The Chicago fall art season opens this week with a massive number of galleries presenting strong art, and they're all jockeying for position and your attention. But right now there are some strong pre-season shows opening -- if you want to see some good shows ahead of the herd.
I'm on the board of the Collaboraction theater company and was asked by them to work with Wesley Kimler to select art for their exhibition program in Mush Room, the adjunct space they have. We put out a call for art and got some wonderful submissions from which we are crafting shows. Last Friday's opening pairs Alyssa Miserendino and Matt Tuteur, both of whom deal with the decaying artifacts of a society in transition. Miserendino's photographs are of spaces vacated by people who couldn't afford to stay in their home, inspired by her family's need to do precisely that seven years ago. Some of these properties are occupied by squatters, and the dichotomy between what clearly was and is hurts with its sensitive awareness of disarray.
Matt Tuteur, like Miserendino, is a renegade photographer, who conducts research to find hidden, dying, decaying, disappearing footnotes to Chicago's colorful past. It is not as if you find Al Capone's subterranean lair on Yelp and access it with a police guide. Chicago has a colorful, and not always comfortable, past. There is honesty, angst, and beauty in Tuteur's broad and considered documentation. Both photographers' work is complemented by a poignant "flower" arrangement by Rick Wroble that was once beautiful and is now dying like the content of the images around it.
One of the things that I genuinely like about Chicago is that it cares more about what you are doing than what you've done -- just look at some of our aldermen. Not that I know anything about what Jenny Lam has done, I'm impressed by what she's doing -- creating, finding, following her own path in the Chicago art scene. She's been on my radar since spring. A recent college graduate, she's just just curated a charming show at Fulton Street Collective titled Exquisite Corpse. Expanding on the traditional notion where multiple artists work on a single piece without knowing what the other has done, she's solicited, culled, and matched 40 artists who don't know each other to collaborate on creating art. In most cases the pieces are fun, competent, multi-faceted and engaging.
In another concept for a group show, the Beverly Arts Center is presenting 3 longtime friends, where some of the work relates, and looks at how paths diverge and/or remain intertwined. I'm particularly drawn to the art of Erik DeBat, once a street artist and now drawn to importing that aesthetic into a contemporary fine art vernacular. There's an impressive grit, play on words, and structure that succeeds with fresh beauty when it does.
Lots of art in the weeks and months ahead, and it starts now.