A piece from Jessica Hannah's "Showroom No. 6"
Now that the pleasantly warm—or impossibly humid—summer weather is here to stay, everything slows down a bit. Naturally, galleries start planning for the September kick-off, so most summer shows go forward into group mode. But don't think that it's quantity over quality here; this guide to group shows to see will keep you moving about the city—instead of vegging in front of the TV watching '80s movies you didn't even like the first time around.
Runs through July 30 at Gosia Koscielak Studio & Gallery
Former CenterstageChicago.com art editor Joanne Hinkel curates her first show at this nicely tucked away Wicker Park gallery. Joining the ranks of other recent Chicago feminist-inspired shows, including "Henbane: Dialectics of the Feminine Sublime" at Medicine Park and ARC Gallery's "Feminist Interrogations," "Ladylike" touches on the intersections of women and spirituality, technology and cross-cultural understandings. Stand-outs include local artist Stacia Yeapanis' cross-stitched portraits of Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Transylvania-born artist Andrea Deszo's embroideries of the "old country's" ideas about sexuality and gender; and Jessica Hannah's "Showroom No. 6," a fictitious, 1950s-inspired array of robotic female companions.
Boys of Summer
Runs through August 2 at Monique Meloche Gallery
In this show, artists explore representations of the male in contemporary art, as well as issues like race and class. Chicago artist Nick Cave's untitled photographs portray an African-American male with masks that at once look like those creepy, full-face burglar masks, but could also be re-interpreted as objects imbued with rich historical significance. Mexican artist Cueto's small-scale paintings, titled "Amor el arte contemporaneo," are pure art-masturbation: a boy wearing a white V-neck sexualizes, in so many ways, an Art Now book. And James Gobel goes where few gay male artists go—into portraying "bears," generally heavier, hairy gay men, through the more typically "feminine" mediums of felt, yarn and fabric. Other artists to check out in this show include Jesper Just, Russell Nachman, Joel Ross, Ebony G. Patterson and Zane Lewis.
Clouds, et al
Runs through July 12 at Carrie Secrist Gallery
Think fluff. Think summer. Now put 'em together and you've almost got a decent idea of this cloud-filled show at one of the West Loop's larger spaces. In Antonia Contro's lightbox One Cloud, she captures a single floating white cloud—which looks like a dollop of whipped cream from afar—as it lingers above mountains in a crisp blue sky. Dietrich Wegner's Playhouse II is a fluffy cloud-like treehouse, complete with a little ladder just like a regular treehouse. Eva Schlegel prints silkscreens on lead, and Ken Fandell's diptych manages to mesh together photographs of clouds and suns, creating a less-than-sunny sky.
Several Landscapes and 3 Landscapes in the Modern Style
Runs July 5 to August 16 at Western Exhibitions
Catch the last two shows at Western Exhibitions's 1821 W. Hubbard Street space before owner Scott Speh packs up and moves to 119 N. Peoria in early September 2008. Focusing on the landscape painting, a staple of any art historical text, education or re-interpretation, Speh incorporates two separate, though intrinsically connected, shows.
In the Gallery 2 and 3 show, Landscapes in the Modern Style, artist Carl Baratta's psychedelic landscape paintings mesh disparate trees, multi-layered splatters of paint and hacked-up red tree trunks covered with black squares into whirling images; his references are nearly as random as his paint is scattered, including Middle Eastern miniature paintings, anime and English psychedelic album covers. In the Gallery 1 show, Several Landscapes, Claire Sherman shows soothing landscape paintings influenced by philosophical writings on the "sublime" in nature. But that's not all. Not even close. There are a bevy of other artists portraying the landscape through art in this show, too.