System and Dialectics of Art

Monday, Mar 4 – Jun 14, 2024

1000 W. North Ave
3rd Fl.
Chicago, IL 60642

Madron Gallery is pleased to announce our 2024 spring exhibition: System and Dialectics of Art. Opening March 4, 2024, and running through June 14, 2024, an artist reception will be held on Thursday, April 4, 2024, from 5:30–8:30 PM at Madron Gallery, which is open to the public. System and Dialectics of Art features work by fifteen contemporary artists all at various stages of their careers and lives, tackling a wide range of themes with different techniques and materials. The exhibition is inspired by a small, often-forgotten piece of art history: John D. Graham’s 1937 book System and Dialectics of Art. Written by an artist, for artists, System and Dialectics of Art is composed of 129 questions and answers surrounding the theory and practice of creating art. Madron has taken fifteen of these questions and paired each to an artist whose exhibited work provides one possible answer. There is no need for an artist statement. Every piece and paired question are in dialogue. Tune in to their conversations; come to your own conclusions.

Andrew Arkell is a Chicago-based architect and artist. Arkell received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arkansas. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Watercolor Society. His watercolor paintings have been exhibited in galleries in Chicago, IL; New York, NY; San Pedro, CA; and Cincinnati, OH; as well as several art festivals.

Zach Balousek is a Chicago-based artist and a musician with a focus on creating interactive and musical sculptures. Balousek earned his BFA in ceramics and a minor in art history from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. He was a resident artist of Terra Incognito in Oak Park, IL, where he also served as resident coordinator and later taught adult classes. He has exhibited throughout the Midwest and has been the recipient of several juried awards.

Michael Banning is a Minneapolis-based artist and educator. He received his BFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Banning’s oil paintings and drawings of contemporary American urban, industrial, and domestic landscapes have been shown in solo exhibitions in Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; and New York, NY. Banning’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the Rockford Art Museum, the Kohler Arts Center, the South Bend Regional Museum of Art, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and Manifest Creative Research Gallery in Cincinnati, OH, among others.

Shel Howard Beugen is a Chicago-based artist. A graduate of the University of Minnesota (B.A., M.A.), Beugen also did post-graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His early work developed as an extension of his training as a floral designer, and he continues to explore visual and physical relationships through his paintings and constructions. His work has been exhibited at Muskegon Museum of Art, Chicago Cultural Center, Southern Ohio Museum, Lewis University, Evanston Art Center, Bridgeport Art Center, Beverly Art Center, and the North Shore Art League. His art is included in private collections in California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Illinois. He is a member of the Chicago Society of Artists, the Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists, and the North Shore Art League.

Jess Beyler is an artist based in Urbana, Illinois. Beyler studied art at Schiller International University in Strasbourg, France, earned a BFA in painting at the Maine College of Art & Design, and did her graduate work at the University of Iowa where she received both an M.A. and an MFA in painting and drawing. Because her studio practice is as physical as it is visual, she also studied with the Ram Island Dance Company of Portland, ME, and earned a second degree black belt from the Japan Karate Association in Chicago. Both disciplines inform her work. Beyler has exhibited in galleries across the country, including in Chicago, IL; New York; Portland, ME; Denver, CO; the Kansas City area; and Champaign-Urbana, IL. 

Margie Criner is a Chicago-based artist and owner of Itty Bitty Mini Mart. Criner earned a B.S. in Textile Design from Michigan State University, East Lansing, and studied woodworking and furniture design with the Bauhaus Apprenticeship Institute, Forest Park, IL, and the Chicago School of Woodworking, Chicago, IL. Criner’s sculptures with miniature interiors have been exhibited in exhibitions in galleries and museums across the country. 

Matthew Cortez is a Chicago-based artist, curator, poet, philosopher, and student of art history. Cortez is currently studying art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and is the current Installation Director at SAIC’s SITE Galleries. Cortez has exhibited work at SAIC Galleries, Northwestern University, and Indiana University Northwest. In his role at SITE Galleries, he has curated three exhibitions on SAIC’s campus in downtown Chicago.

