Color and Concepts Fill Galleries this April

A show of new paintings by Karl Wirsum opens at Corbett vs Dempsey Friday, April 5



The first week of April continues an active year in galleries that began at the start of 2019, nearly three months ago already. 

Beginning Thursday, April 4 and continuing through Friday night, several exhibitions and events take place that you don't want to miss, many featuring artists who are exploring significant issues of our time. Unlike during the fall in the Chicago, spring gallery shows aren't competing directly with the specter of art fairs and biennials. This time of year, as the body as well as the mind begins to wake up, seize the opportunity to emerge from hibernation and encounter shows featuring work by up-and-coming artists as well as art world stars. Now you may have the time to visit and contemplate the many images and messages that are being presented. 

April already heralds a lot of good and important things to come in these warmer months, and new art may be found throughout the city's neighborhoods and into the suburbs as well.

Some highlights are listed below, and our full calendar may be viewed here

Much is planned in the coming days and weeks, including the summer issue of CGN in early May, so forgive us if our news slows down for a little while as we get the next edition of the magazine off to the printer later this month.

Enjoy the arrival of spring and all there is to see in the galleries! 


Theaster Gates: Every Square Needs a Circle

Theaster Gates (b. 1973), Progress Mill, 2018, Neon, 38 1/2 x 38 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches, 97.8 x 97.8 x 12.1 cm


• April 4–June 29 at Richard Gray Gallery, Gray Warehouse – West Town (Opening April 4)

Every Square Needs a Circle, a solo exhibition of new sculpture, film, installation, and neon work by Theaster Gates opens this Thursday night at Gray Warehouse with a reception for the artist from 6-8 PM.

The exhibition marks a continuation of Gates’s long engagement with the work of American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, whose examination of genius and progress in Black America from Emancipation to the mid-20th century has been a source of inspiration for the artist. Placing his interest in poetics and the weighty history of objects, Gates debuts a multi-faceted installation that bridges the work of Du Bois with architectural excerpts from Chicago, expounding on the archives that hold and preserve records of Black intelligence.

Relating moments from art history to stories of quotidian labor, Every Square Needs a Circle is a rumination on materials, time and repetition. 


Karl Wirsum: New Paintings

Karl Wirsum, Geezer Gazing Geyser, 40 x 18 inches (Geysey), 41 x 31 inches (Geezer)


• April 5–June 22 at Corbett vs Dempsey – West Town (Opening April 5)

Karl Wirsum, an original member of the Hairy Who is a legendary figure in Chicago art. This is the first exhibition of Wirsum’s new work in six years and Corbett vs Dempsey's first show of new works by the artist.


Genevieve Gaignard: Black White and Red All Over


• April 5–May 24 at Monique Meloche Gallery – West Town (Opening April 5)

Black White and Red All Over is Genevieve Gaignard’s first solo show with the gallery, and her first in Chicago. The exhibition will focus on the artist’s new body of mixed media works on panel and will include a new site-specific installation. Arising out of her well-known photographic and installation-based series, these new works convey a declaratively political angle through novel formal means.

Gaignard explores issues of race, class, and femininity using an uncanny humor befitting these concepts’ duality as both weighty markers of identity and unfixed values traded fluidly in popular culture. As a biracial woman in America, Gaignard investigates the aesthetic and cultural divide between black and white, a chasm as palpable as it is “invisible.” As an artist interested in the varying incremental shades that exist between, and inadequately define, these markers, Gaignard’s practice hinges on composites: of identities, experiences, appearances, materials.


Herman Aguirre

Herman Aguirre, Cenizas nada mas, 2018, oil and acrylic / acrylic skins on canvas, 72" x 48"


• April 5–May 4 at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery – River North (Opening April 5) 

Painter Herman Aguirre uses representation and abstraction to bring texture to the depictive and affective aspects of an image. He uses various techniques and materials to investigate charged subjects in order to prompt the sense of fragility of human existence. Through the use of symbolism and metaphor, he depicts images that convey respect, love, and honor in commemoration for “those who are not with us but are around us”. Paintings are executed using references from an archival collection of images, including the images of victims of the Mexican drug war, as well as his own family photographs and souvenirs. The body of work reflects the psychological and physical trauma faced as an observer, creator, and family member. The objects, images, and events that build up the world that surrounds him become conduits for ideas. Constantly wrestling: his painting process becomes a confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed accumulation of impasto, which not only gives value to the image, but also allows for its proper burial. At last, reaching tranquility and peace.


