Chicago art advisor Cortney Lederer of CNL Projects has curated a major new Olafur Eliasson installation on the Jackson Boulevard wall of Willis (Sears) Tower. Lederer writes:
True to Eliasson’s style, the sculpture creates a dynamic experience that is activated by the motion of people walking, driving or biking past; by the motion of the earth in relation to the sun as light moves across it; and by changes in the season and weather. This beautifully massive piece, which took approximately eight weeks to complete, measures roughly 30 feet x 60 feet and covers the exterior Jackson Boulevard wall with a pattern of 1,963 metal tiles. The pattern is based on Penrose tiling, an approach discovered by mathematician and physicist Sir Roger Penrose in the 1970s that produces a system of non-periodic tiling that is based on five-fold symmetry.
Each tile is curved, like a fragment of the inner surface of a sphere, and the main blue, deep green and white tones were inspired by the surfaces of nearby Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The concave shapes and colors of the tiles produce a dynamic effect when visitors walk around it. Seen from certain angles, the pattern reveals a vortex that seems to twist and accelerate in response to viewers’ movements. The powder-coated steel catches the light of the sun, and the concave surfaces collect shadows that shift as the day progresses. At night, the piece is lit from behind so flashes of light escape through the interstices between the tiles. As viewers move, the pattern of light appears to move with them, revealing the underlying geometry of the work and creating a captivating effect that activates the street around the building at night, attracting visitors at all hours.
Faces of death
The International Museum of Surgical Science (IMSS) has announced its Spring 2021 Artist in Residence, Kathleen Gallo. Gallo “will be creating 2D post-mortem facial reconstructions from the Museum’s unique collection of trephined skulls from ancient Peru.”
Here’s her bio and artist’s statement (images and more here: https://imss.org/2021/01/08/kathleen-gallo-announced-as-spring-2021-artist-in-residence/)
Kathleen Gallo’s work finds its home at the intersection of science and art. She creates post-mortem facial reconstructions, or the artistic approximation of the facial characteristics of an unidentified deceased person based upon the person’s unique skull structure. She will be creating 2D post-mortem facial reconstructions from the Museum’s unique collection of trephined skulls from ancient Peru.
Kathleen Gallo began her art education as an apprentice at the age of eight. After a decade of studying under Chicago-born professional artist Donna Sands, Gallo moved from Chicago to Philadelphia to further develop her skill set. She audited physical anthropology classes at the University of Pennsylvania, and she attended the PAFA Hahnemann Program for cadaver dissections. Gallo completed her first post-mortem facial reconstruction at The New York Academy of Art in January of 2018. This reconstruction would later lead to an identification of the remains with the instruction of her mentor, forensic artist Joe Mullins. Gallo has created reconstructions for the Pima County Police, Penn Museum, Mütter Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Images of her post-mortem facial reconstructions have been published in Expedition Magazine and The New York Times.
“My body of work aspires to a seemingly impossible goal: bringing life to the dead. Centering around my affinity for examining the human condition, mortality, anthropology, and anatomy, my art culminates in the field of anatomical and forensic art, primarily in the creation of post-mortem facial reconstructions. Using the structure of the skull as directions, I reassemble the idiosyncrasies of the face to construct a recognizable person with distinct features, bringing to life a face forgotten by time.
By examining death every day, I have managed to find success in my body of work and exercise my extreme passion for history and justice. In my work I push myself to explore my emotional capacity, giving myself over to my fascination with things long past and examining humanity’s relationship with mortality over thousands of years to capture its qualities and its gravity. I hope that my artwork may continue to give faces to the individuals who have had their dignity and identities stripped from them, as well as open a dialogue surrounding the taboo subject matter of human mortality in Western culture. Above all, I want to lead an expedition into my own mental and emotional capacity around the cyclical nature of destruction and birth.” -Kathleen Gallo, Artist Statement
Expo Chicago, the city’s international art fair, won’t take place in April after all. Instead, it will offer a virtual event during the previously announced April 8-11 dates. As to when it will take place, the fair has secured dates starting in July and running through its normal September spot, as well as next April, and will make a decision when the pandemic’s arc is clearer. Here’s the announcement:
CHICAGO— EXPO CHICAGO today announced that it is rescheduling its 2021 in-person exposition and has secured a series of dates at Navy Pier from July 2021 on—including its historic dates September 23-26—in order to ensure the safety of participating exhibitors and patrons of the ninth edition. EXPO CHICAGO will organize a virtual exposition during its previously scheduled in-person dates of April 8–11, 2021. Details on the virtual exposition’s programmatic themes and participants will be announced in coming weeks.
