These Could Be Chicago’s Next Breakout Artists

As the indispensable West Loop art incubator Threewalls turns 10 (with a birthday bash on June 15), here’s a look at the artists executive director Shannon Stratton sees as its rising stars.

The indispensable West Loop art incubator Threewalls turns 10 with a birthday bash on June 15 at Salvage One (for tickets, three-walls.org). To celebrate, Chicago asked its executive director, Shannon Stratton, to predict which three Threewalls artists will break out next.
 

‘Victoryland...you, I shall answer your letter’ by Claire Pentecost

Art: Claire Pentecost. Victoryland…you, I shall answer your letter, 2010/Photo by Clare Britt

The Capitalism Critic: Claire Pentecost

The School of the Art Institute professor protests globalization in her work, exemplified by a 2010 Threewalls installation of drawings that questions America’s use of drones (above). Stratton says that Chicago offers “limited opportunities” for politically charged pieces—but Pentecost, 56, cracked the international market last year when curators at the prestigious German fair Documenta 13 invited her to show.
What’s next: On July 4, London’s Whitechapel Gallery opens The Spirit of Utopia, a group exhibition that includes her work.


 

‘Credenza (detail)’ by Mindy Rose Schwartz

Art: Mindy Rose Schwartz. Credenza (detail), 2010/Photo by Jim Prinz

The New Wave Feminist: Mindy Rose Schwartz

Schwartz, a midcareer artist, excels at “radical craft”: fiber and material studies such as Credenza, a steel and papier-mâché armature (above). After her solo exhibition at Threewalls in 2011, the Meier Charitable Foundation awarded her a $25,000 grant. “Mindy’s work expresses the emotion contained in objects,” Helen Meier said at the time.
What’s next: On July 13, the gallery Slow in Pilsen opens a group exhibition including Schwartz’s work.


 

‘Black Utopia LP’ by Cauleen Smith

Art: Cauleen Smith. Black Utopia LP, 2012/Photo by Cauleen Smith

The Black Aesthete: Cauleen Smith

This 45-year-old experimental filmmaker’s Threewalls debut in September of 2012 included video artwork and an LP (at left) that referenced the Afrofuturist musician Sun Ra. Says MCA curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm, who invited Smith to show her work at the MCA in May of last year: “I loved how she was sharing [Afrofuturism] with South Side kids.”
What’s next: Smith delves into printmaking in 17, on display now through July 7 at the Hyde Park Art Center.

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