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The Year Ahead in Chicago’s Visual Arts

Your mini dossier to the major art exhibits and events of 2015.

Stan Douglas, “Hors-champs,” 1992. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in July.   Photo: Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York.

January

Vaca Victoria at the Ed Paschke Art Center

Commissioned as part of the loved-by-tourists/loathed-by-locals Cows on Parade public art project in 1999, in which artists were given a cow statue to paint and display on Chicago’s sidewalks, Paschke chose to decorate his bovine with known gang symbols. The city quickly removed the cow, which has been in storage ever since. It is now being unveiled for permanent installation at the Ed Paschke Art Center (opening in January). edpaschke.org/ed-paschke-art-center.html

February

Doris Salcedo at the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Colombian artist Doris Salcedo is internationally regarded for her somber memorials to war victims, including a gigantic shroud comprised of thousands of rose petals. Her first career survey (opening February 21) debuts at the MCA before traveling to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. mcachicago.org

March

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist at the Chicago Cultural Center

Archibald Motley could be the Toulouse-Lautrec of Chicago. It’s been two-dozen years since his last retrospective in his hometown, so we’re lucky that the Cultural Center picked up this nationally touring exhibition (opening March 6) that spans the painter’s long career, from his education in Parisian jazz clubs to his depiction of Bronzeville’s buoyant nightlife during its Black Renaissance in the forties. cityofchicago.org

Gordon Matta-Clark at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

The avant-garde artist was famed for turning entire buildings into sculptures with his chainsaw, and he even did so in a River North brownstone in the late 1970s. The temporary project hides behind a renovation, but the artist’s architectural photographs (opening March 13) re-create the experience of walking through a building with gaping holes in its floors and walls. rhoffmangallery.com

April

Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

The group exhibit Dandy Lion (opening April 2) counters a certain stereotype of Black masculinity, offering instead Victorian-era style revivals, patterned suits, and dandyism—a cosmopolitan remix of the contemporary male body. mocp.org

House on Mango Street at the National Museum of Mexican Art

House on Mango Street is a favorite elementary school novel, a coming-of-age story based in Humboldt Park. Sandra Cisneros’s 1984 book is commemorated with an exhibition (opening April 17) of art about home, family and working-class life, and an author lecture. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

May

Liminal Camera at the DePaul Art Museum

An enormous ‘camera’ is constructed in a shipping container and driven around Chicago to capture its cityscape. The ambitious project (opening May 15) is spearheaded by Metabolic Studio. Prints from their journey will be shown in the museum. museums.depaul.edu

Charles Ray at the Art Institute of Chicago

A major career survey of the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based sculptor Charles Ray takes over the entire Contemporary Art galleries of the Modern Wing (opening May 15). Ray, whose carved tree-trunk sculpture (Hinoki) has been on permanent display in the museum since 2007, is best known for his exhaustingly lifelike re-creations of everyday situations. Two new sculptures will debut at this must-see exhibit. artic.edu

Live to Tape: Artist Television Festival at Links Hall

Experience a live-studio audience ‘television’ festival—a mix of video art screenings and performances—at Live to Tape. The primetime program (from May 18 to 24) includes psychedelic cartoons and “radical frequencies” by a huge cast of contemporary artists. livetoptapefestival.tumblr.com

Albert Oehlen at Corbett vs. Dempsey

Before the German painter Albert Oehlen gets his big NYC retrospective at the New Museum, he’ll have a solo show in Chicago (opening May 29) with paintings inspired by digital processes. corbettvsdempsey.com

June

The 606

A disused railroad line running through four West Side neighborhoods has been totally transformed into nearly three miles of nature trails and public art experiences (opening in June). Formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail, its new name nods to our collective zip code. The megaton overhaul of the city’s aging infrastructure was a collaboration among engineers and artists, with the city-in-a-garden feel like Manhattan’s High Line. the606.org

Tony Lewis at Shane Campbell Gallery

Emerging Chicago artist Tony Lewis has seen early success at New York auctions with his minimalist word paintings. A solo show (opening June 27) inaugurates the gallery’s new home in Motor Row, a South Loop stretch that could potentially house the city’s newest gallery district. shanecampbellgallery.com

July

The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Fresh off the heels of the museum’s David Bowie blockbuster, a new exhibit honors a Chicago music tradition: 1960s African American avant-garde jazz (opening July 11). The groundbreaking local musical style is here interpreted by major international contemporary artists, including Nick Cave, Rashid Johnson and Cauleen Smith. mcachicago.org

September

Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty at the Hyde Park Art Center

The concept of ‘touch’ guides this group exhibition, with sensitive, even sensual art objects (opening September 6), including work by Young Sun Han and Christalena Hughmanick. hydeparkart.org

Jessica Stockholder at the Smart Museum of Art

A few years back, Color Jam was Jessica Stockholder’s largest artwork ever—a brightly hued ‘painting’ that covered a Loop intersection. Now the University of Chicago professor is attempting another large-scale work in the Smart Museum’s giant lobby (opening September 12), creating anthropomorphic décor. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago

A retrospective exhibition of internationally acclaimed architect David Adjaye includes rare peaks inside the master’s mind and workshop, with sketches and models of his chic yet eye-popping buildings (opening September 19). artic.edu

October

Chicago Architecture Biennial

The city’s first international architecture biennial (opening in October) dramatizes the role of buildings in our lives—as shelter, as status, as history and as an art form. Participating artists and architects will be announced later this year. See Chicago’s interview with artistic directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda here. chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org

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