Author Archives: cristinaumadu

Art of Connection

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Art of Connection is an exhibition that opens January 27th at SAIC Sullivan Galleries.

The exhibition showcases artwork by graduate art therapy students and the individuals they work with at their internship sites. Artwork in the show reflects the varied settings, populations, and practices of art therapy, and represents a culmination of the Master of Arts in Art Therapy program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

For more information about the program, visit www.saic.edu/arttherapy.

Johana Moscoso’s last Performance

“Round and Round” was the last a performance made by the Chicago based Colombian artist Johana Moscoso on Friday November 4th in the gallery space of Chicago Artist Coalition.

The performance took place at the end of the gallery in one a rectangular room. There were 5 women dressed up all in black sewing the same long piece of red velvet fabric in 5 different industrial sewing machines that where situated in specific places of the room. Each sewing machine had its own mark on the floor with some latitudes and longitudes referring to a specific place. As the fabric was sewn in the five sewing machines, the artist Johana Moscoso (also dressed up in black) entered the room and started hanging the fabric in the wall. The sound of the five industrial machines sewing this vibrant red velvet fabric and the wall began to wear red. There was a transformation of space, because as the fabric was running out, the space that started black and white became increasingly red as it expanded through the walls. With the help of a black ladder and two attendants (also dressed in black) the artist hung the entire fabric and the sound of the sewing machines was over.

Moscoso’s performance is about Latin migrations. This one presents time, labor and nostalgia of the different journeys that Latin American families made. There where five Latin women sewing in industrial sewing machines, which question the gender roles in Hispanic cultures as well as the blood that passes from one place to another. Currently all of these women live from sewing quinciañeras dresses in Chicago, which also speaks in how Latin American culture is related to textiles and rituals.

For me the most powerful part was when the fabric was being hung in the wall and all the sewing machines where sounding in the back. It was like to see how they dressed a space in the middle of an ambiguous rhythm given by the motor of each machine. In the end the fabric was finished and the room turned red. The machines weren’t sounding anymore but the marks where still there. No matter how much one changes places, one will always carry and come with things of their own culture.

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Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Established in 1976, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, originally known as Young Hoffman Gallery is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The gallery owner, Rhona Hoffman has been the precursor of international contemporary art since the 70s presenting a huge variety of mediums in artists such as Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger and Sol Lewitt. The gallery located in the West Loop in Chicago, is divided in three different open spaces. The first floor has a view to the street and the other two are in a higher level with a separation given by a drywall that permits the continuity of a show or three independent spaces depending on the curator’s choice. In this moment the gallery is presenting the second exhibition that commemorates the 40th anniversary. The show titled Gender,Race, Identity presents artists represented by the gallery that deal with these topics and with the idea of the different roles in society. One example is the artist Mike Glier that makes paintings in which men are doing domestic chores. Another example are the different photos of James Drake of travesties in Mexico city.

Rhona Hoffman Gallery participates in three Art fairs each year. They go to Art Basel Miami, Armoury Show in New York City and Expo Chicago. This means that is a well-positioned gallery that already has a big projection and influence in the contemporary art world.

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Is there difference between Whole Foods and Expo Chicago?

Once a week you have the need to walk a couple of blocks to go to a huge warehouse or cellar with high ceilings and a labyrinth of temporary aisles to look for the newest and best products, or in the case of Expo Chicago, once a year. In both cases, there are a lot of options: there are good deals, bad deals and things just about to expire. You can also find fancy women strutting around trying to acquire the freshest catch. There is no beginning or end; there are products, then food, 10-dollar water bottles, pastries, sandwiches and assistance with hipster haircuts. There are free samples, tiny drinks, and excruciatingly painful white lighting. On Saturday’s there is more people and also more kids.

In Expo Chicago the yoga pants become tight dresses and all new Nikes become uncomfortable heels. In both cases, if you are a mere mortal (not part of the economical enterprise) your participation in this experience is one of observation. One of the most fascinating things to watch is how the products are displayed. In Whole Foods there is an aisle that contains all kinds of nuts. They are curated in a huge shelf where they are classified and grouped depending first on the type of nut and then on the spice. In Expo, such specificity doesn’t exist. In opposition, every booth is its own salad bar in which you have to be able to discern what the good ingredients are.

