May-August 2015 Publisher’s Letter: A Creative Thaw’s Promise of New Life


In our winter issue I wrote about giving up on the impulse to be overly enthusiastic about a quiet time of year: sub zero temperatures and a permanent frozen feeling should make us take advantage of the time to wind down and refresh in advance of spring. 

Well, I’m ready for the thaw. In fact, I’d welcome a heat wave on all fronts about now. When the most exciting things we’ve had to talk about are runoff elections, interest rates and how garish the new Wrigley Field scoreboard is, we need cultural and social inspiration so that we have interesting things to talk about again. Many dealers and artists understandably lament the lull in visits during January, February and March. Beyond the art world most of us are also eager for a quicker pace. 

The arts calendar in Chicago has been shifting more heavily towards the fall during the past couple of years. I think as a result, many artists, dealers and institutions have had to summon greater creativity to compete with the season’s other offerings. This summer I’m particularly looking forward to multiple creative exhibitions, including several new collaborations. Douglas Dawson Gallery and Rhona Hoffman are teaming up for Keeping Secrets: Fetish in African Art, with art and artifacts from Dawson’s Gallery on view in Hoffman’s space. Dawson is also part of a triple showing of works from the collection of mega collector Ruth Horwich, who passed away in 2014. Together with Carl Hammer Gallery and Russell Bowman the three dealers will show various parts of Horwich’s collection in new ways. The Zhou B Art Center is also working across town with the Ed Paschke Art Center to do an arts exchange between artists at both centers. All this shared brainstorming and teamwork will deliver new ways of seeing art in a season of vibrancy. 

Summer group shows are opening around the city, while weekend art events pepper various suburban art centers and nearby Midwestern cities. Annual art festivals and fund raisers get the uninitiated out into the neighborhoods to meet artists as well as neighbors. Mainstays like the Randolph Street Market are refreshed when vendors set up outdoors. The return of the 57th Street Art Fair and the Old Town Art Fair means that another year has passed. 

With all there is to do, collecting and living with art is of course on our minds. Kevin Nance talked to Ellen and Richard Sandor about how they came to be some of the most obsessive and knowledgeable photography collectors in the world. Franck Mercurio spoke with two young couples about how they manage to live a 20 or 30-something life while also making art a part of their environment. R.S. Johnson is still striving to both collect and sell important work after six decades in the business. Within these interviews, as well as an auction feature by Mia DiMeo, is the message that there are many inspirations and resources for collecting and sharing art, no matter the reason or season. 

Spring’s thrilling promise of new life can be frustratingly touch and go, but relishing a Midwest summer’s full bloom sets us up for the fall marathon while giving us so much to enjoy.