“We are grateful for our strong partnership with Navy Pier, our local institutions, and our deeply committed exhibitors in collaborating with us on finding the right time to mount the fair,” said Tony Karman, President-Director. “With the advice and council of our Selection Committee, civic leaders, and dealers worldwide, we have decided to produce a digital experience this coming April, while simultaneously preparing for an in-person fair as soon as it is safe to do so,” he added. “Thanks to Navy Pier we have several options to consider, including our historic September dates, and rather than announce a set date at this time, we will carefully monitor the progress with vaccines and protocols in order to make the announcement with ample time for our participating galleries, patrons, and institutional partners to prepare.”
EXPO CHICAGO’s commitment to rigorous programming, institutional alignments, VIP events, and critically acclaimed curatorial initiatives remain core to the exposition. The previously announced program curators Marcella Beccaria—Chief Curator and Curator of Collections at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (Turin)—for IN/SITU and Humberto Moro—Deputy Director and Senior Curator at Museo Tamayo (Mexico City)—for the EXPOSURE section will be returning as planned for the ninth edition.
“Navy Pier is proud to have been home to EXPO CHICAGO for nearly a decade, presenting exhibitors and welcoming guests from around the world with the annual opportunity to explore and enjoy this large-scale exposition of contemporary art and culture along Chicago’s lakefront,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “It has become a tradition that our guests have come to treasure and a partnership that our organization cherishes. We look forward to EXPO’s ninth edition as soon as we all can gather and enjoy the event safely and comfortably once again.”
Chicago designer Norman Teague’s finishing up a solo show at New York City design gallery R & Company this week, entitled “From Lawn Road To South Chicago: Progressive Plywood In Times Of Change.” As part of the exhibition, the gallery has just released the short, “Norman Teague: From Lawn Road to South Chicago,” directed and edited by Hugo Faraco, which you can watch here.
FILM & TV
Chicago theater-stalwart-turned-filmmaker McKenzie Chinn has been named a fellow of the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab for 2021 with her project “A Real One.” In the film, “A bright Black teenager living in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side discovers the power and beauty of true friendship when her illicit relationship with a teacher is discovered amid the final weeks of her senior year of high school.” This announcement follows the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation’s announcement three weeks ago that Chinn and her short film would be the inaugural recipient of its $25,000 NBC/Universal grant. Chinn was featured in Newcity’s Film 50 in 2018.
Superstar Chicago playwright Ike Holter has signed on to write a Harold Washington miniseries based on Gary Rivlin’s “Fire on the Prairie.” The series has not signed to a network yet, but odds are good, given that Holter previously worked on the acclaimed “Fosse/Verdon” and that the production company behind the project is Wayfarer Studios, founded by “Jane The Virgin” star Justin Baldoni. Newcity published a cover story on Holter in 2018.
Postproduction shop The Mill fired its Chicago managing director Erica Hilbert for attending the rally in Washington D.C. on January 8 that led to the insurrection at the Capitol, as well as for what The Mill characterized as “contentious” tweets on her personal account. The account is no longer active, but the story at Reel 360 features screen shots.
The independent bookstore The Book Cellar just put out its list of 2020 bestsellers. In order:
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
- Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie
- Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- The Holdout by Graham Moore
- The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For by Charlotte Alter
- Educated by Tara Westover
- The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
- The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Best of Me by David Sedaris
- There, There by Tommy Orange
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
Part-time Chicagoan and part-time Parisian Virgil Abloh, the head of menswear for Louis Vuitton, described in the press release as “artist, architect, engineer, creative director, artistic director, industrial designer, fashion designer, musician, DJ and philanthropist,” has dropped a new single, the collaboration with serpentwithfeet entitled “Delicate Limbs.” Oh, there’s a video, too, which you can watch here.
