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Chicago through the eyes of three art experts: 20 clues so you don't miss anything

2024-02-26T05:15:43.827Z

Highlights: Chicago through the eyes of three art experts: 20 clues so you don't miss anything. Claudia Segura, Theaster Gates and Benedicta Badía share their artistic route through the American city. From its most avant-garde art galleries and galleries to a hotel-museum, the Scandinavian-inspired neighborhood of Andersonville Swedish or a bank rehabilitated as a library. The Traveler has consulted three experts from the art world about their artistic recommendations for discover beyond its great artistic institution, the Chicago Art Institute.


Claudia Segura, Theaster Gates and Benedicta Badía share their artistic route through the American city: from its most avant-garde art galleries and galleries to a hotel-museum, the Scandinavian-inspired neighborhood of Andersonville Swedish or a bank rehabilitated as a library


“It is useless for the casual visitor to try to keep up with Chicago: the city outgrows its prophecies faster than it can fulfill them.

It is always a novelty;

“Chicago is never the city you saw when you were there last,” Mark Twain wrote in 1883. Without attempting to deny the father of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,

The Traveler

has consulted three experts from the art world about their artistic recommendations for discover beyond its great artistic institution, the Chicago Art Institute.

Benedicta Badía, advisor to museums such as the Guggenheim in New York;

Theaster Gates, number 18 in the

annual

Power 100

ranking

of the list of the world's most influential personalities in contemporary art

,

and Claudia Segura, curator of exhibitions and collection at the MACBA in Barcelona, ​​accompany us on the tour.

Segura had carte blanche to curate the

In situ

section in his first recommendation: Expo Chicago, the annual contemporary art fair that from April 11 to 14, 2024 will once again occupy the Navy Pier, a pier located on the shore of the lake Michigan whose interior was filled with fascinating large-scale sculptures, videos and works conceived expressly for the venue.

“It is a sustainable fair, where you buy and sell.

However, they have launched a curator exchange program and a museum direct meeting, so it is very focused on thought,” he says about the event that this year was acquired by Frieze, the global giant of art fairs. contemporary art.

“The city is super vibrant, with an artistic scene with a lot of potential and focused on Latin things.

In fact, it is one of the few cities in the United States where the exhibition vinyls are often written in Spanish.

Based on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van der Rohe, and around a lake that is almost an ocean, the city is home to fascinating museums, some of them owned by universities,” she describes it.

More information

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Among them, Segura cites DePaul Art Museum, a museum linked to DePaul University, with a permanent collection of more than 3,500 pieces of modern and contemporary art, many by Chicago artists but also from the African and Latin American diaspora or from underrepresented groups in art galleries, like women or the LGTBI community.

“With a relatively small team they are able to launch very powerful exhibitions, which nourish the relationship between curators and academics,” says Segura.

Inauguration of the Expo Chicago fair.

The curator highlights the presence of galleries that represent black figurative artists, present for example in the West Town neighborhood in the room of the Franco-Somali Mariane Ibrahim, gallerist of artists such as Ferrari Sheppard, Zohra Opoku or Lina Iris Viktor, to whom Ibrahim represented when she sued rapper Kendrick Lamar for plagiarism for the soundtrack of the film

Black Panther

.

“There is also a lot of interest in the Latin American diaspora at the MCA, a contemporary museum based on Chicago artists, but directed by a Latin American woman and with a curator, Carla Acevedo, who have reinforced that link.”

The museum's collection, which has hosted exhibitions by Frida Kahlo and Jeff Koons, includes names such as Cindy Sherman or Jasper Johns.

One of the exhibitions at the MCA of Chicago. Antonio Perez (Getty Images)

Two of Segura's proposals will give the traveler a certain feeling of exclusivity and privilege.

The first is The Arts Club, a private club founded in 1916 that exhibits international contemporary art with proven good judgment: it was the place that hosted the first Pablo Picasso exhibition in the United States, in 1951. Unfortunately, it does not preserve from that time the old interior space designed by Mies van der Rohe, of which only the central staircase remains in its current location.

Nearby is your next recommendation: 21c Museum Hotel, a 24-hour accommodation in the city center for those who want to discover the private collection of Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, a couple of collectors who invite guests and visitors to Enjoy the works of 21st century artists.

“From the

lobby

to the hallways of the hotel, everything is filled with pieces from his collection.

It is a very different approach to how art is consumed and distributed than the usual one,” says Segura about this accommodation, which has locations in 10 other cities in the United States, from Nashville to Kansas City.

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A post shared by 21c Museum Hotel Chicago (@21chotelchicago)

Strongly linked to music, Chicago also reserves surprises like Corbett vs.

Dempsey, a gallery that since it opened in 2004 represents many of the artists who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago school, such as Karl Wirsum or Omar Velásquez.

“The space is incredible and its owners are a brutal source of knowledge.

But, above all, anyone who visits cannot miss its spectacular library dedicated to jazz.”

Segura also recommends visiting Document from there, “a small and honest gallery,” which has another headquarters in Lisbon.

But the city also has a fascinating

underground

scene .

There is, for example, the Floating Museum, another of Segura's recommendations that, like the curator in her own exhibitions, rewards non-hegemonic discourses.

