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ARTgenda: October

Lauren Henderson | Thursday, October 7, 2010

This month marks the 13th annual Chicago Artists Month. Every year, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs hosts events across the city in an effort to raise awareness about the arts in Chicago. As part of Chicago Artists Month, free gallery tours are offered throughout gallery districts around the city, such as the River North and West Loop Districts.

This past weekend I decided to travel to Chicago and participate in the River North gallery tour. I had a wonderful time and would highly recommend Notre Dame students to take advantage of these (free!) tours, along with other Chicago Artists Month events going on through the end of October.

We met our tour guide, Martha Schneider, outside of a Starbucks, where we received our maps of the galleries we would be visiting that morning. Schneider is the director of Schneider Gallery, and she provided us with a lot of information before we headed out on our tour.  In the past, she explained, River North used to be a manufacturing area, but today it is the largest gallery district in Chicago. Not to worry, though — the tours only stop at galleries that are within a couple of blocks of each other.

Our first stop was ZG Gallery, which shows works by emerging contemporary artists. Its current show, “Remnants of a Radiant Tomorrow: New Works,” is a solo show of oil paintings and oil on vintage photographs by Justin Henry Miller, a 2006 graduate of Notre Dame’s MFA program.  Miller’s futuristic oils present a disquieting mix of mechanical and organic elements, illustrating the human and technological influence on nature today. Miller is a very talented young artist, and it was wonderful to see the artwork of a former Notre Dame student; you can come support Miller’s show through Oct. 23.

We then walked next-door to David Weinberg Gallery.  This gallery shows all media of contemporary art, although it tends to focus on photography, as the gallery owner holds a degree in fine-art photography. Currently, David Weinberg Gallery is showing the photography of David Burdeny, whose background is in Interior Design and Architecture. Burdeny’s very large images hang in straight lines down the gallery walls and show scenes at locations in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Egypt, China, Greenland and France. At first, I thought the photos must be manipulated because they have such an eerie, atmospheric quality. But Aaron Ott, the director of the gallery, informed me that none of them had been manipulated.  Rather, Burdeny takes long-exposure photos on overcast days, which allows for details to become washed-out and for elements in motion such as the sky and ocean to become blurred. In my opinion, this show would be enjoyable for all, especially for those with an interest in travel. Be sure to make a trip out to Chicago before it ends Oct.30.

Our third gallery visit was to the Architech Gallery, the only architectural gallery in the country, owner David Jameson said. This gallery is showing an exhibition entitled “The House: Drawings for Residential Architecture”, which runs through Dec. 25. Although architectural drawings are not my favorite medium, the owner was very interesting to talk to, and I think architecture students would especially enjoy this show featuring drawings by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry and Abel Faidy.

Although we were running low on time, we managed a quick stop at the last gallery, Schneider Gallery. Owned by our tour guide, this gallery specializes in contemporary photography. Its current exhibition is called “In-Between” and features photography from Rania Matar and Natan Dvir, who hail from Lebanon and Israel, respectively. Their photographs depict images of teenagers from America and the Middle East. The show seems to emphasize the similarities among these teenagers rather than the many differences; two photographs hanging side-by-side show a Bostonian teenager and an Israeli teenager applying makeup, one girl wearing torn jeans and the other a burqa. The juxtaposition of all of these images helps to create an evocative exhibition, running through Oct. 30.

October is packed with special events around the city, including workshops, “artwalks” around other Chicago neighborhoods, open houses, and exhibition openings. For more information on Chicago galleries in general and on Chicago Artists Month, you can visit www.chicagogallerynews.com and www.chicagoartistsresource.org.