BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Celebrating over 70 of its artist members, each given 42 inches to fill throughout its main floor, the Arts Club invites the public to view the magnificent multimedia exhibition up through February 24.
One of its artists, Doug Fogelson, compared it to a tasting:
“It is a reminder of the quality and dedication of our local artists. There aren’t a lot of spaces with a mandate to celebrate local artists. I have been really impressed by the Arts Club choices and their ability to incorporate strong regional talent alongside all the other amazing shows, presentations, and events they feature. The quality of the member’s exhibition serves as a reminder that art is still going strong in Chicago on a level that can compare to anywhere else around the globe.
“These exhibitions inspire a range of artist members, supporters, and other friends to come out of the woodwork. Its exponential when you have a large group show of locally based artists. There was a feeling of consensus that the overall quality of the art was high, and despite to wide range of subject, style, and medium, as can be expected, it filled the space very nicely. There was a sense of rhythm and balance.”
Doug’s entry was a photogram—an image made with light but without using a camera—created through the use of shadow and an object, in this case a vinyl record from the ‘50s and ‘60s. A very primary form of early photography used by May Ray’s “Rayographs,” it is currently enjoying a renewed interest despite the dominance of digital.
“I recently exhibited at the Goethe Institute, and another from this series is also on view at the Bauhaus Archive Museum in Berlin. The series was the last project made in the original darkroom of the New Bauhaus when it was located in the basement of Crown Hall at IIT. I was down there exposing the forms and records on the old equipment thinking of all the students and teachers who had worked in that space, listening for ghosts while multiplying exposures. As Mies van der Rohe designed both Crown Hall and also the stairway for the Arts Club, I was reminded of the interwoven histories of the club and the New Bauhaus School.”
Arts Club Executive Director Janine Mileaf points out that many young artists are part of the show, including two Arts Club fellows, Jessica Sladek, who was proposed by the acclaimed photographer Dawoud Bey, and Brit Barton, proposed by installation artist Jessica Stockholder. Brit’s HD video, which includes the sound of tapping, was complemented by three people in tap shoes who roamed the Arts Club opening night.
Ever since its founding 101 years ago, the Arts Club has featured works by artist members. Other exhibitors this year include David Travis, Helen Mills, Brooke Hummer, Lincoln Schatz, Maria Pinto, Eric Steele, James Mesple, and Suzette Bulley.
Alice Hargrave’s entry calls out to viewers not only for its beauty but also because it is an actual call of the whooping crane:
“I have made ‘portraits,’ abstract images on silk, of the 15 most threatened birds of North America. They are constructed using Spectrograph images that depict the sound waves of actual bird calls. Marks, reminiscent of hieroglyphics, trace sounds, which are last calls in the wild. A parabolic speaker hangs overhead and plays a loop of several calls recorded in the 1950s when the whooping crane was almost extinct.”
“I became interested in bird calls upon learning of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which houses a collection of these archival recording which are the very last calls of an entire species. This incredible sense of loss and the poignancy of a library containing this residue of biodiversity past is exquisitely moving to me.”
Keven Wilder’s entry, “Cut Outs,” is part of a recent series experimenting with the effects of transparent zinc white oil paint versus opaque titanium white and reflects her desire to look at Matisse’s collages in a different way. She is currently studying abstraction at the Evanston Art Center and has another work on display at a show there.
“I have been a member for about five years and have participated in the show when possible. Prior to becoming a member, I attended these member exhibitions, and it became part of my motivation to join. I did notice an uptick in the number of photography-based works by members, many of whom are well-known working artists and cultural producers.
“I came away with a reminder that fine art comes in all shapes and sizes, despite a necessary size limitation for submission to the call. This group show invites viewers to look deeper into artists that they may have become interested in via a singular piece on the wall or pedestal.”
The Arts Club Member Show runs through February 24 at 201 East Ontario, Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 am to 6 pm, and Saturdays, 11 am to 3 pm, and is open to the public.