Author Archives: zeepeng

Firecatprojects Presents Jacob Crose

Jacob Crose

Opening Reception: December 30, 2016


Exhibition Dates: December 30 – January 22, 2017


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The Open Door Readings at Poetry Foundation & Petry Magazine

On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, at 7 pm to 8 pm, the Chicago Poetry Foundation & Petry Magazine will be hosting the monthly Open Door Readings for December.

“The Open Door series presents work from Chicago’s new and emerging poets and highlights the area’s outstanding writing programs. Each hour-long event features readings by two Chicagoland college and graduate writing program instructors and two of their current or recent students. December’s Open Door Reading presents Young Chicago Authors’ Jamila Woods and her student E’mon Lauren with Nate Marshall and his student Carlina Duan.

Jamila Woods is a poet, singer, and teacher. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry has been published by MUZZLE, Third World Press, and POETRY magazine. She is the associate artistic director of Young Chicago Authors and a founding member of its Teaching Artist Corps. In 2015, she was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

E’mon Lauren is a non-binary poet, vocalist, emcee, and teaching artist from Chicago’s South Side, and currently Chicago’s Youth Poet Laureate. She is a 2014 Louder Than a Bomb champion and a 2016 Louder Than a Bomb College Slam champion. Her work appears in The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.

Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He is an editor of “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop” and the author of “Wild Hundreds,” which was named Poetry Book of the Year by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Nate is a member of The Dark Noise Collective and a 2015 Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. He is the National Program Director of Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival and a visiting assistant professor at Wabash College.

Carlina Duan is a Chinese American poet from Ann Arbor, Michigan. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she currently teaches in Malaysia as a U.S. Fulbright grant recipient. Her most recent poetry chapbook, “Here I Go, Torching,” was selected as the 2015 winner of the Edna Meudt Memorial Award. Her debut poetry collection, “I Wore My Blackest Hair,” is forthcoming from Little A in November 2017. ” —

Address: 61 W Superior St. Chicago, Illinois 60654


Nate Marshall on the left and Jamila Woods on the right.

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Light Festival at Lincoln Park Zoo

Presented by ComEd and Powershares, ZooLight Festival at the Lincoln Park Zoo opened on November 25, 2016, and it will last until January 1, 2017.

As a public event sponsored by commercial enterprises, ZooLight Festival can also be seen as a light exhibition in public space. Festival activities include arts and crafts for children, 3D displays, Live ice sculpture carving and more.


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CD Wu Solo Exhibition at Shane Campbell Gallery

CD Wu, a former MFA SAIC student who graduated in 2016, is having her solo exhibition at Shane Campell Gallery South Loop location.

Mainly using neon lights in her works, CD Wu will present former artistic exploration in school in the show.

Exhibition Date: December 10th, 2016– January 28th, 2016


(312) 226-2223


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A statue of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was installed at Pioneer Court on401 N. Michigan Avenue, where the statue of Marilyn Monroe used to be.

“Return Visit”, the title of the piece, is a 25-foot-tall statue depicting Lincoln handing a copy of the Gettysburg Address to a modern day man wearing sneakers and corduroys. The sculpture is the work of Seward Johnson, the New Jersey artist who designed the big Marilyn Monroe statue in 2011.
Paula Stoeke, the curator of Johnson’s gallery, explains the new piece is meant to remind passersby of Lincoln’s message about equality more than 150 years ago.

Paula Stoeke, the curator of Johnson’s gallery, explains that the new piece is meant to remind passersby of Lincoln’s message about equality more than 150 years ago. However, the public showed a different impression about this work that’s paid by Zeller Realty Group.




Review: ONEOFUS Julie Atlas Muz & Mat Fraser Beauty and the Beast at MCA

Invited by the SAIC BAAH department, I arrived at MCA at 7:10 pm on a Friday night after a 15-min walk in a -6 Celcius degree weather. After meeting with 7 other fellows, we found out seats in the second to the last row of the theater. More than 90% of the room was filled up. We, a group of 20-year olds, looked fresh in that crowd.

Beauty and Beast, one of the most popular and famous fairytales in the western history, has made its dramatical turn at MCA by Julie Atlas Muz, 2006 Miss Coney Island and 2006 Miss Exotic World, and Mat Fraser, an English performance artist with thalidomide-induced Phocomelia. This couple re-annotated the identity of the characters and mixed their real-life romance in the story line.

Starting from a death threat by a notorious beast, Beauty is forced to live with the monster in order to save her father’s live. By using magic, the Beast is able to hide his disability from the beautiful woman and expects the secret can keep longer. As the fairytale continues, Beauty and Beast start to feel attracted to each other; the monstrous Beast is addicted to her company while she falls in love with his protection, even though she refuses his marriage proposal a few times. Until one day, Beauty demands Beast to eat in front of her with his hands, the two confront each other. In the end, Beauty marries Beast.

