Summer art in Chicago is changing. It used to be that galleries got lazy in the summer, trotted out new artists to see how folks responded or presented a show of best (leftover) hits from the past year.
No longer. There's a wealth of good shows and good art covering all of Chicago - more than even I can get to.
Let's start with two of the shows opening at the Cultural Center tonight. In Jason Peot's art, which I used to exhibit at Klein Art Works and included at McCormick Place West, there is a powerful mix of cerebral content and difficult execution - all of which he does himself (or with the help of his buddy Perry Pollock). In this work, Peot is addressing the 25 most populous cities in the US. In the small pieces an intersection marks a city's geographical location by its longitude and latitude and a line extends horizontally and laterally from the single point. In the larger work, a randomized overhead map of the US includes the largest cities in the country and reflects their density of population by the number of wood slats within a specific rectangle. As much as very specific information informs and even determines the structure of Peot's art, what is most important is that it is damned beautiful.
In the Cultural Center's Michigan Avenue Gallery space adjacent to Jason Peot, is the work of Jackie Kazarian who I also used to represent. She's a lifelong Chicagoan who is moving to Washington, Dc where her husband has already relocated while waiting for the kids to finish the school year - which they've now done. (I'm always intrigued about how art influences children and how that child and influence grow up. When Jackie was a kid she went to the Art Institute and saw our famous Seurat At home, she got out her pencils, pressed the eraser to an ink pad and made drawings by spinning the eraser on paper. Though there are no longer, when I first showed her paintings there were a lot of dots.
Her current work addresses art history, her imminent and sad departure from Chicago and her take on the state of the world today. Look for abstracted iconographic Chicago imagery, references to Velazquez and other literal allusions that belie the paintings' ostensible abstractness.
In River North, Hammer has a particularly strong group photography exhibit that includes wonderful items of curiosity like Mole & Thomas' photographs of GI's in artistic formation to render portraits, portraits of Lee Godie (collected by Cindy Sherman) and photographic commentary made from bones by Francois Robert. Good show!
In another group show, this time at Packer Schopf, I came across the remarkable work of Catherine Jacobi in her rookie exhibition; strong, potent and fun.
There's some art I wished I'd covered earlier. Tony Tasset's Eye, in the South Loop is fun, not particularly profound, but particularly present large and capable of inspiring an immense number of one-liners. This is accessible art; the kind of stuff kids elate (nice typo) to that leads to thinking about art in ways they haven't. Adults too. I like it!
Speaking of scale, one of my favorite works of art is an oversized bronze horse at Zolla/Lieberman by the ever-so-gifted Deborah Butterfield who has broken new ground in her unique bronze sculptures by pushing the scale. This piece is remarkable. I went back to see it again. I don't do that often.
That's it for me. Get out there. I didn't even cover half of what's going on!