“It is a hangar in which social practice and the civil community mix,” she explains about this group capable of setting up an exhibition on a river or inside subway cars.

Speaking of rivers, another must-do for any art lover is undoubtedly exploring local architecture aboard the only Chicago River cruise associated with the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC).

Chicago's First

Lady Cruises

offers a 90-minute tour led by volunteer guides who break down the city's architecture and the legendary architects who designed it.

Another must-do for any art lover is to explore local architecture aboard the only Chicago River cruise associated with the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC): the 'First Lady Cruises'.Beata Zawrzel (NurPhoto / Getty

A Scandinavian neighborhood

The recommendations of the Argentine Benedicta Badía, one of the most important collectors in the world, are linked to her critical way of approaching avant-garde art.

Her approach seeks to challenge the

status quo

of the artistic community, against non-Western stereotypes and dominant narratives.

Along these lines she works at LVL3 Gallery, a space founded and run by artists.

“They are the ones who really know about art,” she says of this space that “encourages community, collaborations between sectors that would not otherwise meet, and international artists from communities not represented in the art market circuit.” .

If she is interested in learning about the work of emerging and mid-career artists, this is her place.

The proposals of artists who avoided traditional paths also have their space in Intuit, an independent museum founded in 1991, designed for artists “who faced marginalization and overcame personal obstacles to create their work.”

Last fall it embarked on a profound transformation of its 150-year-old historic building to reopen in summer 2024.

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A post shared by Intuit Art Center (@intuitartcenter)

From there, a long walk towards Lake Michigan leads to the doors of Wrightwood 659, a building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, ​​who filled a 1920s building with natural light and concrete.

It is a space designed for exhibitions of socially committed architecture and art, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

“It is a unique place for reflection on art as a political and social practice.

His commitment to the narratives of international artists is priceless.

While large institutions show international art, Wrightwwod 659 has the agility of an independent center that brings a fresh and revolutionary look to Chicago,” Badía describes it.

His next recommendation is The Renaissance Society, an independent contemporary art museum founded in 1915, dedicated to the commissioning and production of new works by international artists.

Here you can also enjoy free concerts, readings and conferences.

“The Ren, as they call it, is a place that one cannot miss.

It belongs to the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.

Its programming questions what is established with the help of pedagogical narratives that challenge the hegemonic,” he explains.

Finally, he also recommends taking a walk through the Andersonville Swedish neighborhood.

“If you look at the map of how Chicago was formed, you'll see that Andersonville was where the Swedes settled.

Entering this area is getting into the Scandinavian spirit.

There you can find everything from one of the best feminist bookstores to shops specializing in antique furniture, delicious artisan bakeries and a small community museum.

The homemade, the artisanal, the design and the civil community are present in these streets,” says Badía, who during Expo Chicago offers in his

art deco

penthouse , in the center of the city, the party to which the entire art world wants to go

The Andersonville neighborhood Swedish.D Guest Smith (Alamy)

A walk through African American Chicago

“No one built nice buildings for black people in this neighborhood.

"Why would white people build in black neighborhoods if they weren't promised something in return?" asks Theaster Gates, an artist born in East Garfield Park, west of the city, specialized in social art and professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.

A true priest of art if we look at the magazine

ArtReview

, which in its latest count of the 100 most influential people in the artistic world places him in 18th position.

We asked Gates to accompany us on a tour of the neighborhoods where this artistic agitator, founder and director of the Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2010 that promotes artistic and cultural projects in abandoned spaces in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, has acted. and of limited resources.

He has also promoted a project that has recovered two abandoned apartments to make them available to LGTBI minors expelled from their homes.

The route through his projects includes a visit to the Stony Island Arts Bank, the branch of a bank built in 1923 and abandoned in 1979 that Gates rushed to acquire in 2012 to make John's book collection available to local residents. H. Johnson, founder and editor of

Ebony

(1945) and

Jet

(1951) magazines

.

The personal library of Johnson, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400 list, in 1982, is now accessible to anyone who approaches this former bank.

There is also the record collection of Frankie Knuckles, father of house

music

, along with pieces from the collection of the University and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Stony Island Arts Bank, the branch of a bank built in 1923 and abandoned in 1979 that now houses the book collection of John H. Johnson, founder and editor of 'Ebony' (1945) and 'Jet' (1951) magazines.

Jeff Schear (Getty Images)

The Rebuild Foundation is also behind the following three traveling tracks: The Listening House, The Archive House and The Black Cinema House.

The latter is a screening room located in an abandoned building south of the city, in the Chicago South Side Dorchester, and since 2012 it has been screening films made or starring the African diaspora.

A visit to The Archive House, another of the buildings recovered by the foundation, allows you to delve into the impressive archive of 14,000 architectural books from a specialized bookstore that has now disappeared, while The Listening House preserves the 8,000 records that were left in the shelves of the record store Dr. Wax Records.

“I started rebuilding simply because I didn't have enough money to build what I wanted.

Now there are those who fear that our intervention will end up gentrifying these areas, but these neighborhoods, today, remain abandoned and residents can still buy a house here.

Our goal is to create an artistic community open to everyone in these neighborhoods,” says this Chicagoan about the city that any art lover should visit at least once in their life.

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Source: elparis

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