Fall Preview – Part I: First September Openings


Summer has somehow come and gone, and the energy of a new vibrant season is upon us. This coming weekend opens the start of the fall art season throughout the city, and these new shows are just the beginning. 

A host of openings, clustered on the evening of Friday, September 7, mark the traditional start of the season, which happens largely in the city's first commercial artistic center in River North. There are dozens of new exhibitions opening, and many represent the highlight of the gallery's programming for the entire year. Gallery district lines and identities have evolved over the decades, since the heydey of the 1980s, but new life in today's River North comes in the form of an art and design collaboration between the nearly two dozen galleries still based near Superior and Franklin streets today and the dozens of design showrooms that have come to also call River North home, following a migration from the Merchandise Mart. The result of that collaboration is the 4th Annual River North Gallery Walk and Designer Windows, which covers a lot of creative ground in one weekend, with gallery artists matched with designers and showrooms, as well as individual galleries opening their latest exhibitions. There are several special events to attend as well, including a Friday kickoff event with Jesse Chicago | Home Element, featuring a live art creation by Linc Thelen, and an after party at the Golden Triangle. Saturday, September 8 is also a new family day in the district. Complete details and a list of participants may be found here

After a very busy couple of weeks, we of course cannot wait for EXPO CHICAGO which opens at the end of the month on September 27 with its Vernissage, an opening benefit for the MCA. The art fair's slightly later than usual start, combined with some very notable programming thanks to Art Design Chicago, means that this September may be the busiest certainly in recent memory. 

Obviously there is a lot of great art to see, and these are just a few highlights from this opening September weekend around the city. We will share more of the season's highlights and coverage as the fall goes on, and don't forget to view our full calendar of events. Stay tuned for Part II of our Fall Preview, featuring shows opening September 15 and beyond, including many shows on the city's West Side. 

Finally, I have to admit that I didn't see it until I'd finished this wrap up, but all I could hear in my head was "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves..." (Aretha Franklin on my mind!), as so many of this season's early highlights feature women! 

Enjoy this start to fall, and see you in the galleries! 


Thursday, September 6

Todros Geller: Strange Worlds, an exhibition opening at the Spertus Museum / Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies and in partnership with Art Design Chicago, is an exhibition featuring more than 30 works exploring the life and practice of a Chicago artist and educator central to the history of modern American and Jewish art. Geller, who immigrated to Chicago from Ukraine in 1918, was inspired by the blending of old world traditions and modern culture that characterized Chicago—what he termed the collision of “strange worlds.” 


Friday, September 7

River North, as mentioned above, offers the largest group of openings in the city on September 7. 

Highlights include:

A show at Catherine Edelman GalleryHow do you see me?, features three women who confront the way people of color are perceived in art, the work place, and through their physical appearance. 


Around the corner Gallery Victor Armendariz opens a show by artist Bruno Surdo, titled LIBERATION. The 17 paintings included in the show explore personal yearning for spiritual and individual independence using various motifs and subject matter. The artworks challenge the viewer to connect with images that correspond to their own yearning for personal freedom. 


At Jean Albano Gallery a show focused on the season beyond fall is Mary Ann Papanek-Miller: Preparing for Winter. Papanek-Miller is known for using a layered collection of visual images, creating a narrative within each piece. Her work incorporates reflections from childhood stories, songs, and rhymes which reveal a deep concern for the environment. 


Melanee Cooper closed her eponymous River North gallery 9 years ago, and now she's back in the exact same space (740 N Franklin) she left when she moved to California.  Her first show celebrating her return is called Coming Full Circle and features the work of artists Alicia LaChance and Joanne Mattera. Artist Arno Elias will also be exhibiting at the gallery. 


At PrintworksDrawing Show – Teacher and Two Students – Vera Klement, Heather Accurso & Elizabeth Carson Manley​ features the work of three esteemed artists from the perspective of the student/master relationship. 


Artist René Romero Schuler is turning 50 this year, and her latest body of work, In Search of Ground, taking up the entire space at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, has emerged as a body of work that has given Rene solace through pain, strength through grief, and peace through turmoil. On view in addition to her paintings are also India ink drawings and steel wire sculptures.

Many other shows are opening in River North this evening. If you can't see them all in one night, come back on Saturday morning for the first free gallery tour of the season from 11am-12:30pm, as well as family day activities that are part of RNDD's Gallery Walk weekend. 


In the West Loop Linda Warren Projects opens their final gallery show on Friday night, and it features the work of two artists: Michiko Itatani and Paula Henderson. While clearly distinct in both style and focus, each artist uses recurring motifs and imagery to explore their individual concerns for the forces that shape and define our human condition.


Artist Patty Carroll has a Friday evening opening at One After 909 in West Town. The solo exhibition, Anonymous Women is a continuation of a decade-long series. The first variations of the series fully explored the intricacies of homemaking and femininity, while the most current work depicts their twisted friction. Despite the leaps and bounds of progress the women’s movement has made over the course of her lifetime, with this work Carroll recognizes how far we still have to go. 


Saturday, September 8

The Figure and the Chicago Imagists: Selections from the Elmhurst College Art Collection opening at the Elmhurst Art Museum features the Elmhurst College Art Collection, focused on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present. The exhibition is curated by Suellen Rocca, one of the original members of the Hairy Who and Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Elmhurst College (Rocca is featured on the fall 2018 cover of CGN). The exhibition features artists such as Ed Paschke, Barbara Rossi, Gladys Nilsson and others and is part of Art Design Chicago.

Note that other Imagist-related exhibitions this fall will take place at the Art Institute of Chicago and The Block Museum of Art


Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum looks at the popular revival of portraiture in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when both the established elite and the newly wealthy sought out artists who could highlight their social standing and personal affluence. Simultaneous exhibitions at the museum are Gilded Chicago: Portraits of an Era and Treasures from the White City: Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.


Top image: Barbara Rossi at Elmhurst Art Museum, Michiko Itatani at Linda Warren and Medina Dugger at Catherine Edelman Gallery.