ARTS & CULTURE
The tower is crumbling
In a devastating series of moves for the Chicago cultural world, The Chicago Tribune, cowering in the face of an offer to buy the balance of the company by its largest shareholder, bleed-it-till-its-dry Alden Capital, secured buyouts from several of its top journalists including, so far, Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer-winning architecture critic, and two of its most established critics, Howard Reich (classical music) and Phil Vettel (dining). No word on any plans to replace them, though the newsroom is also moving from Michigan Avenue digs into its Halsted Street factory, so pessimism is warranted. The city is quickly running out of full-time critics at any publication, tarnishing its global reputation. Remember when the Tribune used to call itself the “World’s Greatest Newspaper”?
An arts lifeline?
Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced a $2.5 million “Artist Response Program” to fund public arts projects, spanning visual art and other disciplines. The press release:
CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced $2.5 million in funding opportunities for Chicago artists and arts organizations. A new “Artist Response Program,” opening January 11, will provide $750,000 to support art that responds to the recent health, economic and humanitarian crises. The program includes $500,000 to commission up to ten ambitious public art projects and an additional $250,000 for three to five regranting partners to distribute for smaller local projects. The annual “CityArts Program” opening January 19 will also award an additional $1.7 million in grants to nonprofit arts organizations throughout Chicago.
“Our city is facing a critical moment in its history, as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified systemic racism and disinvestment on our South and West sides and caused us to rethink and reignite our efforts to address these issues,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This has presented us with a unique opportunity to not only rebuild our city with the values of equity and inclusion in mind, but also document this journey with art projects designed to engage residents in dialogue, reflection and action. I look forward to seeing these projects come to life and illustrate the work we’ve done as a city to step up to the health, economic, and humanitarian crises we’ve faced over this past year.”
DCASE is seeking artist proposals for up to ten public art commissions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. Artist projects can range from a physical artwork, to the transformation/repurposing of spaces or objects, to a happening or cultural event focused on any artistic discipline including architecture, culinary arts, curatorial arts, dance, design, film, literary arts, media arts, music, performance art, photography, public art, social practice, theater or visual arts. Projects will be prioritized that address public safety, equity and access through art; activate, repair or rebuild spaces on the South and West sides of Chicago; or activate Chicago communities and institutions to address broader social issues, opportunities and challenges. The guidelines and application, opening January 11, is available at chicagoculturalgrants.org. Registration is available for an application webinar on Friday, January 15 at 11am. The application closes on February 5 at 5pm.
“Chicago has a renowned public art collection, but that work has too often been focused on the central district of the city,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “With this initiative and more to come, we will bring more great public art to our neighborhoods, with a focus on the South and West Sides of the city, and we will encourage our artists to grapple with the difficult social issues that we collectively face.”
The Artist Response Program also provides $250,000 for three to five regranting partners to distribute grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to artists to create projects designed to engage residents in dialogue, reflection and action. This follows the successful re-granting model that allowed DCASE in 2020 to partner with Arts Alliance Illinois, 3Arts, Arts Work Fund and the broader philanthropic community to create the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. These partners, better positioned to respond quickly to crises and the complex needs of individual communities and neighborhoods, distributed financial relief to workers, organizations and businesses in the creative industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations interested in becoming Artist Response Program re-granting partners can learn more and apply at chicagoculturalgrants.org. The application closes on February 5 at 5pm.
DCASE will also soon release the guidelines and open the application for the annual CityArts grant program on January 19. Offering $1.7 million in grants to nonprofit arts and culture organizations of all sizes, this year’s program will include opportunities to apply for general operating grants and project grants focused on rebuilding and recovery across all artistic disciplines. Project grants will support initiatives that have the potential to impact the Chicago arts sector at large. The application deadline is March 3, 2021 at 5pm. For eligibility requirements, grant calendar and more information visit chicagoculturalgrants.org.
DCASE’s Cultural Grants Program plays an active role in the development of Chicago’s arts and culture community by funding artists and arts organizations that have the potential to meaningfully contribute to the city’s cultural vitality. Last year, the grant program’s budget increased from $1.7 million to $4.5 million, reflecting a $1 million increase in annual funding and additional funding for the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund and the Performing Arts Venue Relief Program to address the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the arts community. For more information, visit chicagoculturalgrants.org.