The Politicians (some of them)

Opening: Saturday, May 4, 2024 5 – 8 pm
Saturday, May 4 – Sep 29, 2024

7933 N Lincoln Ave.
Skokie, IL 60077

Julia Schmitt Healy, Meditation on Royalty, 1974. Acrylic on canvas, 14 3/4h x 20w in.





The Politicians (some of them)

Elijah Burgher, Ryan Travis Christian, Aron Gent, Julia Schmitt Healy, Deb Sokolow, Ben Stone, Ruby T

Just in time for another bruising election season, The Politicians (some of them) at (northern) Western Exhibitions aims to take the piss out of these supposed public servants, at least some of them. Targets include political leaders of today and yesteryear, from a current presidential candidate to a radical Roman emperor, with Queen Elizabeth in between. The show will include work in a variety of media — artist books, drawing, painting, pubic hair, sculpture, video — by Elijah Burgher, Ryan Travis Christian, Aron Gent, Julia Schmitt Healy, Deb Sokolow, Ben Stone and Ruby TThe Politicians (some of them) opens with a free public reception on Saturday, May 4 from 5 to 8pm, held concurrently with an opening for a solo show by Errol Ortiz at WHO Modern, our partner space in Skokie. 

Elijah Burgher contributes two drawings from his recent series on notorious gender-bending 3rd-century Roman emperor, Elagabalus. During their brief reign, the teenage emperor, Elagabalus, shocked the senate, soldiers, and general public by replacing Jupiter at the summit of the pantheon with the Syrian solar deity, Elagabal; coercing senators to participate in rituals from the eastern provinces that they deemed exotic and uncouth; and committing the sacrilege of marrying a vestal virgin so as to bear god-like children. In “Dance of Elagabal” and its attendant sketch, “The Black Stone,” an orgy of revelers gyrates around the phallic meteorite that was the focal point of the cult of which the emperor served as high priest.

• Ryan Travis Christian, known for his sfumato-heavy graphite drawings which often place anthropomorphic figures seemingly plucked from early 20th-century animation into sordid, soft-focus milieus, presents a photograph for the first time in an exhibition: an image capturing disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich alongside a local artist and admirer.

For his artist book, “ATRUMPDUMPONADUMPTRUCK,” Aron Gent smashed inkjet prints printed on vellum of photographs of the 45th president, into every other page of a Crescent sketchbook, leaving the former television game show host a smeary mess. He'll also present framed monoprints depicting cropped close-ups of several political figures including Hilary Rodham Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Brett Kavanaugh.

• Julia Schmitt Healy presents “Meditation on Royalty” a painting from 1974 depicting Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as corgi-monsters. The painting is part of a larger body of work which includes ruminations on her oblivious husband, weather events, animals, improbable terrains, dreamscapes, power plants, bandages and figures in strange surroundings, influenced by living in Ethiopia and in Canada after graduate school, while continuing to evoke an unmistakable Chicago style. Reflecting on this period, she states “I often remember my dreams, which sometimes reflect my insecurities and are often full of objects or symbols of current events or things going on in my life.”

• Deb Sokolow will be showing two bodies of work never-before seen in Chicago. Debate Stage Water Bottles, first presented at G Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., juxtaposes architectural schematics of various campaign environments including debate stages, hotel rooms, diners, anonymous carpeted rooms and hallways alongside hand-written text which describe the humorous gaffes, shadowy strategies, and clandestine details of various unnamed U.S. presidential candidates and campaigns. The Presidents (some of them), first shown at Providence College Galleries, is a series of drawings speculating on bizarre anecdotes about former United States presidents and associates.

• Ben Stone’s custom Uncle Sam-shaped bong reappears for this show, previously seen in the legendary Drunk vs. Stoned show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, and remarked upon in a review in Artnet in 2000: “That is, all of the works (in the show) are advancements into the world, attempts at making it a better, more understandable place, but, like Ben Stone’s Uncle Sam Bong, are just too fucking weird to work.”

• “Draw Him to Death” by Ruby T, consists of 110 caricatures of South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, part of an ongoing experiment in which she draws the opportunistic misogynist over and over again from the same grimacing photo while listening to him speak. She asks, “If caricature is drawing at its most violent, can the ritualistic repetition of drawing this asshole accelerate his destruction?” Her fascination with Graham is just one in a string of obsessions with the political and corporate elite. Her artist book of the same title, reproducing all 110 drawings, will be available at the gallery.

This exhibition is presented at Chicago contemporary art gallery Western Exhibitions’ second location, (northern) Western Exhibitions, in Skokie, Illinois. (northern) Western Exhibitions shares a renovated single-floor bow truss building on Skokie’s charming downtown corridor with WHO Modern, a mid-century modern-focused vintage store. (northern) Western Exhibitions and WHO Modern are located at 7933 N Lincoln Ave, Skokie, IL 60077. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday 12-6pm, and Sunday, 12-4pm.


For interviews, images, or more information, please contact Scott Speh (312) 480-8390 //


May 4 to September 29, 2024

View the show on our website here

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Top image: Ruby T , detail: "Draw Him to Death," 2019. 110 individual drawings, ink on paper. 137 1/2h x 90w in.