In the middle of such impressively underwhelming array of products, in one of the white generic medium drywall booths, Pace Gallery brought two remarkable and noticeable Robert Rauschenberg collages. The simplicity and elegance of their simple wood framing made the fabric and paper pieces stand out in a sea of cheesy neon color frames and chrome furniture. I was like finding good French cheese in the cheddar section.

On the end of the aisles there is a section, the one that mimics the sample and wine section in whole foods. There you can find all the brands, schools and magazines promoting themselves as the best option and giving free samples, of a product that is exactly the same as the one in the opposite booth. This always proves unimpressive and a poor next door neighbor to the artist and guest talks. Because of this, the artists and curator talks, which are usually amazing names of the industry, become famous names presented in an undesirable situation. A huge crowd packed in a small space, always running out of time and with the smallest amount of sound equipment because who want to disturb the social interactions going on in the labyrinth of aisles outside. It is this way that a potentially amazing talk by artist Kerry James Marshall became a twin brother of a cooking class of a Gordon Ramsay in the courtyard of a supermarket.

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No past

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The Art Institute of Chicago is presenting the retrospective of László Maholy Nagy an American-Hungarian painter and photographer who was part of the Bauhaus in Germany in the first half of the 20th century. His work has an influence of the minimal architecture that was such characteristic of the Bauhaus school but he was also exploring with technology and design. Future-Present is a show that evidences the versatile and proliferate work of this avant garde artist who influenced Chicago after founding the New Bauhaus in 1937 and expending the last years of his life. The exhibition has a variation of different mediums like painting, photography, photomontages, sculpture, film, advertising, product design and more. Maholy Nagy is an example of a cross-medium artist who combined art, design and architecture as a whole.

 

Once you enter the first room you see different paintings with circles, lines and rectangles. There are lines and geometric figures that intercut the one with the other in such a precise way creating different dynamics between depths, color and minimalism. You can perceive how in this early work he was exploring the concept of the new or the modern idea of art. There are still paintings, but the lines that used to be a guideline in the architectural planes now are perceived as the protagonists. He was decanting architecture and placing it in a two-dimensional plane.

 

Next is the room of the photomontages. There are geometric drawings that dialogue with images that create a new composition. In the photomontage the drawing cannot separate form the image and vice versa, only the combination of these two mediums makes them unique and wonderful. One can see the influence of the surrealism where there are images in placed in new configurations creating a new image with such humor and irony. The images have been cut outs from books or photographs and have been decontextualized from its original background: there are some runners, dancers, nurses, people in a suits and much more. He plays with repetition, sizes, distribution and movement. They are definitely a highlight of the exhibition.

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Then next part of the exhibit is where Moholy Nagy is presented as a 3d artist. There are the factories, the theater buildings and some sculptures he designed. At the same time there are some drawings of architecture, some photographs and a film. This shows how he cannot step out any of being and artist, architect and designer because he combines them all.

 

After having the first presentation of a more traditional medium such as the painting and then the more design-based work, there is a big room with curve walls. It has paintings, photographs, sculptures that hang from the ceiling, display cases with advertising and typography and it is overwhelming. Even though it is a fact that Maholy Nagy did all of this different work, there is a problem with the curatorial experience in terms of not having the chance of admire things because there are all mixed together in the same space. The curved wall mixed with the different media makes the spectator pass over and walk fast without having the time of taking time with the pieces. It is a retrospective and there should be a lot of work, but the decision of the curve wall is adding one more element to the exhibition that already have 300 pieces of work.

The exhibition shows that Maholy Nagy was an artist that was thinking in the future. He was exploring and taking risks. He took elements of the present such as images and technology proposing and creating the newest work. Future-Present an exhibition in which Maholy Nagy builds things in the present for the future, without a past.