Frances Cox & Michael Noland: A World Apart

Michael Noland, American Flood, Oil on linen


• April 5–25 at Hofheimer Gallery – Ravenswood (Opening April 5) 

Hofheimer Gallery presents a show featuring the work of Frances Cox and Michael Noland, two artists who feature color and pattern strongly in their work.

Frances Cox keeps redefining landscape and still life in an invented and abstract vocabulary. 

Michael Noland’s work is influenced by Chicago Imagism and traditional American scenes. He creates portraits of flora and fauna, rendered exotic with vibrant hues and colors richly layered. In Michael’s paintings are a dynamic push and pull of forms often unexpected and inventive.


A Month of Sundays

Patty Kirk


• Opening April 5 at The Dime – Wicker Park (Opening April 5) 

Patty Kirk has been painting since childhood, and now at the age of 61 she is having her first one woman show. Kirk's paintings speak to her strong Catholic faith and spirituality and an adherence to the primacy of family. They also invoke thoughts of that which is unseen, a pursuit of the invisible, an invocation to the spirits which are a foundational element of her faith. 


This Stillness

Image: Vanessa German, A Love Powm to Nia Wilson #2 (detail), 2018


• April 4–May 5 at Intuit – West Town (Opening April 4)

A new exhibition opens at Intuit on Thursday evening. Curated by Jamillah HinsonThis Stillness is an exploration into the complexities of Black girlhood and womanhood and the quiet reflections of self that arise from these circumstances. The exhibition goes beyond the contemporary use of a traditional Black American art form—assemblage—and delves into themes of autonomy, self-reflection, and the dehumanization of Black women and girls. At the same time, the exhibition serves as an archive of personal, familial and cultural identity. This Stillness explores mediums often found in the practice of Black American female artists who are re-piecing histories, narratives and memories that were not allowed to flourish in the past.


Abstractly Speaking


• April 5–27 at Woman Made Gallery – Pilsen (Opening April 5)

Woman Made Gallery (WMG) presents Abstractly Speaking, highlighting art which is non representational and unconcerned with literal depiction, instead relying on the visual language of form, color, line, texture, mark-making and process, as a means to an end. Artists include: Peggy Breidenbach, Marian Carow, Carolyn Cronin Hughes, Susan Dickman, Camillia Elci, Carol Estes, Nancy Ferro, Lisa Flowers Ross, Heather Gallegos-Rex, Darcy Gerbarg, Nina Ghanbarzadeh, Margie Glass Sula, Monica Goldsmith, Celia Greiner, Mille Guldbeck, Maki Hajikano, Julie Henry, Kelly Hensen, Jamie Kost, Ginny Krueger, Court Lurie, Robin Malpass, Elyse Martin, Joan McLane, Katherine Nemanich, Louise Pappageorge, Sonia Pratt, Olivia Rozdolsky, Sabine Senft, Kathie Shaw and Kathleen Waterloo. Juried by gallerist Melanee Cooper. 


6-Year Anniversary Group Show

Hebru Brantley

• April 6–27 at Vertical Gallery – West Town/Ukrainian Village (Opening April 6)

The gallery presents a special exhibition celebrating its 6-year anniversary. The show will feature over 40 artists - local, national & international - from 14 different countries with artistic styles that have shaped the gallery’s programming over the years. Since opening its doors at 1016 N. Western Avenue in 2013, Vertical has presented ambitious exhibitions with work influenced by street art, urban environments, graffiti, pop culture, graphic design and illustration. With 10 to 12 group and solo shows per year, plus participation in major international art fairs, Vertical Gallery has featured over 300 different artists from around the world in its exhibitions.