Early Warning: Fall Highlights Come Into Focus


September seems far away and also around the corner. Maybe it's just that this September will mean the return of a busy fall art season after a year off in 2020. 

As we plan the fall issue of CGN (printing in August and better than ever!) we are taking note of some exhibitions planned for September and beyond. These are just a handful of the things we know to be happening, and shows will run the gamut from fun-to-see and be a part of to exhibitions that will speak to current events and challenge us to think deeper than numbing news headlines. 

Below are just a few dates to note and shows to anticipate from September into early October.

All of this is not to say you should rush through summer! Enjoy all that there is to see and do, or not do, right now, before things get busy once again in the coming weeks. 



September 10 – First Round of Gallery Openings and The River North Design District Gallery Walk

The River North Design District has joined with the River North galleries to host the 6th Annual River North Design District Fall Gallery Walk on Friday, September 10. This year showrooms will feature a variety of fine artists and designer vignettes along with special events throughout River North.

Each participating showroom and art gallery will be exhibiting artwork created by influential artists working today. This year Chicago’s top designers will be selecting their favorite art and creating inspirational vignettes in each of the participating showrooms. Ticketed VIP kickoff as well as after party plans will take place at showrooms in the district. 

A special open house takes place 11-4 on Saturday, Sept 11. The exhibitions are on view through Oct 11. 


Ken Saunders Is Opening a Limited Run Neon Museum 

The new Neon and Light Museum pop-up invites guests to stand in, under and around some 70 professional neon and light-based sculptures in a dazzling and dramatic immersive exhibition opening in River North at 325 West Huron Street for a limited eight-week run starting Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

The Neon and Light Museum is an expansion of the successful On Neon show presented in Chicago last year by Ken Saunders Gallery.

“Neon defined a retro era when the automobile was broadening Americans’ horizons and the highways and boulevards of America’s cities were filled with bright and often flashing illuminated messages: snappy, happy, hopeful, warm and fuzzy come-ons to a better future,” explains Saunders. “Today artists are bending glass into weird and wild shapes. This immersive exhibition features breathtaking sculptures and interactive light shows both kitschy and nostalgic, ironic and literal. Quite simply: It’s lit!”


Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Death by Gun), 1990

American Epidemic: Guns in the United States, at MoCP

Sep 10, 2021 – Feb 20, 2022

In American Epidemic: Guns in the United States, nine artists examine the role guns play in structural violence, poverty, systemic racism, and an increasingly militarized police force. Using the photographic medium, these artists provide a nuanced exploration of the way in which guns are yielded in this country, including the politicization of trauma, public mourning (and the rote political refrain of “thoughts and prayers” in response to gun violence), and a host of other issues laid bare by this uniquely American plight.

Featuring work by Carolyn Drake, Nancy Floyd, Stephen Foster, Andres Gonzalez, Félix González-Torres, Zora J Murff, Renée Stout, and Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi, American Epidemic not only explores the complex array of issues that arise with the increased presence of guns in American society, but advocates for an intersectional understanding of how gender, race, capitalism, and militarism affect the larger conversation around gun control in this country.  


Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You, the Art Institute of Chicago

Sep 19, 2021 – Jan 24, 2022

Combining images with provocative text, Kruger uses direct address—along with humor, vigilance, and empathy—to expose and undermine the power dynamics of identity, desire, and consumerism. As shrinking attention spans collide with the voyeurism and narcissism that define contemporary life, her immersive installations and widely circulated pictures and words invite us to reconsider how we relate to one another

THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU. encompasses the full breadth of her career—from early and rarely seen “pasteups” (works that use an analog technique for physically arranging a page’s contents with manual “cut and paste”) to digital productions of the last two decades. The presentation includes works on vinyl, site-specific installations, animations, and multichannel video installations.

The exhibition is not, however, a retrospective. Challenging notions of career building and a strict chronology, Kruger has reenvisioned the retrospective itself by rethinking, remaking, and replaying her work over the decades for the constantly moving present.


Jacob Hashimoto at Rhona Hoffman

Sep 17 – Oct 22, 2021

Using sculpture, painting, and installation, SAIC graduate Jacob Hashimoto creates complex worlds from a range of modular components: bamboo-and-paper kites, model boats, even astroturf-covered blocks. His accretive, layered compositions reference video games, virtual environments, and cosmology, while also remaining deeply rooted in art-historical traditions notably, landscape-based abstraction, modernism, and handcraft. 



Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue

Jesus of Western Avenue at the newly re-opened Cleve Carney Museum of Art will feature dozens of recent works by world-renowned multimedia artist and celebrated Chicago resident Tony Fitzpatrick. 

Delayed for a year by the pandemic, the exhibition will run Oct. 2, 2021 to January 31, 2022 and will be free and open to the public.

Coinciding with the release of Fitzpatrick’s book, Jesus of Western Avenue, the exhibition will feature prints, drawings and collages. These graphically rich and inventive works deliver messages and stories that reflect on the artist’s connection to Chicago, his social and political concerns and our shared changing reality. 

With work in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, Fitzpatrick has also created album art for music icons including Lou Reed, Steve Earle and The Neville Brothers. Fitzpatrick is best known for his multimedia collages, printmaking, paintings and drawings. 

Fitzpatrick has said that the exhibition will be his last museum show.