Five art venues worth braving Chicago temps


Installation view, decor for 'Views on Stage, 2004 in "Dance Works II: Merce Cunningham/Ernesto Neto, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012, Photo by Gene Pittman
Installation view, decor for ‘Views on Stage, 2004 in “Dance Works II: Merce Cunningham  – Ernesto Neto, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012. Photo by Gene Pittman

It’s a given that Chicago winters are defined by how much snow has to be shoveled and how many layers are needed to protect against the cold. But, hey, Chicagoans know the city doesn’t shut down. So, Instead of hibernating the question is – what’s happening in and around the city to see and do early in 2017?

First was a look at some theater offerings premiering in Chicago. Now, let’s take a look at what is happening on the art scene.

Two of the exhibit sites, Intuit and Chicago Artists Coalition, may introduce you to art spaces you didn’t know or hadn’t visited.

The next two exhibits are in well-visited art museums but are quite unusual. The last venue hosts art exhibits throughout the year but the place is often under the radar.



Chicago Artists Coalition in the West Loop has two shows opening Jan. 6. Part of the fun of seeing their new shows is meeting the artists in CAC’s Bolt and Hatch emerging artists programs. The new CAC exhibits open with a reception Jan. 6 to meet Bolt artist Amanda Joy Calobrisi and Hatch Projects artists Austen Brown, Alex Calhoun, Jon Chambers, Jeremiah Jones, Bobbi Meier and Marina Miliou-Theocharaki.

‘Cloud of the Ideal,’ a solo exhibit of Amanda Joy Calobrisi’s work, delves into women’s views of themselves. ‘Being, enough’ features six Hatch artists who examine questions  of space, convergence, trauma and collision. Their conclusion seems to be that just “being” is enough. The exhibits end Jan. 26.

Intuit, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in the River West neighborhood, celebrates the 125th birthday of famed Chicago outsider artist/writer Henry Darger with a year of special shows under the title ‘2017: Chicago’s Henry Darger.’ While at Intuit, check out the Henry Darger Room that is a permanent feature. It somewhat duplicates his one-room apartment on Webster Street and has many of his works.

The celebration begins with two shows opening Jan. 20: ‘Unreal Realms’ and ‘Henry Darger – Author/Artist.’ ‘Unreal Realms’ looks at other artists who are similar to Darger in that they occupy what co-curator Jan Petry describes as “an alternative reality.” Co-curated by David Syrek, it goes through March 26. ‘Henry Darger: Author/Artist’ curated by Michael Bonesteel pairs Darger’s art with his writings. The exhibit ends June 4.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, bordering the Magnificent Mile and Streeterville neighborhoods, will be transformed as a multi-media venue for ‘Merce Cunningham: Common Time.’

If you saw ‘David Bowie Is’ you likely remember being amazed by his many artistic talents and by how the MCA turned the exhibit into a multi-media show. Well, the MCA is doing something similar with choreographer extraordinaire Merce Cunningham.

The exhibit showcases sets, costumes, performance backdrops, photographs, artworks and videos. It includes partnerships with such artists as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg and with collaborator John Cage. Unfortunately the show has a short run. It opens Feb. 11 and goes only through April 30.

Helio Oiticica. PN27 Rijanviera, 1979. Cesar and Claudio Oiticia Collection, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of Edouard Fraipont
Helio Oiticica. PN27 Rijanviera, 1979. Cesar and Claudio Oiticia Collection, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of Edouard Fraipont

Art Institute of Chicago, downtown, is turning its Regenstein Hall into a special visitor experience with ‘Helio Oiticia: To Organize Delirium.’

A retrospective of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticia, the exhibit examines early influences of European modernism and then transits into the bold, large, experiential installations  that are social statements. The exhibit runs Feb. 18 through May 7.

Chicago Cultural Center, downtown, is itself an art showcase for mosaics, marble and stained glass. However, the building always has art exhibits on its main floor and in upstairs galleries.

If you go this weekend you can still catch ‘Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis,’ a comprehensive (1930s-70s)  exhibit of an important abstract expressionist. In the exhibit Hall on the 4th Floor North, it ends January 8.

If you go up to the fourth floor from Jan. 21 through June 25, 2017, you can see ‘Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College.’ A fun show, the exhibit has the 32 doors painted in 1971 by Eugene Eda for the stairwells of the since demolished Malcolm X College.


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