This classic fairytale follows the traditional storyline but uses the most adult way to tell the story. Starting from the half of the performance, Beauty and Beast have gone completely naked in front of the audience. With multiple times, the characters change outfits to illustrate story transitions, but they choose to cover everywhere else but the genitalia. As an audience who is constantly challenged by artistic performances, I was able to accept and appreciate the actors’ choices. By confronting their physical bodies to the audience, we are able to pass through the obstacles, or clothes, and see the true natures of disabilities, or naked bodies. In the end of the performance, when Beauty and Beast are married, the sex scene became the highlight of the show. As the actors being completely naked on the stage, even though Beast didn’t really put his genitalia into Beauty’s, the audiences had an overwhelming discomfort from just being in the room. Some of them laughed out loud, some of them covered their eyes, and some of them just walked out of the room.

I, all of my lovely friends from the BAAH program and Annie, the director of the program, were deeply in love with the show for its creativity and brilliant choices on pushing all of our sensational buttons yet without upsetting any of them. I was extremely proud of being a part of the SAIC community and highly respect our understanding and appreciation to good arts.

Andrew Rafacz Gallery Review

Established in 2008, Andre Rafacz Gallery changed its name from Bucket Rider Gallery to its current title. The gallery owner, Andrew Rafacz focuses on featuring emerging and mid-career artists working in various medias, including video, painting, photography, sculpture and more. Located at a popular neighbored in the West Loop, Chicago, Andrew Rafacz Gallery takes the upper left space on the second floor of the building and is adjacent to three other galleries — McCormick Gallery, Kavi Gupta Gallery, and Carrie Secrets Gallery. As convenient as it can be, viewers are able to enjoy four galleries of works with only one trip of effort. The four galleries attract audiences and differentiate them with various artists and styles.

Separate into two gallery spaces, Justin John Greene’s solo show Secret Slob is currently on view until December 22, 2016, in gallery one. This uprising artist studied art history at Lorenzo de’Medici, Florence and later received his Bachelor degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Different from his last solo exhibition Moonlighting, in which described the incessant hustle that one participates in as a striving in a precarious economy, Secret Slob is envisioned in J.D. Salinger’s The Cather in the Rye, and the term is used to describe someone who behaves as outwardly virtuous while hiding their sordid habits.

In gallery two, works by 8 artists share the 50-sqft space, including a mini-size bathtub in the color charcoal, a pornographic woodcut, three urinaries that are as big as a human-size palm, and a seat cover paper cut on blue canvas.


Review: MCA Talk on the topic of New Mythologies for the Future with Prof. Nora Taylor

On Oct. 25th, 2016, I went to an art discussion at the Museum of Contemporary Art on the topic of New Mythologies for the Future. Nora Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Ivy Wilson, associate professor of English and faculty affiliate in Asian American Studies at Northwestern University participated in the discussion with Naomi Beckwith, curator for the exhibition The Propeller Group. 

The Propeller Group is an artist group based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Two of the group members, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, have studied and lived in the United States of America. Including the third member, Phunam, the Propeller Group produces artworks in multiple art mediums including paintings, fabrics, sculptures, media productions. Since the establishment in 2006, The Propeller Group has attracted attentions from the public from both commercial video works and fine arts. The exhibition The Propeller Group at the MCA collects a wide range of types of works by the artists from the past five years and the videos are the highlights of the entire exhibition.

The discussion of the New Mythologies for the Future featured some interesting questions that are related to the exhibition and the artists. The discussion started with an explanation of the works and the intention of the exhibition which is to show viewers in the US the perspectives of Vietnamese artists. Because of the Vietnamese War, two countries, especially Vietnam have gone through traumatic experiences and gradually move towards the start of a post-war situation. Artists from Vietnam frequently face the problem of unable to make art freely due to the government control. The Propeller Group, artists who have a greater degree of freedom in art making in the US, touches on some sentimental and taboo topics in their commercial works and tries to inject a new possibility in Vietnamese art circles.


The Propeller Group, still from The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, 2014. © The Propeller Group Courtesy of James Cohan, New York

Chicago EXPO (Review #1)

Being invited to Chicago EXPO 2016, I had the honor of previewing the show and was able to gain a

first-hand experience before being influenced by others pinions. For someone who has limited experiences visiting art fairs, I’d make myself a fool if I write this review by comparing the pros and cons about Chicago EXPO. However, I’d still like to describe my experiences about this most-popular art fair in Chicago, and maybe my fresh eyes can capture a subtle sense in this overwhelming art festival.

