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Chicago Cultural Center Visual Arts Exhibitions and Events

It could be argued that the Chicago Cultural Center — with its large number of art galleries, strong curatorial sensibilities, and extensive programming — is a stand-in for a local art museum. To illustrate that point, we are posting the Cultural Center’s Schedule for late summer and early fall.

Brad Temkin, Vanishing, 2009.

Brad Temkin: Green Roofs and Rooftop Gardens
Through September 6, 2010
City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower

Rooftop gardens play an integral role in the wellbeing of our urban environment. They insulate and protect the buildings as they replenish our atmosphere and lessen our carbon footprints – all while beautifying our surrounding landscape and living space. Chicago photographer Brad Temkin, who has documented the human impact on the contemporary landscape, now focuses his camera on the fascinating, yet simple, rooftop spaces that bring such positive impact to urban life. The photos reveal the function and the sanctuary of Chicago’s green spaces, including the rooftops of City Hall and the Chicago Cultural Center, spaces not usually open to the public.

Grant Ramsey, Father and Daughter, 2004.

Nicaragua: Photographs by Grant Ramsey
Through September 26, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries

In a portrait of daily life in contemporary Nicaragua, Grant Ramsey tells the story of a country rich in traditions, passion, and humor, but also struggling to survive in the wake of decades of war, persistent economic crisis, and underdevelopment. The photographs challenge the purity of “labor” versus “leisure,” evincing the richness and dignity woven into the fabric of work. What appears as mundane chores – putting bread in an oven, washing laundry by hand – pulse with an inner rhythm and beauty. Conversely, images ostensibly of play are, at times, reminiscent of violence and sadness.
Thursday, August 19, 12:15 pm: Gallery Talk with artist Grant Ramsey

Chen Wenling, Valiant Struggle No. 11

A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China
Through October 3, 2010
Millennium Park, Boeing Galleries

Contemporary Chinese sculpture has something to say. In recent years, art from China has become one of the fastest growing and most dynamic trends of the international art scene. These four large sculptures, never before seen in the United States, bring the global conversation into one of Chicago’s most popular public spaces, Millennium Park. Coming from different regions and educational backgrounds, these four artists – Sui Jianguo, Zhan Wang, Chen Wengling, and Shen Shaomin – use different materials and visual styles, but show commonalities as well. All are inspired by traditional Chinese art, commercial culture, folk art, and industrial machinery as they explore ways to react to public space. Contemporary Sculptures from China is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Millennium Park, in cooperation with Millennium Park Inc., and is sponsored by The Boeing Company with support from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Thursdays, Through August 26, 12:15pm: Gallery Talks with Millennium Park staff

Louis Sullivan’s Idea
Through November 28, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Rooms

Louis Henry Sullivan was one of Chicago’s most famous but misunderstood architects. Chicago artist Chris Ware and cultural historian Tim Samuelson present an installation of photographs, drawings, documents, and artifacts which will portray his life, writings, and architectural works in the context of his time and original creative intent.

Jackie Kazarian, Surrender, 2008.

Expect Nothing: New Works by Jackie Kazarian
Through October 3, 2010
Chicago Cultural Centers, Michigan Avenue Galleries

Chicago artist Jackie Kazarian’s visually challenging and kinetic images often refer to the conditions of transformation. In this exhibition of new paintings and works on paper, self-doubt and disorientation play out in restless landscapes that offer only temporary resolutions. Teetering between abstraction and figuration, the works use a painting process that includes drawing, squeegeeing, stamping, and screen-printing. Personal notes and doodles are integrated with references to art historic painting and nostalgic views of Chicago’s landscape and architecture.
Thursday, August 5, 12:15 pm: Gallery Talk with artist Jackie Kazarian
Wednesday, August 18, 12:15 pm: Awareness Practice and Talk with Jackie Kazarian and Ginger Farley

Jason Peot, Compromised, 2008.

Coterminous: An Installation by Jason Peot
Through October 3, 2010
Chicago Cultural Centers, Michigan Avenue Galleries

Jason Peot deploys light and shadows along with the wood and metal in his sculptures to materialize geographic and demographic data. His works contemplate the immediate space they occupy as well as the broader place to which they refer. For this new site-specific installation, a suspended composition of aluminum and wood is derived from a map of the 25 most populated U.S. cities. The light shining through the structure casts a complex map of shadows.
Thursday, September 23, 12:15 pm: Gallery Talk with artist Jason Peot

Blake Lenoir, Serengiti Of The Midwest, 2010.

Blake Lenoir: Backyard Eden
July 16 – September 8, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Project Onward Gallery

In addition to being a successful artist, Blake Lenoir is an avid gardener and environmental activist. As an artist with autism, Blake has channeled his encyclopedic knowledge of plants and his obsessive attention to detail into intricate drawings full of scientific observation of, and deep affection for, the natural world. Backyard Eden features drawings inspired by Blake’s own garden and the ecosystem of his native Calumet region.

