A Home for Surrealism reviewed in Journal of Surrealism and the Americas

This landmark of modernism in Chicago [The Arts Club of Chicago] is now filled with so many precisely rendered fantastic landscapes; claustrophobic, psychologically coded interiors; a mise en abyme of pictures within pictures; and a menagerie of symbolically resonant household pets. Mileaf underscores the intentionality of this juxtaposition by unfolding the exhibition around a turned wood mantle evoking the vernacular interior decor of nineteenth-century Chicago, which any native Chicagoan will recognize as an “original detail” still common in local dwellings. Camouflaged in a monochrome coat of paint making it continuous with the wall, the mantle functions as an apparition of homely domesticity beneath a hovering group of the exhibition’s smaller paintings hung salon-style. Situated in view of a significant artifact of architectural modernism in Chicago—the elegant steel staircase with a travertine marble surround designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951 and salvaged as the central feature of the building when the Club moved to its present location in 1997— the anachronism of the display crystallizes what is most striking about Mileaf ’s curatorial strategy.1 The juxtaposition of these interior features—each representing divergent genres of interior space at midcentury—appears to propose an alternative timeline of the exhibition history of the Arts Club of Chicago. In assembling an underappreciated cross section of artists, a loose grouping united by overlapping social circles and shared exhibitions or formation, as if it were a contemporary group show, she essentially recasts the Arts Club’s defining role in the history of the reception of Surrealism in Chicago as it might have been. 


Please click here to read the exhibition review of A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago, by art historian Jennifer R. Cohen in the Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. The exhibition ran at The Arts Club from June 7–August 15, 2018.

About the Journal of Surrealism and the Americas:

The Journal of Surrealism and the Americas focuses on the subject of modern European and American intellectuals’ obsession with the “New World.” This obsession—the very heart of Surrealism—extended not only to North American sites, but also to Latin America, the Caribbean, and to the numerous indigenous cultures located there. The journal invites essays that examine aspects of the actual and fantasized travel of these European and American intellectuals throughout the Americas, and their creative response to indigenous art and culture, including their anthropological and collecting activities, and their interpretations of the various geographic, political, and cultural landscapes of the Americas. We furthermore intend to investigate the interventions / negotiations / repudiations of European/American or other Surrealisms, by indigenous as well as other artists, writers and filmmakers.

Posted June 25, 2019

Amy Sillman: The Nervous System in Newcity’s “Art Top 5” for June


Newcity June 2019 Top 5

Amy Sillman: The Nervous System

On view in our galleries through August 3rd.

Posted May 31, 2019

Event: In Conversation: Artist Amy Sillman on ‘The Nervous System’

Event Date: May 22
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Location: The Arts Club of Chicago

Image: Amy Sillman, Blues for Omar (Film Strip II), 2018. Oil on canvas, 81 x 75 in. Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti, London/Paris.


Please join us in celebration of the exhibition Amy Sillman: The Nervous System at the opening reception from 6 – 8 pm on Wednesday, May 22nd. This event is free and open to all.

Featuring new and recent painting, Amy Sillman: The Nervous System calls upon abstract and figurative motifs to address the material and emotional conditions of being human in fraught political times. Sillman (b. Detroit, 1955) returns to the Midwest for her first exhibition in the city of Chicago, during a thrilling crescendo in her three decade long career.

In conjunction with the opening, the artist will discuss the work on display on Thursday, May 23rd at 6 pm at The Arts Club. This event is free and open to all, but requires registration. Please click here to reserve your space.

Posted May 7, 2019

Newest Garden Project featured on WDCB Radio

Journalist Gary Zidek interviewed Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford at The Arts Club of Chicago, on the occasion of his exhibition entitled Garden Gipsoteca. The show, which includes works of cast sculpture, is the latest work commissioned by The Arts Club in our Garden Projects series. Listen here.

To learn more about Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford and Garden Gipsoteca, join us for an artist talk and activation on Friday, May 3rd at 6 pm. Historian Jonathan Levy will join the artist in a discussion about the role of reproduction in taste-making, value, status-signaling, and social relations. Free and open to all!



Posted April 22, 2019

Artist Talk and Activation: Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford

Artist Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford brings to the Arts Club of Chicago garden a modern-day take on the classical “gipsoteca,” or cast room, reconsidering the neoclassical copy with a garden of multiples gone slightly awry. Imagery of The Art Institute’s Nemean Lion sculpture displays alongside an homage to youtube cat videos and an eighteenth century marble Hercules. Hulsebos-Spofford talks with historian Jonathan Levy (Associate Professor in History and the College, The University of Chicago) about the role of reproduction in taste-making, value, status-signaling, and social relations. Following the conversation, stay tuned for a performative activation of the garden, kicking off a constantly-multiplying array of reproductions throughout the project’s duration.

Free and open to all. RSVP requested.
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.

Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford: Garden Gipsoteca is the latest in the Arts Club’s series of commissions exclusively by Chicago artists for this uniqe public space. Launched in March 2014 with Sarah and Joseph Belknap’s Afterglow, an installation of suspended phosphorescent faux rock ‘meteorites,’ the Garden Projects have ranged from expansive sculpture and 2-D paintings to the most recent The Playhead of Dawn, a collaborative sound and software project by visual artist Jeny Kendler and sound artist/ programmer Brian Kirkbride, inviting passersby to experience a massive dataset of birdsong from around the world. Other artists commissioned by The Arts Club for its Garden Project series have included: Marshall Brown, Robert Burnier, Luftwerk, Claire Pentecost, Erik Peterson, Richard Rezac, Edra Soto, and Amanda Williams.

About Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford:

Hyde Park-based Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford is a visual artist and Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Indiana University Northwest. He is also the co-director and founder of the collective Floating Museum. His work has been shown at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The UCSD Art Gallery, The Glass Curtain Gallery and The Hyde Park Art Center, among other spaces. He has held fellowships at the Sculpture Space, the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, the Brown Foundation Program at the Dora Maar House, and the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting. His work has been supported by grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Harpo Foundation, the Propeller Fund, the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship in Sicily. Recent exhibitions and projects include a public project by Floating Museum titled River Assembly on the Chicago River, an exhibition titled How to give life to a mountain at the DuSable Museum and a British Council Arts and Social Practice Fellowship.

About Jonathan Levy:

Jonathan Levy is a historian of economic life in the United States, with interests in the relationships between business and economic history, political economy, legal history, and the history of ideas. His research and teaching span the 19th and 20th centuries and are concerned with global and comparative questions. His first book, Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America (Harvard University Press, 2012), is a history of risk in the United States. The book has a dual focus, tracing the simultaneous rise, in the context of slave emancipation, of a new individualist creed that equated freedom with risk-taking and a new corporate financial system of risk management. Freaks of Fortune won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Ellis W. Hawley Prize, and Avery O. Craven Award, and the American Society for Legal History’s William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize.

Posted March 28, 2019