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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsFebruary 2016

Art & Design
Museums and Institutions

Untitled, 2015
Untitled, 2015 by Luis Romero on display as part of Present Standard at the Chicago Cultural Center Photo: William Bengston

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Permanent The New Contemporary. The largest donation of artwork ever to the museum includes 44 masterpieces of modern art, with iconic pieces by Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol.

 

2/5–5/3 Multiple Dimensions. Martin Puryear is one of the greatest living abstract sculptors. Dedicated to crafting unusual yet refined forms in metal and wood, he has also worked quietly in prints and drawings during his six-decade career. The exhibit focuses on Puryear’s rarely seen works on paper, with a dozen sculptures providing context.

2/14–5/8 Van Gogh’s Bedrooms. One of the most famous scenes in art history depicts where Van Gogh rested his weary head after long days of painting in the South of France. The exhibit focuses on life in and around the famed Yellow House, where Van Gogh worked out some of his best images and lived with pal Gauguin.
Through 2/14 Homegrown. See works on paper by distinguished alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s printmaking and drawing programs, including magical realist painter Ivan Albright, graphic novelist Chris Ware, Chicago imagists the Hairy Who, and dozens more.
Through 2/14 Kesa: Japanese Buddhist Monks’ Vestments. Kesa (exquisitely patterned robes worn by Japanese monks) from the museum’s textile collection are on view together for the first time.
Through 5/1 Nothing Personal. Photography by Zoe Leonard, Cindy Sherman, and Lorna Simpson.
111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER

Through 4/24 Present Standard. In conjunction with the citywide Latino Art Now Conference, this large group exhibit makes a case for art that addresses issues facing Latinos in the United States today. It’s an opportunity to see great work by José Lerma, Dianna Frid, Paola Cabal, and Maria Gaspar. 78 E. Washington. chicagoculturalcenter.org

DEPAUL ART MUSEUM

Through 4/24 Nexo/Nexus: Latino Artists from the Midwest. In conjunction with the City of Chicago’s Latino Arts Festival, the museum brings out the best works by Latino artists in its collection and borrows key works from private collections, including Nicolás de Jesus’s engrossing view inside a Halsted bus.
Through 4/26 Split Complementary. The first show curated by the museum’s new director, Matthew Girson thoughtfully pairs the abstract works of Dianna Frid and Richard Rezac. She also juxtaposes hidden treasures from the museum’s vault, such as Iranian miniature paintings and a South African hat, with Frid’s and Rezac’s art.
935 W. Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu

ED PASCHKE ART CENTER

Through 2/28 Tom Palazzolo. This exhibit includes Palazzolo’s historical photos from the Riverview Amusement Park, which influenced Paschke’s early paintings. Get a preview of Palazzolo’s in-progress documentary on legendary outsider artist Lee Godie too. 5415 W. Higgins. edpaschkeartcenter.org

ELMHURST ART MUSEUM

Through 2/21 Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements. The museum stages the region’s first biennial, featuring emerging artists who comment on the cultural climate of Chicago. They include Lise Haller Baggesen, whose interactive installation Mothernism looks at the role of artists who are mothers. 150 S. Cottage Hill, Elmhurst. elmhurstartmuseum.org

HYDE PARK ART CENTER

Through 4/20 The Weight of Rage. Inmates at Stateville Prison create portraits, poetry, and fiction, which are on display here. A lecture series will run in conjunction. 5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org

LOGAN CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Through 3/13 Unsuspending Disbelief. A large survey of contemporary international photography is a rare viewing opportunity, despite the medium’s ubiquity. Curated by Laura Letinsky, an artist and academic, for the University of Chicago, the exhibit of 10 photographers includes work by Yamini Nayar, Mickalene Thomas, and more. 915 E. 60th. arts.uchicago.edu

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART

2/6–7/24 Persistence of Memory. A lifelong series of portraits by William Utermohlen documents his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The canvas was his therapy but also a devastating mirror.
2/6–7/24 Williamsburg. William Castellana’s street photographs of his Brooklyn neighborhood capture the lives of Hasidic Jews against the changing background of gentrifying Williamsburg.
820 N. Michigan. luc.edu/luma

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

2/16–7/3 BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Diane Simpson. Now in her 80s, the longtime Chicagoan is finally being recognized for her contributions to contemporary sculpture; that her designs are whimsical, inventive, and highly crafted is icing on the cake.
Through 3/6 MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer. The Puerto Rican surrealist, who first exhibited at the museum in 1972, tackles topics of colonialism and magic, using pipe cleaners, bones, and portrait painting.
Through 3/27 Pop Art Design. The pop art movement of the ’60s also flourished in the field of industrial design, giving an ironic, colorful slant to furniture, lamps, and architecture. See work by some of that era’s most forward-thinking designers, such as Charles Eames and Ettore Sottsass.
Through 5/8 Kathryn Andrews: Run for President. Perfectly timed with the presidential election cycle, the Los Angeles pop sculptor’s first U.S. museum solo exhibition comments on its celebrity aspect.

 

Through 6/5 Surrealism: The Conjured Life. Few people realize how strongly French surrealism took hold in Chicago—it’s a cornerstone of the MCA’s collection, and it influenced the 1960s-era Hairy Who artists. With more than 100 paintings and objects, this exhibit tells the story of surrealism’s roots, with masterworks by Magritte and Ernst, and its legacy in contemporary art, from Paschke to Koons.
220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org

 

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Through 4/10 MoCP at 40. Chicago’s only museum dedicated to contemporary photography celebrates 40 years of free exhibits with a choice selection of its greatest hits and treasures, including Diane Arbus and Andy Warhol. Free. 600 S. Michigan. mocp.org

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM

Through 4/16 Mr. Wild’s Garden. The nature museum is a perfect setting to display David Weinberg’s photo series, which depicts children trapped in an overgrown greenhouse. It’s more of a fairy tale than a nightmare, imploring viewers to imagine how life could be different if humans lived more closely with plant life. Child friendly. 2430 N. Cannon. naturemuseum.org

RENAISSANCE SOCIETY

2/7–4/3 Secrets of a Trumpet. The German artist Peter Wächtler has spent a month in Chicago creating new work for the gallery, including ceramics, a video installation, and his first large-scale bronze figures. Free. 5811 S. Ellis. renaissancesociety.org

SMART MUSEUM OF ART

2/11–6/12 Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago. See “This Is the Greatest Group of Midwestern Artists You’ve Never Heard Of”. Free. 5550 S. Greenwood. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

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