I visited the exhibition twice; once before it was open to the public and another time with the crowd. Even though the preview was only open to limited people, I was still overwhelmed by the size of the venue and the number of booths in there.

For the preview, the majority of the people were either invited by the event or taken as a plus-one. For my understanding, these people were mostly collectors and artists, and the venue purposely invited them before the opening because they would have a better environment for conversations with the

dealers and a higher chance opening their check books. As a plus-one, I understood that I wasn’t one

of the elites but I purposely dressed up and purchased a glass of wine that was too pricy for a 6 oz cup.

While paying close attention on my posture and surrounding, I tried my best to focus on the works in

front of me like I was in a museum, but I soon realized that my effort was naive: I was either surprised by the price on the wall, or I was distracted by the dealers questions about if I had any questions. My effort to reading the works soon became glancing, and even when my brain started consciously refuse processing all of the exciting visualizations, my eyes were quickly attracted by the next interesting thing. I realized: going to an art fair is no less tiring than running a marathon.

For both of my visits, I paid a close attention on galleries from China and I spent more time analyzing

the works at these booths. The names of famous galleries like PACE, Pearl Lam and Red Brick have attracted my eyes, but their works told a different story. When visiting galleries from or related to China, I care more about the presentation than the quality of the works. Pace Gallery, for example,

chose most of their artworks by western artists, including Sol Lewitt and Rauschenberg. While

understanding their market strategy, I definitely would like to see more works done by artists from China. In occasions like Chicago EXPO, galleries should consider the importance of demonstrating and advocating arts that’s not in the center of the western context. I understand that the purpose of art fairs are always money-driven so that international galleries should alway put the primary market first. But I also believe that shedding more lights on foreign artists is essential for establishing an international context.

If I have to pick ONE thing that I absolutely hated in Chicago EXPO, I’d choose the SAIC booth without hesitation. It was absolutely not necessary to make the booth a curatorial space since it looked nothing more than an expensive garage. The chosen artworks were created by SAIC students graduated from last semester, and their talents and creativity were bluntly used for advertising the school. While I was pleased to see that just-graduated students were able to present their works in such important venue, I was much more angry at the fact that the school showed no effort to advocate for them. To a point, I was too shamed to say that I was a student

from SAIC because neither the works nor the curatorial statement demonstrated SAIC students

really talents. Alter spending over 10 minutes of inner-meditation, I finally drew a conclusion that was comforting enough for me to calm down: as long as “Chicago EXPO” holds a weight on an impressive cover letter, who cares what really happened in the show? As long as the price was good, even schools like SAIC would be bending towards the dollars, right?

SAIC Fall BFA Show 2016

Including more than 200 undergraduate students, SAIC BFA show in Fall 2016 opened on November 19th at Sullivan Galleries.

Due to the conflict to the annual art sale at SAIC, only a few people visited the BFA show at the opening. One advantage of having that conflict at the opening is that the viewers who are the most eager were able to explore the most of the space, time, and freedom at the show. I, as one of the eager visitors, stepped into Sullivan Galleries the moment when the door opened.

Personally, I find this year’s BFA show more engaging because some of my good friends have their works at the show. The difference between seeing a regular art show v.s. a graduation show is my familiarity about the artists. I was able to recognize some of the works without checking the names of the artist. My strong knowledge about the artists has reinforced my understanding of the works and the concepts. On the one hand, I was able to connect with some of the pieces more. On the other hand, my interpretation has been rudely distracted by my emotional/sensational familiarity.

Standing from a biased perspective as a viewer, I later tried to be an honest friend by criticizing Eddie Shen, who places his work at the gallery entrance, for “having a good idea but a shitty craftsmanship.” The idea of hiding a magnet inside of the pedestal and having calabashes floating freely is excellent. In fact, it could be one of the best ideas in the entire show, in my opinion. But the presentation of the overall work is a disappointment: exposed hot glue, uneven paint on the pedestal, a non-functional earphone, and badly-cut edges. The closer I look, the more imperfections reveal.



My overall experience of viewing this piece is very similar to a typical love story: falling in love at first sight but falling out of love with disappointments and bitterness. However, this experience isn’t too surprising to me due to my familiarity to my dearest friend.

One of my favorite works at the show is untitled. Besides the knowledge of the artist’s name, Amadeo Morelos, I have no further information about the work nor the artist practice. However, I’m deeply in love with the presentation and the concept. Underwears, let’s assume this is the title of the works for an apparent reason, is simply smart, elegant, fun and extremely attractive.



The artist chooses G-strings, an erotic yet meaningful symbol of male bodies, and expands its representation and presentation with different colors of the “skins” and sizes of genitals to test audiences acceptance and recognition of homosexuality and other controversial topics.

When starring at these playful objects, for the first in my life, I had a lustful fantasy at the school art gallery.