The 19 Top Exhibits in Chicago Art Galleries This December

Three critic’s picks are at Alderman Exhibitions, Gallery 400, and Monique Meloche Gallery; Richard Notkin shows his sculptures at Zolla/Lieberman, and more.

Richard Notkin’s sculpture, Heart Teapot: Internal Combustion Metamorphosis, one of a few on display at Zolla/Lieberman gallery through December 21.   Photo: Courtesy of Zolla/Lieberman
CRITIC’S PICK

Alderman Exhibitions

12/6–2/16 Inside the Outside. A handful of artists makes unnatural objects: fishing lures, a pine-tree air freshener, and zinc logs. Assembled, these pieces reflect America’s strange relationship with nature. 1138 W Randolph. aldermanexhibitions.com

The Arcade

Through 12/13 Out There: An Existential Crisis of Intergalactic Proportions. Eight contemporary artists tackle space exploration. Columbia College, 618 S Michigan. colum.edu

Art on Armitage

12/1–1/1 Gwendolyn Zabicki. With a fondness for stillness that would make the painter Edward Hopper proud, Zabicki captures the unexpected quiet corners of modern life with her oil works. 4125 W Armitage. artonarmitage.com

Aspect/Ratio

12/7–1/19 The Dutch Don’t Dance. What does contemporary Dutch video art look like? This show answers that question with unexpectedly provocative work by Maria Pask and Hedwig Houben, who make their Chicago debuts. 119 N Peoria. aspectratioprojects.com

Firecat Projects

Through 12/30 Tony Fitzpatrick: Lunch Drawings. Tony Fitzpatrick chronicles life as a modern Chicagoan with Frank O’Hara–influenced doodles that serve as both diaries and fine drawings. 2124 N Damen. firecatprojects.org

CRITIC’S PICK

Gallery 400

Through 12/14 It’s the Political Economy, Stupid. More than 20 artists and art collectives borrow the snark from Bill Clinton’s famous 1992 presidential campaign statement, “It’s the economy, stupid,” to make protest art. 400 S Peoria. gallery400.uic.edu

Glass Curtain Gallery

Through 1/25 The Tyranny of Good Taste. Garish, gross, messy, lowbrow: 10 artists dismantle so-called good taste. 1104 S Wabash. colum.edu/deps

Kavi Gupta Gallery

Through 1/25 Curtis Mann. The photographer known for burning bleach into his prints now turns his attention to the back of his images. Mann slices crescent shapes into his prints, folds them back, and reveals photos that look like a hundred blinking eyelids. 845 W Washington. kavigupta.com

The Mission

Through 12/21 Kristina Paabus. For her solo show in the gallery’s experimental-project room, Paabus creates an abstract interior that plays with, confuses, and confronts viewers’ experience of spatial perception. 1431 W Chicago. themissionprojects.com

CRITIC’S PICK

Monique Meloche Gallery

Through 1/4 Ebony G. Patterson. Jamaica’s dancehall music culture, especially its gender and economic inequities, is brought to the fore in Patterson’s blinged-out tapestries and paintings. 2154 W Division. moniquemeloche.com

Printworks

12/6–1/4 Carole Harmel and Lialia Kuchma: Rewoven: Photographs, Threads, Words. Two longtime Chicago artists collaborate in mixed photo and textile artworks. 311 W Superior. printworkschicago.com

Queer Thoughts

Through 12/8 The artist Jason Benson turns his poem “Planet Human,” based on the essay “A Cyborg Manifesto,” into a sound artwork. 1640 W 18th. qtgallery.net

Rainbo Club

Through 12/17 Frank Van Duerm: Slow Dirt. For Van Duerm, any item within reach is raw material for his found-object sculptures, including what looks to be the loot from a small-town thrift store, on display in this Ukrainian Village hipster hangout. 1150 N Damen.

Rotofugi Gallery

12/6–1/5 Jon MacNair. The illustrator Jon MacNair makes exquisite ink drawings in a sinister fantasy style. 2780 N Lincoln. rotofugi.com

Russell Bowman Art Advisory

Through 1/25 Ed Paschke Drawings. Known primarily for his saturated-color paintings of faces and figures, Ed Paschke also had a sensitive hand as a draftsman. This show focuses on the rarely seen drawings of this giant of modern Chicago art. 311 W Superior. bowmanart.com

Shane Campbell Gallery

Through 1/18 Paul Cowan. Attention, lovers of wry conceptual art: From the Martin Creed school of anxious minimalism comes Paul Cowan. Sarcastic art (fuzzy fishing lures stuck on fabric window shades, anyone?) is not just for entertainment’s sake—the jokester always has a moral up his sleeve. 673 N Milwaukee. shanecampbellgallery.com

Western Exhibitions

12/14–1/25 Ben Stone. Like Jeff Koons, Ben Stone draws ironic humor and tension from kitsch objects. In his latest show, Stone turns found items like children’s bedsheets, a dog toy, and trophies into large-scale, detailed sculptures. 845 W Washington. westernexhibitions.com

Woman Made

Through 12/22 Of the Land and from the Earth. The artists Heidi Norton, Carmen M. Perez, and Mary Stoppart consider Mother Nature. 685 N Milwaukee. womanmade.org

Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

Through 12/21 Richard Notkin: Where Do We Go from Here? Notkin’s war protests take the form of finely crafted ceramic sculptures. Also on view: Josh Garber’s Playthings, which are semi-erotic, twisting objects made from protruding screws. 325 W Huron. zollaliebermangallery.com

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