What do the Chicago Blues, afrofuturism and a reconstructed Keith Haring mural have in common?
They’re all reasons to shake off your wintry lassitude and explore the city.
Because with a new season comes a mob of exciting new ways to acquaint yourself with Chicago’s bustling art scene.
Don’t know where to start? Try this curated list of the month’s seven must-see exhibits.
Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural
If you seriously haven’t caught any art since the calendar year turned over, it’s first worth catching up on the Chicago Cultural Center’s excellent Keith Haring show, which features an original 36-panel mural, created in 1989 with the assistance of 500 Chicago Public School students in Grant Park. The show also includes photographs, correspondence, designs, plans, t-shirt drawings and much more from his stay in Chicago.
Keith Haring: The Chicago Muraul at the Chicago Cultural Center is on view now until September 23
Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21
Out of Easy Reach
In the name of disputing conventional art history, Out of Easy Reach is a cross-institutional effort that brings together the DePaul Art Museum, Gallery 400 at UIC and the Rebuild Foundation to focus on the work of 24 overlooked female artists of color. The exhibit will open consecutively across the three venues, with each museum showcasing artworks through different thematic lenses, offering a progressive experience that in itself challenges the museum-going experience as a whole.
Out of Easy Reach opens at the Depaul Art Museum (April 26), Gallery 400 at UIC (April 27) and the Stony Island Arts Bank (April 28), and goes until August 5
Alun Be, Potentiality
In Their Own Form
This just-opened show at the Museum of Contemporary Photography explores ways “blackness might hope to exist without the imposition of oppression, racism and stereotypes” mediated through Afrofuturist themes, which, if you saw Black Panther, is a field of cultural study you actually know more about than you think. Through 13 artists and 33 photographic and video works, the show brings context to speculative futurism and the black experience.
In Their Own Form at the Museum of Contemporary Photography is on view now until July 8
By exploring fifty years of print advertising targeted towards African-Americans from 1968 to 2008, and the same for print advertising targeted at white women, “Unbranded” explores the questions raised by Hank Willis Thomas, an artist who’s spent the last 15 years tackling consumer culture as it pertains to race, gender and class.
Unbranded at the Block Museum of Art opens April 14 and goes until August 5.
Amplified: Chicago Blues
Not to be outdone by the National Blues Museum in St. Louis but also sort of outdone, the Chicago History Museum’s new Chicago Blues exhibit borrows heavily from the National Blues Museum’s interactive programming, offering all manner of immersive features like the ability to design your own album cover and playing guitar. But the real focus here is a collection from famed Blues photographer Raeburn Flerlage that gives visitors’ a glimpse into Chicago’s forgotten nightclubs and into the homes of the scene’s best musicians.
Picture of Fiction: Kenneth Josephson and Contemporary Photography
Before Instagram changed the way we thought about photography, there was Chicagoan Kenneth Josephson, who broke ground with concepts of photographic illusion through tricks like multiple exposures, collage and construction. The show, largely culled from the MCA’s permanent collection, will undoubtedly be inspiration for young shutterbugs and image-makers of today.
Picture of Fiction: Kenneth Josephson and Contemporary Photography at the Museum of Contemporary Art opens April 28 and goes until December 30
Up-and-coming Chicago artist and newly minted New Yorker cartoonist Jessica Campbell puts on her first solo show at Western Exhibitions, presenting a series of “carpet paintings” that tackle society’s obsession with smartphones. As an artist to keep tabs on, the gallery will also host a book release/book signing party for Campbell’s new graphic novel, XTC69 (pre-order it on Amazon here).
who dis at Western Exhibitions opens April 13 and goes until May 26.