November 1 Openings Preview and SOFA Weekend

In addition to the many openings taking place this weekend, SOFA Chicago's 26th edition will be ongoing at Navy Pier, Thursday through Sunday.



Friday, November 1, 2019 will be a big opening night around the city, as many galleries open major shows that will be their final exhibitions of the year. The busy night also coincides with the 26th edition of SOFA CHICAGO, which takes place on Navy Pier all weekend, Nov 1–3, with the preview party on Thursday, October 31. Following the end of the fair's first day on Friday, art lovers are encouraged to go out into dozens of art spaces throughout the city to see what is new in area galleries.  There is also the River North Design District's official after party at Montauk Sofa.

In general it's traditionally a big opening night in River North. Additional openings are also happening in West Town on Friday and Saturday, while a handful are also planned in Evanston. 

Our overview of highlights from this coming weekend is below, and our full calendar may be viewed here.

Next weekend, beginning November 8, another slate of openings taking place in West Town, Ravenswood, and beyond will carry us through the final weeks of 2019. We will preview those shows early next week.

Don't forget that CGN has a booth (P7!) at SOFA too starting Thursday, so stop by and say hi! 

See you in the galleries, and at the fair! 


David Kroll, Bowl and Nuthatch, 2017, oil on panel, 11” x 14”

David Kroll: New Paintings

Opening Friday, November 1

Zolla / Lieberman Gallery

Kroll has described his paintings as fiction or poetry; they are neither of a specific point in time nor slavish records of natural history. His work deals with the fragility of nature, and the tension of our own imaginations—our dream of what nature is—versus the reality of the way we live in the twenty-first century. 'I want to reclaim the wilderness,' Kroll has said, but he recognizes the unlikelihood that most of us will experience nature in anything more than a superficial sense. 

The gallery also opens a show of work by ceramicist Jay Strommen


Kahn & Selesnick

Madam Lulu's Book of Fate

Opening Friday, November 1

Carl Hammer Gallery

Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick will exhibit photographs and drawings from 'Madam Lulu's Book of Fate', a series that expands on the adventures of the Truppe Fledermaus, a traveling cabaret troupe whose mischiefs and bizarre realities are powered by the effects of climate change. Exploring the concept of the carnivalesque, Fledermaus characters adorned in fantastical costumes and masks jubilantly parade in harsh environments, "finding pleasure amid the florid decay of a world in decline". Five 72-inch panoramic images give vision to the Dance of the Dead while circular photographs lend the viewer a 'peep-hole' perspective into brief moments of the truppe's masquerades. These wild costumes and characters are first envisioned with round drawings of pastel and colored pencil , which will also be on display, salon style, along side the photographs, giving full breadth to Kahn & Selesnick's imaginative process.


Indira Freitas Johnson

Truth as a Contested Concept

Opening Friday, November 1

Woman Made Gallery

This group show, featuring over 40 artists, is curated by Indira Freitas Johnson. “We used to think of 'truth' as being absolute, says Johnson. "That our choices were binary. But today 'truth' is a contested concept. One of the many questions that come up is whether truth is subject to human interpretation. Does truth change according to circumstances so that what is true for a particular time is not true at a different time?  Does this mean that truth for one person may not necessarily be the same for everyone? If this is the case then can anyone really know the truth?" Artists in this exhibition are wrestling with the concept of truth looking outward at the world around us and inward toward one’s personal truth. Johnson believes strongly that art and activism are a powerful combination for social change.


Renee McGinnis

Renee McGinnis: In Search of Symmetry

Opening Friday, November 1

Z/G Gallery

Butterflies, birds, flora, atoms and pearls abound in Renee McGinnis’ second solo exhibition at Zg Gallery, In Search of Symmetry. For McGinnis, each of these symbolic images embodies the essential state of symmetry that ensures the stability of virtually all physical forces and living organisms. Not only does the presence of symmetry bind together this vast spectrum of subject matter both conceptually and formally, it also imbues the artist’s paintings with pervasive tension; without this inherent design, everything – even our solar system – would fail. 


Shawn Rowe

Shawn Rowe: V

Opening Friday, November 1

Filter Photo

V is a body of work by Shawn Rowe that explores the tension between the queer male body and various forces both natural and societal. The title V describes the ambiguity of the project itself. In ancient times, V was used interchangeably with the letter U. V is the Roman Numeral for five and embodies a downward pointing arrow. For this work, the two lines that create the letter V intersect where the body and the environment exchange forces. These images represent a visualization of this conversation. The installation is emblematic of the work in that the scale, distance, and dimensions are variable. Like the letter V, the artist is asking the viewer to bring their own associations and meanings to the images and the body of work as a whole.


Brendan Fernandes

Brendan Fernandes: Restrain

Opening Saturday, November 2

Monique Meloche

Restrain is a new body of work by multidisciplinary artist Brendan Fernandes. This is Fernandes’ second solo exhibition with the gallery. Drawing from his history as a trained ballet dancer, Fernandes skillfully intersects the movement and mastery of the body with contemporary art practices, while questioning the canon of ethnographic museum collections.

Inspired by his recent performance at the Guggenheim in New York City, Ballet Kink (2019), Fernandes continues to explore the role and status of the body within the contemporary art apparatus through Restrain. This unique series of cast bronze sculptures presents as bound rope, characteristic of the patterns found within Shibari bondage, a form of BDSM that skillfully utilizes ropes, knots, braids, and harnesses to bind and adorn the body, creating patterns that contrast and complement the natural form.


Mike Hammer

Mike Hammer: New Works

Opening Friday, November 1

Gruen Galleries

Mike Hammer's colorful, abstract works of resin on panel open the gallery's November show.


New Paintings, Allison B. Cooke

Opening Friday, November 1

Addington Gallery

After a 30-year college teaching career, Allison B. Cooke  paints full time in a warehouse in Milwaukee. Every summer Allison travels in Italy, creates from a makeshift tabletop studio and experiences the expansive nature of new environments for inspiration. Allison's paintings explore transformation and its unique presence in the patinas that build up where time worn architectural structures, the human touch and atmospheric effects coalesce. She builds surfaces in both additive and subtractive processes with layered colors, and suggestive drawing/mark making in both experimental and intentional approaches.


Florine Démosthène: Between Possibility and Actuality

Opening Saturday, November 2

Mariane Ibrahim

Florine Démosthène’s first solo exhibition with the gallery celebrates the second presentation at the gallery’s Chicago space. Démosthène sparkly surfaces and amphibious marble-like figures are adorned with aquatic accents. Her contemporary take on the body, in the form of multi-media paintings and collage, represents otherworldly dystopian characteristics, furthering the artists’ study of our divine spirit. Démosthène’s heroines criticize beauty canons through the narrative of her self-made feminine heroes. The duality of her figures consider stereotypical and two-dimensional notions of the black female body. The artist presents her adulation for duplicates by portraying her own body, often duplicated. The existence of twins has provoked curiosity and veneration amongst numerous societies, particularly in West African and Haitian sacred cultures. 


THIRST: Tamara Wasserman, Cynthia Weiss, and Lea Basile-Lazarus

Opening Friday, November 1

Eat Paint Studio

Thirst is ragged and unslakable. To thirst is to hope. To hope is to seek, to make anew, to live. Basile-Lazarus, Wasserman, and Weiss address the human need for hope and meaning through their work. They seek to find form and content that can create space for a common ground and a shared cultural experience, inviting us to imagine the possibilities of the world we want to live in. The gallery just celebrated its first anniversary this fall.