Brooklyn-based art writer Vittoria Benzine is fleeing from at least three different demons at any given time. Last week she got the hell out of dodge to seek refuge in the Windy City’s storied art scene. Here’s her Top 5 exhibitions to see in Chicago if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Chicago too. Each comes with a concise review to help decide whether it’s for you. And if you’re East Coast-bound, all of her Top 5 Exhibitions to see in NYC are on view through later this week.
Bahamian-born and Baltimore-based maestro Lavar Munroe marks his Chicago gallery debut with Sometime Come to Someplace, a cohesive series of large, colorful cacophonies spanning ceramic, textiles, glass, even chicken hides. The show takes its title from a quote by the ruby-shoed Dorothy, since Munroe experienced an Oz-like sense of discombobulated familiarity on his first-ever trip to Zimbabwe last year. Sounds, sights, and smells from those community-minded travels, paired with Ganguin’s paintings of Tahiti, inspired these latest works from Munroe’s studio. Until March 18.
It’s been six decades since the late legendary art dealer Richard Gray christened his Chicago headquarters. Since then, Richard Gray Gallery has worked with marquee talents from our modern and contemporary eras, from Alex Katz to Theaster Gates. Gray at 60 celebrates the gallery’s heritage through an ambitious, if not exhaustive, spread of all those talents — with a specific eye towards their lesser-known works on paper. A study by Bob Thompson opens the exhibition, since he opened their Chicago gallery in 1963. Next, though, Gray is taking half of this show to their New York location. Half the works will change in that next edition, principal Paul Gray says. Until March 11.
Chicago-based jazz musician Roscoe Mitchell has finally returned to painting after a nearly 60 year hiatus. This, his first gallery show since resuming, bridges eras. The gallery’s main room tessellates Mitchell’s latest paintings, while the second, back room hosts his more historical paintings from the 1960s. John Corbett says he first started seeing Mitchell’s visual artwork around 1979, emblazoned on the jackets of records like Lester Bowie’s Numbers 1 & 2. To honor his musical roots, Mitchell even installed a labyrinthine percussion instrument of his own invention called ‘the cage’ at the exhibition’s center — and activated it alongside an ensemble on opening night. Until March 11.
Chicago Truborn Gallery has held it down between Rhona Hoffman and Andrew Rafacz galleries on Chicago’s west side for ten years now. Their exhibitions generally shift every five weeks, but always present local and underrepresented artists at three-figured price points that could transform even the greenest art aficionado into a collector. All works in their current show elaborate directly on found, thrifted artworks. The roster ranges from Windy City powerhouses like Zeye and Anthony LeWellen to new contemporary superstars from America at large like Wizard of Barge and Eyez. Until March.
“Black experience in any modern city or town in the Americas is a haunting,” Canadian poet Dionne Brand says in A Map to the Door of No Return. “One enters a room and history follows; one enters a room and history precedes.” Eight female artists from Africa and the diaspora selected by art historian Aindrea Emelife have convened here to explore Jacques Derrida’s 1993 take on the very trendy notion of ontology, which seeks to delineate the classifications of entities. Negative and positive space invert, hair sprouts into trees through collage, and painterly forms interrogate their own selfhood by falling away. A phantom or two might come home with you. Until April 1.
More Exhibitions to See in Chicago & News HERE