focuses on supernatural phenomena such as mediums, possession and artificial divination through painting, sculpture and performance.
During the opening, Claire Arctander performed “Magic Act,” in which she challenged the traditional role of the turn-of-the-century male magician. By choosing volunteers in the crowd, Arctander encouraged individuals to “participate in togetherness” and then, calmly but forcibly, tied their shoelaces together as they stood in a congested circle. Arctander’s performance challenged the comfort of intimacy for the handful of participants that were selected and created a meaningful disconnect from the surrounding audience.
In the main gallery, AP Shrewsbury’s luminous works referenced hieroglyphic script and shamanism with intricate patterns made with aerosol acrylic, tape and panel. Each piece was respectively titled, “Glyph” and followed by a numerical reference, which summoned the connotation of characters and symbols. Shrewsbury’s pieces appeared at once archaic and futuristic as symbols for contemporary times that offer respect for the past. Shrewsbury created horizontal lines which filled in meditative inscriptions that appeared ancient and unexplained.
Annie Kielman’s work addressed distortion and moments frozen in time. Her inkjet prints hung freely from the gallery walls, as steel and magnets interjected and protruded from the soft and delicate medium. In the main gallery, Kielman allowed the viewer to investigate the work and examine their tense positions, while in the front gallery, the pieces “Interruptions (One)” and “Interruptions (Two)” were protected by a traditional frame and glass.
“Pan, Dot and Sofa” by Ann Gaziano produced tension and movement. The artist created an uneasy environment by appearing to balance baking pans on wood wrapped in orange fabric. In the spirit of the entire exhibition, Gaziano’s piece invited one to enter a space of familiarity and domesticity and then abruptly rejected the notion of normalcy with a laugh, a snort and a “Ta Da” to end the night. (S. Nicole Lane)
If Munro, Maltz and Young reflexively dissect artistic mediums and the means of display by which we apprehend them, Soo Shin and Liz McCarthy’s exhibition “The Height Below” at Heaven Gallery bring two practices into close assemblage. At times kinky, prayerful (and occasionally oddly canine), the two artists have rendered an exhibition predominately in shades of black, echoing formal vocabularies from one another’s practices. The titular artwork by Shin is a makeshift gallows of black leather leashes. Elsewhere, McCarthy’s “Calendars (Altars)” is comprised of charcoal-painted wooden hoops with burned-down black candles piled along their bottom curves. Shin’s two untitled oil canvases are striped in unfussy renderings of black bars (horizontal and radial, respectively) that pick up on the stacked and looped compositions in McCarthy’s installations elsewhere in the space. Heaven Gallery has rarely looked as good as it does inhabited by this installation of dark objects, offset by a white work by each artist hung close enough together to read as a diptych. If other monochromes disassemble the mediums in which they are crafted, Shin and McCarthy call into question the discrete character of an artwork’s author. - See more at: art.newcity.com