The Jazz Loft Project: W. Eugene Smith in NYC, 1957-1965
July 17 – September 19, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Sidney R. Yates Gallery

In the late 1950s, famous photo-documentarian W. Eugene Smith lived and worked in a NYC loft building with an amazing list of inhabitants – famous jazz musicians, filmmakers, writers, and artists. In photographs and audio recordings, he documented an era along with rare views of people such as Thelonious Monk, Zoot Simms, Norman Mailer, Diane Arbus, and Salvador Dali, presented here in photographs, work prints, videos, and audio. The exhibition is organized by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Sunday, August 8, 1 pm, Claudia Cassidy Theater: In My Mind Film Screening
Thursday, August 26, 12:15 pm: Gallery Talk with Sam Stephenson, Jazz Loft Project director and exhibition curator
Friday, September 3, 6:30 pm, Claudia Cassidy Theater: In My Mind Film Screening

Howard Finster, Caught in the Devil's Vice, 1988.

Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster
July 24 – September 26, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall

An evangelistic preacher in paint and self-proclaimed “Man of Visions,” Reverend Howard Finster became one of the most widely known and prolific self-taught artists, producing over 46,000 pieces of art by his death in 2001. A wide range of objects, paintings, and documentation provide an in-depth survey of Finster’s career, covering the variety of themes of his work, much of it relating to his visionary experiences, including: Visions of Other Worlds, Sermons in Paint, Historical and Cultural Heroes, and his renowned installation environment at The Plant Farm Museum [Paradise Garden]. This exhibition was organized by the Krannert Art Museum of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and curated by Glen C. Davies.
Thursday, August 12, 12:15 pm: Gallery Talk with Michael Bonesteel, author and art historian
Monday, August 30, 6 pm: Howard Finster Film Screening and Panel Discussion
Thursday, September 2, 12:15 pm, 1st Floor Garland Room: Slide Lecture with Lisa Stone, Director of the Roger Brown Study Center

Andrew Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 2010.

Andrew Hall: The Last Detail
September 10 – October 20, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Project Onward Gallery

From an early age, Project Onward’s Andrew Hall has been inspired by architecture, infatuated with trains, and obsessed with drawing. Featuring the tiny, meticulously detailed ink drawings for which he is well known, as well as new directions in portraiture and intaglio printmaking, The Last Detail is the artist’s first solo exhibition.

Fashioning Desire
September 16, 2010 – January 10, 2011
City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower

Chicago’s lively and diverse fashion photography scene is celebrated in this exhibition of photographs and mood boards from several of city’s emerging and established photographers. The variety of styles and innovation are revealed in four themed sections: color, texture, motion, and location.

Sandro Miller, Girl With Bicycle, 2007.

Imagine Cuba: Photographs by Sandro Miller
October 2 – December 26, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries

For over thirty years, internationally acclaimed photographer Sandro Miller has found a unique connection with the people he photographs. Between 1999 and 2007, Miller traveled to Cuba and shot one of his last series on film before transitioning to digital photography. The photographic essay presents the Cuban people in a unique light, ranging from unposed, candid images of people going about their everyday lives to portraits of Cuba’s professional athletes and ballet dancers. In addition, this exhibition includes a previously unexhibited series of Miller’s black-and-white portraits of elderly Cubans taken in 2009. The subjects’ personal histories are contained in their deeply lined faces as they regard the camera with gazes alternately frank, humorous, defiant, or enigmatic, but always dignified.
Friday, October 8, 5:30-7:30 pm: Opening Reception

Jeff Zimmermann painting a mural.

Jeff Zimmermann: The God Particle
October 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries

A native of Chicago, Jeff Zimmermann has achieved national and international recognition for his large scale murals featuring painted images of contemporary pop culture and sensitively rendered portraits. Zimmermann familiarizes himself with the communities he visits and incorporates into his murals what he calls real people – a diversity of community members living and working in the area and faces not necessarily known from media, history, or politics. Throughout the month of October, Chicago Artists’ Month, Zimmermann will be publicly painting a new mural in the Michigan Avenue Galleries of the Chicago Cultural Center.
Friday, October 8, 5:30-7:30 pm: Reception for the work in progress
Friday, November 5, 5:30-7:30 pm: Opening Reception

Yoan Capote, Mente Abierte/Open Mind, 2006-2008.

Polaridad Complimentaria: Recent Works from Cuba
October 16, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall

This traveling exhibition developed by the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wilfredo Lam in Havana presents the rare opportunity to become acquainted with Cuba’s current and upcoming artistic talent. The painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and installation art provide a sense of the serious aesthetic and conceptual concerns that characterize Cuban art today. Representing a cross section of the island’s contemporary art scene, most of the 24 artists presented are young talents who have attained international recognition through recent international art fairs, biennials, and exhibitions.
Friday, October 15, 5:30-7:30pm: Opening Reception

Chuckie Johnson, Madonnaress, 2008.

Artistically Yours, “Chuckie” Johnson
October 22 – December 1, 2010
Chicago Cultural Center, Project Onward Gallery

“Chuckie” Johnson has been making what he calls Folk Art for decades: drawings and paintings of solitary figures lost in thought while walking through imaginary landscapes. Johnson’s drawings on paper, rendered lightly in pencil and tinted with a thin wash of color, evoke the loneliness and reverie of ghosts. His paintings in acrylic on canvas, by contrast, are close-up portraits rendered in bold colors. All of his work reflects an interest in idealized beauty and the appreciation of life’s little moments. In addition to being a prolific artist, Johnson has been a songwriter, a swimmer, and a jack of all trades.