Kara Cobb Johnson is a Chicago-based artist, curator, and educator making conceptual pieces with a focus on creating harmony within a picture plane, installation space, or sculpture. Johnson received a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University and studied at the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. In July 2023, Johnson was awarded a Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Individual Artist Grant to create and curate new work for 2024. 

Matt Kuhlman is an artist, writer, and journalist originally from Lawrence, KS, now based in Milwaukee, WI.  Kuhlman received a BFA and a M.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, as well as an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His interdisciplinary practice ranges from working in pencil and paper to creating fully immersive environments. His work has appeared in many exhibitions throughout the United States, and he hosted and produced the Studio Sessions podcast series for Big Red & Shiny from 2012 to 2014.

Ruben Lima is a self-taught, color-blind artist based in Chicago, IL. His studio practice of painting pulls inspiration from abstract expressionism and his life experiences. His work has been exhibited in Chicago and appears in several private collections.

MISU is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist. They operate in the belief that memory, as an active and vegetate liminal space, serves as an anchorage to reclaiming identity. They utilize self-portraiture and abstraction to document their limitless states of Self, identity, and the transformative experiences within their body, spanning from Black grrrlhood to the present. They explore emotionality through color, familiar motifs and the tactile nature of creating marks as new definitions of consciousness and materiality emerge in their work.  MISU received a B.A. in studio art at Chicago State University and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago's Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Summer Academy. MISU has exhibited at several galleries in cities such as Chicago, IL; Oshkosh, WI; and Acme, MI; as well as receiving numerous honorable mentions for their photography work.

Alison Mosher is a Chicago artist and current BFA student at Philadelphia’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, majoring in painting and drawing with a minor in art history. Her main interest is in oil painting, but she also works with cyanotype, beading, and fibers, often exploring how the different mediums can be combined. She draws a lot of inspiration from childhood photographs and the human figure to explore memory.

Kristen Phipps was born and raised in Wichita, KS, and lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received an MFA in painting from The Ohio State University, a BFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and an A.A. from Cowley County Community College. Phipps has participated in several residencies and exhibited her work in several states and cities including Kansas, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, IL.

Joseph Royer is a Chicago-area multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and cultural worker who draws upon insights from topics such as signs and communication systems, art history, and cultural hybridity to create contemplative works which suggest identities, potentiality, and the socio-cultural realm. He earned his BFA in Studio Art from the Pennsylvania State University and his MFA in Painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, IN; Gallery Northwest, Indiana University Northwest, IN, Barat College, Lake Forest, IL; ARC Gallery, Chicago; DragonFly Gallery, Chicago; Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago and Gallery Victor Armendariz, Chicago among other venues. The artist is currently in collaboration with the Friends of the Children Organization Chicago as teaching artist and also as board member for Dragonfly Gallery and Creative Spaces NFP in Chicago. 

Bruce Thorn is a Chicago-based artist and critic. Thorn earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from the University of Illinois Chicago. Thorn works primarily with oil paint, which offers the accuracy, transparency, and color luminescence that are so important to him. In 2016 he took up an active interest in writing essays and reviews about art, which have been published in Neoteric Art and the New Art Examiner from 2016-2019. Thorn is a 1994 recipient of a Pollock-Krasner award. His work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the Roger Brown Study Collection, and the Flaten Art Museum in Northfield, MN.

Madron is home to Madron Gallery, Madron Press, and the Skolnik family’s private art collection. The Skolnik family, the founders of Madron, is committed to supporting Chicago artists, celebrating Jewish heritage, and acting as stewards of the legacy of American art. Through scholarship-informed programming and the en suite exhibition of artwork available for purchase alongside pieces from the private collection, Madron has carved out a unique place in Chicago’s artistic landscape, sparking dialogue about the ongoing significance of nineteenth and twentieth-century art in today’s world and fostering a dynamic community for Chicago’s culture-makers, shapers, and appreciators.