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

Art and Design
Museums and Institutions

'The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music,' 2014, The Propeller Group
The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, 2014, The Propeller Group Photo: Courtesy of James Cohan, New York

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Through 8/7 Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and the Portrait Print. Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck is known as one of the most important painters of the 17th century, but he also produced a significant body of printed work depicting his peer artists—the first “yearbook” in art history.
Through 8/14 Abstractions: Aaron Siskind. An important midcentury Chicago photographer, Siskind is known for his abstract expressionist black-and-white images.

 

Through 8/28 Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem. Parks, a renowned documentarian of the black rights movement, produced a now-famous photo essay for Life magazine to illustrate Invisible Man, Ellison’s 1952 novel about systemic racism.

111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

ARTS CLUB OF CHICAGO

Through 8/13 Sharon Lockhart’s art film and photos take viewers to ?ód?, a Polish city where concrete courtyards serve as playgrounds for local children. Lockhart focuses her lens on these children, who improvise their playtime in the urban jungle. 201 E. Ontario. artsclubchicago.org

DEPAUL ART MUSEUM

Through 8/21 Poor Traits. Barbara Rossi is one of the original Hairy Who artists, painting portraits that could be mistaken for bouquets of deli meat.
Through 8/21 The Secret Birds. Local legend Tony Fitzpatrick shows his avian-themed collage series in which birds sing about the artist’s friends and influences.
935 W. Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu

HYDE PARK ART CENTER

6/19–8/27 Some Recent Pictures (Chicago). Los Angeles–based photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya points his camera at the handsome (and shirtless) young men who treat his studio as a gathering place. Sepuya returns to Chicago after a residency here two years ago, to present images taken of visitors during his stint as a Hyde Park Art Center fellow.
Through 7/17 La Paz. Chicago’s figurative-sculpture scene is booming because of artists like Rodrigo Lara Zendejas, who carves clay into hyperrealistic faces and expressions. Here, he transforms a gallery into a chapel to address the religiosity of Mexican American immigrants.

 

Through 8/13 Shoretime Spaceline. Karen Reimer discovered that the Hyde Park Art Center’s site was once beachfront property, fabricated by lake landfill to make the Chicago Beach Hotel for visitors of the 1893 world’s fair. Here, she hauls her own sand into the center’s giant gallery space, complete with a boardwalk and textile sky.

5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org

 

INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF SURGICAL SCIENCE

Through 7/31 Haunted House. The mansion-turned-museum is once again transformed, this time into a haunted house with artworks by Stevie Hanley, Rebecca Walz, and others, themed in response to the home’s fabled resident ghost and installed among the museum’s collection of medical oddities and triumphs. 1524 N. Lake Shore. imss.org

 

INTUIT

Through 7/5 Self-Portraits. Fans of Cindy Sherman, take note: The late Lee Godie emerged nearly simultaneously with Sherman and, like Sherman, played with the notion of identity. The local outsider artist used bus terminal photo booths as her studio. Homeless and having no formal art education, Godie made poignant self-portraits, often costuming herself as royalty or drawing makeup on the black-and-white prints by hand. 756 N. Milwaukee. art.org

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART

Through 7/23 Community Uprooted: Eminent Domain in the U.S. The practice of eminent domain is familiar to those who recall Mayor Daley bulldozing Meigs Field in 2003. The government right to claim private land has also affected the lives of families throughout the United States, who have lost homes and property to the government. Photographer Richard Wasserman’s project also highlights how citizens can use eminent domain to reclaim disused land for redevelopment.
Through 7/23 Persistence of Memory. A lifelong series of portraits by William Utermohlen documents his lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The canvas was his therapy but also a devastating mirror.
Through 7/23 South Williamsburg. William Castellana’s street photographs of his Brooklyn neighborhood capture the lives of Hasidic Jews against the backdrop of gentrifying Williamsburg.
820 N. Michigan. luc.edu/luma

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

6/4–10/23 The Propeller Group. The artist collective from Ho Chi Minh City makes films to show how citizens are reckoning with rapid changes in the Vietnamese metropolis, such as the funerary rituals that seem at odds with a burgeoning capitalistic society.
Through 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.

 

Through 9/25 Mastry. Kerry James Marshall, Chicago’s greatest living painter, has said there are “enough” pictures of white people, so he won’t paint them. See his contributions to art history at this career retrospective.

220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Through 7/10 Burnt Generation: Contemporary Iranian Photography. Forget what you think you know about life in Iran. Here, nine contemporary Iranian-born photographers unmask the competing realities of Iranian life, including youth experiences of a traditional society and gruesome battle scene reenactments. 600 S. Michigan. mocp.org

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART

Through 10/9 Dan Ramirez. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez worked as a steel hauler for years before discovering minimalist painting. His palette favors silver, black, red, and blue over sharply cut planes of color on large canvases. 1852 W. 19th. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

RENAISSANCE SOCIETY

Through 6/26 Between the Ticks of the Watch. How is a gas mask like a megaphone? This and other object riddles play out in a group show posed around the topic of doubt and uncertainty in life and art. Free. 5811 S. Ellis. renaissancesociety.org

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